University of Rochester
Department of Philosophy
PhD, 2000
Harrisonburg, Virginia, United States of America
Areas of Specialization
Philosophy of Language
  •  32
    There has been a lot of discussion recently regarding abstract artifacts and how such entities (e.g., fictional characters like Sherlock Holmes, and mythological planets like Vulcan), if they indeed exist, could possibly be our creations. One interesting aspect of some of these debates concerns the extent to which creative intentions play a role in the creation of artifacts generally, both abstract and concrete. I here address the creation of concrete artifacts in particular. I ultimately defend…Read more
  •  27
    On Reading
    Acta Analytica 35 (1): 51-59. 2020.
    What is reading? Seeing and comprehending a contentful, written text counts as reading, of course, but that is simply the paradigm; it is not reading itself. Blind people, e.g., often read using Braille. So, my project in this paper is to address this question: What is the proper analysis of person S reads text W? Surprisingly, no philosophical attempts to analyze reading exist; this question has yet to be tackled. Can other sensory modalities be used to read? What more can be said about the nat…Read more
  •  51
    On Defining ‘Argument’
    Argumentation 32 (4): 589-602. 2018.
    There is no concept more central to logic and critical thinking than the concept of an argument. I here address the definition of ‘argument’ in the logical sense of the term and defend the claim that many current proposals, once they are interpreted in a way that makes them sufficiently precise, are extensionally inadequate. Definitions found in some contemporary, prominent critical thinking textbooks will serve as a springboard. I claim that each may be interpreted in an absolutist way or a rel…Read more
  •  30
    In my “Creatures of Fiction, Objects of Myth”, I present and defend an argument for thinking that mythical creationism—the view that mythical objects like phlogiston and Vulcan are abstract artifacts—is false. One intriguing sort of objection to my argument has been recently put forth by Zvolenszky ; she claims that a crucial premise is seen to be unjustified once one considers the phenomena of inadvertently created abstracta—specifically, inadvertently created fictional characters. I argue here…Read more
  • Toward an Adequate Theory of Possible and Impossible Worlds
    Dissertation, The University of Rochester. 2001.
    In this dissertation, I critically investigate the usefulness of impossible worlds in the analysis of various modal concepts. I argue that we have reason to adopt analyses that appeal to impossible worlds of a very conservative variety, but that we should reject analyses that appeal to radically impossible worlds, or worlds where some classical contradictions are true. ;I begin by presenting and motivating two theories of possible worlds. These views are two of the most prominent and widely acce…Read more
  •  340
    Defending Author-essentialism
    Philosophy and Literature 29 (1): 200-208. 2005.
    Creationism is the view that fictional individuals such as Sherlock Holmes are contingently existing abstracta that come about due to the intentional activities of authors. Author-essentialism is the stronger thesis that the author responsible for bringing a fictional individual into existence at a time is essential to the existence of that individual. Takashi Yagisawa has recently attacked this view on the following grounds: author-essentialists rely on an ontological parallelism between fict…Read more
  •  71
    A critical discussion of talking past one another
    Philosophy and Rhetoric 40 (3): 311-325. 2007.
    One sort of usage of the phrase ‘talking past one another’ that is quite prevalent in the philosophical literature suggests the following account of a particular phenomenon of miscommunication: Agent A and agent B talk past one another during a philosophical discussion if and only if A has in mind one meaning or conception of a crucial expression P that is distinct from some meaning or conception of P had in mind by B. In this paper, however, I argue that this account – given the sort of phenom…Read more
  •  115
    Where is Sherlock Holmes?
    Southern Journal of Philosophy 41 (2): 183-197. 2003.
    Most philosophers would say that fictional characters lack spatiotemporal location simply because such entities do not exist. However, even prominent believers in ficta hold that they must lack location. I here focus on the views of one such believer, Amie Thomasson, and her Artifactual Theory. The fundamentals of her ontology seem correct, but I argue that the view implies that ficta do have location. I provide a diagnosis of an argument Thomasson gives for the contrary, and then suggest a way …Read more
  •  19
    I here review Peter Alward's (2012) _Empty Revelations_.
