Princeton University
Department of Philosophy
PhD, 2003
Notre Dame, Indiana, United States of America
  •  59
    Galacticism, thought-relativism, quasi-internalism
    Philosophical Studies. forthcoming.
  •  71
    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
  •  22
    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.
  •  205
    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
  •  175
    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
  •  113
    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
  •  368
    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
  •  38
  •  140
    Is Phenomenal Character Out There in the World?
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 91 (2): 465-482. 2015.
  •  145
    Explaining the Disquotational Principle
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 40 (2): 211-238. 2010.
    Questions about the relative priorities of mind and language suffer from a double obscurity. First, it is often not clear which mental and linguistic facts are in question: we can ask about the relationship between any of the semantic or syntactic properties of public languages and the judgments, intentions, beliefs, or other propositional attitudes of speakers of those languages. Second, there is an obscurity about what 'priority' comes to here.We can approach the first problem by way of the se…Read more
  •  5
    The Phenomenal and the Representational
    Oxford University Press UK. 2015.
    There are two main ways in which things with minds, like us, differ from things without minds, like tables and chairs. First, we are conscious--there is something that it is like to be us. We instantiate phenomenal properties. Second, we represent, in various ways, our world as being certain ways. We instantiate representational properties. Jeff Speaks attempts to make progress on three questions: What are phenomenal properties? What are representational properties? How are the phenomenal and th…Read more
  •  190
    Spectrum inversion without a difference in representation is impossible
    Philosophical Studies 156 (3): 339-361. 2011.
    Even if spectrum inversion of various sorts is possible, spectrum inversion without a difference in representation is not. So spectrum inversion does not pose a challenge for the intentionalist thesis that, necessarily, within a given sense modality, if two experiences are alike with respect to content, they are also alike with respect to their phenomenal character. On the contrary, reflection on variants of standard cases of spectrum inversion provides a strong argument for intentionalism. Depe…Read more
  •  33
    Merricks vs. the Russellian Orthodoxy
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 93 (2): 469-477. 2016.
  •  85
    Increasingly, beginning in the 1970’s and 1980’s, many philosophers of language found themselves in a difficult situation. On the one hand, many came to believe that, in order to do semantics properly, as well as to give an adequate treatment of the attitudes, one needed to posit certain entities — propositions — which could be the meanings of sentences (relative to contexts), the contents of mental states, and the primary bearers of truth and falsity. However, many — largely due to the argument…Read more
  •  98
    Benj’s paper is a characteristically thoughtful, imaginative, and wide-ranging exploration of the relationship between certain direct realist theories of perception and the nature of perceptual justification — with some formal semantics thrown in for good measure. Here I’ll focus on just one of the many topics about which Benj has something to say: his remarks on the topic of the relationship that must obtain between a perceptual state and a belief in order for the former to immediately justify …Read more
  •  121
    If [C1-3] are true, then we must identity some analyticity-relevant property other than character and content which differs between “Hesperus” and “Phosphorus.” On Gill’s view this is the property of having a certain reference determiner
  •  63
    The Method of Perfect Being Theology
    Faith and Philosophy 31 (3): 256-266. 2014.
    Perfect being theology is the attempt to decide questions about the nature of God by employing the Anselmian formula that God is the greatest possible being. One form of perfect being theology—recently defended by Brian Leftow in God and Necessity—holds that we can decide between incompatible claims that God is F and that God is not F by asking which claim would confer more greatness on God, and then using the formula that God is the greatest possible being to rule out the one which confers less…Read more
  •  56
    Permissible Tinkering with the Concept of God
    Topoi 36 (4): 587-597. 2017.
    In response to arguments against the existence of God, and in response to perceived conflicts between divine attributes, theists often face pressure to give up some pretheoretically attractive thesis about the divine attributes. One wonders: when does this unacceptably water down our concept of God, and when is it, as van Inwagen says, ‘permissible tinkering’ with the concept of God? A natural and widely deployed answer is that it is permissible tinkering iff it is does not violate the claim tha…Read more
  •  478
    Is there a problem about nonconceptual content?
    Philosophical Review 114 (3): 359-98. 2005.
    In the past twenty years, issues about the relationship between perception and thought have largely been framed in terms of the question of whether the contents of perception are nonconceptual. I argue that this debate has rested on an ambiguity in `nonconceptual content' and some false presuppositions about what is required for concept possession. Once these are cleared away, I argue that none of the arguments which have been advanced about nonconceptual content do much to threaten the natural …Read more
  •  200
    Foreknowledge, Evil, and Compatibility Arguments
    Faith and Philosophy 28 (3): 269-293. 2011.
    Most arguments against God’s existence aim to show that it is incompatible with various apparent features of the world, such as the existence of evil or of human free will. In response, theists have sought to show that God’s existence is compatible with these features of the world. However, the fact that the proposition that God exists is necessary if possible introduces some underappreciated difficulties for these arguments
  •  44
    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
  •  112
    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
  •  63
    The Character of Consciousness
    Philosophical Review 121 (1): 125-131. 2012.
  •  130
    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
  •  89
    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
  •  80
    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
  •  231
    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
  •  188
    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