I am an ABD doctoral candidate in the Department of Philosophy at Syracuse University. Before arriving here I received my MA from the University of Victoria and my BA from the University of Manitoba. Despite the photo above, I am not a dog.
Outside of philosophy, my interests include taekwondo, hiking, crafting, and dogs. The creature in the photo is Mabel. She came to Syracuse from Texas through Helping Hounds Dog Rescue.
My research is primarily in metaphysics. My dissertation is (tentatively) titled The Metaphysics of Grief.
I am primarily interested in the expression of grief that in losing a loved one, the bereaved lost a part of themself. Call this 'the grief utterance'. Despite the work that metaphysicians have done on parthood and persons, few have considered whether there is a true sense in which one person is part of another. However, it seems as though no person is ever part of another in the same way that a leaf is part of a tree, or roof is part of a house. Still, I take it that the grief utterances are so widespread because they resonate so well with the phenomenology of grief. One possible explanation for this is that the utterances report something true. I identify two constraints on how to approach the question of what, if anything, makes such utterances true, and argue that these constraints leave us with two possible answers: either accept a view according to which two individuals may be parts of a plural person, to which each is identical; or accept a view according to which the practical identity of each individual is bound to a plural person, and so bound to the other.
If interested, a longer version of my dissertation abstract may be found here.
"Grief and Composition as Identity" (forthcoming) in Philosophical Quarterly. Online access available here.
Works in Progress
I am working on developing the chapters of my dissertation (written monograph style) into standalone papers for publication. Summaries of these papers are below. Papers currently under submission have been removed to help preserve anonymous review, please feel free to contact me if you would like information about them.
"Parts of People? Accounting for Loss"
I argue that there is a pre-theoretic constraint on answers to what, if anything, makes the grief utterance true. According to this constraint — the Intimacy Constraint — in order for the grief utterances to be true, the deceased must be someone with whom the bereaved was in a mutually intimate relationship. I offer a characterization of what I take such relationships to be. Next I argue against the objection that it is not possible for one person to be part of another because personhood is a maximal property — roughly, no person has another person as a part — by showing that the literature already contains an understanding of maximality that allows for this result. In the end, though, I conclude that none of the resources of classical mereology, temporal parts, modal parts, or the extended mind can meet the Intimacy Constraint. Thus, anyone interested in accounting for the truth of the grief utterances ought to search for answers outside these resources.
“Plural Persons, Practical Persons”
Roughly, two individuals form a plural person when, in addition to each individual’s personal conception of a life worth her living, the two have also formed a joint conception of a life worth their living together. I modify the characterization of a plural person just given in order to account for the possibility that one can form a plural person with another individual who may not (yet) count as an individual person, due to their cognitive abilities. I then clarify the existence, individuation, and persistence conditions of plural persons. Lastly, I discuss the bearing this has for current work on personhood and social groups. One implication of the view is that moral personhood is (partly) constituted by convention. I defend this result from several objections.
I argue that one’s practical identity -- one’s internal map of who they are, their desires, and ends -- is not uniquely their own. Developing and expanding on this notion, I argue that one’s practical identity consists of a structure of all of the conceptions of a life worth living that one has access to, including both one’s individual conception, and one’s joint conceptions. None of these conceptions has priority over any other. In the death of a loved one, one loses a joint conception of a life worth living that she once had access to, and as a result, her practical identity has lost a defining part. Understanding our practical identities in this manner allows us to understand the claims that our loved ones are parts of us, and that in losing a loved one, we lose a part of ourselves, literally, while also preserving pre-theoretical intuitions about grief and loss.
You may access my online teaching portfolio by clicking here. It includes a statement of my teaching philosophy, diversity statement, and information about the responsibilities of being Graduate Instructor at Syracuse University.
In the Spring 2020 Semester I will be teaching Human Nature (for the second time!)
At Syracuse University I have served as primary instructor for a number of different courses including Theories of Knowledge and Reality, Human Nature, Formal Logic, and Introduction to Philosophy (Honors). Clicking any of those course titles will open a new page in which you may view the course syllabus.
At the University of Victoria I was a TA for Critical Thinking, Introduction to Symbolic Logic, Introduction to Metaphysics, and Philosophy of Religion.