I am a philosopher at the University of Guelph, in the very pleasant city of Guelph, Ontario, Canada. (It’s pronounced “gwelf.”) My academic training was at the University of Toronto and the University of Pittsburgh where I completed my PhD under the direction of Robert Brandom.
In addition to normal departmental service responsibilities I am the Editorial Board Coordinator of the Canadian Journal of Philosophy. In this capacity I do an initial review of each of the 500 or so submissions we receive each year (of which we publish about 5%), advise the 18-member board of Executive Editors who are responsible for the rest of their handling, and manage the journal’s operations.
I work in philosophy of language and philosophy of mind. I’m interested in some non-central uses that people make of words and concepts. Understanding these, I think, helps us to understand what is really going on in the central cases. Under the heading of non-central uses of words, I’m interested in the phenomenon of scare-quoting, as a way of distancing oneself from a word one uses. This is a very common device in writing and in speech, yet its pervasiveness puts in question some received claims about the nature of assertion, e.g. that one must understand the words in one’s assertions. Under the heading of non-central uses of concepts, I’m interested in how we use concepts to specify others’ thoughts, as when we use the concept lively to think that Susan thinks that New Orleans is lively as opposed to using it to think that New Orleans is lively. Here too, I think, there are differences that cast light on the nature of concept possession. My view is that it comes in grades, and that the lower grades, in which we use a concept in a thought-specifying way, give us an initial grasp of a concept, which we can improve to the point where we can use it on our own. This explains how it is possible to learn a concept. And it problematizes philosophers’ habit of freely appealing to hypothetical scenarios in order to support claims about concepts. For from the fact that one believes that someone can use a concept in some particular way, it does not follow that it is in fact possible to use it in that way.
Distributed utterances. In The Architecture of Context and Context-sensitivity, edited by Tadeusz Ciecierski and Paweł Grabarczy, 113–24. Dordrecht: Springer, 2020.
Kinds of monsters and kinds of compositionality. Analysis 78 (2018): 657–66.
Russellianism unencumbered. Philosophical Studies 174 (2017): 2819–43.
Scare-quoting and incorporation. In The Semantics and Pragmatics of Quotation, edited by Paul Saka and Michael Johnson, 3–34. Dordrecht: Springer, 2017.
Full list of publications, with abstracts
Mail: Dept of Philosophy, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON Canada N1G 2W1
Offfice: 332 MacKinnon Building. (How to find the Department of Philosophy)
Office hours: Mondays 3:00–4:00 pm, Tuesdays 2:00–3:00 pm (or by appointment—email me).