My work in epistemology is motivated by the fact that we make mistakes when forming and maintaining our beliefs. Much of my published epistemological work attempts to make sense of the theoretical and normative implications of this fact. In particular, I am articulating and defending a novel version of "non-ideal epistemic theory." That being said, my interest in this area is fundamentally practical. We have all sorts of explicit and implicit strategies that we use to maintain our beliefs when confronted with evidence of our mistakes. I find this pretty disturbing. Contemplating deep and fundamental disagreement -- disagreement not only about what the correct interpretation of the shared data is, but disagreement about what the data are -- is what (occasionally) keeps me up at night! How do we overcome these disagreements and circumvent pernicious strategies of belief maintenance? In an effort to answer this question and unearth methods for mitigating controversy based in these sorts of strategies, I'm now thinking about the philosophically underexplored topic of conversion -- political, religious, scientific, etc. conversion. What causes people to convert? Which kinds of conversion are epistemically and morally desirable? Insofar as people cause others to convert via advocacy efforts, who are the best advocates?
Most of my philosophical interests are normative in nature. This has led me to consider theoretical questions about the source of normativity. While I would *like* there to be some true non-instrumental account of normativity, I'm ultimately skeptical of this prospect. As a result, I've attempted to think carefully about how to develop instrumental accounts. Sophisticated instrumental accounts tend to appeal to a notion like "promotion" of desires or other similar states. So far, much of my purely metaethical work has been devoted to clarifying this notion. (Some of this work has been discussed in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Ethics, Philosophical Studies, Philosophical Issues, JESP, (and again in) JESP, and thisbook.) I also draw on work in metaethics, ethics, and political theory when doing my more theoretical work in epistemology. For details concerning my dissertation and my research trajectory, please email me.
Work in Progress I welcome feedback. Please email me for drafts or with comments. A paper on disagreement with converts. A paper on moral and epistemic self-licensing. A paper on the rationality of prejudice, extremism, and beliefs formed and sustained in echo chambers. A paper on conversion. (Revise & Resubmit at Journal of the American Philosophical Association)
Ideas Being Baked Reasonable person standards in the law Information cascades, social media, and self-licensing More on the relation between testimony and conversion The relation between love, respect, and conversion The nature of religious, moral, and political "belief" and how this informs questions about conversion The idea (found inter alia in Ta-Nehisi Coates and Baldwin) that there is a moral imperative to see reality as it is Miscarriage and abortion Transformative experience and autonomy in medicine Transformative experience and epistemic injustice