“Relativity and the Causal Efficacy of Abstract Objects,” American Philosophical Quarterly, vol. 57, no. 3 (2020): 269-282.
“Abstract Objects, Causal Efficacy, and Causal Exclusion,” Erkenntnis, vol. 83, no. 4 (2018): 805-827.
“Review of Joshua Mozersky, Time, Language, and Ontology: The World from the B-theoretic Perspective” Dialogue, vol. 55 no. 3 (September, 2016): 574-576.
Works in Progress/Under Review (*)
Drafts available upon request.
A paper on artworks, artifacts, and physical modification*
I argue that (1) artworks are necessarily artifacts because (2) artifacts can be created through appropriation—they need not be the result of physical modification. This shows that standard counterexamples to (1) such as a piece of driftwood being moved from a beach to an art gallery without otherwise being altered is in fact an artifact and also an artwork.
A paper defending the intention-dependence of artifacts from various putative counterexamples*
I defend the intention-dependence of artifacts (IDA), which says that something is an artifact of kind K only if it is the successful product of an intention to make an artifact of kind K. I consider objections from two directions. First, that artifacts are often mind- and intention-dependent, but that this isn’t necessary, as shown by swamp cases. I offer various error theories for why someone would have artifact intuitions in such cases. Second, that while artifacts are necessarily mind-dependent, they aren’t necessarily intention-dependent. I consider and reject four kinds of cases which purport to show this: accidental creation, automated production, mass production, and cases of unintended byproducts. I argue that intentions are present in the first three cases, but not where we would normally expect, and that the fourth aren’t artifacts, properly understood.
A paper on the causal theory of reference for artifact kind terms
I defend the causal theory of reference for artifact kind terms. Reference for artifact kind terms functions analogously as natural kind terms. I defend the standard Kripke-Putnam account by showing that we just need an account of artifact essences. I reject arguments from Irene Olivero that only extrinsic essences can be found. I then rebut hybrid descriptivist challenges in the form of the qua-problem from Amie Thomasson, and argue that while some descriptive content is needed to overcome the qua-problem, it doesn’t involve any analytic entailments between the description associated with the term and its referent.
A paper which explores the difficulties of fitting the claim that abstracta are causally efficacious into our existing theories of causation
I assume the increasingly common view that abstract objects are causally efficacious and then ask what theory of causation could accommodate such an unorthodox claim. I consider energy transfer and connection/process accounts, counterfactual theories, causal primitivism, causation by abstracta as a kind of sui generis causation, and causal pluralism. In all cases, substantial and often controversial commitments are required. While I don’t offer a knockdown argument against the causal efficacy of abstracta, I show how the view doesn’t sit easily with any account of causation. The defender of the causal efficacy of abstracta needs to recognize such commitments, which count as a cost of the view, and decide which theoretical burdens they would be willing to bear. I argue that they should either adopt causal pluralism or some version of the counterfactual theory or alternatively that they should construe causation by abstracta as a kind of formal, rather than efficient, causation, thereby avoiding the burdens altogether.
A paper on the nature and role of intuitions in philosophy
Recent discussion in epistemology has questioned the role of intuitions in philosophical practice. Two distinct questions arise: what are intuitions and are intuitions evidence in philosophy? Earlenbaugh and Molyneux have argued that intuitions are inclinations to believe and that they are not used as evidence in philosophy. Recently, Climenhaga has raised an objection to their no-evidence view by arguing that several features of philosophical practice can only best be explained by taking intuitions to be evidence. I respond to Climenhaga’s objections by showing how the no-evidence theorists can account for these features at least as well as the evidence theorist can. The explanations I advance rely on taking intuitions to be inclinations to believe. Thus, I show how the no-evidence view can respond to Climenhaga’s objections and suggest that if one favours the no-evidence view, then one has reason to construe intuitions as inclinations to believe.
My dissertation explores the nature of artifacts – things like chairs, tables, and pinball machines – and addresses the question of whether there is anything essential to being an artifact and a member of a particular artifact kind. My dissertation offers new arguments against both the anti-essentialist and current essentialist proposals. Roughly put, the view is that artifacts are successful products of an intention to make something with certain features constitutive of an artifact kind. The constitutive features are often functional features, but may include structural, material, aesthetic, historical, or other features. I further explore the ways in which artifacts are mind-dependent and I argue that this dependence is disjunctive. Not only do they depend on the singular intentions of their makers, but they often also depend on social groups or public norms. Thus, there is an important social dimension to being an artifact. I also explore the question of what makes a kind an artifact kind, in what ways artifacts are normative, and how artifact kind terms refer.