Amazon rainforest

N. Ángel Pinillos  
Associate Professor 
Director of Graduate Studies
Faculty of Philosophy
School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies
Arizona State University
Tempe, AZ USA

EMAIL: 'pinillos' followed by ''

PhD Philosophy, Rutgers University. New Brunswick, NJ
B.S. Mathematics, Tufts University. Medford, MA


I work mainly in Philosophy of Language, Cognitive Science, Experimental Philosophy, and Epistemology. I also have interests in vagueness and meta-ethics.



An Evolutionary Explanation of Skepticism (Book)


20. Skepticism and the Acquisition of 'Knowledge' (Utilizing A Bayesian Model of Lexical Acquisition) with Shaun Nichols  (presented at the University of Pittsburgh, ASU) Mind and Language

19. 'Skepticism, Knowledge-Action Principles and Natural Selection' in Pragmatic Encroachment (ed Brian Kim) Routledge (Presented at IJN Paris 2017  and at SUNY Buffalo 2017)

18. Knowledge and the Permissibility of Action. Forthcoming Synthese. I prove a principle connecting knowledge and action. 

17. Cause By Omission and Norm with Paul Henne and Felipe De Brigard. Forthcoming Australasian Journal of Philosophy. We provide experimental evidence that ordinary attributions of causation involving omissions are sensitive to norms in a specific way.

16 "A Bayesian Framework for Knowledge Attribution:Evidence from Semantic Integration" in Cognition (with Derek PowellZachary Horne and Keith Holyoak)
 (Parts presented at University of Arizona, SPP in Brown University, APA in San Francisco and CogSci In Berlin) 


15. 'Experiments on Contextualism and Interest Relative Invariantism" in Blackwell Companion to Experimental Philosophy W. Buckwalter and J. Sytsma

14 "De Jure Anti-Coreference and Mental Files" In Singular Thoughts and Mental Files Oxford University Press. [parts presented at UNAM (Mexico City April 2015), University of Houston (April 2015), and Istanbul (September 2015), UIC September 2016]

13 'Ambiguous Reference' (with Shaun Nichols and Ron Mallon). in Mind. We argue that natural kind terms are ambiguous between descriptive and causal-historical readings. This goes against most work on the topic which assumes a univocal theory. We report on a series of original experiments. (invited at the University of Barcelona, October 2012; UC Davis, October 2013)

12 "Ambiguity and Referential Machinery" in Advances in Experimental Philosophy of Language, Ed. Jussi Suikkanen Bloombsury

11. 'Millianism, Relationism and Attitude Ascriptions' (On Reference, Ed. Andrea Bianchi, Oxford University Press)
(at an invited conference on reference in Parma, Italy (Sept 2010))
Synopsis In this paper, I discuss Kit Fineʼs “Relationist” solution to Fregeʼs puzzle. Although I endorse Relationism, I disagree with Fineʼs proposed solution. Fine thinks that two types of semantic relations are needed to solve the puzzle: intra and inter- discourse relations. I argue that (a), appealing to inter-discourse relations in the way Fine proposes leads to severe and perhaps insoluble problems; and (b), contrary to what Fine holds, it is plausible that appealing to intra-discourse semantic relations is enough to make headway into Fregeʼs puzzle.

10. Justified True Belief (in a Gettier case) Triggers False Recall of 'Knew'.  (with Derek Powell, Zachary Horne and Keith Holyoak) (CogSci 2013)
Philosophers traditionally held that knowledge is justified true belief. Gettier (1963) challenged this view with thought experiments in which someone has a justified and true belief, but an element of luck is involved that disqualifies the belief from counting as knowledge. We examined laypeople’s concept of knowledge using a semantic integration paradigm modeled after that of Gentner (1981). Participants read stories in which a character ‘thought’ something was true. On a subsequent recall task, readers sometimes falsely recalled the verb ‘thought’ as ‘knew,’ implicitly indicating that the reader had attributed knowledge to the character. False recall of ‘knew’ occurred more frequently when the story described a justified true belief than an unjustified belief. Justified true belief triggered these recall errors even in a so-called “Gettier case”. The present findings suggest that semantic integration provides an empirical paradigm suitable for investigating lay notions about knowledge.
Keywords: belief; knowledge; semantic integration; false memory; experimental philosophy. To be presented at the Society for Philosophy and Psychology (Providence, June 2013) and at the Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society 
  (Berlin, August 2013).

