Fordham University
Department of Philosophy
PhD, 2016
Chicago, Illinois, United States of America
Areas of Interest
  •  79
    Personhood and Natural Kinds: Why Cognitive Status Need Not Affect Moral Status
    Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 42 (3): 261-277. 2017.
    Lockean accounts of personhood propose that an individual is a person just in case that individual is characterized by some advanced cognitive capacity. On these accounts, human beings with severe cognitive impairment are not persons. Some accept this result—I do not. In this paper, I therefore advance and defend an account of personhood that secures personhood for human beings who are cognitively impaired. On the account for which I argue, an individual is a person just in case that individual …Read more
  •  45
    Philosophy Labs
    Teaching Philosophy 44 (2): 187-206. 2021.
    Conversation is a foundational aspect of philosophical pedagogy. Too often, however, philosophical research becomes disconnected from this dialogue, and is instead conducted as a solitary endeavor. We aim to bridge the disconnect between philosophical pedagogy and research by proposing a novel framework. Philosophy labs, we propose, can function as both a pedagogical tool and a model for conducting group research. Our review of collaborative learning literature suggests that philosophy labs, lik…Read more
  •  37
    Enduring Questions and the Ethics of Memory Blunting
    Journal of the American Philosophical Association 3 (2): 227-246. 2017.
    Memory blunting is a pharmacological intervention that decreases the emotional salience of memories. The technique promises a brighter future for those suffering from memory-related disorders such as PTSD, but it also raises normative questions about the limits of its permissibility. So far, neuroethicists have staked out two primary camps in response to these questions. In this paper, I argue both are problematic. I then argue for an alternative approach to memory blunting, one that can accommo…Read more
  •  35
    Consciousness Empowered
    Dissertation, Fordham University. 2016.
    Understanding the difference between conscious and unconscious states is important for making sense of human cognition. Consider: your perception of these words is currently conscious while the feeling of the floor beneath your left foot presumably is not. But what does the difference between these states consist in? Contemporary philosophers disagree about how to answer this kind of question. Extrinsic theorists claim states are conscious because of how they are related to other states, entitie…Read more
  •  35
    Please Don't Call Us Jerks (review)
    with Marley Hornewer, Sarah Khan, Rohan Meda, Kit Rempala, and Sydney Samoska
    The Philosopher 115. 2020.
    A review of Eric Schwitzgebel's book "A Theory of Jerks and Other Philosophical Misadventures" (2020)
  •  35
    When Does Consciousness Matter? Lessons from the Minimally Conscious State
    American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience 9 (1): 5-15. 2018.
    Patients in a minimally conscious state (MCS) fall into a different diagnostic category than patients in the more familiar vegetative states (VS). Not only are MCS patients conscious in some sense, they have a higher chance for recovery than VS patients. Because of these differences, we ostensibly have reason to provide MCS patients with care that goes beyond what we provide to patients with some VS patients. But how to justify this differential treatment? I argue we can’t justify it solely by l…Read more
  •  28
    Three Kinds of Agency and Closed Loop Neural Devices
    American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience 8 (2): 90-91. 2017.
    Goering and colleagues (2017) acknowledge closed-loop neural devices have the potential to undermine agency. Indeed, the authors observe that “the agent using the device may . . . sometimes doubt whether she is the author of her action, given that the device may operate in ways that are not transparent to her” (65). Still, the authors ultimately argue that closed-loop neural devices may be construed as supporting agency, especially when we view agency from a relational perspective. The reason? W…Read more
  •  28
    Why Narrative Identity Matters: Preserving Authenticity in Neurosurgical Interventions
    American Journal of Bioethics: Neuroscience 8 (3): 186-88. 2017.
    Jecker & Ko (2017) argue that numerical identity is not the only aspect of identity that matters to patients faced with certain neurosurgical interventions. Put differently: surviving an intervention in the numerical sense—being numerically the same person before and after the intervention—is not enough. It also matters whether an intervention preserves a patient’s narrative identity, that is, whether an intervention allows the patient’s “inner story” to continue. I agree with the authors’ concl…Read more
  •  26
    Cultural psychologists often describe the relationship between mind and culture as ‘dynamic.’ In light of this, we provide two desiderata that a theory about encultured minds ought to meet: the theory ought to reflect how cultural psychologists describe their own findings and it ought to be thoroughly naturalistic. We show that a realist theory of causal powers — which holds that powers are causally-efficacious and empirically-discoverable — fits the bill. After an introduction to the major conc…Read more
  •  21
    Integrating Neuroethics and Neuroscience: A Framework
    with Sarah Khan, Sydney Samoska, Marley Hornewer, Rohan Meda, and Kit Rempala
    American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience 11 (3): 217-218. 2020.
