• Expanding Nallur's Landscape of Machine Implemented Ethics
    Science and Engineering Ethics 1-10. forthcoming.
  •  79
    The Physical Intentionality Thesis claims that dispositions share the marks of psychological intentionality; therefore, intentionality is not exclusively a mental phenomenon. Beyond the standard five marks, Alexander Bird introduces two additional marks of intentionality that he argues dispositions do not satisfy: first, thoughts are extrinsic; second, the direction of causation is that objects cause thoughts, not vice versa. In response, this paper identifies two relevant conceptions of extrins…Read more
  •  9
    What is the ethical impact of artificial intelligence assistants on human lives, and specifically how much do they threaten our individual autonomy? Recently, as part of forming an ethical framework for thinking about the impact of AI assistants on our lives, John Danaher claims that if the external automaticity generated by the use of AI assistants threatens our autonomy and is therefore ethically problematic, then the internal automaticity we already live with should be viewed in the same way.…Read more
  •  33
    Virtuous vs. utilitarian artificial moral agents
    AI and Society 1-9. forthcoming.
    Given that artificial moral agents—such as autonomous vehicles, lethal autonomous weapons, and automated financial trading systems—are now part of the socio-ethical equation, we should morally evaluate their behavior. How should artificial moral agents make decisions? Is one moral theory better suited than others for machine ethics? After briefly overviewing the dominant ethical approaches for building morality into machines, this paper discusses a recent proposal, put forward by Don Howard and …Read more
  •  18
    Powers and the Pantheistic Problem of Unity
    Sophia 58 (4): 563-580. 2019.
    If the universe and God are identical, as pantheism holds, how can we reconcile the supposed unity of God with the apparent dis-unity of the universe’s elements? I argue that a powers ontology, which generates a form of pantheism under plausible assumptions, is apt to solve the problem of unity. There is reason to think that the directedness of powers is equivalent to the directedness, or intentionality, of mental states. This implies that intentionality is a feature of the physical world at lar…Read more
  •  355
    Experimenters claim some nonhuman mammals have metacognition. If correct, the results indicate some animal minds are more complex than ordinarily presumed. However, some philosophers argue for a deflationary reading of metacognition experiments, suggesting that the results can be explained in first-order terms. We agree with the deflationary interpretation of the data but we argue that the metacognition research forces the need to recognize a heretofore underappreciated feature in the theory of …Read more
  •  41
    Against Branching Identity
    Philosophia 45 (4): 1709-1719. 2017.
    Would you survive if your consciousness branched into two or more streams? Commonly discussed within the context of split-brain scenarios, this possibility might soon become commonplace with mind uploading technology. Cerullo suggests that after nondestructive mind uploading and other branching scenarios, personal identity would continue in two streams of consciousness. Thus he argues for what he calls branching identity. In this discussion, I evaluate the theory of branching identity and Cerull…Read more
  •  45
    Four Theories of Pure Dispositions
    In Alexander Bird, Brian Ellis & Howard Sankey (eds.), Properties, Powers, and Structures: Issues in the Metaphysics of Realism, Routledge. pp. 139-162. 2012.
    The dispositional properties encountered in everyday experience seem to have causal bases in other properties, e.g., the microstructure of a vase is the causal basis of its fragility. In contrast, the Pure Dispositions Thesis maintains that some dispositions require no causal basis. This thesis faces the Problem of Being: without a causal basis, there appears to be no grounds for the existence of pure dispositions. This paper establishes criteria for evaluating the problem, critically examines f…Read more
  •  150
    An Argument for the Extrinsic Grounding of Mass
    Erkenntnis 74 (1): 81-99. 2011.
    Several philosophers of science and metaphysicians claim that the dispositional properties of fundamental particles, such as the mass, charge, and spin of electrons, are ungrounded in any further properties. It is assumed by those making this argument that such properties are intrinsic, and thus if they are grounded at all they must be grounded intrinsically. However, this paper advances an argument, with one empirical premise and one metaphysical premise, for the claim that mass is extrinsicall…Read more
  •  196
    Dispositional essentialism maintains that all sparse properties are essentially powerful. Two conceptions of sparse properties appear compatible with dispositional essentialism: sparse properties as pure powers or as powerful qualities. This paper compares the two views, criticizes the powerful qualities view, and then develops a new theory of pure powers, termed Point Theory. This theory neutralizes the main advantage powerful qualities appear to possess over pure powers—explaining the existenc…Read more
  •  126
    The Ontology of Pure Dispositions
    Dissertation, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. 2010.
    This dissertation defends and develops the thesis that some instances, or tokens, of dispositional properties are pure. A pure disposition has no causal basis in any further properties beyond the disposition. A causal basis typically consists of some set of properties underlying a disposition that enables the disposition to manifest when stimulated in the appropriate circumstances. For example, a vase is fragile because it is disposed to break when a hammer or other suitable object strikes it, w…Read more