Princeton University
Department of Philosophy
PhD, 2003
Notre Dame, Indiana, United States of America
  •  63
    Galacticism, thought-relativism, quasi-internalism
    Philosophical Studies 178 (9): 3037-3047. 2020.
  •  81
    Cognitive Acts and the Unity of the Proposition
    Tandf: Australasian Journal of Philosophy 98 (4): 646-660. 2020.
    In this paper I do four things. (1) I explain one clear thing that ‘the problem of the unity of the proposition’ might mean. (2) I lay out a few different versions of the theory of propositions as cognitive acts, and explain why this problem arises for the version of that theory which has been defended in different forms by Peter Hanks and Scott Soames. (3) I argue that the natural ways in which the act theorist might try to solve the problem fail to solve it; (4) I propose a way to fix the prob…Read more
  •  26
    Reply to Critics
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 95 (2): 492-506. 2017.
  •  20
    Précis of The Phenomenal and the Representational
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 95 (2): 465-469. 2017.
  •  50
    Act theories and the attitudes
    Synthese 196 (4): 1453-1473. 2019.
    Theories of propositions as complex acts, of the sort recently defended by Peter Hanks and Scott Soames, make room for the existence of distinct propositions which nonetheless represent the same objects as having the same properties and standing in the same relations. This theoretical virtue is due to the claim that the complex acts with which propositions are identified can include particular ways of cognizing, or referring to, objects and properties. I raise two questions about this sort of vi…Read more
  •  120
    Demonstratives have different semantic values relative to different contexts of utterance. But it is surprisingly difficult to describe the function from contexts to contents which determines the semantic value of a given use of a demonstrative. It is very natural to think that the intentions of the speaker should play a significant role here. The aim of this paper is to discuss a pair of problems that arise for views which give intentions this central role in explaining the characters of demons…Read more
  •  64
    The Character of Consciousness
    Philosophical Review 121 (1): 125-131. 2012.
  •  132
    No Easy Argument for Two-Dimensionalism
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 92 (4): 775-781. 2014.
    Some opponents of epistemic two-dimensionalism say that the view should be rejected on the grounds that it misclassifies certain a posteriori claims as a priori. Elliott, McQueen, & Weber [2013] have argued that any argument of this form must fail. I argue that this conclusion is mistaken, and defend my argument [Speaks (2010] against their criticisms
  •  91
    Individuating Fregean sense
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 43 (5): 634-654. 2013.
    (2013). Individuating Fregean sense. Canadian Journal of Philosophy: Vol. 43, Essays on the Nature of Propositions, pp. 634-654
  •  82
    The nature of predication, and its relation to truth, is the central topic of Davidson’s posthumously published Truth and Predication . The main task which an account of predication should accomplish is a solution to the problem of predication; and that, Davidson tells us, is the problem of explaining what makes some collections of words, but not others, true or false (86). It is so-called because, Davidson thinks, the principal challenge faced by any answer to this problem is the problem of exp…Read more
  •  241
    Attention and intentionalism
    Philosophical Quarterly 60 (239): 325-342. 2010.
    Many alleged counter-examples to intentionalism, the thesis that the phenomenology of perceptual experiences of a given sense modality supervenes on the contents of experiences of that modality, can be avoided by adopting a liberal view of the sorts of properties that can be represented in perceptual experience. I argue that there is a class of counter-examples to intentionalism, based on shifts in attention, which avoids this response. A necessary connection between the contents and phenomenal …Read more
  •  191
    The normativity of content and 'the Frege point'
    European Journal of Philosophy 17 (3): 405-415. 2009.
    In "Assertion," Geach identified failure to attend to the distinction between meaning and speech act as a source of philosophical errors. I argue that failure to attend to this distinction, along with the parallel distinction between attitude and content, has been behind the idea that meaning and content are, in some sense, normative. By an argument parallel to Geach's argument against performative analyses of "good" we can show that the phenomena identified by theorists of the normativity of co…Read more
  •  26
    Review of Donald Davidson, Truth & Predication (review)
    Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2006 (8). 2006.
  •  141
    The most widely accepted and well worked out approaches to the foundations of meaning take facts about the meanings of linguistic expressions at a time to be derivative from the propositional attitudes of speakers of the language at that time. This mentalist strategy takes two principal forms, one which traces meaning to belief, and one which analyzes it in terms of communicative intentions. I argue that either form of mentalism fails, and conclude by suggesting that we can do better by focusing…Read more
  •  229
    Frege's Puzzle and Descriptive Enrichment
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 83 (2): 267-282. 2011.
    Millians sometimes claim that we can explain the fact that sentences like "If Hesperus exists, then Hesperus is Phosphorus" seem a posteriori to speakers in terms of the fact that utterances of sentences of this sort would typically pragmatically convey propositions which really are a posteriori. I argue that this kind of pragmatic explanation of the seeming a posterioricity of sentences of this sort fails. The main reason is that for every sentence like the above which (by Millian lights) is a …Read more
  •  148
    A Millian-Russellian semantic theory is one according to which the meanings of proper names are the objects for which they stand, and the meanings of predicates are the properties (or relations) they express. Given a compositionality principle (which I will assume), the Millian-Russellian must hold that sentences which differ only in the substitution of proper names which have the same reference (relative to the relevant context) must express the same proposition
  •  186
    Truth theories, translation manuals, and theories of meaning
    Linguistics and Philosophy 29 (4). 2006.