    The BRAIN 2.0 Neuroethics Report reflects on the ways in which neuroscientific research may inform our understanding of concepts such as consciousness and empathy, and how advances in this understanding might in turn affect practices such as research on non-human animal primates. Generally, the Report calls for “the integration of neuroscience and neuroethics during the remaining years of the BRAIN initiative and beyond” (NIH 2019). In responding to the Report, the articles in this issue grapple…Read more
  •  18
    Is Neuroscience Relevant to Our Moral Responsibility Practices?
    Journal of Cognition and Neuroethics 2 (2): 61-82. 2014.
    Some psychologists and philosophers have argued that neuroscience is importantly relevant to our moral responsibility practices, especially to our practices of praise and blame. For consider: on an unprecedented scale, contemporary neuroscience presents us with a mechanistic account of human action. Furthermore, in uential studies – most notoriously, Libet et al. (1983) – seem to show that the brain decides to do things (so to speak) before we consciously make a decision. In light of these ndin…Read more
  •  16
    Bioenhanced “Virtues” May Threaten Personal Identity
    with Gina Lebkuecher, Kit Rempala, Sydney Samoska, and Marley Hornewer
    American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience 12 (2-3): 117-119. 2021.
    Fabiano argues that virtue theory offers the best “safety framework” for mitigating the risks of moral enhancement (1). He advances five desiderata for an ideal safety framework and then explains how virtue theory satisfies each. Among these desiderata is the “preservation of identity” (1). Fabiano argues that moral enhancement can safely preserve personal identity when carried out within the framework of virtue theory. We suggest Fabiano's argument for this conclusion falls short, since contra …Read more
  •  14
    Embodied, embedded, enactive, and extended theorists do not typically focus on the ontological frameworks in which they develop their theories. One exception is 4E theories that embrace New Mechanism. In this paper, we endorse the New Mechanist’s general turn to ontology, but argue that their ontology is not the best on the market for 4E theories. Instead, we advocate for a different ontology: causal powers realism. Causal powers realism posits that psychological manifestations are the product o…Read more
  •  14
    From Knowing to Understanding: Revisiting Consent
    with Kit Rempala, Marley Hornewer, Rohan Meda, and Sarah Khan
    American Journal of Bioethics 20 (5): 33-35. 2020.
    Dickert et al. (2020) effectively address how factors such as time limitations, stress, and illness severity in acute conditions warrant a deeper evaluation of how current consent processes serve patients. While data suggests that patients “prefer to be asked for permission upfront rather than waiving consent” (2), consent forms themselves “are frequently long and technical, follow rigid templates, and contain language that appears to prioritize institutional protection” (1). Such findings eluci…Read more
  •  11
    Organ Donation and Declaration of Death: Combined Neurologic and Cardiopulmonary Standards
    with Stephen E. Doran
    The Linacre Quarterly 86. forthcoming.
    Prolonged survival after the declaration of death by neurologic criteria creates ambiguity regarding the validity of this methodology. This ambiguity has perpetuated the debate among secular and nondissenting Catholic authors who question whether the neurologic standards are sufficient for the declaration of death of organ donors. Cardiopulmonary criteria are being increasingly used for organ donors who do not meet brain death standards. However, cardiopulmonary criteria are plagued by conflict …Read more
  •  7
    Harm Reduction Models: Roadmaps for Transformative Experiences
    with Kit Rempala, Marley Hornewer, Maya Roytman, Sydney Samoska, and Rohan Meda
    American Journal of Bioethics 21 (7): 63-65. 2021.
    Patients with severe and enduring anorexia nervosa have a relatively low chance of attaining the symptom-free recovery that traditional eating disorder treatment programs endorse (Bianchi, S...
  •  5
    SCIENTISM AND SECULARISM: Learning to Respond to a Dangerous Ideology (review)
    with Michael Burns
    Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 73 (1): 48-49. 2021.
    A review of J.P. Moreland's SCIENTISM AND SECULARISM: Learning to Respond to a Dangerous Ideology.
  •  5
    Holding On: A Community Approach to Autonomy in Dementia
    with Kit Rempala, Marley Hornewer, Rohan Meda, and Sarah Khan
    American Journal of Bioethics 20 (8): 107-109. 2020.
