Research

My dissertation gives a systematic treatment of problems in the metaphysics of identity, including Black's two-sphere world, the statue and the clay, the problem of the many, and personal identity over time. 

Publications:

The Identity of Necessary Indiscernibles 

(Forthcoming, Philosophers' Imprint)

Abstract: I propose a novel metaphysical explanation of identity and distinctness facts called the Modal Proposal. According to the Modal Proposal, for each identity fact – that is, each fact of the form a=b – that fact is metaphysically explained by the fact that it is necessary that the entities involved are indiscernible; and for each distinctness fact – each fact of the form ab – that fact is metaphysically explained by the fact that it is possible for the entities involved to be discernible. I argue that the Modal Proposal has greater payoffs at less cost than any of its competitors. It gives simple, uniform, and intuitive explanations of identity and distinctness that conserve longstanding philosophical insights about identity that go back to Leibniz. It does this while making our fundamental base more parsimonious, determining whether controversial cases of identity or distinctness are possible, and expanding our understanding of these central philosophical relations.

Works in Progress:

Counting By Discriminability (under review) :

Abstract: Many metaphysical theories or principles entail that there is an abundance of entities beyond what we normally comprehend. For example, Ontological Plenitude states that for each object, there are numerous distinct objects coincident with it that differ in their modal properties. The ontological abundance posited by these theories or principles seems to make our ordinary counting judgments false. In this paper, I defend a general solution to counting problems. I argue that when we count, we do not do so by counting every distinct object in a domain, but rather that we count the number of discriminable objects in a domain, where some object x is discriminable from object y iff we it is (instrumentally) permissible to employ knowledge that x and y are distinct. In ordinary contexts, it is not appropriate to employ one’s knowledge of the existence of the unfamiliar entities posited by metaphysical theories or principles. For this reason, these objects are not discriminable and we do not count them in ordinary contexts. In ordinary contexts, the objects we count are just those that we ordinarily acknowledge. So, on my view of counting, our ordinary counting judgments come out true, even if we accept a theory or principle that entails an abundant ontology.

Covert Counterspeech

Abstract: We ought to speak up when we can. However, speaking up can sometimes be dangerous and counterproductive. Sometimes speaking up risks being met with violence. And even when there are no physical risks, speaking up can risk social, economic, or political harms. Moreover, speaking up is sometimes counterproductive. It may bring more attention to the speech one aims to counter, or incite backlash that ultimately helps the cause one is opposing.  Effectively speaking up requires one to navigate these risks.

In this paper, I will argue that we can avoid many of these issues using a kind of speaking up that I call covert counter-speech which works by activating latent positive attitudes in one’s audience without their awareness. I will argue that covert counter-speech is particularly effective against certain kinds of harmful speech, namely, covert dogwhistles. To make this argument, I will present two problems that Langton’s (2018) overt counter-speech faces when used against covert dogwhistles that covert counter-speech avoids.

Self-Interest and Identity

Abstract: In this paper, I argue that there are two kinds of future-directed self-interest which are often mistakenly unified. The first is future-directed agential self-interest, interest one's future actions. The second is future-directed experiential self-interest, interest in one's future experiences. My argument involves two cases of transformative experiences. In the first case, future-directed agential self-interest is appropriate but future-directed experiential self-interest is not. In the second case, future-directed experiential self-interest is appropriate but future-directed agential self-interest is not.