"BA (Hons) UQ, LLB (Hons) UQ, PhD (ANU)."
|Contact Campus||Newnham Campus|
|Telephone||+61 3 6324 3439|
|Fax||+61 3 6324 3652|
1. The methodology of analytic philosophy
My main interest here is in looking at analytic philosophy as an epistemic institution, and to consider challenges to its methods from the sciences (such as the experimental philosophy critique) and from European philosophy. Some of my interests on the latter side are explored in Analytic Versus Continental (Acumen, 2011), a book I wrote with Jack Reynolds of Latrobe University, and in other work funded by an ARC Discovery grant on the analytic-continental divide held by myself, Jack, Ed Mares of Victoria University of Wellington (New Zealand), and James Williams of the University of Dundee (United Kingdom). I’m especially interested in what one might call local coherence-building methods in analytic philosophy (appeals to reflective equilibrium, inference to the best explanation and judgment based on appeal to theoretical virtues), the implications they have for the study of normative systems (particularly moral theory and epistemology), and the way they might or might not fit within a naturalising approach to philosophy. I have an ARC Discovery grant application under review in the current round on this topic, along with Graham Wood (UTas), Steve Clarke (Melbourne and Oxford) and Neil Levy (Melbourne and Oxford).
2. Paraconsistent analyses of vagueness
Through 2007 I was employed as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Sydney to work on this topic with Mark Colyvan (Sydney) and Dominic Hyde (Queensland), and it’s left me with many ongoing interests in this field. One is in sorites arguments that arise essentially in continuous rather than discrete domains (where mathematical induction, chains of conditionals, the least number principle and other standard soritical generators are not available). Another involves the use of content externalism and social choice theory to improve the standard motivations for subvaluationism. I have work under review at present on both of these topics.
3. Mixed modalities in epistemology
Epistemologists are wont to make all sorts of claims in which epistemic and alethic notions interact, and it’s clear that some debates in epistemology come down to questions about the way we should treat such fusions. My particular interests here include knowability claims (the coherence of Dummettian anti-realism in the face of Fitchian concerns), and revisability claims in the Quinean tradition (and their alleged incoherence or self-contradiction). My views on the latter have recently come out as ‘The logic of Quinean revisability’, Synthese 184 (2012) 357-373.
4. Epistemic normativity
My PhD thesis was on epistemic justification and the way traditional internalist conceptions of that notion might survive in a naturalistic setting. In some work I did after that I argued that justification is an ‘indicator concept’, albeit an externalist one (something like a Wittgensteinian criterion). I’m now looking at the role of constitutive norms of language-use in founding the epistemic norms of truth-seeking and falsity-avoiding, and considering the plausibility of a functionalist account of the meanings of many epistemic evaluative terms.
5. Implications of psychology for philosophical study of action-guiding concepts
There has been surprisingly little consideration of the implications for philosophy of a non-descriptivist analysis of normative concepts, such as the concepts of a justified belief, a morally right act/institution, or a principled (not ad hoc) theory revision. My main interest here is in the way non-descriptive normative concepts might be subject to an ‘actualist’ bias, inducing error or confusion in the face of unusual situations, bizarre thought experiments, etc. Unsurprisingly, this interest is related to my general interest in analytic methodology and the naturalising end of philosophy.
Authorised by the Acting Head of School, Humanities
14 December, 2012