I received my PhD in Philosophy from the University of California, Irvine in philosophy of mind, phenomenology, and philosophical logic. My research focuses on consciousness, intentionality, and self-consciousness, with a broad interest in the history of philosophy informing my approach to these problems.
Kriegel has revived adverbialism as a theory of consciousness. But recent attacks have shed doubt on the viability of the theory. To save adverbialism, I propose that the adverbialist take a stance on the nature of adverbial modification. On one leading theory, adverbial modification turns on the instantiation by a substance of a psychological type. But the resulting formulation of adverbialism turns out to be a mere notational variant on the relationalist approaches against which Kriegel dialectically situates adverbialism. By contrast, I argue that the way to be an adverbialist is to adopt an event ontology, emphasizing the active contribution of the mind to the phenomenology of experience. My close examination of the semantics of adverbial modification throws this metaphysical distinction into sharp relief. The event-based semantics overcomes recent objections in a way superior to the methods that would have been obviously available in the absence of a sophisticated semantics.
In this article, I use concepts from the phenomenological tradition to extend Campbell’s theory of the perceptual origin of demonstrative concepts to the problem of de se thought, or thought about oneself as oneself. I argue that the phenomenological concept of pre-reflective self-consciousness and the field of awareness permit an explanation of de se thoughts in terms of the ways that subjects consciously attend to themselves. Therefore, a strong form of first-person persectivalness, in which the subject is capable of self-directed control of the focus of conscious attention, is required for de se thought. But no constraints on the semantic content of such thoughts are required. Hence the theory is able to respond to recent skepticism about the importance of the first-person perspective for philosophy.
Predicate approaches to modality have been a topic of increased interest in recent intensional logic. Halbach and Welch (Mind 118(469):71–100, 2009) have proposed a new formal technique to reduce the necessity predicate to an operator, demonstrating that predicate and operator methods are ultimately compatible. This article concerns the question of whether Halbach and Welch’s approach can provide a uniform formal treatment for intensionality. I show that the monotonicity constraint in Halbach and Welch’s proof for necessity fails for almost all possible-worlds theories of knowledge. The nonmonotonicity results demonstrate that the most obvious way of emulating Halbach and Welch’s rapprochement of the predicate and operator fails in the epistemic setting.
What is the relationship between consciousness and intentionality, i.e., the power that the mind has to make reference to objects in the world? Many philosophers are now arguing that consciousness is what brings intentionality into the world. But what is the nature of the sort of consciousness that grounds intentionality? A series of articles presents a non-relational theory of intentionality motivated by the problem of intentional inexistence.
Self-consciousness and Subjectivity
Develops a view of subjectivity as an ontological feature of lived phenomenal experience and interrogates the relationship between phenomenal experience and first-person thought.
Cognitive science and phenomenology
Takes up the question of the relationship between phenomenology and the predictive processing paradigm in cognitive neuroscience. I argue that they have a rich, yet problematic relationship with important points of both convergence and divergence that suggests new directions for naturalized phenomenology.
history of philosophy
In concert with my interests in bringing phenomenological insights to present-day problems in the philosophy of mind, I also work on topics in the classical phenomenological, existential, and German idealist traditions.
This course introduces students to existentialism by guiding them through a close reading of a selection of classic texts., including works from Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre, and de Beauvoir. The questions that arise in these texts probe such concepts as the individual’s existence, the self, anxiety, the nature of time, consciousness, religious experience, embodiment, rationality and irrationality, social relations, and much more. Students will be challenged to engage deeply with primary texts and to examine existentialist concepts both through theoretical and practical lenses.
history of modern philosophy
An exploration of the writings of some of the most important thinkers in modern philosophy, including intensive study of Descartes, Leibniz, Spinoza, Hume, Locke, Berkeley, Kant, Hegel, and Kierkegaard. Students will develop both a broad appreciation for the history of ideas and process-oriented tools for interpreting difficult philosophical texts in detail. Topics to be encountered include the nature of the self, the mind-body problem, the origins of knowledge, the intellectual history of the Enlightenment, the exquisite passion and violence of the modern Western intellect, the nature of perception, whether and in what sense the physical world exists, the limits (or limitlessness) of rationality, the nature of space and time, the nature of history, and the modern ambition toward universal knowledge and its breakdown in the individualism of existentialism.
