The following are
abstracts of a few of the papers which I have published.
"Two Moral Strategies Regarding Abortion," Journal of Social Philosophy, Volume 33, Issue 4, Winter 2002.
Despite the huge philosophical literature on abortion, there are still a few issues which have not been adequately addressed. This paper attempts to fill those gaps. I begin with some criticisms of Marquis' argument against abortion, as well as some criticisms of popular arguments regarding the health risks of abortion. While the latter do not raise issues of intrinsic philosophical interest, they would, if correct, undermine most philosophical justifications of abortion by means of a straightforward utilitarian argument. I conclude that Marquis' argument is inadequate and that the health risks argument is empirically unsupported. The heart of the paper is a development and defense of Thomson's argument regarding abortion. A number of new criticisms of Thomson's argument have been made in the last decade, and a number of authors have concluded that as a result of these arguments Thomson's argument is insufficient. I defend Thomson's argument against these various criticisms, and further develop Thomson's argument in the process. While I believe that Thomson's argument is correct insofar as it goes, I also believe that it does not provide a sufficient moral grounding for a policy of widespread legalized abortion. However, I suggest that its limitations can be overcome if combined with a rights based argument, much as Sumner suggests. However, I offer a novel sort of justification for a rights based argument by means of appeal to the notion of personal identity, and further buttress the argument with recent empirical findings regarding fetal consciousness.
"The Causal-Doxastic Theory of the Basing Relation", Canadian Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 30, No. 4, December 2000.
In this paper, I offer a novel theory of the epistemic basing relation. Beginning with Alston's observation that a belief's being based on a reason involves taking proper account of a reason, I suggest that there are two ways a reason might properly be taken into account: causally and intentionally (by means of a meta-belief). I offer a detailed discussion of each way of taking account of a reason, resolving a number of difficulties discussed in the literature. I then discuss a few of the implications of my theory, concluding that it is consistent with current trends in rejecting process reliabilism and coherentist accounts of epistemic justification.
"Teaching Informal Modal Logic in Informal Logic/Critical Thinking Classes," APA Newsletter on Teaching Philosophy, Spring 1998.
Informal logic courses have a reputation among students as being one of the drier kinds of philosophy courses. In this paper, I suggest that a useful and overlooked resource for teachers of these courses is an informal discussion of modal logic, the logic of possibility and necessity. Many of the newer and more influential views of various issues in philosophy of religion and metaphysics have made use of modal logic, and these interesting applications of modal logic can often be made accessible to informal logic students. In addition, informal discussion of modal logic can be useful in reinforcing lessons about the fundamentals of propositional logic and understanding how some informal fallacies work. In this paper, I provide a summary of my lecture notes on modal logic, which cover the different kinds of possibility and necessity, the importance of being aware of modal ambiguities, the notion of possible worlds, and various applications of these conceptions of interest to students in introductory level philosophy courses.
"Recent Work on the Basing Relation," American Philosophical Quarterly , Vol. 34, No. 2, April 1997.
The epistemic basing relation is the relation holding between a reason and a belief when the reason is the reason for which the belief is held. A belief's being based on a reason is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for the belief's being justified. Despite its fundamental importance, few attempts to utilize an analysis of the basing relation to resolve epistemic issues have been made. However, those which have been made are quite interesting. This paper critically reviews the literature on the epistemic basing relation from 1980 to 1996. I conclude that none of the extant theories of the basing relation are adequate, and suggest what sort of theory might ultimately be correct.