about me

I work primarily at the intersection of metaphysics and philosophy of language. At the most general level, I am interested in debates over realism, broadly construed. For a host of phenomena (modal, normative, mathematical, nomic, probabilistic etc.) I am interested in the (admittedly obscure) question: does the source of the phenomena lie in our representations (our language or thought) or in the world being represented?

I approach these questions via the study of vagueness and indeterminacy. That approach comes from two angles. First, I ask whether vagueness and indeterminacy is a representational or a worldly phenomenon. (I believe it is the former.) Second, I ask what vagueness and indeterminacy can teach us about debates over realism regarding morality, ontology, fundamentality, etc. (I believe it can teach us quite a lot.)

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I have additional interests in metaethics, rational choice, epistemology (esp. formal), and philosophical logic.

I grew up in Flint, Michigan and attended Columbia University in New York City where I studied economics and philosophy. After a brief stint in investment banking, I returned to my home state to pursue a PhD in Philosophy at the University of Michigan.

 

I am currently an assistant professor at Ryerson University in Toronto. I am also the recipient of a multi-year Insight Development Grant from SSHRC to fund research on moral vagueness.

publications 

Quantifier Variance, Vague Existence, and Metaphysical Vagueness

(forthcoming at The Journal of Philosophy)

I explore the relationship between (i) quantifier variantism (ii) vague existence and (iii) metaphysical vagueness. I argue that the quantifier variantist is committed to a particularly robust sort of vague existence, which entails a subtle and novel sort of metaphysical vagueness. Along the way, I clarify the notions of vague existence and metaphysical vagueness, and offer new arguments linking restricted composition to vague existence and linking vague existence to metaphysical vagueness.

Modal Normativism on Semantic Rules

(invited contribution to symposium in Inquiry on Amie Thomasson's Norms and Necessityworking draft, pending editor review)

According to Thomasson's modal normativist, modal claims boil down to expressions of semantic rules. I explore the conception of a "semantic rule" underlying that position, especially in the context of a posteriori necessities.

Quantifier Variance (with David Manley)

(published in Routledge Handbook on Metametaphysics)

a discussion of the meta-ontological thesis of quantifier variance

Moral Vagueness as Semantic Vagueness

(published in Ethics)

uses conceptual role semantics for moral terms to explain moral vagueness without ontic vagueness; responds to the argument in Schoenfield (2016) that moral vagueness is ontic vagueness

Vague Naturalness as Ersatz Metaphysical Vagueness

(published in Oxford Studies in Metaphysics)

proposes a view that mimics genuine metaphysical vagueness, according to which the term 'natural' and its cognates are vague and the source of the vagueness is semantic; shows the view rebuts an argument schema pervasive in metaphysics

Plurivaluationism, Supersententialism, and the Problem of the Many Languages

(published in Synthese)

uses tools from the problem of the many to argue that the best account of vagueness is one in which we are simultaneously speaking many languages, tokening many sentences, and asserting many propositions

 

A Forward Looking Decision Rule for Imprecise Credences

(published in Philosophical Studies)

explores, in the context of Elga's (2010) dutch strategy, a decision rule for agents with imprecise or vague credences

papers in the works 

[Title Blinded]

(under review; email for draft)

Picking up on themes from Locke, Leibniz, and Russell, Shamik Dasgupta and others have argued that individual identities (e.g. an individual's haecceity) cannot be detected and therefore should be excised from our fundamental ontology. I defend individual identities. Unlike extant defenses, my defense targets the claim that these identities cannot be detected.

[Title Blinded]

(under review; email for draft)

Kit Fine introduced the notion of grounding in order to help us state and resolve so-called "questions of realism". Ted Sider has argued that his notion of metaphysical semantics is better suited for the task. I disagree and defend the grounding theorist.

No Room For Moderate Reference Magnetism: Some Putnam-Style Results

(in progress)

Many philosophers have been moved by the indeterminacy considerations raised by Hilary Putnam to think that, among the semantic values for predicates, some are more eligible than others. I extend these Putnam-style considerations to include the semantic values for logical vocabulary. The result is a new argument for Ted Sider's thesis: in so far as we think the candidate semantic values for our predicates are more-or-less eligible, we should think the same for our logical vocabulary.

Entry on Vagueness

(for the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, in progress)

Overview on philosophical investigations in vagueness (aimed at undergraduate audiences)