•  38
    Backwards explanation and unification
    European Journal for Philosophy of Science 6 (1): 55-70. 2016.
    It is an open question whether we ever successfully explain earlier states by appealing to later ones, and, further, whether this is even possible. Typically, these two questions are answered in the same way: if we give and accept ‘backwards explanations,’ they must be possible; if they are impossible, we are right to reject them. I argue that backwards explanations are brittle—they fail if the future event does not occur—and this is part of the reason they are not accepted about the actual worl…Read more
  •  20
    Smith and Hume on Animal Minds
    Journal of Scottish Philosophy 16 (3): 227-243. 2018.
    This paper situates Hume's views on animals in the context of the Scottish Enlightenment by contrasting them with the views of Adam Smith. While Smith is more central to the philosophical establishment of the Scottish Enlightenment, their views on morals resemble each other greatly and both think that the analogies between humans and non-human animals are useful for thinking about morals. Their estimation of the nature and extent of those analogies, however, differ widely from one another. This …Read more
  •  18
    Skeptical Influences on Hume's View of Animal Reasoning
    Hume Studies 42 (1): 137-165. 2019.
    In his writings on non-human animals, David Hume draws comparisons between non-human animals' cognitive capacities and the cognitive capacities of humans. That Hume draws such comparisons might seem to be evidence that Hume was influenced on this issue by epistemologically skeptical thinkers such as Sextus Empiricus, Michel de Montaigne, and Pierre Bayle. This is enticing, as Hume was influenced by them on other issues and they too make comparisons between human and non-human animal reasoning. C…Read more
  •  11
    Librarians often object to Internet filters on the grounds that filters are prone to overblocking and underblocking. This argument implies that a significant problem with contemporary filters is that they are insufficiently fine-grained. In this article, we posit that present-day filters will always be conceptually capable of failure, regardless of how granular their content analysis becomes. This is because, we argue, objections to content are best understood as objections to problematic intera…Read more
  •  10
    In reading biographies or accounts of figures with which one agrees and sympathizes, there is a tendency that needs to be avoided, that is, of over -identifying with the figures in question and of too closely mapping one's own life and aspirations onto them.As such, there is some risk involved for a person like me in reading about the friendship between David Hume and Adam Smith. Dennis C. Rasmussen's excellent new volume, The Infidel and the Professor: David Hume, Adam Smith, and the Friendship…Read more
  •  4
    The problem of universals in early modern philosophy (review)
    British Journal for the History of Philosophy 27 (1): 216-218. 2019.