•  729
    Can God’s Goodness Save the Divine Command Theory from Euthyphro?
    European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 4 (1): 177-195. 2012.
    Recent defenders of the divine command theory like Adams and Alston have confronted the Euthyphro dilemma by arguing that although God’s commands make right actions right, God is morally perfect and hence would never issue unjust or immoral commandments. On their view, God’s nature is the standard of moral goodness, and God’s commands are the source of all obligation. I argue that this view of divine goodness fails because it strips God’s nature of any features that would make His goodness intel…Read more
  •  206
    Is hard determinism a form of compatibilism?
    Philosophical Forum 33 (1): 81-99. 2002.
    Most philosophers now concede that libertarianism has failed as an account of free will. Assuming the correctness of this concession, that leaves compatibilism and hard determinism as the only remaining choices in the free will debate. In this paper, I will argue that hard determinism turns out to be a form of compatibilism, and therefore, compatibilism is the only remaining position in the free will debate. I will attempt to establish this conclusion by arguing that hard determinists will end u…Read more
  •  133
    This paper critically examines what I call the ‘testing theodicy,’ the widely held idea that natural evil exists in order to test our faith in God. This theodicy appears numerous times in the scriptures of all three Abrahamic faiths. After examining some of these scriptural passages, we will argue that in light of these texts, the notion of faith is best understood as some type of commitment such as trust, loyalty or piety, rather than as merely a belief in God’s existence. After carefully showi…Read more
  •  133
    Plantinga famously argues against evidentialism that belief in God can be properly basic. But the epistemology of cognitive faculties such as perception and memory which produce psychologically non-inferential beliefs shows that various inferentially justified theoretical beliefs are epistemically prior to our memory and perceptual beliefs, preventing the latter from being epistemically basic. Plantinga's analogy between the sensus divinitatis and these cognitive faculties suggests that the deli…Read more
  •  131
    Discussions of conservatism in epistemology often fail to demonstrate that the principle of conservatism is supported by epistemic considerations. In this paper, I hope to show two things. First, there is a defensible version of the principle of conservatism, a version that applies only to what I will call our basic beliefs. Those who deny that conservatism is supported by epistemic considerations do so because they fail to take into account the necessarily social, diachronic and self-correcting…Read more
  •  112
    Theism and the Criminalization of Sin
    European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 10 (1): 163-187. 2018.
    The free will theodicy places significant value on free will: free will is of such substantial value, that God’s gift of free will to humans was justified, even though this gift foreseeably results in the most monstrous of evils. I will argue that when a state criminalizes sin, it can restrict or eliminate citizens’ exercise of metaphysical free will with respect to choosing to partake in or refrain from these activities. Given the value placed on free will in the free will theodicy, theists who…Read more
  •  105
    Do normative facts need to explain?
    Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 81 (3). 2000.
    Much moral skepticism stems from the charge that moral facts do not figure in causal explanations. However, philosophers committed to normative epistemological discourse (by which I mean our practice of evaluating beliefs as justified or unjustified, and so forth) are in no position to demand that normative facts serve such a role, since epistemic facts are causally impotent as well. I argue instead that pragmatic reasons can justify our continued participation in practices which, like morality …Read more
  •  104
    Why Response-Dependence Theories of Morality are False
    Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 6 (3): 275-294. 2003.
    Many response-dependence theorists equate moral truth with the generation of some affective psychological response: what makes this action wrong, as opposed to right, is that it would cause (or merit) affective response of type R (perhaps under ideal conditions). Since our affective nature is purely contingent, and not necessarily shared by all rational creatures (or even by all humans), response-dependence threatens to lead to relativism. In this paper, I will argue that emotional responses and…Read more
  •  96
    An argument against reduction in morality and epistemology
    Philosophical Investigations 29 (3). 2006.
    Many naturalistically-minded philosophers want to accomplish a naturalistic reduction of normative (e.g. moral and epistemic) claims. Mindful of avoiding the naturalistic fallacy, such philosophers claim that they are not reducing moral and epistemic concepts or definitions. Rather, they are only reducing the extension of these normative terms, while admitting that the concepts possess a normative content that cannot be naturalistically reduced. But these philosophers run into a serious problem.…Read more
  •  95
    Disenchanting the world: McDowell, Sellars, and rational constraint by perception
    Journal of Philosophical Research 29 (February): 125-152. 2004.
    In his book Mind and World, John McDowell grapples with the problem that the world must and yet seemingly cannot constrain our empirical thought. I first argue that McDowell’s proposed solution to the problem throws him onto the horns of his own, intractable dilemma, and thus fails to solve the problem of rational constraint by the world. Next, I will argue that Wilfrid Sellars, in a series of articles written in the 1950s and 60s, provides the tools to solve the dilemma McDowell sets before us.…Read more
  •  51
    Emotions and incommensurable moral concepts
    Philosophy 76 (4): 585-604. 2001.
