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Are All Reasons Causes?

Philosophical Studies (2016)

In this paper, I revisit the Davidsonian thesis that all reasons are causes. Drawing on a better taxonomy of reasons than the one Davidson provides, I argue that this thesis is either indefensible or uninteresting.

Reasons and Factive Emotions

Philosophical Studies (2018)

In this paper, I present and explore some ideas about how factive emotional states and factive perceptual states each relate to knowledge and reasons. This discussion will shed light on the so-called ‘perceptual model’ of the emotions.

Doxastic Cognitivism: An Anti-Intellectualist Theory of Emotion

Philosophical Perspectives, Ethics (2020)

Cognitivism about the emotions is often presented as the view that emotions are evaluative judgments. In this paper, I present and explore an alternative to judgment-based cognitivist approaches that is not well-represented in the literature—an approach that I shall call, Doxastic Cognitivism. Doxastic Cognitivism combines an anti-intellectualist view of belief with the thesis that emotions involve evaluative beliefs.

Emotions, Evidence, and Safety

Synthese (2021)

In this paper, I explore two ways that emotions can facilitate knowledge. First, I present and defend a strong prima facie case for the idea that emotions can play an evidential role with respect to belief formation. Second, I explore some ways that the emotions can be knowledge-conducive without being evidential. In this connection, I outline the safety conception of knowledge and point to some relevant research that strongly suggests there are many cases where the emotions may enhance the safety of various kinds of belief.


Erkenntnis )(2022)

Philosophers often use the verb ‘recognize’ in philosophical discourse but there has been surprisingly little discussion of the phenomenon of recognition itself.  The purpose of this paper is to remedy this gap.

Conditional Emotions

Forthcoming in Philosophical Perspectives, Mind

Conditionals that embed factive emotives in the consequent seem to present a counterexample to modus ponens. In this essay, I present the puzzle and propose a solution—one that connects in interesting ways to the role of emotion in suppositional reasoning and in our cognitive lives more generally. 

Forthcoming in Philosophical Perspectives

The Safety Conception of Knowledge

with John Hawthorne,
In  Externalism about Knowledge
Luis R. G. Oliveira (ed.) (2023)

The so-called safety conception of knowledge enjoys considerable popularity, but there are important choice points when it comes to its articulation and deployment. This chapter explores a number of them and also make vivid some important challenges to various versions of the safety approach. Since Williamson’s work on safety has heavily influenced our own thinking, section 1 presents some key facets of his presentation of safety; section 2 presents five important choice points for the safety theorist; section 3 discusses an important issue concerning methodological orientation that turns on the difference between analysis and model-building.

Necessitism and Concreteness

Under Review

Necessitism is the view that necessarily everything is necessarily identical to something. In Modal Logic as Metaphysics, (2013) Timothy Williamson defends necessitism and uses concreteness as a tool for drawing some intuitive distinctions. I am not interested in challenging the idea that theorists (especially Williamson) can make significant progress on the topic of necessitism without worrying too much about what concreteness amounts to. But it may be immodest for theorists not to worry at all. In this essay, I shall explore various answers to the question, ‘What is it to be concrete?’ in the context of a general necessitist framework.

Pornography and Accommodation

Under Review

In this paper, I revisit Langton and West's (1999) proposal that pornography causes doxastic harm to its audience via the mechanism of presupposition accommodation.  I raise a number of issues with their account and offer an alternative explanation of how pornography causes false belief.

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Knowledge - First Epistemology and Religious Belief

with John Hawthorne

Forthcoming in Cambridge Handbook of Religious Epistemology  Cambridge University Press 

‘Knowledge-first epistemology’ puts knowledge at the explanatory centre of things as far as epistemology is concerned. It is pointless to try to carefully investigate which doctrines do and don’t belong to knowledge-first epistemology – that would be to confuse a somewhat vague slogan with something it is not. But one can nevertheless identify some important themes that are often found in the work of those theorists that give knowledge explanatory primacy within epistemology. In this paper we shall present two such themes. In each case, knowledge-first ideas have interesting implications for philosophy of religion.

Reasons and Knowledge

with John Hawthorne
Forthcoming in Logins and Vollet eds.  
Putting Knowledge to Work: New Directions for Knowledge-First Epistemology Oxford University Press.

In other work, we have defended a picture according to which reasons are facts that get possessed by knowing them. This paper develops that picture further, paying particular attention to the case for factivity for certain relevant reasons constructions, as well as to rationality based arguments in favor of a non-factive conception of reasons. Recent work by Juan Comesaña (some co-authored with Matt McGrath) and Mark Schroeder serves as our main foil.

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