•  1532
    A third way in metaethics
    Noûs 43 (1): 1-30. 2009.
    What does it take to count as competent with the meaning of a thin evaluative predicate like 'is the right thing to do'? According to minimalists like Allan Gibbard and Ralph Wedgwood, competent speakers must simply use the predicate to express their own motivational states. According to analytic descriptivists like Frank Jackson, Philip Pettit and Christopher Peacocke, competent speakers must grasp a particular criterion for identifying the property picked out by the term. Both approaches face …Read more
  •  744
    Frank Jackson often writes as if his descriptivist account of public language meanings were just plain common sense. How else are we to explain how different speakers manage to communicate using a public language? And how else can we explain how individuals arrive at confident judgments about the reference of their words in hypothetical scenarios? Our aim in this paper is to show just how controversial the psychological assumptions behind in Jackson’s semantic theory really are. First, we explai…Read more
  •  614
    Why be an anti-individualist?
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 77 (1): 105-141. 2008.
    Anti-individualists claim that concepts are individuated with an eye to purely external facts about a subject's environment about which she may be ignorant or mistaken. This paper offers a novel reason for thinking that anti-individualistic concepts are an ineliminable part of commonsense psychology. Our commitment to anti-individualism, I argue, is ultimately grounded in a rational epistemic agent's commitment to refining her own representational practices in the light of new and surprising inf…Read more
  •  506
    Two-dimensional semantics
    Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2010.
    Two-dimensional (2D) semantics is a formal framework that is used to characterize the meaning of certain linguistic expressions and the entailment relations among sentences containing them. 2D semantics has also been applied to thought contents. In contrast with standard possible worlds semantics, 2D semantics assigns extensions and truth-values to expressions relative to two possible world parameters, rather than just one. So a 2D semantic framework provides finer-grained semantic values than t…Read more
  •  453
    Considering empty worlds as actual
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 83 (3): 331-347. 2005.
    This paper argues that David Chalmer's new epistemic interpretation of 2-D semantics faces the very same type of objection he takes to defeat earlier contextualist interpretation of the 2-D framework
  •  437
    Illusion of transparency
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 85 (4). 2007.
    It's generally agreed that, for a certain a class of cases, a rational subject cannot be wrong in treating two elements of thought as co-referential. Even anti-individualists like Tyler Burge agree that empirical error is impossible in such cases. I argue that this immunity to empirical error is illusory and sketch a new anti-individualist approach to concepts that doesn't require such immunity.
  •  396
    Is Gibbard a Realist?
    with Francois Schroeder
    Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 1 (2): 1-18. 2005.
    In Thinking How to Live, Allan Gibbard claims that expressivists can vindicate realism about moral discourse. This paper argues that Gibbard’s expressivism does not provide such a vindication.
  •  335
    The limits of conceptual analysis
    Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 85 (4): 425-453. 2004.
    It would be nice if good old a priori conceptual analysis were possible. For many years conceptual analysis was out of fashion, in large part because of the excessive ambitions of verificationist theories of meaning._ _However, those days are over._ _A priori conceptual analysis is once again part of the philosophical mainstream._ _This renewed popularity, moreover, is well-founded. Modern philosophical analysts have exploited developments in philosophical semantics to formulate analyses which a…Read more
  •  268
    Normative Concepts: A Connectedness Model
    Philosophers' Imprint 14. 2014.
    This paper proposes a new relational account of concepts and shows how it is particularly well suited to characterizing normative concepts. The key advantage of our ‘connectedness’ model is that it explains how subjects can share the same normative concepts despite radical divergences in the descriptive or motivational commitments they associate with them. The connectedness model builds social and historical facts into the foundations of concept identity. This aspect of the model, we suggest, re…Read more
  •  249
    Against A Priori reductions
    Philosophical Quarterly 56 (225): 562-586. 2006.
    According to David Chalmers and Frank Jackson, conceptual competence puts one in a position to have a priori knowledge of conditional claims of the form ‘If my environment is thus and so, then water = H2O’. The rationale for this position, I argue, rests on controversial semantic assumptions about the individuation of meanings or concepts. I sketch a new model of conceptual competence, which undermines the apriority of such conditionals.
  •  245
    The rationalist foundations of Chalmers's 2-d semantics
    Philosophical Studies 118 (1-2): 227-255. 2004.
    In Epistemic Two-Dimensional Semantics, David Chalmers seeks to develop a version of 2-D semantics which can vindicate the rationalist claim that there are constitutive connections between meaning, possibility and a priority. Chalmers lays out different ways of filling in his preferred epistemic approach to 2-D semantics so as to avoid controversial philosophical assumptions. In these comments, however, I argue that there are some distinctively rationalist commitments in Chalmers's epistemic app…Read more
  •  207
    Two‐Dimensional Semantics and Sameness of Meaning
    Philosophy Compass 8 (1): 84-99. 2013.
    In recent years, two‐dimensional semantics has been used to develop a broadly descriptivist approach to meaning that seeks to accommodate externalists’ counterexamples to traditional descriptivism. The 2D possible worlds framework can be used to capture a speaker’s implicit dispositions to identify the reference of her words on the basis of empirical information about her actual environment. Proponents of 2D semantics argue that this aspect of linguistic understanding plays the core theoretical …Read more
  •  146
    Bootstrapping our way to samesaying
    Synthese 189 (1): 177-197. 2012.
    This paper articulates two constraints on an acceptable account of meaning: (i) accessibility: sameness of meaning affords an immediate appearance of de jure co-reference, (ii) flexibility: sameness of meaning tolerates open-ended variation in speakers' substantive understanding of the reference. Traditional accounts of meaning have trouble simultaneously satisfying both constraints. I suggest that relationally individuated meanings provide a promising way of avoiding this tension. On relational…Read more
  •  142
    Normative realism: co-reference without convergence?
