•  358
    Granularity problems
    Philosophical Quarterly 67 (266): 22-37. 2017.
    Possible-worlds accounts of mental or linguistic content are often criticized for being too coarse-grained. To make room for more fine-grained distinctions among contents, several authors have recently proposed extending the space of possible worlds by "impossible worlds". We argue that this strategy comes with serious costs: we would effectively have to abandon most of the features that make the possible-worlds framework attractive. More generally, we argue that while there are intuitive and th…Read more
  •  249
    Against Magnetism
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 92 (1): 17-36. 2014.
    Magnetism in meta-semantics is the view that the meaning of our words is determined in part by their use and in part by the objective naturalness of candidate meanings. This hypothesis is commonly attributed to David Lewis, and has been put to philosophical work by Brian Weatherson, Ted Sider and others. I argue that there is no evidence that Lewis ever endorsed the view, and that his actual account of language reveals good reasons against it.
  •  181
    Changing minds in a changing world
    Philosophical Studies 159 (2): 219-239. 2012.
    I defend a general rule for updating beliefs that takes into account both the impact of new evidence and changes in the subject’s location. The rule combines standard conditioning with a shifting operation that moves the center of each doxastic possibility forward to the next point where information arrives. I show that well-known arguments for conditioning lead to this combination when centered information is taken into account. I also discuss how my proposal relates to other recent proposals, …Read more
  •  172
    Contingent Identity
    Philosophy Compass 8 (5): 486-495. 2013.
    It is widely held that if an object a is identical (or non-identical) to an object b, then it is necessary that a is identical (non-identical) to b. This view is supported an argument from Leibniz's Law and a popular conception of de re modality. On the other hand, there are good reasons to allow for contingent identity. Various alternative accounts of de re modality have been developed to achieve this kind of generality, and to explain what is wrong with the argument from Leibniz's Law.
  •  129
    Imaginary Foundations
    Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 5. 2018.
    Our senses provide us with information about the world, but what exactly do they tell us? I argue that in order to optimally respond to sensory stimulations, an agent’s doxastic space may have an extra, “imaginary” dimension of possibility; perceptual experiences confer certainty on propositions in this dimension. To some extent, the resulting picture vindicates the old-fashioned empiricist idea that all empirical knowledge is based on a solid foundation of sense-datum propositions, but it avoid…Read more
  •  109
    Variations on a Montagovian theme
    Synthese 190 (16): 3377-3395. 2013.
    What are the objects of knowledge, belief, probability, apriority or analyticity? For at least some of these properties, it seems plausible that the objects are sentences, or sentence-like entities. However, results from mathematical logic indicate that sentential properties are subject to severe formal limitations. After surveying these results, I argue that they are more problematic than often assumed, that they can be avoided by taking the objects of the relevant property to be coarse-grained…Read more
  •  76
    Ability and Possibility
    Philosophers' Imprint 20. 2020.
    According to the classical quantificational analysis of modals, an agent has the ability to perform an act iff relevant facts about the agent and her environment are compatible with her performing the act. The analysis faces a number of problems, many of which can be traced to the fact that it takes even accidental performance of an act as proof of the relevant ability. I argue that ability statements are systematically ambiguous: on one reading, accidental performance really is enough; on anoth…Read more
  •  72
    Belief Update across Fission
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 66 (3): 659-682. 2015.
    When an agent undergoes fission, how should the beliefs of the fission results relate to the pre-fission beliefs? This question is important for the Everett interpretation of quantum mechanics, but it is of independent philosophical interest. Among other things, fission scenarios demonstrate that ‘self-locating’ information can affect the probability of uncentred propositions even if an agent has no essentially self-locating uncertainty. I present a general update rule for centred beliefs that g…Read more
  •  72
    No Interpretation of Probability
    Erkenntnis 83 (6): 1195-1212. 2018.
    I argue that none of the usual interpretations of probability provide an adequate interpretation of probabilistic theories in science. Assuming that the aim of such theories is to capture noisy relationships in the world, I suggest that we do not have to give them classical truth-conditional content at all: their probabilities can remain uninterpreted. Indirectly, this account turns out to explain what is right about the frequency interpretation, the best-systems interpretation, and the epistemi…Read more
  •  65
    Counterpart Theory and the Paradox of Occasional Identity
    Mind 123 (492): 1057-1094. 2014.
