Expressivism and realism about normativity
In my Ph.D. dissertation, Erasing the Differences: Expressivism and Normative Realism, I argued that expressivism about normative discourse is compatible with realism about normativity, and that this brings important benefits for realism, in particular a new way of addressing the reliability challenge to our normative beliefs. I was advised by Hartry Field (committee chair), Sharon Street, and Tom Nagel.
I'm currently working on some related questions in metaethics:
- Can expressivist realists explain the supervenience of the normative on the non-normative? (I believe they can.)
- Do expressivist realists have a good response to the so-called "normativity problem" for realism? (Again, I believe they do.)
- Might expressivism help in responding to evolutionary debunking arguments against realism? (I'm skeptical.)
The ethics of imperfection
I'm interested in exploring our attachments to various forms of imperfection in our lives. For instance, how we can reasonably affirm our actual lives when comparing them to better lives we could have had? Why do we love people, places, etc. partially in virtue of their imperfections? Or what explains our retrospective attachment to certain relationships or projects, even when we have moved on to new and better objects of attachment? I suspect that the answer to many such questions involves a commitment to our own identity, or the identity of what we care about.
Expressivism and the reliability challenge, forthcoming in Ethical Theory and Moral Practice
Expressivism and realist explanations, Philosophical Studies, 2017
Robert N. Johnson and Michael Smith (eds.), Passions and Projections. Themes from the Philosophy of Simon Blackburn, Oxford University Press. Forthcoming in Journal of Moral Philosophy.
Work in progress (titles missing to assist with anonymous review)
- A paper on moral imperfection
- A paper on Thomas Reid
- A paper on expressivism and evolutionary debunking arguments
- A paper on the normativity problem for normative realism