My philosophical research revolves around two main projects. The first concerns the representational theory of consciousness and the role it can play in constructing a scientific explanation of consciousness. The second project investigates the role of consciousness in grounding meaning, concepts, and non-conscious mental states.
I'm involved in a number of computing projects that support research in philosophy:
PhilPapers: Online Research in Philosophy. David Chalmers and I launched PhilPapers in 2009. It's a search index and structured bibliography of philosophy books and articles with a number of crowd-sourcing features. I continue to maintain PhilPapers. Today, PhilPapers has over two million index entries, 6,000 bibliographies, 170,000 registered users, and 650 editors.
PhilEvents, a comprehensive calendar of events in philosophy worldwide.
PhilJobs, the most complete database of jobs in philosophy.
Digging by Debating, an interdisciplinary project to integrate visualization techniques, bibliometrics, automated analysis, and crowd-sourcing into a tool that will generate new insights into the philosophical literature (in progress)
xEvents, a Blogger-like service to create PhilEvents-style academic calendars
PhilSurvey, a large scale follow up on the PhilPapers Philosophical Survey
Intermodal representationalists hold that the phenomenal characters of experiences are fully determined by their contents. In contrast, intramodal representationalists hold that the phenomenal characters of experiences are determined by their contents together with their intentional modes or manners of representation, which are non-representational features corresponding roughly to the sensory modalities. This paper discusses a kind of experience that militates for an intermodal representationalist view: intermodal experiences, experiences that unify experiences in different modalities. I argue that such experiences are much easier to explain on the intermodal view. [Contact me for a copy]
If there is content that we reason on, cognitive content, it is in the head and accessible to reasoning mechanisms. This paper discusses the phenomenal theory of cognitive content, according to which cognitive contents are the contents of phenomenal consciousness. I begin by distinguishing cognitive content from the closely associated notion of narrow content. I then argue, drawing on prior work, that the phenomenal theory can plausibly account for the cognitive contents of many relatively simple cognitive contents. My main focus in this paper is the question whether the phenomenal theory can account for the apparently abstract and complex cognitive contents of "high-level" thoughts. It is dubious that the theory can account for such cognitive contents, because cognitive phenomenology is too scarce and too thin. However, I argue there are in fact few abstract or complex cognitive contents, so the phenomenal theory's predictions are correct. This position explains some apparently irrational behavior that is otherwise hard to explain, and it makes sense of the central role of inner speech and other forms of consciousness in reasoning. [Contact me for a copy]
Philosophers traditionally recognize two main features of mental states: intentionality and phenomenal consciousness. To a first approximation, intentionality is the aboutness of mental states, and phenomenal consciousness is the felt, experiential, qualitative, or "what itâs like" aspect of mental states. In the past few decades, these features have been widely assumed to be distinct and independent. But several philosophers have recently challenged this assumption, arguing that intentionality and consciousness are importantly related. This article overviews the key views on the relationship between consciousness and intentionality and describes our favored view, which is a version of the phenomenal intentionality theory, roughly the view that the most fundamental kind of intentionality arises from phenomenal consciousness.
Is Emergent Anomalous Panpsychism Viable? In William Seager, ed., Routledge Handbook of Panpsychism. Forthcoming.
We can classify theories of consciousness along two dimensions. The first dimension is a theory's answer to the question of whether consciousness is "something over and above" the physical. Physicalism, dualism, and Russellian monism are the three possible positions on this dimension. The second dimension is a theory's answer to the question of how conscious states causally interact with physical states. The three possible answers to this question are nomism (the two interact through laws or necessary principles), acausalism (they do not causally interact), and anomalism (they interact but not through laws or necessary principles). This paper explores the potential and viability of anomalous dualism, a combination of views that has not been explored so far. I suggest that a specific version of anomalous dualism, emergent anomalous panpsychism, can address the two most pressing issues for dualist views, the problem of mental causation and the mapping problem (the problem of predicting mind-body associations). Emergent anomalous panpsychism seems to be the only theory that can reconcile all the evidence that has been offered by dualists and physicalists. [contact me for a copy]