My research is located at the intersection of 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.
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.
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