9. "Semantic Integration as a Method for Investigating Concepts" co-authored with Powell and Horne.  forthcoming in Advances in Experimental Epistemology

8. Pinillos, N.A. "Attitudes, Supervaluations and Vagueness in the World" forthcoming in Vague Objects and Vague Identity (Verlag)
I consider two possible sources of vagueness. The first is indeterminacy about which intension is expressed by a word. The second is indeterminacy about which referent (extension) is determined by an intension. Focusing on a Fregean account of intensions, I argue that whichever account is right will matter to whether vagueness turns out to be a representational phenomenon (as opposed to being “in the world”). In addition, it will also matter to whether supervaluationism is a viable semantic framework. Based on these considerations, I end by developing an argument against supervaluational semantics that depends, instead, on anti-Fregean (Millian) assumptions. 

7. Pinillos, N.A., Simpson, Shawn. 'Experimental Evidence in Support of Anti-Intellectualism About Knowledge' . See this for a discussion on some of our results. (In Advances in  Experimental Epistemology Ed. J Beebe) This paper contains a response (involving new experiments) to substantive criticisms to Pinillos (Knowledge, Experiments and Practical Interests) raised by Wesley Buckwalter and Jonathan Schaffer (in Nous)--see below for links to their papers.

6. Pinillos, N. Ángel. 'Knowledge, Experiments and Practical Interests', Forthcoming New Essays On Knowledge Ascriptions (Eds. Jessica Brown and MIkkel Gerken) Oxford University Press.
(Parts of this paper were presented at an invited conference "Can Experimental Philosophy Contribute to Traditional Epistemology?", San Diego CA 2011; also at Group Session on Experimental Philosophy (invited), Boston, MA December 2010; and also at an invited conference at the University of Arizona (January 2011)). Please see discussion of this paper hereherehere and here. There is also some discussion of the general topic here
For more published responses to this paper, see W. Buckwalter and J. Schaffer here (forthcoming in Nous) and W. Buckwalter (here) (Forthcoming in Advances in Experimental Epistemology) and  this paper by Chandra Sripada and Jason Stanley (in Episteme).
SYNOPSIS Recently, we have seen a surge of fascinating experimental work on moral concepts. In contrast, there has been a lot less experimental research on epistemic notions, including the concept of knowledge. This is unfortunate since many philosophers have argued that the concept plays a central guiding role in our lives. In this paper, I describe some new experimental techniques and results that aim to shed light on knowledge and epistemology. The results presented here can be elegantly explained by adopting an interest relative notion of knowledge, a new idea that has been gaining currency in philosophy. [These are the first experimental studies to date which (perhaps) give some direct evidence that the human concept "knowledge" is sensitive to practical interests (this goes against prior research which has not detected sensitivity to practical interests)].

5. Pinillos, N. Ángel. Recent Work in Experimental Epistemology 
Philosophy Compass.Volume 6, Issue 10, pages 675–688, October 2011 
SYNOPSIS: I survey some recent experimental work  relevant to assessing contextualism in epistemology as well as Interest Relative Invariantism and contrastivism. I discuss some difficulties with drawing strong conclusions from these studies. 

4. Pinillos, N. Ángel. 'Coreference and Meaning'  or here (Springer). Philosophical Studies (154, 2). 2011. Parts of this paper were presented at the Pacific APA (2008), ASU, Rutgers University, Southern Methodist University, UCLA, and Vassar College. 
For discussion on this paper please see  F. Récanati (pg. 19-25 ) here (and here June 2011) and K. Lawlor (pg. 27-54) here and (same pdf file) both at this 2010 conference on Mental Files (Paris, ENS). M. Murez here (pg. 47-78) at this 2009 conference on Relativism and Context Dependency (Paris, ENS). Also see Goodsell (phil studies paper)
SYNOPSIS: I argue that to fully capture certain cases of (co)reference, we must posit a new relational semantic primitive.

3. Pinillos, N. Ángel., Nick Smith, G. Shyam Nair, 
Cecilea Mun, Peter Marchetto, . 'Philosophy's New Challenge: Experiments and Intentional Action.Mind and Language (February 2011) 26:1 (115-139). Please see discussion of this article here.To see what this research is about, see this New York Times article, this article in Slate, or this one in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Parts of this paper were presented at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland (2009) and also at an invited talk at the University of Arizona (2010). SYNOPSIS: We propose three experimental designs for determining whether certain experimental philosophy results really give evidence that cast doubt on the current practice of using intuitions in traditional philosophy. We carry out these experiments on the Knobe Effect and conclude that the pessimism about traditional methods is bunwarranted. [One of the experiments involved a novel use of the CRT (Cognitive Reflection Test). An example of this use can be found in this forthcoming paper 'Reflection and Reasoning in Moral Judgment' by Paxton, Ungar and Greene.]

