Below are some recent publications and current research projects (besides my dissertation) in epistemology, ethics, metaphysics, and philosophy of religion. I have other papers in progress (and some under review) that I expect to put up online soon. I welcome unsolicited, emailed comments on any of these papers.
Abstract:If knowledge is contrastive, it's not a two-place relation- Ksp. Rather, it's a three-place relation- Kspq. That is, it's not the case that someone simply knows a proposition. Rather, someone knows a proposition contrasted with another (disjunctive) proposition. What stands in the third place determines what the target proposition is contrasted with. The main proponent of contrastivism, Jonathan Schaffer, is clear about the virtues of a binary view of the knowledge relation: it is "intuitively plausible and theoretically elegant". (2007, 386) Schaffer thinks, though, that a third place is needed to understand certain data. (2012, 414) So unless Schaffer's arguments compel us to hold that knowledge is a ternary relation, it's best to stick with the view that it's binary. In this paper, I'll address the most well-known of these arguments, the "problem of convergent knowledge". In fact, while responding to Kallestrup (2009)'s proposed solution to the problem, Schaffer (2009) expands the scope of the problem of convergent knowledge. In this article, I'll solve the problem in a way that escapes even the expanded version.
Abstract: According to the standard view of epistemic possibility, a proposition is epistemically possible for a subject just in case what the subject knows doesn't obviously entail that proposition's negation. In this paper, I'll argue that fallibilism and the standard view of epistemic possibility entail a conjunction that I'll call "the abominable conjunction," then I'll spend the rest of the paper showing that the conjunction is, in fact, abominable. The upshot is that proponents of the standard view of epistemic possibility are committed to either the abominable conjunction or infallibilism.
Abstract: I argue that it is neither a firm's goal nor responsibility to increase its profits. I begin by investigating what one could mean when one says it's a firm's goal or responsibility to increase its profits: short-term profits or long-term profits? Often firms face a trade-off between increasing short-term and long-term profits. I'll argue that it is not every firm's goal or responsibility merely to increase its short-term profits nor is it a firm's goal nor responsibility merely to increase its long-term profits. I'll then consider other options: whether it's a firm's goal or responsibility to increase either short- or long-term profits, whether stockholders get to specify the term and rate of profit increase, and if so who the relevant stockholders are. After concluding that it's neither a firm's goal nor responsibility to increase its profits, I'll show how profit increases might relate to a firm's goals and responsibilities.
Abstract: I argue that insofar as one holds that moral properties are defined by direct reference to exemplars (DRE), one should also hold that fictional characters can be moral exemplars. Since Linda Zagzebski’s exemplarist virtue theory is the main advocate of DRE in the literature, I will focus on it. I will first pay particular attention to Zagzebski’s exemplarist virtue theory to argue that there are practical benefits to holding that fictional characters can be moral exemplars and that these benefits outweigh the practical benefits of holding that exemplars have to be actual. Second, I will give a view of fictional characters and discovery of moral properties that allows fictional characters to function as moral exemplars. Last, I will raise what I take to be the most pressing problems for the view that DRE is compatible with fictional exemplars, and I’ll propose solutions that a proponent of DRE can accept at little to no cost. I will conclude that insofar as a view endorses DRE, as Zagzebski’s exemplarist virtue theory does, there are good reasons for proponents of that view to hold that fictional characters can be moral exemplars.
Abstract: There is external time, and there is personal time. When David Lewis' character, Tim, travels into the past to try to kill his grandfather, he travels backward 56 years, from 1976 to 1920. (Lewis 1976) But, let us suppose, the trip only takes Tim an hour - an hour, say, has ticked off of Tim's watch. Roughly, Tim's watch measures Tim's personal time, which is different than the external time - 56 years - through which Tim traveled. Further, there is external time, and there is internal time. Instead of Tim, let a non-person, like Tim's favorite plant, Eunice the eucalyptus tree, travel into the past. Suppose Tim positions Eunice in the time machine and pushes the right buttons. A watch around Eunice's trunk ticks off an hour, and Eunice travels into the past 56 years. The watch doesn't measure Eunice's personal time, because Eunice isn't a person. Instead, the watch measures Eunice's internal time. In this paper, I'll argue for a view according to which external time just is a certain thing's internal time. To do this, I'll first say something more about what internal time is. Second, I'll give a reductive view of external time, and third, I'll argue for the reductive view. My arguments will go like this: time is supposed to do some work. On the reductive view I've given, internal time can - and does - do all that work.
Abstract: The inductive argument from evil contains the premise that, probably, there is gratuitous evil. According to traditional formulations, the argument for this premise involves an inference, a "noseeum" inference, from the proposition that we don't see a good reason for some evil to the proposition that it appears that there is no good reason for that evil. One brand of skeptical theism involves using a principle, CORNEA, to block the inference. Recently, however, the common sense problem of evil threatens the relevance of these skeptical theists' project. Proponents of the common sense problem of evil hold that there need not be any inference to justify the belief that there is gratuitous evil. Rather, someone can have non-inferential prima facie justification, or at least a pro tanto reason, for her belief that there is gratuitous evil. In this paper, I argue that the common sense problem of evil doesn't avoid CORNEA and that CORNEA, or a reformulated version of it, helps prevent anyone from having any justification for the belief that there is gratuitous evil.
Abstract: Religious epistemology is the study of how subjects' religious beliefs might have, or fail to have, some form of positive epistemic status (such as knowledge, justification, warrant, rationality, etc.). The current debate is focused upon the kind of basis upon which a religious believer might rationally hold certain beliefs about God (whether God exists, what attributes God has, what God is doing, etc.). Engaging this issue are three groups of people who call themselves "fideists," "reformed epistemologists," and "evidentialists." Each group has a position, but the positions are not mutually exclusive in every case, and in the debate, the names better describe the groups' emphases rather than mutually exclusive positions in the debate. In this article, we will first give a brief historical survey of evidentialism, fideism, and reformed epistemology. Second, we will give the fideist's position. Third, we will give the evidentialist's position. Fourth, we will give the reformed epistemologist's position, and last, we will include some comments on the current state of the debate, where we will show that the groups' positions are not mutually exclusive.
Abstract: There is a modal relative of Euthyphro's dilemma that goes like this: are necessary truths true because God affirms them, or does God affirm them because they're true? If you accept the first horn, necessary truths are as contingent as God's free will. If you accept the second, God is less ultimate than the modal ontology that establishes certain truths as necessary. If you try to split the horns by affirming that necessary truths are somehow grounded in God's nature, Brian Leftow meets you with an argument. I will argue that Leftow's argument fails and that, contrary to his argument, there is a good reason to believe that necessary truths are grounded in God's nature.