University of Virginia
Corcoran Department of Philosophy
PhD, 2005
Winston-Salem, North Carolina, United States of America
Areas of Interest
Aesthetics
  •  15
    Is Distributism Agrarian?
    Quaestiones Disputatae 8 (1): 88-107. 2017.
  •  18
    Editor’s Introduction
    Quaestiones Disputatae 8 (1): 3-6. 2017.
  •  16
  •  198
    Hylemorphic animalism
    Philosophical Studies 155 (1). 2011.
    Roughly, animalism is the doctrine that each of us is identical with an organism. This paper explains and defends a hylemorphic version of animalism. I show how hylemorphic animalism handles standard objections to animalism in compelling ways. I also show what the costs of endorsing hylemorphic animalism are. The paper's contention is that despite the costs, the view is worth taking seriously
  •  26
    An Old Argument Against Co-location
    Metaphysica 8 (1): 45-51. 2007.
    I defend an old argument against co-location—the view that human animals are distinct from, but co-located with human persons. The argument is drawn from St. Thomas Aquinas. In order to respond to the argument, co-locationists have to endorse at least one of a trio of claims, none of which is obviously correct. Further, two of the options do not seem to be the sort of positions that should be flowing out of the acceptance of a general metaphysical position. I conclude that co-locationism is more…Read more
  •  72
    St. Thomas Aquinas on the Problem of Too Many Thinkers
    Modern Schoolman 89 (3-4): 209-222. 2012.
    It has been argued that St. Thomas Aquinas’s anthropological views fall prey to the problem of “Too Many Thinkers.” The worry, roughly, is that his views entail that I—a human person—am able to think, but that my soul—which is not a human person—is also able to think. Hence, too many thinkers: there are too many ofus having my thoughts. In this paper, I show why this is not a problem for St. Thomas. Along the way, I also address Peter Unger’s argument for substance dualism
  •  11
    Objectivist Atheology
    Journal of Ayn Rand Studies 8 (2). 2007.
    Objectivists insist on the primacy of existence—the axiom that existence exists. This axiom is taken to entail that the universe exists independent of any consciousness, human or divine. Objectivists hold that a straightforward consequence of this axiom is that God does not exist. The central argument of this paper is that the Objectivist atheological argument based on the primacy of existence fails. Atheological arguments based on the alleged incoherence of the Divine attributes are at best inc…Read more
  •  108
    Emergent substance
    Philosophical Studies 141 (3). 2008.
    In this paper, I develop an ontological position according to which substances such as you and I have no substantial parts. The claim is not that we are immaterial souls. Nor is the claim that we are “human atoms” co-located with human organisms. It is, rather, that we are macrophysical objects that are, in the relevant sense, simple. I contend that despite initial appearances, this claim is not obviously false, and I defend it by showing how much work it can do.
  •  24
    Thomistic Theories of Aggregates
    Modern Schoolman 83 (4): 317-326. 2006.
  •  17
    Scholastic Metaphysics: A Contemporary Introduction. By Edward Feser
    American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 89 (2): 340-342. 2015.
  •  39
    On Merricks’s Dictum
    Journal of Philosophical Research 33 293-297. 2008.
    Consider the claim that if there were macrophysical objects, they would cause things. Trenton Merricks takes this to be an obviously true claim, and he puts it to work in his argument for eliminating some (alleged) macrophysical objects. In this short paper, I argue that the claim in question—Merricks’s Dictum—is not obviously true, and may even be false
  •  80
    Hylemorphism, remnant persons and personhood
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 44 (1): 76-96. 2014.
    Animalism is the doctrine that we human beings are – are identical with – animals. Hylemorphism is a form of animalism. In this paper, I defend hylemorphism by showing that while other forms of animalism fall prey to the problem of ‘Remnant Persons,’ hylemorphism does not. But hylemorphism's account of personhood seems to have some very implausible implications. I address one of those implications, and argue that it isn't nearly as objectionable as it might at first appear.
  •  58
    St. Thomas Aquinas on Gappy Existence
    Analytic Philosophy 56 (1): 94-110. 2015.
  •  44
    Pascal’s First Wager Reconsidered: A Virtue Theoretic View
    International Philosophical Quarterly 46 (1): 75-90. 2006.
    There are at least two versions of the famous Wager argument to be found in Pascal’s Pensées. In contemporary work on the Wager, attention is almost always focused on the second. In this paper, we take a look at the first, which is often quickly dismissed as a failure. Indeed, it seems to be generally believed that Pascal himself quickly dismissed it as a failure. We fi rst argue that Pascal himself accepted the argument. Then we argue that those who accept a virtue theoretic account of human fl…Read more
  •  148
    On Aristotelianism and Structures as Parts
    Ratio 26 (2): 148-161. 2013.
    Aristotelian substance theory tells us that substances have structures (read: forms) as proper parts. This claim has recently been defended by Kathrin Koslicki who dubbed it the ‘Neo-Aristotelian Thesis.’ Strangely, Aristotelianism has not yet been universally embraced by philosophers – partly because some of its claims, such as the Neo-Aristotelian Thesis – are viewed by some as counterintuitive at best. In this paper, I argue for Aristotelianism by showing its philosophical usefulness: specifi…Read more
  •  7
    Fashionable Nihilism: A Critique of Analytic Philosophy (review)
    American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 77 (2): 307-310. 2003.
