Research plans for the next 5 years:
General description: I am planning to work on inter-connected issues in metaphysics, philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, and philosophy of gender, race and sexuality.
Main aims of the project: The over-arching theme of my future research concerns methodological, metaphysical and semantic issues having to do with the study of gender, race and sexuality. On the one hand, I am interested in questions about what are the best methods to study politically significant kinds such as gender, race and sexuality, and on the other hand I am interested in applying these methods to the study of these kinds. This project is located at the intersection of the following areas:
· Philosophical Methodology: I am interested in the prospects of conceptual ethics, which deals with evaluative and normative considerations regarding our use of concepts and terms. I want to use this idea in order to offer a reconstruction of what the debates in the metaphysics of gender, race and sexual orientation are about, and I want to argue that debates about the metaphysics of gender, race and sexuality should be understood as verbal disputes about how we actually use or should use the corresponding terms, where moral and political considerations play a central evidential role.
· Metaphysics: In connection with contemporary debates in meta-metaphysics, I want to argue that my account of conceptual ethics as a philosophical method provides an argument for metaphysical deflationism about many general metaphysical debates of the form ‘Is X real?’.
· Philosophy of Language:
o I am interested in first-order questions about the meaning of terms such as ‘gender’, ‘race’, and ‘sexual orientation’.
o I am also interested in the related question about the meaning of slurs for gender, race and sexual orientations, and in the connection between “neutral” and “pejorative” ways of talking about gender, race and sexual orientation.
· Philosophy of Mind:
o On the one hand, I am interested in foundational issues in conceptual ethics having to do with the nature of concepts and the possibility of conceptual change and concept revision.
o On the other hand, I want to defend an account of sexual orientations in terms of mental states such as sexual preferences and sexual desires, which are mental states that haven’t received a lot of attention in the literature.