  •  32
    EVERETT, ANTHONY. The Nonexistent. Oxford University Press, 2013, 256 pp., $65.00 cloth (review)
    Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 73 (2): 222-225. 2015.
    I here review Anthony Everett's (2013) _The Nonexistent_.
  •  295
    A defense of creationism in fiction
    Grazer Philosophische Studien 67 (1): 131-155. 2004.
    Creationism is the conjunction of the following theses: (i) fictional individuals (e.g. Sherlock Holmes) actually exist; (ii) fictional names (e.g., 'Holmes') are at least sometimes genuinely referential; (iii) fictional individuals are the creations of the authors who first wrote (or spoke, etc.) about them. CA Creationism is the conjunction of (i) - (iii) and the following thesis: (iv) fictional individuals are contingently existing abstracta; they are non-concrete artifacts of our world and v…Read more
  •  22
    Fine Individuation says it is impossible for distinct people who are not collaborating on a work of art to produce one and same artwork. This is an intra-world thesis, but is necessarily true, if true at all. Author Essentialism says it is impossible for someone else to produce one and the same work of art produced by some actual artist. This is an alleged necessary truth regarding cross-world relations. Both theses have been vigorously defended. I argue here that both are false, but for reasons…Read more
  •  636
    Fictionalia as Modal Artifacts
    Grazer Philosophische Studien 80 (1): 21-46. 2010.
    Th ere is much controversy surrounding the nature of the relation between fictional individuals and possible individuals. Some have argued that no fictional individual is a possible individual; others have argued that (some) fictional individuals just are (merely) possible individuals. In this paper, I off er further grounds for believing the theory of fictional individuals defended by Amie Thomasson,viz., Artifactualism, by arguing that her view best allows one to make sense of this puzzling re…Read more
  •  776
    Closest-possible-world analyses of counterfactuals suffer from what has been called the ‘problem of counterpossibles’: some counterfactuals with metaphysically impossible antecedents seem plainly false, but the proposed analyses imply that they are all (vacuously) true. One alleged solution to this problem is the addition of impossible worlds. In this paper, I argue that the closest possible or impossible world analyses that have recently been suggested suffer from the ‘new problem of counterp…Read more
  •  88
    Creatures of fiction, objects of myth
    Analysis 74 (1). 2014.
    Many who think that some abstracta are artefacts are fictional creationists, asserting that fictional characters are brought about by our activities. Kripke (1973), Salmon (1998, 2002), and Braun (2005) further embrace mythical creationism, claiming that certain entities that figure in false theories, such as phlogiston or Vulcan, are likewise abstracta produced by our intentional activities. I here argue that one may not reasonably take the metaphysical route travelled by the mythical creationi…Read more
  •  759
    On 'Deduction' and the Inductive/Deductive Distinction
    with Daniel Flage
    Studies in Logic 5 (3). 2012.
    The definitions of ‘deduction’ found in virtually every introductory logic textbook would encourage us to believe that the inductive/deductive distinction is a distinction among kinds of arguments and that the extension of ‘deduction’ is a determinate class of arguments. In this paper, we argue that that this approach is mistaken. Specifically, we defend the claim that typical definitions of ‘deduction’ operative in attempts to get at the induction/deduction distinction are either too narrow or …Read more
  •  75
    Pretense Theory and the Imported Background
    Open Journal of Philosophy 1 (1): 22. 2011.
    Kendall Walton’s pretense theory, like its rivals, says that what’s true in a fiction F depends in part on the importation of background propositions into F. The aim of this paper is to present, explain, and defend a brief yet straightforward argument–one which exploits the specific mechanism by which the pretense theory says propositions are imported into fictions–for the falsity of the pretense theory
  •  240
    A Novel Category of Vague Abstracta
    Metaphysica 8 (1): 79-96. 2007.
    Much attention has been given to the question of ontic vagueness, and the issues usually center around whether certain paradigmatically concrete entities – cats, clouds, mountains, etc. – are vague in the sense of having indeterminate spatial boundaries. In this paper, however, I wish to focus on a way in which some abstracta seem to be locationally vague. To begin, I will briefly cover some territory already covered regarding certain types of “traditional” abstracta and the ways they are curr…Read more