Self-location, existence, and evidential uniqueness

  1. How should I update my credences when I get de se evidence? And how should I reason when my experiential state might be non-unique? A principled answer to these questions would help us solve several puzzles in confirmation theory, such as Sleeping Beauty, Doomsday, and the question whether finding out that the universe is ‘fine-tuned’ would count as evidence for the existence of many universes.

  2. This paper looks at three ways to answer these questions, each of which can be thought of as replacing the standard conditioning rule for updating with a new normative principle that constrains credences. The two most promising approaches also give rise to ‘existential selection effects’: having a certain experiential state E can bear evidentially on de dicto hypotheses beyond entailing the de dicto fact that someone has that experiential state E.  

The folk probably do think what you think they think

-Australasian Journal of Philosophy, forthcoming, with Billy Dunaway & Anna Edmonds

  1. We conducted a meta-survey to see if philosophers could predict results presented as surprising in the experimental philosophy literature. Our results suggest that studies deemed surprising by experimental philosophers should not be treated uncritically as evidence against the reliability of informal access to ordinary intuitions.

The Reference Book

-Oxford University Press, 2012

  1. This book critically examines some widespread views about the semantic phenomenon of reference and the cognitive phenomenon of singular thought. We begin by defending the view that neither is tied to a special relation of causal or epistemic acquaintance. We then challenge the alleged semantic rift between definite and indefinite descriptions on the one hand, and names and demonstratives on the other—a division that has been motivated in part by appeals to considerations of acquaintance.

  2. Drawing on recent work in semantics, we explore a more unified account of all four types of expression, according to which none of them paradigmatically fits the profile of a referential term. On our preferred framework, all four involve existential quantification but admit of uses that exhibit many of the traits associated with reference—a phenomenon that is due to the presence of what we call a ‘singular restriction’ on the existentially quantified domain. We conclude by drawing out some implications of the proposed semantic picture for the traditional categories of reference and singular thought.

Dispositionality: beyond the biconditionals

-Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 2012, 90(2): 321-334

  1. This paper examines some views about the dispositional/categorical distinction that are available if we take for granted a certain kind of equivalence between dispositional and counterfactual facts.

Dispositions, conditionals, and counterexamples

-Mind, 2011, 120: 1191-1227, with Ryan Wasserman

  1. Our earlier paper about dispositions in Mind elicited three response papers: one by Daniel Bonevac, Josh Dever, and David Sosa; one by Sungho Choi, and one by Barbara Vetter. In this paper, we respond to our critics, focusing on the role of centering and of counterexamples in refuting conditional analyses of dispositions.

When best theories go bad

-Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 2009, 78(2): 392-405. This version fixes typos in the published version.

  1. The Quinean criterion of ontological commitment does not pair well with the metaphysical realism of its contemporary proponents.

A guided tour of metametaphysics

-in Metametaphysics, Oxford University Press, 2009.

  1. I introduce the topic and the volume, sketching a taxonomy of positions in metametaphysics as well as an account of verbal disputes.

On linking dispositions with conditionals

-Mind, 2008, 117: 59-84, with Ryan Wasserman

  1. This paper presents a battery of new arguments against extant conditional analyses of dispositions, and offers a positive account that avoids them.

Safety, content, apriority, self-knowledge

-The Journal of Philosophy, 2007, 104:403-423

  1. I motivate a revised version of safety and then use it to (i) challenge traditional conceptions of apriority, (ii) refute ‘strong privileged access’, and (iii) resolve a well-known puzzle about externalism and self-knowledge.

A gradable approach to dispositions

-The Philosophical Quarterly, 2007, 57:68-75, with Ryan Wasserman

  1. The gradability of dispositional predicates is a problem for many accounts of dispositions; we consider some alternatives.

Mumford’s Dispositions

-Noûs, 2005, 39:179-195, with John Hawthorne

  1. This is a detailed critical study of Stephen Mumford’s book Dispositions.

Properties and resemblance classes

-Noûs, 2002, 36: 75-96

  1. I examine the competing merits of resemblance-class theories of properties, arguing that the ‘companionship’ and ‘imperfect community’ problems are not avoided by appealing to classes of tropes instead of objects.

review of Fabrice Correia, Existential Dependence and Cognate Notions

-Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, 2007 (2)

(see my philpapers page)