•  196
    Truthmakers: A tale of two explanatory projects
    Synthese 181 (3): 413-431. 2011.
    Truthmakers are supposed to explain the truth of propositions, but it is unclear what kind of explanation truthmakers can provide. In this paper, I argue that ‘truthmaker explanations’ conflate two different explanatory projects. The first project is essentially concerned with truth, while the second project is concerned with reductive explanation. It is the latter project, I maintain, which is really central to truthmaking theory. On this basis, a general account of truthmaking can be formulate…Read more
  •  124
    How do frogs represent their prey? This question has been the focus of many debates among proponents of naturalistic theories of content, especially among proponents of teleosemantics. This is because alternative versions of the teleosemantic approach have different implications for the content of frog representations, and it is still controversial which of these content ascriptions (if any) is the most adequate. Theorists often appeal to intuitions here, but this is a dubious strategy. In this …Read more
  •  108
    The Difference Between Moral and Rational “Oughts”: An Expressivist Account
    Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 15 (2): 159-174. 2012.
    Morality and rationality are both normative: the moral claim “you ought to help others” is a genuine normative judgment, as well as the rational maxim “you ought to brush your teeth twice a day”. But it seems that there is a crucial difference these two judgments. In the first part of this paper, I argue that this difference is to be understood as a difference between two kinds of normativity: demanding and recommending normativity. But the crucial task is, of course, to explain the difference. …Read more
  •  91
    Can Truthmaker Theorists Claim Ontological Free Lunches?
    European Journal of Philosophy 22 (2): 249-268. 2014.
    Truthmaker theorists hold that propositions about higher-level entities (e.g. the proposition that there is a heap of sand) are often made true by lower-level entities (e.g. by facts about the configuration of fundamental particles). This generates a problem: what should we say about these higher-level entities? On the one hand, they must exist (since there are true propositions about them), on the other hand, it seems that they are completely superfluous and should be banished for reasons of on…Read more
  •  85
    It is often claimed that Realism about universals is problematic because it cannot account for the relation between particulars and universals without falling prey to ,,Bradley's regress". In this article, I consider four different versions of this regress argument (the semantic regress, the explanatory regress, the ,One over Many' regress, and the truthmaker regress), each based on a different ,regress-generating' assumption. I argue that none of these arguments succeeds in refuting Realism. St…Read more
  •  83
    Teleosemantic theories of representation are often criticized as being “too liberal”, i.e. as categorizing states as representations which are not representational at all. Recently, a powerful version of this objection has been put forth by Tyler Burge. Focusing on perception, Burge defends the claim that all teleosemantic theories apply too broadly, thereby missing what is distinctive about representation. Contra Burge, I will argue in this paper that there is a teleosemantic account of percept…Read more
  •  57
    Beyond Verbal Disputes: The Compatibilism Debate Revisited
    Erkenntnis 79 (3): 669-685. 2014.
    The compatibilism debate revolves around the question whether moral responsibility and free will are compatible with determinism. Prima facie, this seems to be a substantial issue. But according to the triviality objection, the disagreement is merely verbal: compatibilists and incompatibilists, it is maintained, are talking past each other, since they use the terms “free will” and “moral responsibility” in different senses. In this paper I argue, first, that the triviality objection is indeed a …Read more
  •  46
    Grounding Nominalism
    Pacific Philosophical Quarterly. forthcoming.
  •  43
    The Structuring Causes of Behavior: Has Dretske Saved Mental Causation?
    with Frank Hofmann
    Acta Analytica 29 (3): 267-284. 2014.
