I am a (continuing, tenured) Lecturer and Deputy Head of the School of Philosophy at the Australian National University (ANU). I work in philosophy of action, ethics, philosophy of mind and epistemology in Western and Asian philosophical traditions. I am currently working on two related research projects. The first investigates the nature of practical rationality involved in skilled action taken as a model of moral agency. The second examines Buddhist moral psychology and the meta-ethical grounds for rationally reconstructing Buddhist ethical thought.
I have a BA (University of Melbourne), MA (University of Sydney) and PhD (University of Auckland) in Philosophy. My doctoral thesis researched the nature of phronēsis or practical intelligence involved in pre-reflective modes of ethical response. I have several works in progress that emerge from this thesis. One relates practical intelligence to recent debates in epistemology and philosophy of language concerning know-how; one attempts to rationally reconstruct from Aristotle the idea of conceptualised perception as a minimal form of rationality; one attempts to negotiate the debate between Dreyfus and McDowell on the nature of phronēsis; and a forthcoming article that poses a trilemma for contemporary neo-Aristotelian and Heideggerean views on the nature of phronēsis (2014).
I have studied Indian and Tibetan Buddhist thought in India, Nepal, USA, Switzerland and Japan. I co-authored Moonshadows: Conventional Truth and Buddhist Philosophy (Cowherds, Oxford University Press, 2011) which focuses on issues of metaphysics, theories of truth, justification and ethics in Madhyamaka Buddhism. I have published articles on the nature of action and ethical agency that emerge from recent engagements with Indian Pramānāvāda, Classical Chinese Confucianism and Daoism (2011a; 2011b); on meta-ethical problems that arise when Buddhist ethics is contextualised in Pramānāvāda epistemology (2010-11); and a forthcoming article that investigates moral justification in the context of Prāsaṅgika Madhyamaka. I have also co-authored a book chapter on spontaneous action in martial arts which engaged the Japanese Zen Buddhist views of Takuan (Finnigan and Tanaka 2010).
School of Philosophy, RSSS
Australian National University
Canberra ACT 2601