Research

My primary research interests include the metaphysics of ordinary objects, mereology, mental fictionalism, and material plenitude.

I am currently working on a monograph (under contract) with Cambridge University Press as part of their Elements series called Parts and Wholes: Spatial to Modal. It is a brief survey of various views of composition and mereology as a lead up to – and defense of – a theory of modal parts of ordinary objects.

My unpublished 2007 manuscript “Mental Fictionalism” has finally been revamped and updated. It and another, newer paper “Mental Fictionalism: a foothold amid deflationary collapse” are planned for publication in a forthcoming volume Mental Fictionalism: Philosophical Explorations (Routledge), Tamas Demeter, Ted Parent and Adam Toon (eds.)

Some of my recent publications include: “Counterexamples and Common Sense: When (not) to Tollens a Ponens” in Analysis (2020), “The Lump Sum: a Theory of Modal Parts” Philosophical Papers (2019), and “The Polysemy of ‘Part'” Synthese (2019).  In the spring 2020, I had planned to present “Modal Parts and Plenitude” at a workshop on material plenitude at the University of Texas at Austin. This (intended) presentation is related to some other works in progress that I hope to present live and in the real world, as soon as (if) things get back to normal-ish.

 

Published: 

 

Forthcoming – Under Contract – In Various Stages of Progress:

ABSTRACT: There is an uneasy tension between our ordinary talk about beliefs and desires and the ontological facts supported by neuroscience. Arguments for eliminative materialism can be fairly persuasive, yet error theory about folk psychological discourse may be unacceptable. One solution is to accept mental fictionalism: the view that we are (or should be) fictionalists about mentality. My aim in this paper is to explore mental fictionalism as a viable theoretical option, and to show that it has advantages over other fictionalist views in the literature, as well as advantages over other theories of mind. However, mental fictionalism faces particular objections that do not plague other fictionalist accounts, nor other theories of the mind. These objections may provide some explanation as to why mental fictionalism has not (until recently) gained much traction in the literature. I end with some suggestions on how the mental fictionalist can address these objections, hopefully paving the way for further development of mental fictionalism as a live philosophical position in philosophy of mind.

ABSTRACT: This paper examines three meta-ontological deflationary approaches – frameworks, verbal disputes, and metalinguistic negotiation – and applies them to ontological debates in philosophy of mind. An intriguing consequence of this application is that it reveals a deep, systematic problem for mental deflationism – specifically, a problem of cognitive collapse. This is surprising; cognitive collapse problems are usually reserved for serious ontological views such as eliminative materialism and mental fictionalism, not deflationism. This paper investigates why deflationism about the mental is particularly problematic, and provides an explanation as to why mental fictionalism is in principle better equipped to address collapsing problems than deflationism is.

  • “Modal Parts and Material Plenitude” – in progress
  • “Endless Possibilities” – in progress