History of Ancient and Medieval Philosophy
An exploration of the writings of some of the most important thinkers in ancient and medieval philosophy, including intensive study of Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, and Aquinas. Students will develop both a broad appreciation for the history of ideas and process-oriented tools for interpreting difficult philosophical texts in detail. Topics to be encountered include the origin of the universe, the nature of death, the fundamentals of social organization, theory of knowledge, metaphysics, theology, and much more. This course introduces you to the Western intellectual tradition that you are inheriting in a university education.
“It cannot be denied that philosophical reason owes every noticeable advance it has ever made to the observations of skepticism upon the precariousness of the position where it has for the moment come to rest” (J.G. Fichte).
In this course students become acquainted with the philosophical field of epistemology, or the study of the nature of knowledge. Historically, epistemology has been motivated by the need to justify the possibility of knowledge against skeptical attacks. Skepticism is the claim that knowledge is impossible either as a whole or for some domain that is crucial for scientific, philosophical, or practical interests. In this course, you will be introduced to the main core concepts in epistemology by looking both at the history of skepticism and present-day discussions of the philosophical innovations they have inspired. Students will also think critically about living epistemology problems that we see in the daily news, such as how to discern information from disinformation, how to assess expert testimony from non-expert testimony, how to understand comments about living in a post-truth world, how to think about truth and evidence in concrete legal settings like criminal trials, and problems in knowledge engineering for AI.
Introduction to ethics
Ethics addresses overtly practical questions of universal interest about human nature and the human condition, what you should do with your time on this planet, how to find your best place in life, how you can best develop your talents in the service of virtue, and why pursuing a virtuous character is worthwhile even in the absence of external rewards. Underneath these are deeper, but nevertheless equally practically relevant, philosophical issues about the nature of luck and “fate”, the prospect of destiny, whether we can merely cope with suffering or somehow overcome it, whether there can be objective moral truths, and where such truths could originate. Creating an appreciation for the complexity of the questions of ethics, and understanding what some of the deepest thinkers have said about these issues, is one of the most important components of a well-rounded college education. In this course students examine the history of ethics, the theory of ethics, and apply these tools to rigorous thinking about present-day social and political issues from an ethical perspective.
Puzzles and Paradoxes
Philosophy begins in wonder, and often in puzzles or even paradoxes. This course is an introduction to philosophy and theoretical reasoning through a study of puzzles and paradoxes in the context of the history of philosophy. A puzzle is a phenomenon that seems not to conform to received theories within some domain, while a paradox is an unacceptable conclusion or a contradiction derived from acceptable premises. Puzzles and paradoxes can drive new innovations in a theory: by discovering that a theory leads to paradox, we can perceive new ways to modify the theory. Some philosophers have said, therefore, that paradoxes are like laboratories in which we can test philosophical theories. Others have embraced paradoxes as pointing toward a deeper truth about reality that resists common sense. A look at the history of paradox in philosophy will draw us into problems regarding the nature of space and time, the infinite, truth, the mind, the unconscious, and the self.
humanities core course: empires and their ruins
A writing-intensive, year-long general humanities course in which students engage questions about the history and concept of empire and imperial expansion across a range of humanities disciplines, methodologies, and interpretive strategies. The course gives students the opportunity to explore various forms of academic writing in the humanities, culminating in a self-directed research project on a topic of their own choosing related to the course theme of the cycle of empire and ruin.
contemporary moral problems
This course introduces students to some philosophical questions and methods for thinking about contemporary problems facing society and the individual. Problems to be studied involve wealth and poverty, terrorism, love, marriage, individual liberty versus collective welfare, bioethics, and more, depending on student interest.
introduction to philosophy
This course introduces students to philosophy by guiding them through a close reading of a selection of classic texts, including works from Plato, Descartes, and Sartre. We will read each text with an eye toward appreciating philosophical problems and the kinds of approaches that some philosophers have taken to articulate and address those problems. Central philosophical topics will be encounetered and developed along the way, including the nature of justice, knowledge, the mind, the self, and consciousness.