University of Nebraska, Lincoln
Department of Philosophy
Indianapolis, Indiana, United States of America
Areas of Specialization
Metaphysics and Epistemology
Value Theory
  •  220
    In Defense of Sensitivity
    with Tim Black
    Synthese 154 (1): 53-71. 2007.
    The sensitivity condition on knowledge says that one knows that P only if one would not believe that P if P were false. Difficulties for this condition are now well documented. Keith DeRose has recently suggested a revised sensitivity condition that is designed to avoid some of these difficulties. We argue, however, that there are decisive objections to DeRose’s revised condition. Yet rather than simply abandoning his proposed condition, we uncover a rationale for its adoption, a rationale which…Read more
  •  192
    Another Blow to Knowledge from Knowledge
    Logos and Episteme 4 (3). 2013.
    A novel argument is offered against the following popular condition on inferential knowledge: a person inferentially knows a conclusion only if they know each of the claims from which they essentially inferred that conclusion. The epistemology of conditional proof reveals that we sometimes come to know conditionals by inferring them from assumptions rather than beliefs. Since knowledge requires belief, cases of knowing via conditional proof refute the popular knowledge from knowledge condition. …Read more
  •  166
    A strategy for assessing closure
    Erkenntnis 65 (3). 2006.
    This paper looks at an argument strategy for assessing the epistemic closure principle. This is the principle that says knowledge is closed under known entailment; or (roughly) if S knows p and S knows that p entails q, then S knows that q. The strategy in question looks to the individual conditions on knowledge to see if they are closed. According to one conjecture, if all the individual conditions are closed, then so too is knowledge. I give a deductive argument for this conjecture. According …Read more
  •  155
    Rewriting the A Priori/A Posteriori Distinction
    Journal of Philosophical Research 33 279-284. 2008.
    The traditional way of drawing the a priori/a posteriori distinction, bequeathed to us by Kant, leads to overestimating the role that experience plays in justifying ourbeliefs. There is an irony in this: though Kant was in the rationalist camp, his way of drawing the distinction gives an unfair advantage to radical empiricism. I offer an alternative way of drawing the distinction, one that does not bias the rationalist/empiricist debate.
  •  138
    Closure failures for safety
    Philosophia 33 (1-4): 331-334. 2005.
    Ernest Sosa and others have proposed a safety condition on knowledge: If S knows p, then in the nearest (non-actual) worlds in which S believes p, p is true.1 Colloquially, this is the idea that knowing requires not being easily mistaken. Here, I will argue that like another condition requiring a counterfactual relation between a subject’s belief and the world, viz. Robert Nozick’s sensitivity condition, safety leads, in certain cases, to the unacceptable result that knowledge is not closed unde…Read more
  •  129
    Conceivability is an important source of our beliefs about what is possible; inconceivability is an important source of our beliefs about what is impossible. What are the connections between the reliability of these sources? If one is reliable, does it follow that the other is also reliable? The central contention of this paper is that suitably qualified the reliability of inconceivability implies the reliability of conceivability, but the reliability of conceivability fails to imply the reliabi…Read more
  •  124
    Justified Belief from Unjustified Belief
    Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 98 (4): 602-617. 2017.
    Under what conditions is a belief inferentially justified? A partial answer is found in Justification from Justification : a belief is inferentially justified only if all of the beliefs from which it is essentially inferred are justified. After reviewing some important features of JFJ, I offer a counterexample to it. Then I outline a positive suggestion for how to think about inferentially justified beliefs while still retaining a basing condition. I end by concluding that epistemologists need a…Read more
  •  121
    Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2006.
    Coherentism is a theory of epistemic justification. It implies that for a belief to be justified it must belong to a coherent system of beliefs. For a system of beliefs to be coherent, the beliefs that make up that system must “cohere” with one another. Typically, this coherence is taken to involve three components: logical consistency, explanatory relations, and various inductive (non-explanatory) relations. Rival versions of coherentism spell out these relations in different ways. They also di…Read more
  •  120
    A sceptical rejoinder to sensitivity-contextualism
    Dialogue 44 (4): 693-706. 2005.
    This article offers a novel sceptical argument that the sensitivity-contextualist must say is sound; moreover, she must say that the conclusion of thisargument is true at ordinary standards. The view under scrutiny has it that in different contexts knowledge-attributing sentences express different propositions, propositions which differ in the stretch of worlds across which the subject is required to track the truth. I identify the underlying reason for the sceptical result and argue that it mak…Read more
  •  115
    Using Gattaca to Teach Genetic Discrimination
    Film and Philosophy 1 (13): 65-76. 2009.
