philosophical science

research

philosophical science

research

Could we obtain a distinct and full history of all that hath passed in the mind of a child, from the beginning of life and sensation, till it grows up to the use of reason, this would be a treasure of natural history, which would probably give more light into the human faculties, than all the systems of philosophers about them since the beginning of the world.”
Thomas Reid

Methods

reading
writing
arithmetic

Philosophy does not have a distinctive methodology. Philosophers make progress by drawing on the findings and methodologies of other disciplines, always on the lookout for tensions and unarticulated assumptions and often with an eye toward the big picture. Of course, philosophers reason, reflect, question, debate, draw distinctions, and clarify concepts. But these are basic features of most fields of inquiry, so they do not distinguish philosophy any more than reading, writing and arithmetic do.

I practice philosophy as a form of inquiry continuous with science. My work is informed by the history of philosophy alongside concepts and findings from the cognitive, social, symbolic, and life sciences. Here are some methods I use in my research.

Behavioral experiments

fingers crossed

Reaction times

race

Cultural comparison

buddha

Data science

stats

Social observation

sherlock holmes

Formal logic

Tweedledum and Tweedledee

Mind control

darth vader
“Human beings began to do philosophy at first because they wondered about the strange things right in front of them, and later because they came to find greater things puzzling.”
— Aristotle

Questions

Philosophy doesn't have a distinctive methodology, but it does ask distinctive questions and encourages a healthy dichotomy of mind. On the one hand, philosophy encourages you to pursue the big picture — to ask the big and deep questions and seek out their connections. On the other hand, philosophy encourages you to pursue the small picture — to be mindful of inconspicuous and ordinary details and seek out their consequences. I believe this combination of contrary intellectual impulses helps to distinguish the philosophical mindset and makes philosophy both exasperating and exhilarating, often at the same time.

Here are some topics and questions I work on, often in collaboration with others. In almost every case, I'm interested in developmental, social, cultural, and comparative dimensions to the questions. That is, I'm also interested in how the relevant concepts, categories, and practices vary across the human lifespan, different social settings, human cultures, and species. For more details, visit the Philosophical Science Lab.

Knowledge

Does knowledge require truth?

Is the concept of knowledge a human universal?

Communication

When should you make an assertion?

How does human communication differ from other animals' signaling behavior?

Lies

Is saying something false essential to lying?

Is deceptive intent essential to lying?

Identity

What criteria do we use to re-identify individuals?

Can one person exist in two different places at the same time?

Agency

Do we intuitively think that humans have supernatural powers?

Can science fully explain human agency?

Belief

Can you voluntarily choose to believe something?

Can you know something that you don't believe?

Chance

Does luck undermine achievement?

Do we intuitively recognize different forms of probability?

Morality

Can your moral responsibilities exceed your ability to fulfill them?

Can you be blamed for things you can't control?

“Origin of man now proved. He who understands baboon would do more towards metaphysics than Locke.”
Charles Darwin

Collaborators

I am fortunate to have collaborated with  talented researchers from many disciplines.

Ian Holstead

Mathieu Doucet

YeounJun Park

Alia Martin

Duncan Pritchard

Clayton Littlejohn

Ernest Sosa

Sara Weaver

Peter Blouw

Mark Alfano

Matthew Benton

Peter Klein

Joshua Knobe

Angelo Turri

Fiery Cushman

J. Charles Millar

Ori Friedman

Janet Michaud

David Rose

Ashley Keefner

Michael Barnett-Cowan

Heather Douglas

Darlene Drecun

John Greco

Dylon McChesney

Adam Carter

Laurie Santos

Jonathan Phillips

Rachel McKinnon

Matthias Steup

Wesley Buckwalter

Presentations

Knowledge and Assertion in Korean

Lying, Fast and Slow

Epistemic Closure in Folk Epistemology

Knowledge and the Norm of Assertion

Subsistence Rights and Intuitions about Institutional Obligation

Doxastic Voluntarism and Folk Psychology

Modesty Is Not a Virtue

Exceptionalist Naturalism

Judgments of Coercion in Mr. Big Cases

Compatibilism and Incompatibilism in Social Cognition

Inability and Obligation in Moral Judgment

Three Factors that Affect the Credibility of Scientific Research

Modesty Is Not a Virtue

Comparative Epistemology

Modesty Is Not a Virtue

Values in Science Communication

Knowledge and the Norm of Assertion

Inside and Outside, Present and Absent

The Connection Between Knowledge and Action

Doxastic Voluntarism and Folk Psychology

Inductive Risk and Data on Values in Science

Personal Identity and Persisting as Many

Inability and Obligation in Moral Judgment

A New Paradigm for Epistemology

Knowledge and Luck

When Words Speak Louder than Actions

When Words Speak Louder than Actions

Ownership Rights and Utilitarian Moral Judgment

Weakness of Will without Commitment Violations

Action, Truth and Knowledge

Epistemic Closure in Folk Epistemology

Knowledge and Luck

Epistemic Closure in the Manifest Image

Excuse Validation

The Folk Epistemology of Lotteries

The Test of Truth

Moral Decision Making and Interpersonal Harm

Excuse Validation

Counterfactuals and the Scope of Moral Cognition

The Test of Truth

Abilism and Reliabilism

Knowledge and Suberogatory Assertion

Knowledge and Suberogatory Assertion

Knowledge and Suberogatory Assertion

Unreliable Knowledge

Epistemic Norms and Higher-order Knowledge

The Express Knowledge Account of Assertion

The Gettier Problem Solved

Knowledge as Achievement, More or Less

The Gettier Problem Solved

On the General Argument Against Internalism

The Ontology of Reasons

The Basing Relation

"When an investigation is commenced, after the initial expenses are once paid, at little cost we improve our knowledge, and improvement then is especially valuable."
— Charles Peirce

Funding

These organizations have graciously funded my research.

canada research chairs program
ontario ministry of economic development and innovation
social sciences and humanities research council of canada
john templeton foundation
national endowment for the humanities
association of commonwealth universities