WellHello.jpg

WELL, HELLO!

I am an ABD doctoral candidate in the Department of Philosophy at Syracuse University.  For the 2020-2021 academic year I will be a Dissertation Fellow at the Humanities Center.

Before arriving at Syracuse, 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

Here are some quick links to information about my research and teaching. You can also view my CV by clicking here.

RESEARCH

My research rests at the intersection of metaphysics and ethics. Below I provide a short description of my dissertation, and describe a few papers in progress. My full research statement is available here.

Dissertation - Exploring the Metaphysics of Grief

My dissertation is on 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.

Publications

"Grief and Composition as Identity" Philosophical Quarterly, 2020. [penultimate version here]

Works in Progress

Lately I have been developing the chapters of my dissertation (written monograph style) into standalone papers for publication. I have included descriptions of some of these papers below. 

“Plural Persons, Practical Persons”

Could a single person constituted by two individual persons? That is, could there be plural persons? On one predominant characterization of plural persons, two individuals form a plural person when, in addition to each individual’s personal conception of a life worth living, the two have a joint conception of a life worth their living together. I modify that characterization to account the possibility that one can form a plural person with an 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, and their relation to other social groups. One implication of the resulting view is that moral personhood is (partly) constituted by convention. I defend this result from several objections.

"Maximality and Bereavement"

"I lost a part of myself when she died" is a common expression of grief. Moreover, that expression is prompted by the feeling that the loss is real. However, there is a straightforward argument that this claim could not be true.  “Personhood is a maximal property: it is not possible for one person to be a proper part of another person. But, for any grief utterance to be true, that must be possible. So, no grief utterances are true.”. I evaluate two strategies to counter this argument. The first maintains we can understand the claim “I lost a part of myself when she died” in ways that do not imply one person was part of another. Of more philosophical interest, though, is the second strategy. There, I advance an understanding of maximality on which it is possible for one person to be part of another, while respecting the intuitions motivating the claim that it is not.

[Redacted to Preserve Anonymous Review]

As this paper is currently under review, I have removed its information from my website. Feel free to contact me if you would like to see a draft. 

Other Research Interests

I have further research interests in the philosophy of disability, medical ethics, and the ethics of technology, especially as these relate to questions of personhood and personal identity. 

 

TEACHING

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 Moral Theory. I have also served as a Teaching Assistant for Medical Ethics and Engineering Ethics.

I am comfortable teaching introductory-level survey courses in applied ethics, epistemology, metaphysics, and value theory.There are also a number of thematic courses I would love to teach. These include: The Philosophy of Grief; The Ontology of the Human Person; Philosophers on Disability; Common Sense Ontology; Ethics and Technology (with an emphasis on the ethics of social media); The Ontology of Art; and Non-Classical Logic.

I am working on getting a full copy of my teaching dossier up here soon! Please feel free to contact me if you would like to see a copy!