    Volume 20, Issue 8, August 2020, Page 107-109.
  •  5
    Double Effect Donation
    with Charles Camosy
    The Linacre Quarterly 88 (2): 149-162. 2021.
    Double Effect Donation claims it is permissible for a person meeting brain death criteria to donate vital organs, even though such a person may be alive. The reason this act is permissible is that it does not aim at one’s own death but rather at saving the lives of others, and because saving the lives of others constitutes a proportionately serious reason for engaging in a behavior in which one foresees one’s death as the outcome. Double Effect Donation, we argue, opens a novel position in debat…Read more
  •  4
    From Solo Decision Maker to Multi-Stakeholder Process: A Defense and Recommendations
    with David Ozar, Kit Rempala, and Rohan Meda
    American Journal of Bioethics 20 (2): 53-55. 2020.
    Berger (2019) argues effectively that “representativeness is more aptly understood as a variable that is multidimensional and continuous based on relational moral authority,” and also makes some useful suggestions about how taking this observation seriously might require changes in current patterns of practice regarding surrogates. But the essay raises additional important questions about how the Best Interest Standard (BIS) should be used among unrepresented patients and other patients as well …Read more
  •  4
    BCI-Mediated Action, Blame, and Responsibility
    American Journal of Bioethics: Neuroscience 11. 2020.
    Rainey et al. (forthcoming) discuss the complications that arise with assigning responsibility for brain computer interface (BCI)-mediated actions. Because BCI-mediated actions can differ from non-BCI-mediated actions in terms of control and foreseeability, the authors suggest that our ethical and legal evaluation of these actions may differ in important ways. While we take no issue with the authors’ discussion or conclusion, we also recognize the difficulty of grappling with the relationship be…Read more
  •  4
    How to power encultured minds
    Synthese 197 (8): 3507-3534. 2020.
    Cultural psychologists often describe the relationship between mind and culture as ‘dynamic.’ In light of this, we provide two desiderata that a theory about encultured minds ought to meet: the theory ought to reflect how cultural psychologists describe their own findings and it ought to be thoroughly naturalistic. We show that a realist theory of causal powers—which holds that powers are causally-efficacious and empirically-discoverable—fits the bill. After an introduction to the major concepts…Read more
  •  4
    From Epistemic Trespassing to Transdisciplinary Cooperation: The Role of Expertise in the Identification of Usual Care
    with Kit Rempala, Molly Klug, and Marley Hornewer
    American Journal of Bioethics 20 (1): 52-54. 2020.
    According to Macklin & Natanson (2019), one reason unusual practices can be misidentified as usual care is that “instead of using pertinent, accurate information describing usual care, investigators may rely on the opinion of ‘experts’ in the field, whose information may be out of date or otherwise inaccurate." We find Macklin & Natanson’s insights about misattributed expertise crucial, and suggest their discussion can be elucidated further by characterizing it in the context of Ballantyne (2018…Read more
  •  2
    Rationally Navigating Subjective Preferences in Memory Modification
    Journal of Medicine and Philosophy. forthcoming.
    Discussion of the ethics of memory modification technologies (MMTs) has often focused on questions about the limits of their permissibility. In the current paper, I focus primarily on a different issue: when (if ever) is it rational to prefer MMTs to alternative interventions? The question is crucial. Unless those who condone the use of MMTs offer guidance for navigating among various interventions, their account risks becoming a moral endorsement that says little about what one faced with the o…Read more
  •  1
    Rationality and Cognitive Enhancement
    Res Philosophica 98 (4): 597-618. 2021.
    When is it rational to undergo cognitive enhancement? In the case of what I’ll call massive cognitive enhancement, my answer is never. The reason is that one must base one’s decision to undergo massive cognitive enhancement on what I’ll call either phenomenal or non-phenomenal outcomes. If the former, the choice is not rational because massive cognitive enhancements are transformative and, I’ll argue with Paul, transformative experiences cannot be chosen rationally. If the latter, the choice is …Read more
  • Navigating Faith and Science
    Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.. forthcoming.
    This book provides a framework for approaching issues at the intersection of science and faith. The framework will be helpful for those who have begun thinking about these issues, as well as for those to whom conversations about this topic are new. Think of the book as a guidebook: one that offers an overview of the most infamous interactions between science and religion, surveys tried-and-true methods for approaching these issues, and, along the way, evaluates what works and what doesn’t.