My research intersects with epistemology and moral psychology, and it overlaps with many issues in ethics, free will, and action theory. I’m interested in exploring parallels between epistemic reasons, values and norms, on the one hand, and practical and moral ones on the other. Questions in epistemology and ethics are often considered in isolation from one another. But I think connecting them can help us better understand both. For example, moral theorists have discussed what kind of responsibility we bear for our actions; I’m interested in what kind of responsibility we have for various attitudes, like belief, desire, faith, and implicit or unconscious biases. In my dissertation, I defend the view that we sometimes blame people for their beliefs, and moreover, that this blame is legitimate, even though we don’t have the same kind of control over our beliefs that we have over our actions.
Causal Connections between Anorexia Nervosa & Delusional Beliefs Review of Philosophy and Psychology, co-authored with Kyle De Young (2023) https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13164-023-00703-y Multiple studies of the beliefs of people with anorexia nervosa (AN) suggest that some who have AN may experience delusions. AN is a complicated condition with very low rates of treatment success. Kyle--a clinical psychologist at UW--and I were motivated to explore causal connections between delusions and AN, in the hopes that it might offer new means of research and promising treatment. Delusions are referenced in a number of prominent psychological resources, including the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), but the characterizations given vary widely. In this paper we sort through a variety of definitions of delusion and argue that there is a core feature common to delusions which is important to focus on. Then we explore how this understanding of delusion can help us understand causal connections between anorexia nervosa and delusions. We end the paper by outlining a variety of implications for research and treatment. We hope more research in this area will be done!
Epistemic Duty and Implicit Bias in Epistemic Duties: New Arguments, New Angles, eds. Kevin McCain and Scott Stapleford, co-authored with Bradley Rettler (2020). In this chapter, Brad--a fellow philosopher at UW and also coincidentally my spouse--and I explore whether agents have an epistemic duty to eradicate implicit bias. Recent research shows that implicit biases are widespread and they have a wide variety of epistemic effects on our doxastic attitudes. First, we offer some examples and features of implicit biases. Second, we clarify what it means to have an epistemic duty, and discuss the kind of epistemic duties we might have regarding implicit bias. Third, we argue that we have an epistemic duty to eradicate implicit biases that have negative epistemic impact. Finally, we defend this view against the objection that we lack the relevant control over implicit bias that’s required for such a duty. We argue that we have a kind of reflective control over the implicit biases that we are duty-bound to eradicate. And since, as we show, we have this control over a wide variety of implicit biases, there are a lot of implicit biases that we have epistemic duties to eradicate.
In Defense of Doxastic BlameSynthese 2018, 195 (5): 2205-2226. In this paper I argue that we have indirect control over our beliefs in the form of the capacity to voluntarily engage in reflection that makes a difference to what we believe. More specifically, indirect reflective control is the capacity to execute intentions to engage in the mental actions that compose reflection, which causally influences our beliefs in positive epistemic ways. I argue that having this capacity is both necessary and sufficient for satisfying the control condition for legitimate doxastic blame. I defend this view from the objection that recent empirical work shows that reflection is epiphenomenal or worse.
Faith, Belief, and Control American Philosophical Quarterly 2018, 55 (1): 95-109. In this paper I solve a puzzle generated by three conflicting claims about the relationship between faith, belief, and control: according to (1) the Identity Thesis, faith is a type of belief, and according to (2) Fideistic Voluntarism, we sometimes have control over whether or not we have faith, but according to (3) Doxastic Involuntarism, we never have control over what we believe. To solve the puzzle, I argue that the Identity Thesis is true, but that either (2) or (3) is false, depending on how we understand `control.' I distinguish two notions of control: direct intention-based control and indirect reflective control. I argue that though we have direct intention-based control over neither belief nor faith, we have indirect reflective control over each of them. Moreover, indirect reflective control helps explain how we can be held accountable for each.