Research Statement

It is available here.

Journal Articles

18. “Circular and Question-Begging Responses to Religious Disagreement and Debunking Arguments” Philosophical Studies (forthcoming)

Abstract: Disagreement and debunking arguments threaten religious belief. In this paper, I draw attention to two types of propositions and show how they reveal new ways to respond to debunking arguments and disagreement. The first type of proposition is the epistemically self-promoting proposition, which, when justifiedly believed, gives one a reason to think that one reliably believes it. Such a proposition plays a key role in my argument that some religious believers can permissibly wield an epistemically circular argument in response to certain debunking arguments. The second type of proposition is the epistemically others-demoting proposition, which, when justifiedly believed, gives one a reason to think that others are unreliable with respect to it. Such a proposition plays a key role in my argument that some religious believers can permissibly wield a question-begging argument to respond to certain types of disagreement.

17. “Credence: A Belief-First Approach” Canadian Journal of Philosophy (2020). (coauthor: Elizabeth Jackson)

Abstract: This paper explains and defends a belief-first view of the relationship between belief and credence. On this view, credences are a species of beliefs, and the degree of credence is determined by the content of what is believed. We begin by developing what we take to be the most plausible belief-first view. Then, we offer several arguments for it. Finally, we show how it can resist objections that have been raised to belief-first views. We conclude that the belief-first view is more plausible than many have previously supposed.

16. “A New Puzzle About Belief and Credence” Canadian Journal of Philosophy (2019)

Abstract: I present a puzzle about belief and credence, which takes the form of three independently supported views that are mutually inconsistent.  The first is the view that S has a modal belief that p (e.g., S believes that probably-p) if and only if S has a corresponding credence that p.  The second is the view that S believes that p only if S has some credence that p.  The third is the view that, possibly, S believes that p without a modal belief that p.

– See here for a shorter version of the paper with the gist of the argument.
– See here for a visualization of the paper (made by Raja Rosenhagen)

15. “How to Use Cognitive Faculties You Never Knew You Had” Pacific Philosophical Quarterly (2018)

Abstract: Norman forms the belief that the president is in New York by way of a clairvoyance faculty he doesn’t know he has.  Many agree that his belief is unjustified but disagree about why it is unjustified.  I argue that the lack of justification cannot be explained by a higher-level evidence requirement on justification, but it can be explained by a no-defeater requirement.  I then explain how you can use cognitive faculties you don’t know you have.  Lastly, I use lessons from the foregoing to compare Norman’s belief, formed by clairvoyance, with Sally’s theistic belief, formed by a sensus divinitatis.

– See here for a Youtube interview on this paper.

14. “The Nature of Doubt and a New Puzzle About Belief, Doubt, and Confidence” Synthese (2018)

Abstract: In this paper, I present and defend a novel account of doubt. In Part 1, I make some preliminary observations about the nature of doubt. In Part 2, I introduce a new puzzle about the relationship between three psychological states: doubt, belief, and confidence. I present this puzzle because my account of doubt emerges as a possible solution to it. Lastly, in Part 3, I elaborate on and defend my account of doubt. Roughly, one has doubt if and only if one believes one might be wrong; I argue that this is superior to the account that says that one has doubt if and only if one has less than the highest degree of confidence.

– See here for a shorter version of the paper with the gist of the argument.

13. “Independence and New Ways to Remain Steadfast in the Face of Disagreement” Episteme (2018)

Abstract: An important principle in the epistemology of disagreement is Independence, which states, “In evaluating the epistemic credentials of another’s expressed belief about P, in order to determine how (or whether) to modify my own belief about P, I should do so in a way that doesn’t rely on the reasoning behind my initial belief about P” (Christensen 2011, 1-2).  I present a series of new counterexamples to both Independence and also a revised, more widely applicable, version of it.  I then formulate and endorse a third version of Independence that avoids those counterexamples.  Lastly, I show how this third version of Independence reveals two new ways one may remain steadfast in the face of two real life disagreements: one about God’s existence and one about moral realism.

12. “Debunking Morality: Lessons from the EAAN Literature” Pacific Philosophical Quarterly (2017) (Erik Wielenberg discusses here. Michael Klenk replies here.)

Abstract: This paper explores evolutionary debunking arguments as they arise in metaethics against moral realism and in philosophy of religion against naturalism. Both literatures have independently grappled with the question of which beliefs one may use to respond to a potential defeater. In this paper, I show how the literature on the argument against naturalism can help clarify and bring progress to the literature on moral realism with respect to this question. Of note, it will become clear that the objection that the moral realist begs the question, when appealing to the truth of some of her moral beliefs, is unsuccessful.