  •  163
    Thomas versus Tibbles: A Critical Study of Christopher Brown’s Aquinas and the Ship of Theseus
    American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 81 (4): 639-653. 2007.
    In his recent book, Aquinas and the Ship of Theseus, Christopher Brown has argued that the metaphysics of St. Thomas is preferable to contemporary analyticviews because it can solve the “problem of material constitution” without requiring us to relinquish any of the common-sense beliefs that generate that problem. In this critical study, I show that in the case of both substances and aggregates, Brown’s Aquinas endorses views that are extremely implausible. Consequently, even if it is granted th…Read more
  •  126
    St. Thomas Aquinas on death and the separated soul
    Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 91 (4): 587-599. 2010.
    Since St. Thomas Aquinas holds that death is a substantial change, a popular current interpretation of his anthropology must be mistaken. According to that interpretation – the ‘survivalist’ view – St. Thomas holds that we human beings survive our deaths, constituted solely by our souls in the interim between death and resurrection. This paper argues that St. Thomas must have held the ‘corruptionist’ view: the view that human beings cease to exist at their deaths. Certain objections to the corru…Read more
  •  7
    On Merricks’s Dictum
    Journal of Philosophical Research 33 293-297. 2008.
    Consider the claim that if there were macrophysical objects, they would cause things. Trenton Merricks takes this to be an obviously true claim, and he puts it to work in his argument for eliminating some macrophysical objects. In this short paper, I argue that the claim in question—Merricks’s Dictum—is not obviously true, and may even be false.
  •  113
    Independence accounts of substance and substantial parts
    Philosophical Studies 155 (1). 2011.
    Traditionally, independence accounts of substance have held pride of place. Aristotle, Aquinas, Descartes and Spinoza—among many others—accepted independence accounts in one form or another. The general thrust of such views is that substances are those things that are apt to exist in themselves. In this paper, I argue that several contemporary independence theories of substance—including those of Kit Fine, E.J. Lowe and Michael Gorman—include an ad hoc element that renders them unacceptable. I'l…Read more
  •  79
    Contingently Existing Propositions?
    Philosophical Studies 129 (3): 421-434. 2006.
    It is fairly common, among those who think propositions exist, to think they exist necessarily. Here, I consider three arguments in support of that conclusion. What I hope to show is not that that claim is false, but, rather, that the arguments used in its defense tend to presuppose a certain kind of approach to modality: a roughly Plantingian view. What the arguments show, then, is that one cannot accept that approach to modality and accept contingently existing propositions. But there are othe…Read more
  •  52
    Transubstantiation, essentialism, and substance
    Religious Studies 47 (2): 217-231. 2011.
    According to the Eucharistic doctrine of Transubstantiation, when the priest consecrates the bread and wine, the whole substance of the bread and wine are converted into the body and blood of Christ. The of the bread and wine, however, remain present on the altar. This doctrine leads to a clutch of metaphysical problems, some of which are particularly troubling for essentialists. In this paper, I discuss some of these problems, which have recently been pressed by Brian Ellis and Justin Broackes.…Read more
  •  31
    Reading ‘is’ Existentially in Republic 476–80
    British Journal for the History of Philosophy 19 (2): 171-183. 2011.
    An existential reading of ?is? in the argument at Republic 476?480 is widely thought to be objectionable because it commits Plato to belief in degrees of existence. In this paper, I argue that neither proposed alternative?the veridical reading or the predicative reading?can be reconciled with the text, thus forcing the existential reading upon us. Further, I show that when Plato's doctrine of existence is properly understood, his commitment to degrees of existence is not at all absurd
  •  28
    On Departing Hominization
    American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 89 (2): 175-194. 2015.
    It is a matter of dispute whether St. Thomas Aquinas accepted the doctrine of “departing hominization.” Departing hominization is the view that in the process of human death, the rational soul departs first, leaving a mere animal ensouled by a sensitive soul, and then the sensitive soul departs, leaving a corpse. This would be a surprising thing for St. Thomas to believe, but he does appear to endorse the view in at least one place. I argue that he does not, in fact, accept departing hominizatio…Read more
  •  23
    Fashionable Nihilism
    American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 77 (2): 307-310. 2003.
  •  89
    St. Thomas Aquinas on punishing souls
    International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 71 (2): 103-116. 2012.
    The details of St. Thomas Aquinas’s anthropological view are subject to debate. Some philosophers believe he held that human persons survive their deaths. Other philosophers think he held that human persons cease to exist at their death, but come back into being at the general resurrection. In this paper, I defend the latter view against one of the most significant objections it faces, namely, that it entails that God punishes and rewards separated souls for the sins or merits of something else:…Read more
  •  76
    On Substance
    American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 84 (1): 25-48. 2010.
    In this paper, I offer a theory of substance. There are three steps in the argument. First, I present and explain my definition of substance. Second, I argue that the definition yields the right results: that is, my definition rules that (among other things) events and universals, privations and piles of trash, are not substances, but at least some ordinary physical objects are. Third, I defend the definition by rebutting two obvious objections to it
  •  52
    Meta-ontology and accidental unity
    Philosophical Quarterly 56 (225). 2006.
    My wife and I and our three children may stand in various relations: being a family, being a basketball team, and so on. I show that Frege's doctrine of existence, when coupled with this simple point, easily solves the problem of material constitution and blocks the overdetermination argument for eliminativism. It does all this work while providing a plausible and clear reductionistic account of material objects. These seem to be very good reasons for accepting Frege's doctrine of existence