Courses

Research

My research is in philosophy of language and normative ethics.

PhD in Philosophy, UC San Diego, May 2007
Associate Professor, CSU Long Beach


Upcoming events: I will be giving talks at Lewis & Clark on November 22, 2013, UC Riverside on March 12, 2014, and at the 2014 Pacific APA in San Diego. For the third year in a row I am an organizer for the annual PSWIP conference. This year's conference will take place in Tempe, Arizona on November 9-10, 2013.


Select publications:


Language research:

Much of my work concerns meta-linguistic analysis. In particular I am interested in (i) the proper analysis of meta-linguistic discourse in direct and indirect reports of the speech of others, and (ii) the metaphysics of linguistic entities. These two areas are related insofar as how we semantically and pragmatically analyze meta-linguistic discourse will depend on the nature of the linguistic entity in question. Reported speech especially draws out the need for settling metaphysical questions about linguistic entities as the basis for good semantic and pragmatic theorizing. 

                                Work in progress:

        • I am working on a paper on the metaphysics of linguistic entities. It is a big picture kind of paper trying to sort out the status of linguistic entities at different levels of abstraction. Please email me if you'd like to see the latest draft -- comments, of course, welcome!
        • I am working on a paper defending a novel account of same-saying. I describe a phenomenon that I call "lo-fi same-saying." It occurs when we report speech with a high level of felicity and a low level of fidelity (wrt propositional or locutionary content). I generalize from my account of this phenomenon to claims about same-saying in speculative but (hopefully) compelling ways. I argue that (i) my conclusion extends to direct quotation (lo-fi quotation), (ii) this is relevant to the nature of content (lo-fi content), and (iii) that lo-fi content provides evidence for a novel view of the metaphysics of linguistic entities (see above). I will be presenting a version of this paper at the 2014 Pacific APA.
        • I have two unpublished papers on evidence in linguistic theories. They are companion pieces waiting for time to find them a home. The first paper ("Evidence and Ambitious Theories") assesses the claim that there is no principled way to restrict the evidential base for linguistic theory. This claim subdivides into two main theses: (i) that anything could, in principle, count as evidence for a linguistic theory, and (ii) that linguistic theory need not account for anything in principle. I argue against both (i) and (ii). My second paper ("Hearing the 'Voice of Competence'") is about linguists' primitive competence as a source of evidence in linguistic theory. I reject the standard hierarchy of evidential sources defended by, for instance, Michael Devitt, and I argue that this evidential hierarchy emerges out of a view of languages as subpersonal entities.
        • I have two unpublished papers on conceptions of idiolectal languages. The first ("Realism, Idealism, and Idiolectal Languages") is about the Chomskian method of accessing the reality of language via an idealization of an I(diolectal)-language. The second ("Error and Idiolects") is about the possibility of identifying linguistic errors--and distinguishing them from related phenomena such as slips of the tongue, malapropisms, and novelty--in an idiolectal conception of language.
        • I have a paper in nearly complete draft form ("The Impotence of Semantic Minimalism") that is meant to follow up on my earlier papers "Minimal Propositions and Real World Utterances" and "Context Sensitivity and Indirect Reports." In my earlier work I focused on the shortcomings of SM in narrow contexts. The goal of this new paper is to provide an argument for the more general explanatory failures of semantic minimalism.                                 


Normative ethics research:

My primary line of research in normative ethics concerns autonomy and objectification. In particular I am interested in (i) the feminist treatment of pornography as a speech act and the implications of this for a treatment of consent as a speech act, and (ii) the ways in which objectification interacts with autonomy in loving relationships. Again, (i) and (ii) come together insofar as sexual representations can be autonomy-depriving. Such representations can be constructed in pornographic contexts and also in contexts of loving relationships.

My secondary project in normative ethics is on what obligates parents to care for their children. 

                                Work in progress:

  • I have been working on a draft of a new silencing paper (tentatively titled, "Overpredicting and Underprotecting: Hate Speech, Pornography, and Silencing Arguments"). My claim is two-part: (i) silencing arguments overpredict the illocutionary power of offensive speech -- in some ways that are counterproductive to the aspiration of those concerned about offensive speech to begin with, and (ii) the prescriptions of some in the silencing debate err on the side of underprotecting speech.
  • I have a new draft of a paper that marries my work on silencing with my interest in objectification (title: "Agent and Object"). I will be presenting this paper at UC Riverside on March 12, 2014.
  • My future plan that I am most eager to get working is to write a companion piece to my paper, "Parental Obligation." My next paper in this area will be about the rights of children and the ways in which these structure the obligations of parents. My earlier paper dealt with the fact of parental obligation in only the barest sense; my only intention was to defend the claim that parents have any obligation to care for their children at all. I would like to consider the nature of this obligation in greater detail with a close look at the rights (if there are any) that children have in families and more generally.