    In "Truth and Meaning", Davidson suggested that a truth theory can do the work of a theory of meaning: it can give the meanings of expressions of a language, and can explain the semantic competence of speakers of the language by stating information knowledge of which would suffice for competence. From the start, this program faced certain fundamental objections. One response to these objections has been to supplement the truth theory with additional rules of inference (e.g. from T-sentences to m…Read more
  •  5
    The epistemic argument and epistemic two-dimensionalism
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 88 (1): 59-78. 2010.
    One of Kripke's fundamental objections to descriptivism was that the theory misclassifies certain a posteriori propositions expressed by sentences involving names as a priori. Though nowadays very few philosophers would endorse a descriptivism of the sort that Kripke criticized, many find two-dimensional semantics attractive as a kind of successor theory. Because two-dimensionalism needn't be a form of descriptivism, it is not open to the epistemic argument as formulated by Kripke; but the most …Read more
  •  166
    On Possibly Nonexistent Propositions
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 85 (3): 528-562. 2012.
    Alvin Plantinga gave a reductio of the conjunction of the following three theses: Existentialism (the view that, e.g., the proposition that Socrates exists can't exist unless Socrates does), Serious Actualism (the view that nothing can have a property at a world without existing at that world) and Contingency (the view that some objects, like Socrates, exist only contingently). I sketch a view of truth at a world which enables the Existentialist to resist Plantinga's argument without giving up e…Read more
  •  233
    Since the 1960's, work in the analytic tradition on the nature of mental and linguistic content has converged on the views that social facts about public language meaning are derived from facts about the thoughts of individuals, and that these thoughts are constituted by properties of the internal states of agents. I give a two-part argument against this picture of intentionality: first, that if mental content is prior to public language meaning, then a view of mental content much like the causa…Read more
  •  284
    Epistemic two-dimensionalism and the epistemic argument
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 88 (1). 2010.
    One of Kripke's fundamental objections to descriptivism was that the theory misclassifies certain _a posteriori_ propositions expressed by sentences involving names as _a priori_. Though nowadays very few philosophers would endorse a descriptivism of the sort that Kripke criticized, many find two-dimensional semantics attractive as a kind of successor theory. Because two-dimensionalism needn't be a form of descriptivism, it is not open to the epistemic argument as formulated by Kripke; but the m…Read more
  •  89
    A puzzle about demonstratives and semantic competence
    Philosophical Studies 174 (3): 709-734. 2017.
    My aim in this paper is to lay out a number of theses which are very widely held in contemporary philosophy of language and linguistics, and to argue that, given some extra theses for which I’ll argue, they are inconsistent. Some of this will involve going through some very well-trodden territory—my hope is that presenting this familiar ground in the way that I do will help to make plain the problem that I aim to identify.
  •  160
    Theories of meaning
    Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2010.
  •  167
    Millian descriptivism defended
    Philosophical Studies 149 (2). 2010.
    I reply to the argument of Caplan (Philos Stud 133:181–198, 2007 ) against the conjunction of Millianism with the view that utterances of sentences involving names often pragmatically convey descriptively enriched propositions.
  •  189
    I argue that the best way to solve Russell's problem of the relationship between propositions and their constituents is to think of propositions as properties of worlds. I argue that this view preserves the strengths and avoids some of the weaknesses of the view of the metaphysics of propositions defended by Jeff King in his _The Nature and Structure of Content_, and that it provides an explanation of the representational properties of propositions and the nature of indexical belief. I conclude…Read more
  •  209
    Conversational implicature, thought, and communication
    Mind and Language 23 (1). 2008.
    Some linguistic phenomena can occur in uses of language in thought, whereas others only occur in uses of language in communication. I argue that this distinction can be used as a test for whether a linguistic phenomenon can be explained via Grice’s theory of conversational implicature. I argue further, on the basis of this test, that conversational implicature cannot be used to explain quantifier domain restriction or apparent substitution failures involving coreferential names, but that it must…Read more
  •  180
    What are debates about qualia really about?
    Philosophical Studies 170 (1): 59-84. 2014.
    What’s really at issue in the debate between the transparency theorist and the qualia realist? To answer this question it will be useful to start off with Tye’s clear and, I think, representative ways of defining these views.What is qualia realism? Tye glosses the view as the claim that “Experiences have intrinsic features that are non-intentional and of which we can be directly aware via introspection.”Tye. Unless otherwise noted, all references to Tye’s work in what follows are to this paper. …Read more
  •  120
    New Thinking About Propositions
    Oxford University Press. 2014.
    Philosophy, science, and common sense all refer to propositions--things we believe and say, and things which are true or false. But there is no consensus on what sorts of things these entities are. Jeffrey C. King, Scott Soames, and Jeff Speaks argue that commitment to propositions is indispensable, and each defend their own views on the debate
  •  391
    Transparency, Intentionalism, and the Nature of Perceptual Content
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 79 (3): 539-573. 2009.
    I argue that the transparency of experience provides the basis of arguments both for intentionalism -- understood as the view that there is a necessary connection between perceptual content and perceptual phenomenology -- and for the view that the contents of perceptual experiences are Russellian propositions. While each of these views is popular, there are apparent tensions between them, and some have thought that their combination is unstable. In the second half of the paper…Read more