  •  99
  •  79
    Suspension-to-Suspension Justification Principles
    Belgrade Philosophical Annual. forthcoming.
    We will be in a better position to evaluate some important skeptical theses if we first investigate two questions about justified suspended judgment. One question is this: when, if ever, does one justified suspension confer justification on another suspension? And the other is this: what is the structure of justified suspension? The goal of this essay is to make headway at answering these questions. After surveying the four main views about the non-normative nature of suspended judgment and offe…Read more
  •  78
    Teaching applied ethics to the righteous mind
    Journal of Moral Education 43 (4): 413-428. 2014.
    What does current empirically informed moral psychology imply about the goals that can be realistically achieved in college-level applied ethics courses? This paper takes up this question from the vantage point of Jonathan Haidt’s Social Intuitionist Model of human moral judgment. I summarize Haidt’s model, and then consider a variety of pedagogical goals. I begin with two of the loftiest goals of ethics education, and argue that neither is within realistic reach if Haidt’s model is correct. I t…Read more
  •  74
    Avoiding the dogmatic commitments of contextualism
    with Tim Black
    Grazer Philosophische Studien 69 (1): 165-182. 2005.
    Epistemological contextualists maintain that the truth-conditions of sentences of the form 'S knows that P' vary according to the context in which they're uttered, where this variation is due to the semantics of 'knows'. Among the linguistic data that have been offered in support of contextualism are several everyday cases. We argue that these cases fail to support contextualism and that they instead support epistemological invariantism—the thesis that the truth-conditions of 'S knows that P' do…Read more
  •  62
    But Does It Hurt?
    Essays in Philosophy 18 (1): 131-145. 2017.
    As effective altruists often point out affluent people can do great good for others without having to make significant self-sacrifices. What is the correct moral assessment of patterns of giving that bring about great good and yet carry little in the way of self-sacrifice? Here I will clarify this question, state why it is important, and argue for an answer to it. After sketching the intuitive category of the morally best acts, I argue that self-sacrifice is not a condition that an act must meet…Read more
  •  61
    Skeptical Effectiveness: A Reply to Buford and Brueckner
    International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 6 (4): 397-403. 2016.
    In an earlier paper, I presented a novel objection to closure-based skeptical arguments. There I argued that the best account of what makes skeptical scenarios effective cripples the closure-based skeptical arguments that use those scenarios. On behalf of the skeptic, Christopher Buford and Anthony Brueckner have replied to my objection. Here I review my original argument, criticize their replies, and highlight two important issues for further investigation.
  •  47
    Review of Janet Broughton, Descartes's Method of Doubt (review)
    Essays in Philosophy 10 (1): 8. 2005.
    The book has two parts. The first looks at the destructive use to which Descartes puts the method of doubt. But this is just half the story since, according to Broughton, Descartes also uses the method of doubt constructively. The second part of the book takes up the constructive use. Both uses fit into an overarching claim that is set out in the introduction. According to this claim, Descartes employs the method of doubt in order to establish fundamental metaphysical claims – or, as he says, cl…Read more
  •  27
    The Defect in Effective Skeptical Scenarios
    International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 3 (4): 271-281. 2013.
    What epistemic defect needs to show up in a skeptical scenario if it is to effectively target some belief? According to the false belief account, the targeted belief must be false in the skeptical scenario. According to the competing ignorance account, the targeted belief must fall short of being knowledge in the skeptical scenario. This paper argues for two claims. The first is that, contrary to what is often assumed, the ignorance account is superior to the false belief account. The second is …Read more
  •  26
    Review of Richard Fumerton, Epistemology (review)
    Philosophy in Review 27 1. 2007.
  •  25
    Would Donation Undercut the Morality of Execution?
    American Journal of Bioethics 11 (10). 2011.
  •  24
    Harm is not enough
    American Journal of Bioethics 8 (10). 2008.
  •  20
    French abortion opinion and the possibility of framing effects
    American Journal of Bioethics 7 (8). 2007.
    No abstract
  •  18
    Review of Collins, Hall, and Paul, Causation and Counterfactuals (review)
    Metapsychology Online Reviews 2005. 2005.
    As you scroll through this review, you move your hand; this causes the mouse to move; in turn this causes, via a series of intermediary events, changes on your screen. A bit more reflection shows that this case is entirely mundane: causal relations are a ubiquitous feature of the physical world. Causal relations are also, according to many philosophers, at the center of phenomena like knowledge, perception, linguistic meaning, mental content, belief, free action, and right action. In fact, one i…Read more