    Philosophers' Imprint 13. 2013.
    This paper examines whether realists can explain co-reference without appealing to subjects’ ideal convergence in judgment. This question is particularly pressing in the normative domain, since deep disagreement about the applicability of normative predicates suggests that different speakers may not pick out the same property when they use normative terms. Normative realists, we believe, have not been sufficiently aware of the difficulties involved in providing a theory of reference-determinatio…Read more
  •  125
    Epistemic Two-Dimensionalism and Empirical Presuppositions
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 91 (2): 391-394. 2013.
    This note argues that Laura Schroeter's [2005] critique of David Chalmers's epistemic two-dimensional semantics is not touched by a reply by Edward Elliott, Kelvin McQueen, and Clas Weber [2013].
  •  125
    Are Concepts Creatures of Darkness?
    Analytic Philosophy 54 (2): 277-292. 2013.
  •  111
    Do Emotions Represent Values?
    Dialectica 69 (3): 357-380. 2015.
    This paper articulates what it would take to defend representationalism in the case of emotions – i.e. the claim that emotions attribute evaluative properties to target objects or events. We argue that representationalism faces a significant explanatory challenge that has not yet been adequately recognized. Proponents must establish that a representation relation linking emotions and value is explanatorily necessary. We use the case of perception to bring out the difficulties in meeting this exp…Read more
  •  108
    Gruesome diagonals
    Philosophers' Imprint 3 1-23. 2003.
    Frank Jackson and David Chalmers have suggested that the diagonal intensions defined by their two-dimensional framework can play the two key roles of Fregean senses: they provide a priori accessible extension conditions for a representation and they provide the identity conditions for meanings and thought contents. In this paper, I clarify the nature of the psychological abilities that are needed to underwrite the first role. I then argue that these psychological abilities are not sufficiently s…Read more
  •  99
    In Constructing the World, Chalmers seeks to articulate and defend an important epistemic accessibility thesis, the Scrutability of Truth, which is crucial to Chalmers’ rationalist approach to meaning and modality. Chapters 3 and 4 of the book are devoted to persuading us that the move from weaker to stronger forms of Scrutability is intuitively plausible. In these comments, I want to question this move. The plausibility of strong forms of Scrutability hinges on controversial views about epistem…Read more
  •  94
    Reasons as right-makers
    with François Schroeter
    Philosophical Explorations 12 (3): 279-296. 2009.
    This paper sketches a right-maker account of normative practical reasons along functionalist lines. The approach is contrasted with other similar accounts, in particular John Broome's analysis of reasons as explanations of oughts
  •  83
    Jazz Redux: a reply to Möller
    Philosophical Studies 170 (2): 303-316. 2014.
    This paper is a response to Niklas Möller’s (Philosophical Studies, 2013) recent criticism of our relational (Jazz) model of meaning of thin evaluative terms. Möller’s criticism rests on a confusion about the role of coordinating intentions in Jazz. This paper clarifies what’s distinctive and controversial about the Jazz proposal and explains why Jazz, unlike traditional accounts of meaning, is not committed to analycities
  •  82
    A slim semantics for thin moral terms?
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 81 (2). 2003.
    This paper is a critique of Ralph Wedgwood's recent attempt to use the framework of conceptual role semantics in metaethics. Wedgwood's central idea is that the action-guiding role of moral terms suffices to determine genuine properties as their semantic values. We argue that Wedgwood cannot get so much for so little. We explore two interpretations of Wedgwood's account of what it takes to be competent with a thin moral term. On the first interpretation, the account does not warrant the assignme…Read more
  •  71
    Semantic Deference versus Semantic Coordination
    American Philosophical Quarterly 53 (2): 193-210. 2016.
    It's widely accepted that social facts about an individual's linguistic community can affect both the reference of her words and the concepts those words express. Theorists sympathetic to the internalist tradition have sought to accommodate these social dependence phenomena without altering their core theoretical commitments by positing deferential reference-fixing criteria. In this paper, we sketch a different explanation of social dependence phenomena, according to which all concepts are indiv…Read more
  •  69
    The Generalized Integration Challenge is the task of providing, for a given domain of discourse, a simultaneously acceptable metaphysics, epistemology and metasemantics and showing them to be so. In this paper, we focus on a metaethical position for which seems particularly acute: the brand of normative realism which takes normative properties to be mind-independent and causally inert. The problem is that these metaphysical commitments seem to make normative knowledge impossible. We suggest that…Read more
  •  67
    Beyond Concepts
    Analysis 79 (2): 363-377. 2019.
  •  61
    Mental Files (review)
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 91 (4): 829-830. 2013.
    No abstract
  •  52
    Keeping track of what’s right
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 48 (3-4): 489-509. 2018.
    In this paper, we argue that ordinary judgments about core normative topics purport to attribute stable, objective properties and relations. Our strategy is first to analyze the structures and practices characteristic of paradigmatically representational concepts such as concepts of objects and natural kinds. We identify three broad features that ground the representational purport of these concepts. We then argue that core normative concepts exhibit these same features.
  •  30
    Inscrutability and Its Discontents
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 50 (5): 566-579. 2020.
    Our main focus in this paper is Herman Cappelen’s claim, defended in Fixing Language, that reference is radically inscrutable. We argue that Cappelen’s inscrutability thesis should be rejected. We also highlight how rejecting inscrutability undermines Cappelen’s most radical conclusions about conceptual engineering. In addition, we raise a worry about his positive account of topic continuity through inquiry and debate.