    Counterpart theory is often advertised by its track record at solving metaphysical puzzles. Here I focus on puzzles of occasional identity, wherein distinct individuals at one world or time appear to be identical at another world or time. To solve these puzzles, the usual interpretation rules of counterpart theory must be extended beyond the simple language of quantified modal logic. I present a more comprehensive semantics that allows talking about specific times and worlds, that takes into acc…Read more
  •  61
    The puzzle of the absentminded driver combines an unstable decision problem with a version of the Sleeping Beauty problem. Its analysis depends on the choice between “halfing” and “thirding” as well as that between “evidential” and “causal” decision theory. I show that all four combinations lead to interestingly different solutions, and draw some general lessons about the formulation of causal decision theory, the interpretation of mixed strategies and the connection between rational credence an…Read more
  •  58
    Subjunctive Conditional Probability
    Journal of Philosophical Logic 47 (1): 47-66. 2018.
    There seem to be two ways of supposing a proposition: supposing “indicatively” that Shakespeare didn’t write Hamlet, it is likely that someone else did; supposing “subjunctively” that Shakespeare hadn’t written Hamlet, it is likely that nobody would have written the play. Let P be the probability of B on the subjunctive supposition that A. Is P equal to the probability of the corresponding counterfactual, A □→B? I review recent triviality arguments against this hypothesis and argue that they do …Read more
  •  48
    From Sensor Variables to Phenomenal Facts
    Journal of Consciousness Studies 26 (9-10): 217-227. 2019.
    Some cognitive processes appear to have “phenomenal” properties that are directly revealed to the subject and not determined by physical properties. I suggest that the source of this appearance is the method by which our brain processes sensory information. The appearance is an illusion. Nonetheless, we are not mistaken when we judge that people sometimes fee lpain
  •  37
    Diachronic Norms for Self-Locating Beliefs
    Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 4. 2017.
    How should rational beliefs change over time? The standard Bayesian answer is: by conditionalization (a.k.a. Bayes’ Rule). But conditionalization is not an adequate rule for updating beliefs in “centred” propositions whose truth-value may itself change over time. In response, some have suggested that the objects of belief must be uncentred; others have suggested that beliefs in centred propositions are not subject to diachronic norms. Iargue that these views do not offer a satisfactory account o…Read more
  •  32
    Semantic Possibility
    In Derek Ball & Brian Rabern (eds.), The Science of Meaning, Oxford University Press. pp. 361-380. 2018.
    This paper starts out from the idea that semantics is a “special science” whose aim, like that of chemistry or ecology, is to identify systematic, high-level patterns in a fundamentally physical world. I defend an approach to this task on which sentences are associated with with sets of possible worlds (of some kind). These sets of worlds, however, are not postulated for the compositional treatment of intensional contexts; they are not meant to capture what is intuitively asserted or communicate…Read more
  •  28
    Discourse, Diversity, and Free Choice
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 99 (1): 48-67. 2021.
    ABSTRACT ‘You may have beer or wine’ suggests that you may have beer and you may have wine. Following Klinedinst, I argue that this ‘free choice’ effect is a special kind of scalar implicature, arising from the application of an unspecific predicate to a plurality. I show that the implicature can be derived from general norms of cooperative communication, without postulating new grammatical rules or hidden lexical items. The derivation calls for an extension to the classical neo-Gricean model. I…Read more
  •  25
    Objects of Choice
    Mind. forthcoming.
    Rational agents are supposed to maximize expected utility. But what are the options from which they choose? I outline some constraints on an adequate representation of an agent’s options. The options should, for example, contain no information of which the agent is unsure. But they should be sufficiently rich to distinguish all available acts from one another. These demands often come into conflict, so that there seems to be no adequate representation of the options at all. After reviewing exist…Read more
  •  24
    Review of Tychomancy (review)
    Philosophy of Science 82 (2). 2015.