Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Department of Linguistics and Philosophy
PhD, 2007
Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States of America
  •  5028
    Suppose we grant that evolutionary forces have had a profound effect on the contours of our normative judgments and intuitions. Can we conclude anything from this about the correct metaethical theory? I argue that, for the most part, we cannot. Focusing my attention on Sharon Street’s justly famous argument that the evolutionary origins of our normative judgments and intuitions cause insuperable epistemological difficulties for a metaethical view she calls "normative realism," I argue that there…Read more
  •  4393
    The Normative Insignificance of Neuroscience
    Philosophy and Public Affairs 37 (4): 293-329. 2009.
    It has been claimed that the recent wave of neuroscientific research into the physiological underpinnings of our moral intuitions has normative implications. In particular, it has been claimed that this research discredits our deontological intuitions about cases, without discrediting our consequentialist intuitions about cases. In this paper I demur. I argue that such attempts to extract normative conclusions from neuroscientific research face a fundamental dilemma: either they focus on the emo…Read more
  •  1640
    Epistemic Teleology and the Separateness of Propositions
    Philosophical Review 122 (3): 337-393. 2013.
    When it comes to epistemic normativity, should we take the good to be prior to the right? That is, should we ground facts about what we ought and ought not believe on a given occasion in facts about the value of being in certain cognitive states (such as, for example, the value of having true beliefs)? The overwhelming answer among contemporary epistemologists is “Yes, we should.” This essay argues to the contrary. Just as taking the good to be prior to the right in ethics often leads one to san…Read more
  •  1184
    The Unity of Grounding
    Mind 127 (507): 729-777. 2018.
    I argue—contra moderate grounding pluralists such as Kit Fine and more extreme grounding pluralists such as Jessica Wilson—that there is fundamentally only one grounding/in-virtue-of relation. I also argue that this single relation is indispensable for normative theorizing—that we can’t make sense of, for example, the debate over consequentialism without it. It follows from what I argue that there is no metaethically-pure normative ethics.
  •  1110
    The Rejection of Epistemic Consequentialism
    Philosophical Issues 23 (1): 363-387. 2013.
    A quasi-sequel to "Epistemic Teleology and the Separateness of Propositions." Covers some of the same ground, but also extends the basic argument in an important way.
  •  791
    Gupta’s gambit
    Philosophical Studies 152 (1): 17-39. 2011.
    After summarizing the essential details of Anil Gupta’s account of perceptual justification in his book _Empiricism and Experience_, I argue for three claims: (1) Gupta’s proposal is closer to rationalism than advertised; (2) there is a major lacuna in Gupta’s account of how convergence in light of experience yields absolute entitlements to form beliefs; and (3) Gupta has not adequately explained how ordinary courses of experience can lead to convergence on a commonsense view of the world.
  •  692
    Coherentism via Graphs
    Philosophical Issues 25 (1): 322-352. 2015.
    Once upon a time, coherentism was the dominant response to the regress problem in epistemology, but in recent decades the view has fallen into disrepute: now almost everyone is a foundationalist (with a few infinitists sprinkled here and there). In this paper, I sketch a new way of thinking about coherentism, and show how it avoids many of the problems often thought fatal for the view, including the isolation objection, worries over circularity, and concerns that the concept of coherence is too …Read more
  •  670
    I argue that Alvin Goldman has failed to save process reliabilism from my critique in earlier work of consequentialist or teleological epistemic theories. First, Goldman misconstrues the nature of my challenge: two of the cases he discusses I never claimed to be counterexamples to process reliabilism. Second, Goldman’s reply to the type of case I actually claimed to be a counterexample to process reliabilism is unsuccessful. He proposes a variety of responses, but all of them either feature an i…Read more
  •  604
    Luminosity Regained
    Philosophers' Imprint 8 1-22. 2008.
    The linchpin of Williamson (2000)'s radically externalist epistemological program is an argument for the claim that no non-trivial condition is luminous—that no non-trivial condition is such that whenever it obtains, one is in a position to know that it obtains. I argue that Williamson's anti-luminosity argument succeeds only if one assumes that, even in the limit of ideal reflection, the obtaining of the condition in question and one's beliefs about that condition can be radically disjoint from…Read more
  •  587
    Particular Reasons
    Ethics 118 (1): 109-139. 2007.
    Moral particularists argue that because reasons for action are irreducibly context-dependent, the traditional quest in ethics for true and exceptionless moral principles is hopelessly misguided. In making this claim, particularists assume a general framework according to which reasons are the ground floor normative units undergirding all other normative properties and relations. They then argue that there is no cashing out in finite terms either (i) when a given non-normative feature gives rise …Read more
  •  215
    The Explanatory Ambitions of Moral Principles
    Noûs 53 (4): 904-936. 2019.
    Moral properties are explained by other properties. And moral principles tell us about moral properties. How are these two ideas related? In particular, is the truth of a given moral principle part of what explains why a given action has a given moral property? I argue “No.” If moral principles are merely concerned with the extension of moral properties across all possible worlds, then they cannot be partial explainers of facts about the instantiation of those properties, since in general necess…Read more
  •  168
    A Combinatorial Argument against Practical Reasons for Belief
    Analytic Philosophy 59 (4): 427-470. 2018.
    Are there practical reasons for and against belief? For example, do the practical benefits to oneself or others of holding a certain belief count in favor of that belief? I argue "No." My argument involves considering how practical reasons for belief, if there were such things, would combine with other reasons for belief in order to determine all-things-considered verdicts, especially in cases involving equally balanced reasons of either a practical or an epistemic sort.
  •  126
    Oxford Studies in Metaethics 15 195-218. 2020.
    Quasi-realists aim to account for many of the trappings of metanormative realism within an expressivist framework. Chief among these is the realist way of responding to the Euthyphro dilemma: quasi-realists want to join realists in being able to say, "It’s not the case that kicking dogs is wrong because we disapprove of it. Rather, we disapprove of kicking dogs because it’s wrong." However, the standard quasi-realist way of explaining what we are up to when we assert the first of these two sente…Read more