My Interests

    My dissertation is in the area of contemporary analytic epistemology and is focused on the issue of a priori justification.  My research interests center primarily in the areas of analytic epistemology, philosophy of mind and metaphysics, though I draw heavily on ideas from the phenomenological tradition, especially the work of Edmund Husserl.  In my dissertation I begin the development of an internalist foundationalist account of a priori justification that can be fairly characterized as a version of traditional rationalism. 

    My intuitions and sympathies initially lie with internalism about both epistemic justification and mental content, and with related intuitions about the nature and significance of a priori justification.  I am especially interested in the question of the precise formulations of these various positions, their metaphysical commitments and, ultimately, their prospects as accurate accounts of epistemic justification, the intentionality of thought and a priori justified belief respectively.  In connection with this I am interested in the existence of the various “internalism-externalism” debates and about what these debates reveal about the nature and significance of first-person conscious experience. 

    In addition to the metaphysical questions that arise surrounding the topics already mentioned, I am also interested in the nature and status of ontological categories, the metaphysics of modality, and issues surrounding both applied ontology and meta-metaphysical questions (such as “what is the nature and status of metaphysics itself”, “is metaphysics primarily about “concepts” or about reality” and etc.).  The concerns about meta-metaphysics dovetail with my interest in a priori justification as the kind of justification that is most plausibly available for justified belief in metaphysical claims, while applied ontology similarly raises questions both about the relationship between ontology and empirical science, and about the role played by a priori justified belief in supporting the methods of science.

    I have a standing interest in both phenomenology and existentialism.  In phenomenology my primary focus is on the work of Edmund Husserl and on developments of Husserl’s ideas in the 20th Century by thinkers such as Maurice Natanson, Aron Gurwitsch, and Alfred Schutz.  From the Logical Investigations of 1900-01 to his last work in the Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology, Husserl was concerned with the questions of the nature and methodology of philosophy, its status as a theoretical discipline and its relationship to other disciplines, especially natural science. His far-reaching treatment and analysis of these issues remains both fascinating to me and an influence on my own work. 

    In existentialism my interests are more eclectic and fall largely on the side of personal interest and teaching.  The exception to this is that I maintain the Walter Kaufmann web-site project; a web-site devoted to the life and work of the Princeton philosopher Walter Kaufmann (1921-1980), who was instrumental in vitalizing Nietzsche scholarship and in introducing existentialism to the English speaking world.  Kaufmann also wrote a number of original philosophical works on issues in the philosophy of religion, philosophy of art, existentialism and political philosophy.  The web-site can be found here.

Papers & Projects

The following are some papers and projects that I have been working.

“Resurrecting Internalism: Conditions of Cognitive Sanity and the Internalist Credo”

Husserl on Intentionality and Intentional Content” in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

"The Limits of Phenomenology?: Husserl and Kuhn on the Philosophy of Science"

Published in Eric Chelstrom ed. Being Amongst Others: Phenomenological Reflections on the Life-World.  Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2006.

""What it's Like" to be a Person of Practical  Wisdom: An Analysis of the Phenomenology of Practical Experience in Aristotle's Ethics and Psychology"

"Introduction to Ontology"  Currently under revision as a book with Robert Arp and Barry Smith.

"The Relationship of Philosophy to Science in the Information Age: A Proposal for Understanding Information Ontology"

Some further reflections on the nature of information ontology, written shortly after the above “Introduction to Ontology”, and intended as an expansion of some of the ideas discussed there.

Current Projects

I am currently focusing on three projects. 

    The first is to develop and elaborate on the arguments from the first chapter of my dissertation “Indispensability Arguments as Motivation for Accounts of A Priori Justification” where I argue that traditional arguments against empiricism, when understood in their proper context, are decisive and provide motivation for the development of accounts of a priori justification. 

    Second, I continue to work with Barry Smith and Robert Arp to substantially revise and rewrite the "Introduction to Ontology", an overview and introduction to the field of applied or information ontology, as a book. 

    Third, I am working on a project concerning mental content and the intentionality of thought.  I am specifically interested in the relationship between the understanding of intentionality and mental content as these developed in the Phenomenological Tradition of Brentano and Husserl on the one hand, and discussions of mental content and of semantic internalism and externalism in contemporary Analytic Philosophy on the other.  The thesis I defend is that the traditional understanding of intentionality found in the Phenomenological Tradition represents a viable and relevant form of semantic internalism, one that also has interesting epistemological applications.