11. “Plantinga’s Religious Epistemology, Skeptical Theism, and Debunking Arguments” Faith and Philosophy (2017)

Abstract: Alvin Plantinga’s religious epistemology has been used to respond to many debunking arguments against theistic belief. However, critics have claimed that Plantinga’s religious epistemology conflicts with skeptical theism, a view often used in response to the problem of evil. If they are correct, then a common way of responding to debunking arguments conflicts with a common way of responding to the problem of evil. In this paper, I examine the critics’ claims and argue that they are right. I then present two revised versions of Plantinga’s argument for his religious epistemology. I call the first a ‘religion-based argument’ and the second an ‘intention-based argument’. Both are compatible with skeptical theism, and both can be used to respond to debunking arguments. They apply only to theistic beliefs of actual persons who have what I call ‘doxastically valuable relationships’ with God – valuable relationships the goods of which entail the belief that God exists.

10. “Beliefs Do Not Come in Degrees” Canadian Journal of Philosophy (2017)

Abstract: Philosophers commonly say that beliefs come in degrees (or that beliefs are graded or that there are partial beliefs).  Drawing from the literature, I make precise three arguments for this claim: an argument from degrees of confidence, an argument from degrees of firmness, and an argument from natural language.  I show that they all fail.  I also advance three arguments that beliefs do not come in degrees: an argument from natural language, an argument from intuition, and an argument from the metaphysics of degrees.  On the basis of these arguments, I conclude that beliefs do not come in degrees.

9. “Recent Work in Reformed Epistemology” Philosophy Compass (2016)

Abstract: Reformed epistemology, roughly, is the thesis that religious belief can be rational without argument.  After providing some background, I present Plantinga’s defense of reformed epistemology and its influence on religious debunking arguments.  I then discuss three objections to Plantinga’s arguments that arise from the following topics: skeptical theism, cognitive science of religion, and basicality.  I then show how reformed epistemology has recently been undergirded by a number of epistemological theories, including phenomenal conservatism and virtue epistemology.  I end by noting that a good objection to reformed epistemology must criticize either a substantive epistemological theory or the application of that theory to religious belief; I also show that the famous Great Pumpkin Objection is an example of the former.

See here for a Youtube interview on this paper.

8. “In Defense of Proper Functionalism: Cognitive Science Takes on Swampman” Synthese (2016) (coauthor: Kenny Boyce) (Jeffrey Tolly replies here.)

Abstract: According to proper functionalism, a belief is warranted only if it is formed by cognitive faculties that are properly functioning according to a good, truth-aimed design plan. A formidable challenge to proper functionalism is the Swampman objection, which states that there are possible scenarios involving creatures who have warranted beliefs but whose cognitive faculties are not properly functioning. In this paper, we draw lessons from cognitive science to argue not only that the Swampman objection fails, but also that proper function is a necessary condition for knowledge.

– See here for a shorter version of the paper with the gist of the argument.

7. “The New Evil Demon, a Frankfurt-style Counterfactual Intervener, and a Subject’s Perspective Objection: Reply to McCain” Acta Analytica (2015)

Abstract: In my (2012) paper “Three Forms of Internalism and the New Evil Demon Problem,” I argued that the new evil demon problem (NEDP), long considered to be one of the biggest obstacles for externalism, is also a problem for virtually all internalists.  In this journal and in his forthcoming book, Kevin McCain provides challenging and thought provoking reasons for thinking that internalists do not have any such problem.  In this paper, I’ll first present some terminology and background, and then I’ll provide my replies.  Of note, I’ll show that a Frankfurt-style counterfactual intervener, who commonly appears in the free will literature, can also serve as a new evil demon in the epistemology literature.

– Slideshow with background for this paper is available here.
– McCain’s argument is in his recent paper here and in chapter 3 of his new book here.

6. “Remembering Entails Knowing” Synthese (2013)

Abstract: In his recent book, Sven Bernecker (2010) has attacked the following prominent view: (RK) S remembers that p only if S knows that p.  An attack on RK will also count against Timothy Williamson’s view that knowledge is the most general factive stative attitude.  In this paper, I defend RK against Bernecker’s attacks and also advance new arguments in favor of it.  In section 1, I provide some background on memory.  In section 2, I respond to Bernecker’s attacks on RK and develop a new argument for RK.  In sections 3 and 4, I develop two more new arguments for RK.

5. “Three Forms of Internalism and the New Evil Demon Problem” Episteme (2012)  (Kevin McCain replies here and here.  My reply to McCain is available above.)

Abstract: The new evil demon problem is often considered to be a serious obstacle for externalist theories of epistemic justification.  In this paper, I aim to show that the new evil demon problem (from now on, ‘NEDP’) also afflicts the two most prominent forms of internalism: moderate internalism and historical internalism.  Since virtually all internalists accept at least one of these two forms, it follows that virtually all internalists face the NEDP.  My secondary thesis is that many epistemologists – including both internalists and externalists – face a dilemma.  The only form of internalism that is immune to the NEDP, strong internalism, is a very radical and revisionary view—a large number of epistemologists would have to significantly revise their views about justification in order to accept it.  Hence, either epistemologists must accept a theory that is susceptible to the NEDP or accept a very radical and revisionary view.

4. “Knowing Without Evidence” Mind (2012)  (Kevin McCain replies here and here.  Brent Madison replies here.)

