•  51
    Death and Nonexistence (review)
    Mind. forthcoming.
    A review of Death and Nonexistence, by Palle Yourgrau (Oxford University Press, 2019).
  •  8
    Medical disorder, harm, and damage
    Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 41 (1): 39-52. 2020.
    Jerome Wakefield’s harmful dysfunction analysis of medical disorder is an influential hybrid of naturalist and normative theories. In order to conclude that a condition is a disorder, according to the HDA, one must determine both that it results from a failure of a physical or psychological mechanism to perform its natural function and that it is harmful. In a recent issue of this journal, I argued that the HDA entails implausible judgments about which disorders there are and how they are indivi…Read more
  •  58
    Harming by Failing to Benefit
    Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 22 (4): 809-823. 2017.
    In this paper, I consider the problem of omission for the counterfactual comparative account of harm. A given event harms a person, on this account, when it makes her worse off than she would have been if it had not occurred. The problem arises because cases in which one person merely fails to benefit another intuitively seem harmless. The account, however, seems to imply that when one person fails to benefit another, the first thereby harms the second, since the second person would have been be…Read more
  •  7
    Subjectivity and the Objects of Belief
    Dissertation, University of Massachusetts Amherst. 1996.
    This dissertation is a study of the problem of beliefs about oneself, or so-called de se beliefs: for example, the beliefs that I would express by saying 'I am left-handed' or 'I am in Massachusetts'. The problem arises against the background conception of belief as a propositional attitude, i.e., as a relation between conscious subjects and abstract entities that are either true or false absolutely. ;Many philosophers have recently argued that the intentional objects of one's de se beliefs coul…Read more
  •  23
    Harm and the concept of medical disorder
    Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 38 (5): 367-385. 2017.
    According to Jerome Wakefield’s harmful dysfunction analysis of medical disorder, the inability of some internal part or mechanism to perform its natural function is necessary, but not sufficient, for disorder. HDA also requires that the part dysfunction be harmful to the individual. I consider several problems for HDA’s harm criterion in this article. Other accounts on which harm is necessary for disorder will suffer from all or almost all of these problems. Comparative accounts of harm imply t…Read more
  •  90
    Infallibilism and Gettier's legacy
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 66 (2). 2003.
    Infallibilism is the view that a belief cannot be at once warranted and false. In this essay we assess three nonpartisan arguments for infallibilism, arguments that do not depend on a prior commitment to some substantive theory of warrant. Three premises, one from each argument, are most significant: if a belief can be at once warranted and false, then the Gettier Problem cannot be solved; if a belief can be at once warranted and false, then its warrant can be transferred to an accidentally true…Read more
  •  74
    Naming and Nonexistence
    Southern Journal of Philosophy 47 (3): 239-262. 2009.
    I defend a cluster of views about names from fiction and myth. The views are based on two claims: first, proper names refer directly totheir bearers; and second, names from fiction and myth are genuinely empty, they simply do not refer. I argue that when such names are used in direct discourse, utterances containing them have truth values but do not express propositions. I also argue that it is a mistake to think that if an utterance of, for example, “Vulcan is a planet” fails to express a propo…Read more
  •  315
  •  205
    When does falsehood preclude knowledge?
    with Andrew Cullison
    Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 92 (3): 283-304. 2011.
    Falsehood can preclude knowledge in many ways. A false proposition cannot be known. A false ground can prevent knowledge of a truth, or so we argue, but not every false ground deprives its subject of knowledge. A falsehood that is not a ground for belief can also prevent knowledge of a truth. This paper provides a systematic account of just when falsehood precludes knowledge, and hence when it does not. We present the paper as an approach to the Gettier problem and arrive at a relatively simple …Read more
  •  92
    Comparative Harm, Creation and Death
    Utilitas 28 (2): 136-163. 2016.
    Given that a person's death is bad for her, when is it bad? I defend subsequentism, the view that things that are bad in the relevant way are bad after they occur. Some have objected to this view on the grounds that it requires us to compare the amount of well-being the victim would have enjoyed, had she not died, with the amount she receives while dead; however, we cannot assign any level of well-being, not even zero, to a dead person. In the population ethics literature, many philosophers have…Read more
  •  59
  •  163
    Plural Harm
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 90 (2): 361-388. 2015.