2. Pinillos, N. Ángel. 'Time Dilation, Context and Relative Truth'. or here (Wiley-Blackwell). Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. (January 2011) 82:1. 65-92. Parts of this paper were presented at the Mt. Plains Conference (2008). Parts of this paper will be presented at the 'Ordinary Language, Linguistics and Philosophy' Conference in June 2011 at The University of St. Andrews, Scotland. SYNOPSIS: I argue that truth is relative (in the sense recently defended by some prominent analytical philosophers) by focusing on some semantic issues raised by Einstein's theory of relativity together with our ordinary attributions of truth. I also argue that whether some linguistic expressions admit of a relativistic semantics is "external" in the sense of Putnam/Burge. [On the account I present here, the semantics of terms like 'duration', 'simultaneous', 'length' (for certain languages whose speakers are not aware of modern physics) are relativistic in the sense that their intensions are functions from frames of reference and perhaps other parameters to their customary extensions]

1. Pinillos, N. Ángel. 'Counting and Indeterminate Identity'. Mind (2003). Oxford Link.
(I wrote this towards the beginning of graduate school). Parts of this paper were presented at the Eastern APA (2002). Please see discussion of this article here (D. Hyde), here (D. Hyde) and here (R. Heck). SYNOPSIS: I argue that it can't be the case that identity statements (a=b) are indeterminate (neither true nor false), where the indeterminacy is due to the world and not just language.


Pinillos, N. Ángel. Review of J. Saul "Simple Sentences, Substitution and Intuitions". Forthcoming Mind. Oxford University Press Link

'Experimental Philosophy' (coauthored) Oxford Bibliographies Online



I organized two conferences. Both here.


Fall 2006:       Introduction to Philosophy, Seminar on Coreference
Spring 2007:   Philosophy of Language, Argument and Exposition
Fall 2007:       Symbolic Logic, Introduction to Philosophy
Spring 2008:  Philosophy of Language, Modal Logic
Fall 2008:       Argument and Exposition, 20th Century Philosophy
Spring 2009:  Philosophy of Language, Seminar on Relativism
Fall 2009:       Argument and Exposition, Metaphysics
Spring 2010:  Symbolic Logic, Seminar on Moral Concepts
Fall 2010:       Symbolic Logic, Philosophy of Language
Spring 2011:   Introduction to Philosophy, Seminar on Philosophical Intuitions
Fall 2011: Introduction to Philosophy, Philosophy of Language
Spring 2012: Seminar on Experimental Philosophy,  Symbolic Logic
Fall 2012: Epistemology, Philosophy of Language
Spring 2103: Seminar on Philosophy of Language, Introduction to Philosophy
Spring 2014: Seminar on Epistemology, Symbolic Logic, Online Seminar on                         Experimental Philosophy.
Fall 2014: Seminar on Experimental Philosophy, Epistemology
Spring 2015: Advanced Symbolic Logic


PhD dissertation committee members: Kit Fine, John Hawthorne, Stephen Neale (Chair), Ted Sider.

Philosophical Gourmet Report (Ranking of graduate programs in philosophy)


The discipline of philosophy is an active area of research covering fundamental topics on morality, society, knowledge, language, mind, art and many others. Philosophy majors get an opportunity to think, discuss and write about important problems in these and other foundational areas. At the same time, they learn
 critical thinking skills and how to communicate effectively. The study of philosophy also emphasizes the questioning of assumptions and thinking "outside the box", a skill that is essential in creative problem-solving.  Philosophy majors are well prepared for a number of careers. For more on this, see this New York Times Article about the increasing popularity of the philosophy major. 

Also, philosophy majors perform exceptionally well on standardized tests for graduate study including law and business (see data for how philosophy majors perform in the GRE, LSAT (law) GMAT (business) and how they do in Med School applications). And c
ontrary to popular myth, philosophy majors earn more (mid career) than many majors, including business, biology, and communications. In fact, philosophy is actually in the top 10% for salaries 15 years after graduation. It is not advisable, however, to choose a course of study based solely on these considerations. All majors expose students to fascinating and important areas of investigation, and teach students valuable skills. The right major for you should be one that brings out the best in you, and helps you achieve your potential. In general, you can't go wrong if you pick a major you love, excel at it, and combine it with a broad and challenging range of courses. 

Automotive Troubles during a road trip in Mexico. Somewhere in Baja California Peninsula (199?). (photo by Journey Herbeck)