    Fred Dretske’s account of mental causation, developed in Explaining Behavior and defended in numerous articles, is generally regarded as one of the most interesting and most ambitious approaches in the field. According to Dretske, meaning facts, construed historically as facts about the indicator functions of internal states, are the structuring causes of behavior. In this article, we argue that Dretske’s view is untenable: On closer examination, the real structuring causes of behavior turn out …Read more
  •  41
    Perceptual representations have distal content: they represent external objects and their properties, not light waves or retinal images. This basic fact presents a fundamental problem for ‘input-oriented’ theories of perceptual content. As I show in the first part of this paper, this even holds for what is arguably the most sophisticated input-oriented theory to date, namely Karen Neander's informational teleosemantics. In the second part of the paper, I develop a new version of informational te…Read more
  •  27
    Plädoyer für einen physikalistischen Naturalismus
    Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung 64 (2): 165-189. 2010.
    Naturalisten stehen heute vor zwei großen Herausforderungen: Sie müssen zunächst präzisieren, was sie mit dem Ausdruck „Naturalismus“ meinen, und ihre Position anschließend plausibel begründen. Gegner des Naturalismus haben in den letzten Jahren immer wieder zu zeigen versucht, dass der Naturalist diesen Herausforderungen nicht gerecht werden kann. Ich argumentiere in diesem Artikel dafür, dass traditionelle Formulierungen der Naturalismusthese tatsächlich problematisch sind, dass es aber einen …Read more
  •  25
    According to standard teleosemantics, intentional states are selectional states. This claim is put forward not as a conceptual analysis, but as a ‘theoretical reduction’—an a posteriori hypothesis analogous to ‘water = H2O’. Critics have tried to show that this meta-theoretical conception of teleosemantics leads to unacceptable consequences. In this paper, I argue that there is indeed a fundamental problem with the water/H2O analogy, as it is usually construed, and that teleosemanticists should …Read more
  •  24
    Naturalizing the content of desire
    Philosophical Studies 176 (1): 161-174. 2019.
    Desires, or directive representations, are central components of human and animal minds. Nevertheless, desires are largely neglected in current debates about the naturalization of representational content. Most naturalists seem to assume that some version of the standard teleological approach, which identifies the content of a desire with a specific kind of effect that the desire has the function of producing, will turn out to be correct. In this paper I argue, first, that this common assumption…Read more
  •  21
    Worum geht es in der Kompatibilismusdebatte?
    Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung 66 (2): 310-334. 2012.
  •  11
    Willensfreiheit und Aufmerksamkeit bei Descartes
    Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung 71 (1): 5-36. 2017.
    The claims about free will that Descartes makes in his writings seem, at first glance, to be inconsistent. In recent years, several authors have argued that we can dissolve the apparent contradiction by taking a closer look at the role that attention plays in Descartes’s theory of the processes of judging and deciding. Prima facie, this exegetical approach seems promising, thus its considerable influence is understandable. Nevertheless, I aim to show that the approach is doomed to failure, since…Read more
  • Menschen glauben aus den unterschiedlichsten Gründen an Gott. Aber ist dieser Glaube rational gerechtfertigt? In diesem Band streiten führende Religionsphilosoph/-innen um die Frage, ob die besten Gründe für oder gegen den Theismus sprechen. Einige Beiträge unterziehen klassische Argumente für bzw. gegen die Existenz Gottes einer neuen Betrachtung. Andere gehen der Frage nach, welche Bedingungen eigentlich erfüllt sein müssen, damit die Überzeugung, Gott existiere, als vernünftig angesehen werde…Read more
  • Was ist instrumentelle Irrationalität?
    Studia Philosophica: Jahrbuch Der Schweizerischen Philosoph Ischen Gesellschaft, Annuaire de la Société Suisse de Philosphie  68 85-104. 2009.
    In this paper, I start from the observation that there are obvious instances of instrumental irrationality, i.e. cases where subjects act knowingly against their strongest preferences. This observation raises an important question: Which facts determine the ‘strength’ of preferences? I consider a standard answer to this question – ‘revealed preference theory’– which turns out to be unsatisfactory. Then I turn to a more promising alternative: the ‘higher order theory’ of preference strength. But …Read more