Abstract: In this paper, I present counterexamples to the evidence thesis, the thesis that S knows that p at t only if S believes that p on the basis of evidence at t. The outline of my paper is as follows. In section 1, I explain the evidence thesis and make clear what a successful counterexample to the evidence thesis will look like. In section 2, I show that instances of nonoccurrent knowledge are counterexamples to the evidence thesis. At the end of section 2, I consider the primary thesis of my paper – that the evidence thesis is false – to be successfully defended. In section 3, I consider three variations of the evidence thesis. The first variation restricts the evidence thesis to occurrent knowledge; the second requires for knowledge that one’s belief could be based on evidence; and the third requires for knowledge that the belief was based on evidence at a suitable prior time. The secondary thesis of this paper is that these variations are also subject to serious objections.

3. “Warrant Does Entail Truth” Synthese (2012)

Abstract: Let ‘warrant’ denote whatever precisely it is that makes the difference between knowledge and mere true belief. A current debate in epistemology asks whether warrant entails truth, i.e., whether (Infallibilism) S’s belief that p is warranted only if p is true. The arguments for infallibilism have come under considerable and, as of yet, unanswered objections. In this paper, I will defend infallibilism. In Part I, I advance a new argument for infallibilism; the basic outline is as follows. Suppose fallibilism is true. An implication of fallibilism is that the property that makes the difference between knowledge and mere belief (which I dub ‘warrant*’) is the conjunctive property being warranted and true. I show that this implication of fallibilism conflicts with an uncontroversial thesis we have learned from reflection on Gettier cases: that nonaccidental truth is a constituent of warrant*. It follows that infallibilism is true. In the second part of the paper, I present and criticize a new argument against infallibilism. The argument states that there are plausible cases where, intuitively, the only thing that is keeping a belief from counting as knowledge is the falsity of that belief. Furthermore, it is plausible that such a belief is warranted and false. So, the argument goes, infallibilism is false. I show that this argument fails.

2. “Gibbons on Epistemic Internalism” Mind (2010) (John Gibbons replies here.)

Abstract: John Gibbons (2006) has argued against epistemic internalism on the basis of thought experiments. I argue that Gibbons’s thought experiments fail to support his argument.

1. “Against Rea on Presentism and Fatalism,” Proceedings of the XXII World Congress of Philosophy (2008)

Abstract: In (Rea 2006), Michael Rea presents an argument that presentism is incompatible with a libertarian view of human freedom and the unrestricted principle of bivalence. I aim to show that Rea’s argument fails. The outline of my paper is as follows. In Part I, I briefly explain the above three views and I present Rea’s argument. In Part II, I argue that one of the premises of the argument is unjustified.

Book Chapters

4. “All Evidential Basing is Phenomenal Basing” The Epistemic Basing Relation, eds. P. Bondy & J.A. Carter, Routledge. (forthcoming)

3. “Epistemic Disjunctivism and Memory” New Issues in Epistemic Disjunctivism, eds. D. Pritchard & J. Milburn, Routledge  (coauthor: Joseph Milburn) (2019)

Abstract: In our paper, we distinguish between two forms of memory knowledge: experiential memory knowledge and stored memory knowledge. We argue that, mutatis mutandis, the case that Pritchard makes for epistemological disjunctivism regarding perceptual knowledge can be made for epistemological disjunctivism regarding experiential memory knowledge. At the same time, we argue against a disjunctivist account of stored memory knowledge.

2. “Evidentialism, Time-Slice Mentalism, and Dreamless Sleep” in Believing in Accordance with the Evidence: New Essays on Evidentialism (2018)

Abstract: I argue that the following theses are both popular among evidentialists but also jointly inconsistent with evidentialism: 1) Time-Slice Mentalism: one’s justificational properties at t are grounded only by one’s mental properties at t; 2) Experience Ultimacy: all ultimate evidence is experiential; and 3) Sleep Justification: we have justified beliefs while we have dreamless, nonexperiential sleep.  Although I intend for this paper to be a polemic against evidentialists, it can also be viewed as an opportunity for them to clarify their views.  Furthermore, the paper is not only relevant to evidentialists.  For example, the arguments of this paper could give Time-Slice Mentalists a reason to deny evidentialism.

1. “Skepticism and Memory” in The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Memory (2017)

Abstract: In this chapter, I present and explore various arguments for skepticism that are related to memory. My focus will be on the aspects of the arguments that are unique to memory, which are not shared, for example, by the more often explored skeptical arguments related to perception. Here are some interesting upshots. First, a particular problem for justifiably concluding that one’s memory is reliable is that any reasoning in favor of this conclusion will either result in epistemically circularity or not be sufficient to justify the conclusion. Second, since many beliefs stored in memory do not appear to be based on evidence, it might also appear to follow that they are not justified. Third, although many stored memory beliefs are not based on stored memory experiences in the same way that perceptual beliefs are based on perceptual experiences, skeptical scenarios loom just as problematically for memory beliefs as they do for perceptual beliefs.

Book Reviews

1. Review of Knowledge, Belief and God: New Insights in Religious Epistemology (2019)