    Many authors have argued that emotions serve an epistemic role in our moral practice. Some argue that this epistemic connection is so strong that creatures who do not share our affective nature will be unable to grasp our moral concepts. I argue that even if this sort of incommensurability does result from the role of affect in morality, incommensurability does not in itself entail relativism. In any case, there is no reason to suppose that one must share our emotions and concerns to be able to …Read more
  •  43
    One important strand of Sellars’s attack on classical foundationalism from Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind is his thesis about the priority of is-talk over looks-talk. This thesis has been criticized extensively in recent years, and classical foundationalism has found several contemporary defenders. I revisit Sellars’s thesis and argue that is-talk is epistemically prior to looks-talk in a way that undermines classical foundationalism. The classical foundationalist claims that epistemic fo…Read more
  •  32
    Consensus and Excellence of Reasons
    Journal of Philosophical Research 28 83-103. 2003.
    It is plausible to suppose that the normativity of evaluative (e.g., moral and epistemic) judgments arises out of and is, in some sense, dependent on our actual evaluative practice. At the same time, though, it seems likely that the correctness of evaluative judgments is not merely a matter of what the underlying practice endorses and condemns; denial of this leads one into a rather objectionable form of relativism. In this paper, I will explore a social practice account of normativity according…Read more
  •  28
    Recent critics of Sellars's argument against the Given attack Sellars's conclusion that sensations cannot play a role in the justification of observation beliefs. I maintain that Sellars can concede that sensations play a role in justifying observation reports without being forced to concede that they have the foundational status of an epistemic Given. However, Sellars's own arguments that observation reports rest, in some sense, on other empirical beliefs are not sufficiently well-developed; no…Read more
  •  24
    A Fatal Dilemma For Direct Realist Foundationalism
    Journal of Philosophical Research 40 405-440. 2015.
    Direct realist versions of foundationalism have recently been advocated by Pryor, Huemer, Alston, and Plantinga. DRF can hold either that our foundational observation beliefs are about the simple perceptible qualities of objects, or that our foundational observation beliefs are more complex ones about objects in the world. I will show that whether our observational beliefs are simple or complex, the agent must possess other epistemically significant states in order for these observational belief…Read more
  •  18
    Do Normative Facts Need to Explain?
    Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 81 (3): 246-272. 2000.
    Much moral skepticism stems from the charge that moral facts do not figure in causal explanations. However, philosophers committed to normative epistemological discourse are in no position to demand that normative facts serve such a role, since epistemic facts are causally impotentas well. I argue instead that pragmatic reasons can justify our continued participation in practices which, like morality and epistemology, do not servethe function of causal explanation.
  •  15
    Knowledge as a collective status
    Analytic Philosophy. forthcoming.
    While social epistemology is a diverse field, much of it still understands knowledge as an individual status—albeit an individual status that crucially depends on various social factors (such as testimony). Further, the literature on group knowledge until now has primarily focused on limited, specialized groups that may be said to know this or that as a group. I wish to argue, to the contrary, that all knowledge-attributions ascribe a collective status; and that this follows more or less direc…Read more
  •  14
    Wilfrid Sellars’s ethical theory was rich and deeply innovative. On Sellars’s view, moral judgments express a special kind of shared intention. Thus, we should see Sellars as an early advocate of an expressivism of plans and intentions, and an early theorist of collective intentionality. He supplemented this theory with a sophisticated logic of intentions, a robust theory of the categorical validity of normative expressions, a subtle way of reconciling the cognitive and motivating aspects of mor…Read more
  •  8
    Consensus and Excellence of Reasons
    Journal of Philosophical Research 28 83-103. 2003.
    It is plausible to suppose that the normativity of evaluative judgments arises out of and is, in some sense, dependent on our actual evaluative practice. At the same time, though, it seems likely that the correctness of evaluative judgments is not merely a matter of what the underlying practice endorses and condemns; denial of this leads one into a rather objectionable form of relativism. In this paper, I will explore a social practice account of normativity according to which normativity is gro…Read more
  •  7
    Disenchanting the World: McDowell, Sellars, and Rational Constraint by Perception
    Journal of Philosophical Research 29 125-152. 2004.
    In his book Mind and World, John McDowell grapples with the problem that the world must and yet seemingly cannot constrain our empirical thought. I first argue that McDowell’s proposed solution to the problem throws him onto the horns of his own, intractable dilemma, and thus fails to solve the problem of rational constraint by the world. Next, I will argue that Wilfrid Sellars, in a series of articles written in the 1950s and 1960s, provides the tools to solve the dilemma McDowell sets before u…Read more
  •  1
    Sellars, Givenness, and Epistemic Priority
    Poznan Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities 92 147-172. 2007.
    Recent critics of Sellars's argument against the Given attack Sellars's conclusion that sensations cannot play a role in the justification of observation beliefs. I maintain that Sellars can concede that sensations play a role in justifying observation reports without being forced to concede that they have the foundational status of an epistemic Given. However, Sellars's own arguments that observation reports rest, in some sense, on other empirical beliefs are not sufficiently well-developed; no…Read more
  •  1
    A Conditional Defense of Moral Realism
    Dissertation, Georgetown University. 1998.
    Most philosophers endorse our epistemic practice of evaluating beliefs and methods of inquiry as justified or unjustified, rational or irrational; far fewer, though, think our practice of moral evaluation is viable. I contend that this difference in attitude toward epistemic and moral practice reveals an underlying double standard. I argue that the standards set by influential moral anti-realist arguments are not met by our practices of epistemic justification, and that the adoption of these sta…Read more
  • Perspectives on Coherentism
    Aylmer, Québec: Éditions Du Scribe. 2002.