I work primarily in metaethics, metaphysics, and epistemology, and I dabble in normative ethics, moral psychology, and philosophy of language.
Grounding and Normativity forthcoming in The Routledge Handbook of Metaphysical Grounding (draft available upon request)
Works In Progress
"What is Moorean Non-naturalism?" Most metaethicists and metaphysicians alike take the sort of non-naturalist view endorsed by Moore and his followers to amount to either a claim about identity or a claim about grounding. I argue, however, that specifying non-naturalism simply in terms of identity at best fails to elucidate the non-naturalist's view, and specifying the view in terms of grounding either fails to render non-naturalism a substantive and local claim about normativity or fails to provide a sufficiently general characterization of non-naturalism that is a good fit with paradigm non-naturalist's views. So, instead, I propose that we understand the view in terms of essence and I argue that my characterization of non-naturalism succeeds where these others fail. This is significant for metaethical inquiry because the essence characterization of non-naturalism that I defend is compatible with claiming that all particular normative facts are fully grounded in non-normative facts, which shows that non-naturalism has been previously misunderstood in an overly restrictive way. But this essence characterization of non-naturalism is also significant for metaphysical theorizing, more generally, because it provides justification for adopting the notion of essence into our ideology in the first place. (Draft)
"Why be a Non-naturalist?" Naturalists, I argue, are committed to taking what I call a "language first" approach to answering to the question of which properties are normative properties: they must claim that the normative properties are simply whatever natural properties stand in the right metasemantic relation to our normative terms. Non-naturalists, on the other hand, may instead offer a "metaphysics first" approach to answering this question: according to the non-naturalist, whether a property is a normative one does not depend on whether it stands in the right metasemantic relation to our normative terms, but instead on whether it has a sui generis normative essence. I argue that this difference between the two views is a crucial one, which shows that only non-naturalism secures the sort of ardent realist view according to which reality itself objectively backs certain ways of acting and valuing.
“Weighing Practical and Epistemic Reasons” Pluralists claim that there are both practical and epistemic reasons for belief. I argue that this view leads to the result that there are both practical and epistemic reasons for action as well and that this presents a puzzle for the pluralist who aims to provide an account of how practical and epistemic reasons weigh against one another to determine what one all-things-considered-ought to believe. If there are epistemic reasons for action, a good weighing account must be equally applicable to action and belief. But if we look at structurally similar cases involving competing practical and epistemic reasons for action and belief, it looks like our intuitions about what one all-things-considered-ought to do diverge between action and belief cases. So, it seems like no unified weighing account can be given. After motivating this puzzle, I then propose a solution to it.
“A Pragmatist Argument Against Encroachment” The pragmatism vs. anti-pragmatism debate concerns whether practical considerations constitute genuinely normative wrong-kind reasons for and against belief. This is a distinct issue from the pragmatic and moral encroachment debate, which concerns whether practical considerations can affect what right-kind reasons one has or needs to have in order to be epistemically justified. However, I argue that once we accept that there are genuinely normative wrong-kind reasons for and against belief (pragmatism), there is a natural debunking story to tell about pragmatic and moral encroachment: that the relevant practical considerations in alleged encroachment cases only generate wrong-kind reasons against belief, rather than affect the right-kind reasons in some way. Moreover, I argue that this seems like the correct diagnosis of these cases because they are structurally identical to cases involving wrong-kind reasons against admiration and fear.