•  1161
  •  1049
    Nominalist Constituent Ontologies: A Development and Critique
    Dissertation, University of Notre Dame. 2009.
    In this dissertation I consider the merits of certain nominalist accounts of phenomena related to the character of ordinary objects. What these accounts have in common is the fact that none of them is an error theory about standard cases of predication and none of them deploys God or uniquely theistic resources in its explanatory framework. The aim of the dissertation is to answer the following questions: • What is the best nominalist account on offer? • How might it be improved? • Does it …Read more
  •  1047
    I critically examine the view that Descartes’s independence conception (IC) of substance plays a crucial role in his “separability argument” for substance dualism. I argue that IC is a poisoned chalice. I do so by considering how an IC-based separability argument fares on two different ways of thinking about principal attributes. On the one hand, if we take principal attributes to be universals, then a separability argument that deploys IC establishes a version of dualism that is unacceptably st…Read more
  •  1029
    Contemporary discourse is littered with nasty and derailed disagreements. In this paper we hope to help clean things up. We diagnose two patterns of thought that often plague and exacerbate controversy. We illustrate these patterns and show that each involves both a logical mistake and a failure of intellectual charity. We also draw upon recent work in social psychology to shed light on why we tend to fall into these patterns of thought. We conclude by suggesting how the intellectual virtues…Read more
  •  904
    Bare Particulars and Constituent Ontology
    Acta Analytica 29 (2): 149-159. 2014.
    My general aim in this paper is to shed light on the controversial concept of a bare particular. I do so by arguing that bare particulars are best understood in terms of the individuative work they do within the framework of a realist constituent ontology. I argue that outside such a framework, it is not clear that the notion of a bare particular is either motivated or coherent. This is suggested by reflection on standard objections to bare particulars. However, within the framework of a realist…Read more
  •  829
    Closing in on Causal Closure
    Journal of Consciousness Studies 21 (1-2): 96-109. 2014.
    I examine the meaning and merits of a premise in the Exclusion Argument, the causal closure principle that all physical effects have physical causes. I do so by addressing two questions. First, if we grant the other premises, exactly what kind of closure principle is required to make the Exclusion Argument valid? Second, what are the merits of the requisite closure principle? Concerning the first, I argue that the Exclusion Argument requires a strong, “stringently pure” version of closure. …Read more
  •  767
    Tropes and Dependency Profiles: Problems for the Nuclear Theory of Substance
    American Philosophical Quarterly 51 (2): 167-176. 2014.
    In this article I examine the compatibility of a leading trope bundle theory of substance, so-called Nuclear Theory, with trope theory more generally. Peter Simons (1994) originally proposed Nuclear Theory (NT), and continues to develop (1998, 2000) and maintain (2002/03) the view. Recently, building on Simons’s theory, Markku Keinänen (2011) has proposed what he calls the Strong Nuclear Theory (SNT). Although the latter is supposed to shore up some of NT’s weaknesses, it continues to mainta…Read more
  •  729
    Two Ways to Particularize a Property
    Journal of the American Philosophical Association 1 (4): 635-652. 2015.
    Trope theory is an increasingly prominent contender in contemporary debates about the existence and nature of properties. But it suffers from ambiguity concerning the nature of a trope. Disambiguation reveals two fundamentally different concepts of a trope: modifier tropes and module tropes. These types of tropes are unequally suited for metaphysical work. Modifier tropes have advantages concerning powers, relations, and fundamental determinables, whereas module tropes have advantages conce…Read more
  •  662
    Tropes as Divine Acts: The Nature of Creaturely Properties in a World Sustained by God
    European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 7 (3): 105--130. 2015.
    I aim to synthesize two issues within theistic metaphysics. The first concerns the metaphysics of creaturely properties and, more specifically, the nature of unshareable properties, or tropes. The second concerns the metaphysics of providence and, more specifically, the way in which God sustains creatures, or sustenance. I propose that creaturely properties, understood as what I call modifier tropes, are identical with divine acts of sustenance, understood as acts of property-conferral. I ar…Read more
  •  520
    Is Trope Theory a Divided House?
    In Gabriele Galluzzo Michael Loux (ed.), The Problem of Universals in Contemporary Philosophy, Cambridge University Press. pp. 133-155. 2015.
    In this paper I explore Michael Loux’s important distinction between “tropes” and “tropers”. First, I argue that the distinction throws into relief an ambiguity and discrepancy in the literature, revealing two fundamentally different versions of trope theory. Second, I argue that the distinction brings into focus unique challenges facing each of the resulting trope theories, thus calling into question an alleged advantage of trope theory—that by uniquely occupying the middle ground between its…Read more
  •  484
    We have witnessed the athleticization of political discourse, whereby debate is treated like an athletic contest in which the aim is to vanquish one's opponents. When political discourse becomes a zero-sum game, it is characterized by suspicions, accusations, belief polarization, and ideological entrenchment. Unfortunately, athleticization is ailing the classroom as well, making it difficult for educators to prepare students to make valuable contributions to healthy civic discourse. Such prep…Read more
  •  438
    Peter Unger has challenged philosophical objectivism, the thesis that traditional philosophical problems have definite objective answers. He argues from semantic relativity for philosophical relativity, the thesis that for certain philosophical problems, there is no objective answer. I clarify, formulate and challenge Unger's argument. According to Unger, philosophical relativism explains philosophical idling, the fact that philosophical debates appear endless, philosophical disagreements seem i…Read more
  •  406
    Tropes as Character-Grounders
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 94 (3): 499-515. 2016.
    There is a largely unrecognized ambiguity concerning the nature of a trope. Disambiguation throws into relief two fundamentally different conceptions of a trope and provides two ways to understand and develop each metaphysical theory that put tropes to use. In this paper I consider the relative merits that result from differences concerning a trope’s ability to ground the character of ordinary objects. I argue that on each conception of a trope, there are unique implications and challenges conce…Read more
  •  405
    In their ‘Ethical and Technical Challenges in Compensating for Harm Due to Solar Radiation Management Geoengineering’ (2014), Toby Svoboda and Peter Irvine (S&I) argue that there are significant technical and ethical challenges that stand in the way of crafting a just solar radiation management (SRM) compensation system. My aim in this article is to contribute to the project of addressing these problems. I do so by focusing on one of S&I’s important ethical challenges, their claim that the pollu…Read more
  •  165
    Can a Case for Naturalism be Naturalized?
    Aporía: Revista Internacional de Investigaciones Filosóficas. forthcoming.
  •  12
    I critically examine the view that Descartes’s independence conception of substance plays a crucial role in his “separability argument” for substance dualism. I argue that IC is a poisoned chalice. I do so by considering how an IC-based separability argument fares on two different ways of thinking about principal attributes. On the one hand, if we take principal attributes to be universals, then a separability argument that deploys IC establishes a version of dualism that is unacceptably strong.…Read more
  •  3
    Morality and religion: intimately wed, violently opposed, or something else? Discussion of this issue appears in pop culture, the academy, and the media―often generating radically opposed views. At one end of the spectrum are those who think that unless God exists, ethics is unfounded and the moral life is unmotivated. At the other end are those who think that religious belief is unnecessary for―and even a threat to―ethical knowledge and the moral life. This volume provides an accessible, charit…Read more
  •  1
    Substance: New Essays (edited book)
    Philosophia Verlag. forthcoming.