Associate Professor, Philosophy Coordinator
I became a full time philosopher at Castleton University in Vermont in 2008, after teaching for a decade at the University of Central Oklahoma. My teaching career started over the border, though, in Albany, NY at the College of Saint Rose, where I taught Ancient Philosophy. I specialize in philosophy of mind and cognitive science. But my interests include existentialism, philosophy of emotion, social and political philosophy, ecological philosophy, philosophy of technology, and some philosophy of language.
I enjoy music, hiking, amateur mycology, food, and gardening. My “Navigator Stout” once placed fourth in the American Homebrewers Association stout competition. But now I brew only kombucha. I love being a Castleton professor; and I love living in Vermont.
- M.A., Ph.D., State University of New York at Albany, 1998
– Dissertation: Worldly Thoughts: A Theory of Embedded Cognition
- B.A., College of Saint Rose
- I write and edit for the Open Philosophy Project, a growing anthology of online, annotated texts in philosophy.
- I have proposed some philosophical interpretations of film, including Fight Club (1999) and I Heart Huckabees (2004).
- My articles appear in peer-reviewed journals:
- “Intentionality and Qualia,” Synthese 121, 249-289, 1999.
- “Swampman, Etiology, and Content,” Southern Journal of Philosophy 36, 215-232, 1998.
- “The Antilogistic Puzzle of Hume’s Appendix to the Treatise,” Philosophical Inquiry 20, 22-30, 1998.
- “It Is What You Think: Intentional Potency & Anti-Individualism,” Philosophical Psychology 10, 165-178, 1997.
- “Rethinking Kaplan’s “Afterthoughts” about ‘That’: An Exorcism of Semantical Demons,” Erkenntnis 47, 67-88, 1997.
- “The Classification of Peirce’s Interpretants,” Semiotica 114-½, 31-40, 1997.
- I write philosophy songs.
- I have taught Introduction to Philosophy, Ethics, Social & Political Philosophy, Environmental Ethics, Philosophy of Love, Existentialism, Ancient Philosophy, Modern and Contemporary Philosophy, Logic, Critical Thinking, Metaphysics, Philosophy of Mind, Language and Mind, Philosophy of Artificial Intelligence, Philosophy of Consciousness, and Embodied Cognition.
My research centers on philosophical issues in cognitive science; it engages both cognitive scientists and philosophers of language and mind. An organizing theme for me has been the embeddedness of cognition — on the one hand, the dependence of mental properties on structures spatially external to the organism (structures of the physical or social environments); on the other, the way the metaphysics of the mental at any point in time depends on factors temporally removed.
I am repeatedly drawn to historical sources outside of cognitive science which seem to me to shed often neglected light on deeper issues contemporary cognitive scientists take up as if for the first time — thinkers such as Kant, Peirce, and existential phenomenologists like Sartre and Merleau-Ponty. Most of these historical philosophical interests are organized around the general phenomenon of representation, especially linguistic and mental representation. Some of my publications (e.g., on Peirce and Hume) are born of this force in my work.
In the papers linked here, in one way or another, I contend that to gain a deep understanding of the mental, we need to conceptualize it as an essentially embedded phenomenon — an emergent property of beings’ temporal, social, and physical interaction with a world. I defend the superiority of this conception of the mental over traditional and other contemporary conceptions. I show that conceiving of the mental this way yields more powerful and promising theoretical and practical insights into what needs explaining.