Mackie and the Meaning of Moral Terms.
This paper discusses whether J.L. Mackie thought that our moral language necessarily implies that objective moral values exist. Contrary to both the traditional reading and some recent commentary, I argue that Mackie stays neutral on this question – and that he does not need to take a position on this issue to achieve his argumentative goals.
Knowledge and Cancelability.
I argue that our intuitions on cancelability support the idea that there is pragmatic weakening in our understanding of knowledge ascriptions. This supports the idea that they have an infallibilist semantics.
Three Things to Do With Knowledge Ascriptions.
I distinguish three different purposes for using knowledge ascriptions: one focused on the embedded proposition, one focused on the subject knowledge is ascribed to, and one focused on the concept of knowledge itself. This distinction is important to how the meaning of those knowledge ascriptions is computed.
“Putting the linguistic method in its place”: Mackie’s distinction between conceptual and factual analysis.
I discuss John Mackie’s views on Oridnary Language Philosophy emerging in the 1950s and how this has lead him to adopt a two-level methodology. This methodology has shaped his better known work in the 1970s.
The Basis-Access Dilemma for Epistemological Disjunctivism.
I argue that Epistemological Disjunctivism (as championed by Duncan Pritchard) can’t offer a good response to both of two standard objections: the basis problem and the access problem. A satisfying response to one of them will prevent any equally satisfying response to the other.
Was Heisst “Sich Vorstellen, Eine Andere Person zu Sein”?
I examine a variety of ways in which we can understand the phrase “imagining being another person”: I can imagine being “in your shoes”, I can empathize with you, I can entertain the epistemic possibility that we really are the same person; and I can attempt these “imaginative projects” from different perspectives. What I can’t do is to imagine a metaphysical possibility of two persons being identical if they are non-identical in actuality. (The paper is written in German.)
“Knowledge First” and Its Limits
My Dissertation (Johns Hopkins, May 2022) - Download text
I discuss three understandings of the idea of “Knowledge First Epistemology”, i.e. Timothy Williamson’s suggestion that we should take knowledge as a starting point, rather than trying to analyze it. Some have taken this to be a suggestion about the role of the concept of knowledge, but Williamson also seems to be concerned with intuition-based metaphysics. As an alternative, I develop the idea that knowledge may be a social kind that can be understood through a functional analysis in the tradition of Edward Craig.
Knowledge and Conversation
For the Tübingen Masterclass in Theoretical Philosophy with Jonathan Schaffer in 2017 - Download text
I argue that Jonathan Schaffer and Zoltán Gendler Szabó are right to observe that knowledge ascriptions linguistically behave in a way that is closely analogous to adverbial quantifiers, and that this gives us a prima facie reason to believe that their semantics and pragmatics can be accounted for in similar ways. However, I argue that the linguistic work on adverbial quantifiers points us more to an infallibilist semantics rather than the contextualist account they favor.
Epistemically Rigid Expressions
For the 13. Göttinger Philosophisches Kolloquium with David Chalmers in 2014 - Download text
I propose an understanding of David Chalmers’ notion of epistemic rigidity. This notion applies to expressions, and my central assumption is that we can individuate these entities according to the common currency conception of words proposed by David Kaplan. If we do so, I argue, we can say that an expression is epistemically rigid if for fully competent (i.e. correct and nondeferential) uses of it, one can know its extension a priori.