    In this paper, I construct and defend an account of harm, specifically, all-things-considered overall harm. I start with a simple comparative account, on which an event harms a person provided that she would have been better off had it not occurred. The most significant problems for this account are overdetermination and preemption cases. However, a counterfactual comparative approach of some sort is needed to make sense of harm, or so I argue. I offer a counterfactual comparative theory that ac…Read more
  •  140
    The Most Valuable Player
    with Stephen Kershnar
    Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 28 (2): 193-206. 2001.
    The most valuable player (MVP) of an athletic league is the single best individual player in the league. The MVP award is the institutional recognition of this person, and it is the highest annual award that a player can receive. Despite its widespread consideration and importance, we argue that the concept of the MVP is a fundamentally vague concept. In the context of professional sports, however, such a vague category is valuable in that it promotes the active discussion of different types of …Read more
  • Self-Ascription and Self-Awareness
    In Miguens & Preyer (eds.), Consciousness and Subjectivity, Ontos Verlag. pp. 47--213. 2012.
  •  24
    Explaining the Geometry of Desert
    with Stephen Kershnar
    Public Affairs Quarterly 18 (4): 273-298. 2004.
    In the past decade, three philosophers in particular have recently explored the relation between desert and intrinsic value. Fred Feldman argues that consequentialism need not give much weight – or indeed any weight at all – to the happiness of persons who undeservedly experience pleasure. He defends the claim that the intrinsic value of a state of affairs is determined by the “fit” between the amount of well-being that a person receives and the amount of well-being that the person deserves. She…Read more
  •  11
    The Structure of Higher Goods
    In Toni Rønnow-Rasmussen & Michael J. Zimmerman (eds.), Southern Journal of Philosophy, Springer. pp. 281--290. 2005.
  •  119
    Rationality and Puzzling Beliefs
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 63 (1). 2001.
    The author presents and defends a general view about belief. and certain attributions of belief, with the intention of providing a solution to Saul Kripke’s puzzle about belief. According to the position developed in the paper, there are two senses in which one could be said to have contradictory beliefs. Just one of these senses threatens the rationality of the believer; but Kripke’s puzzle concerns only the other one. The general solution is then extended to certain variants of Kripke’s origin…Read more
  •  73
    In English, we use the word "I" to express thoughts that we have about ourselves, and we use the reflexive pronouns "himself" and "herself" to attribute such thoughts to others. Philosophers and linguists call such thoughts, and the statements we use to express them, de se. De se thoughts and statements, although they appear often in our day-to-day lives, pose a series of challenging problems for both linguists and philosophers. This interdisciplinary volume examines the structure of de se tho…Read more
  •  88
    Selfless Desires and the Property Theory of Content
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 88 (3): 489-503. 2010.
    The property theory of content takes the content of each cognitive attitude (each belief, desire, and so on) to be a property to which the subject of the attitude is related in the appropriate psychological way. This view is motivated by standard cases of de se belief and other attitudes. In this paper, I consider a couple of related objections to the property theory of content. Both objections have to do with the possible non-existence of the subject. More specifically, the objections are based…Read more
  •  72
    More on brute facts
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 76 (4). 1998.
    This Article does not have an abstract
  •  59
    Russellianism and referential uses of descriptions
    Philosophical Studies 115 (2). 2003.
    A number of philosophers continue to argue, inthe spirit of Keith Donnellans classic paperReference and Definite Descriptions, thatthere is more to the semantics of definitedescriptions than Russells theory predicts. If their arguments are correct, then a completesemantic theory for sentences that containdefinite descriptions will have to provide morethan one set of truth conditions. A unitaryRussellian analysis of sentences of the form`the F is G would not suffice. In this paper,I examine a rec…Read more
  •  100
    Mental content and the problem of De Se belief -- Cognitive attitudes and content -- The doctrine of propositions -- The problem of De Se belief -- The property theory of content -- In favor of the property theory -- Perry's messy shopper and the argument from explanation -- Lewis's case of the two Gods -- Arguments from internalism and physicalism -- An inference to the best explanation -- Alternatives to the property theory -- The triadic view of belief -- How the property theory and the triad…Read more
  •  48
    The doctrine of propositions, internalism, and global supervenience
    Philosophical Studies 131 (2): 447-457. 2006.
    I present two short arguments concerning the views named in the title. First, I argue that the Doctrine of Propositions, according to which the contents of our psychological attitudes are always propositions, is incompatible with Internalism, understood as a doctrine endorsing the intrinsic character of mental content. Second, I try to show that the Doctrine of Propositions is also incompatible with the claim that psychological properties supervene globally on physical properties (i.e., that the…Read more