Here are some papers I have written (or co-written). If you are interested in reading the paper, please send me an email.

  1. What is Fantasy?  Philosophy and Literature 32 (2008): 161-172

(with Brian Laetz)

Fantasy is a recognizable, but puzzling genre in modern mass art. For while there is remarkably widespread agreement about what works are fantasy, it is not immediately clear what underwrites these judgments. In this paper, we sketch a theory of the genre that is sensitive to everyday shelving practices and the judgments of ordinary people. In so doing, we distinguish fantasy from affiliated genres, such as myth, folklore, horror, and science fiction. In particular, we emphasize that a work of fantasy may have the same content as a work of non-fantasy, so what distinguishes them are interesting relational properties.

  1. Reid and Sibley on Using Aesthetic Adjectives

Adjectives can be used either predicatively or attributively in warranted aesthetic judgments. From this two views about the nature of aesthetic warrant developed: according to empiricism, all aesthetic adjectives are predicative, and so aesthetic adjectives are always used predicatively in warranted judgments; according to contextualism, all aesthetic adjectives are attributive, and so aesthetic adjectives are always used attributively in warranted judgments. However, there is still room for a third possibility: aesthetic adjectives can be both predicative and attributive, and so aesthetic adjectives are sometimes used predicatively and sometimes used attributively in warranted aesthetic judgments. This “ambifunctional” claim has been defended by Frank Sibley in later work. This paper explicates Sibley’s ambifunctional claim, situating it between empiricism and contextualism, while also presenting the overlooked historical underpinnings. There are good reasons to think that a version of the ambifunctional claim is apparent in the work of Thomas Reid.

  1. Aesthetics and Free Will

(with Oisin Deery)

In a recent paper Paul Russell has argued for the truth of two claims: (1) The issue of ultimate origination isn’t relevant to judgments or evaluations of desert in the artistic sphere and (2) Judgments or evaluations of desert in (i) the moral sphere and (ii) the artistic sphere are similar at least in that libertarian free will isn’t required for warranted desert judgments in either sphere.

In response, we argue for two claims: (a) Without libertarian free will, true originality and genuine artistic creativity are absent and (b) Without libertarian free will, there is no “true desert for one’s [artistic] achievements”. Consequently, then, (1) and (2) are false. We also argue that Russell presupposes a questionable view — the product view — of what an artwork is. Holding this view makes it difficult for Russell to coherently claim that agents deserve praise for their artistic achievements. Even though the product view is more popular than the alternative process view, we think this is a mistake. We lay out a 4-case-style argument which provides unexpected support for the process view. Ultimate origination matters, and this implies the process view.

  1. Moderate Moralism and Morally Defective Perspectives

(with Jill Fellows)

Everyone agrees that artworks can evoke moral emotions, but some contend that these emotions are inappropriate for artistic judgment. American Psycho evokes moral disgust, but is this disgust an artistic flaw? Is the moral defect an artistic defect? Moderate moralism is the view that a moral defect can be an artistic defect in virtue of sharing a common reason. Moderate autonomism is the view that a moral defect is not an artistic defect. This view grants that the two defects share a common reason, but argues that this does not establish that moral defects are artistic defects. The arguments so far presented have favored the autonomist view.  However, there is a reply not yet taken by moralists. This is to abandon the argument from common reasons and establish an identity relation between the moral and artistic defects. The most promising foundation for such an identity relation is the morally defective perspective, a perspective that subverts uptake because of the moral content portrayed.    

  1. Moral Narration: Ethical Particularism and Testimony

If our ethical theory should reflect our practices, then ethical particularism faces the challenge of testimony: without an account of moral testimony particularism fails to explain an important part of our ethical lives, and so fails as an explanatory theory. This paper gives an answer to that challenge. First, I show why particularism cannot accept reductionist views of testimony. According to these views, acceptance of testimony “that p” is warranted without stating the grounding features of “p.” Because particularism requires knowledge of the moral grounds for “p” in order to be warranted in believing “p,” it cannot accept reductionism about testimony. I then defend the idea of moral narration, which should be accepted as an answer to the challenge of testimony.