I am a philosopher.

I teach at Western Michigan University and Kalamazoo Valley Community College.

My PhD was completed at the University of California, Santa Barbara, under Nathan Salmon.

Curriculum Vitae

Research

My research mostly concerns two broad topics.

  • Representation: in forms such as linguistic, mental, pictorial, and fictional, and phenomena such as de re representation and representation of things to which we deny commitment (e.g., so-called negative existentials)
  • Artifacts: such as fictional objects and works of fiction, languages and linguistic expressions, institutions, and concepts, and phenomena such as derived intentionality, functions, and abstract artifacts

Publications

  • “Real Representation of Fictional Objects”
    The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 72:1 Winter 2014

    • Abstract: Assuming there are fictional objects, what sorts of properties do they have? Intuitively, most of their properties involve being represented—appearing in works of fiction, being depicted as clever, being portrayed by actors, being admired or feared, etc. But several philosophers, including Saul Kripke, Peter van Inwagen, Kendall Walton, and Amie Thomasson argue that even if there are fictional objects, they are not really represented in some or all of these cases. I reconstruct four kinds of arguments for this unexpected conclusion; they concern the semantics of names, pragmatic force, creation, and representations’ qualitative content. But I find all the arguments flawed. I then argue for the contrary, employing a new perspective: representation of fictional objects begins with the works of fiction that originate them. And a work of fiction represents its “native” objects because our culture bestows that property on it (and on other works of fiction). I sketch conditions for such property-bestowal, and argue that they are satisfied in this case.

  • “Reply to Sartorelli on Pretense and Representing Fictional Objects"
    Forthcoming in The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 2015
    (Accepted version)
    • Abstract: Joseph Sartorelli has objected to my attacks on “exclusionary arguments”, arguments that even if fictional objects exist, they are not represented by things such as works of fiction and fictional names. His objections seem to misconstrue my paper, so I clarify some things here. I also suggest some ways that his points could better support exclusionary arguments. But I conclude that none of the arguments are acceptable.
  • “No Identity without an Entity”
    Forthcoming in Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 2015
    (Accepted version)

    • Abstract: Peter Geach’s puzzle of intentional identity is to explain how the claim ‘Hob thinks a witch has blighted Bob’s mare, and Nob wonders whether she (the same witch) killed Cob’s sow’ is compatible with there being no such witch. I clarify the puzzle and reduce it to the familiar problem of negative existentials. That problem is a paradox, of representations that seem to include denials of commitment (implicitly, here), to carry commitment to what they deny commitment to, and to be true. The best proposed solutions can be understood through this paradox; I evaluate them, and defend a new solution.

    Dissertation

    Bibliographies

    • Here's a bibliography on the metaphysics of fictional objects. (BibTeX format, readable in a text editor) [updated 11/14/2012]
    • There's also this list of incoming items I haven't yet categorized, many of which are probably directly relevant to the above topic. [updated 11/2/2011]