University of Toronto, St. George Campus
Graduate Department of Philosophy
PhD, 2001
Louisville, Kentucky, United States of America
Areas of Specialization
The Self
Philosophy of Language
  •  4110
    Cognitivism and the arts
    Philosophy Compass 3 (4): 573-589. 2008.
    Cognitivism in respect to the arts refers to a constellation of positions that share in common the idea that artworks often bear, in addition to aesthetic value, a significant kind of cognitive value. In this paper I concentrate on three things: (i) the challenge of understanding exactly what one must do if one wishes to defend a cognitivist view of the arts; (ii) common anti-cognitivist arguments; and (iii) promising recent attempts to defend cognitivism.
  •  3445
    Literature and Knowledge
    In Richard Eldridge (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Literature, Oxford University Press. 2009.
    What is the relation between works of fiction and the acquisition of knowledge?
  •  1266
    What Makes a Poem Philosophical?
    In Karen Zumhagen-Yekplé & Michael LeMahieu (eds.), Wittgenstein and Modernism, University of Chicago Press. pp. 130-152. 2018.
  •  887
    A Puzzle of Poetic Expression
    The Philosophers' Magazine 74 (3): 56-62. 2016.
  •  818
    Between truth and triviality
    British Journal of Aesthetics 43 (3): 224-237. 2003.
    A viable theory of literary humanism must do justice to the idea that literature offers cognitive rewards to the careful reader. There are, however, powerful arguments to the effect that literature is at best only capable of offering idle visions of a world already well known. In this essay I argue that there is a form of cognitive awareness left unmentioned in the traditional vocabulary of knowledge acquisition, a form of awareness literature is particularly capable of offering. Thus even if it…Read more
  •  683
    In Noël Carroll & John Gibson (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Literature, Routledge. pp. 200-219. 2015.
  •  627
    Interpreting words, interpreting worlds
    Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 64 (4). 2006.
    It is often assumed that literary meaning is essentially linguistic in nature and that literary interpretation is therefore a purely linguistic affair. This essay identifies a variety of literary meaning that cannot be reduced to linguistic meaning. Meaning of this sort is generated not by a communicative act so much as through a creative one: the construction of a fictional world. The way in which a fictional world can bear meaning turns out to be strikingly unlike the way a sentence can, and t…Read more
  •  408
    Narrative and the Literary Imagination
    In Allen Speight (ed.), Narrative, Philosophy & Life, Springer. pp. 135-50. 2014.
    This paper attempts to reconcile two apparently opposed ways of thinking about the imagination and its relationship to literature, one which casts it as essentially concerned with fiction-making and the other with culture-making. The literary imagination’s power to create fictions is what gives it its most obvious claim to “autonomy”, as Kant would have it: its freedom to venture out in often wild and spectacular excess of reality. The argument of this paper is that we can locate the literary im…Read more
  •  280
    Selves on Selves: The Philosophical Significance of Autobiography
    Journal of Aesthetic Education 46 (4): 109-119. 2012.
    Philosophers of literature do not take much of an interest in autobiography.1 In one sense this is not surprising. As a certain prejudice has it, autobiography is, along with biography, the preferred reading of people who do not really like to read. The very words can conjure up images of what one finds on bookshelves in Florida retirement communities and in underfunded public libraries, books with titles like Under the Rainbow: The Real Liza Minnelli or Me: Stories of My Life (Katharine Hepburn…Read more
  •  241
    Thick Narratives
    In John Gibson Noel Carroll (ed.), Narrative, Emotion, and Insight, Psup. pp. 69. 2011.
  •  221
  •  182
    On the Ethical Character of Literature
    In Espen Hammer (ed.), Kafka's The Trial: Philosophical Perspectives, Oxford University Press. pp. 85-110. 2018.
  •  177
    Narrative, Emotion, and Insight (edited book)
    with Noël Carroll
    Pennsylvania State University Press. 2011.
    While narrative has been one of the liveliest and most productive areas of research in literary theory, discussions of the nature of emotional responses to art and of the cognitive value of art tend to concentrate almost exclusively on the problem of fiction: How can we emote over or learn from fictions? _Narrative, Emotion, and Insight _explores what would happen if aestheticians framed the matter differently, having narratives—rather than fictional characters and events—as the object of emotio…Read more
  •  169
    Really Boring Art
    Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy. forthcoming.
    There is little question as to whether there is good boring art, though its existence raises a number of questions for both the philosophy of art and the philosophy of emotions. How can boredom ever be a desideratum of art? How can our standing commitments concerning the nature of aesthetic experience and artistic value accommodate the existence of boring art? How can being bored constitute an appropriate mode of engagement with a work of art as a work of art? More broadly, how can there be work…Read more
  •  135
    Zombie Philosophy
    In Edward P. Comentale & Aaron Jaffe (eds.), The Year's Work at the Zombie Research Center, . pp. 416-436. 2014.
  •  123
  •  53
    Fiction and the Weave of Life
    Oxford University Press UK. 2007.
    Literary fiction is of crucial importance in human life. It is a source of understanding and insight into the nature of the human condition, yet ever since Plato, philosophers have struggled to provide a plausible explanation of how this can be the case. For surely the fictionality - the sheer invented character - of the literary text means that fiction presents not our world, but other worlds? In Fiction and the Weave of Life, John Gibson offers a novel and intriguing account of the relationshi…Read more
  •  53
    A Sense of the World: Essays on Fiction, Narrative, and Knowledge (edited book)
    with Wolfgang Huemer and Luca Pocci
    Routledge. 2007.
    A team of leading contributors from both philosophical and literary backgrounds have been brought together in this impressive book to examine how works of literary fiction can be a source of knowledge. Together, they analyze the important trends in this current popular debate. The innovative feature of this volume is that it mixes work by literary theorists and scholars with work of analytic philosophers that combined together provide a comprehensive statement of the variety of ways in which wor…Read more
  •  35
    Interpretive reasoning edited by Stern, Laurent (review)
    Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 64 (4). 2006.
    Book review
  •  32
    The Philosophy of Literature by lamarque, peter (review)
    Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 68 (1): 68-70. 2010.
    Book review
  •  24
    The Literary Wittgenstein (edited book)
    with John Gibson and Wolfgang Huemer
    Routledge. 2004.
    _The Literary Wittgenstein_ is a stellar collection of articles relating the philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein to core problems in the theory and philosophy of literature. Amid growing recognition that Wittgenstein's philosophy has important implications for literary studies, this book brings together twenty-one articles by the most prominent figures in the field. Eighteen of the articles are published here for the first time. _The Literary Wittgenstein_ applies the approach of Wittgenstein to c…Read more
  •  18
    YABLO, STEPHEN. Aboutness. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2014, xi + 221 pp., $45.00 cloth (review)
    Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 74 (2): 206-208. 2016.