I am an assistant professor in the Philosophy department at Southern Methodist University. I received my Ph.D. in 2006 from the University of Arizona, which may explain the various cacti strewn throughout this site. This page contains news and basic information about me. Please use the links above to learn more about me and my research.
January 2012: My research leave last semester was productive, yielding a book manuscript, several papers under submission, and several new drafts. That and my dispositions paper was accepted at Phil Studies.
January 2011: I'll be giving talks at the SSPP and attending the Purdue summer seminar on perceptual, religious and moral skepticism.
May 2009: I'll be attending the NEH Summer Seminar on Experimental Philosophy at the University of Utah this summer.
September 2007: I'm back in Vancouver, teaching a seminar on boundaries of the mind, and team-teaching a couple cognitive science courses. This should be an interesting semester, with travel to conferences in Saskatoon and San Francisco, and to meetings in Boston.
March 2007: I'm getting ready to move to Boston for the summer to work as a postdoc in the evolution and theology of cooperation project at Harvard. I'll look forward to seeing people at the Pacific APA, the Society for Exact Philosophy, the Formal Epistemology Workshop, and the Society for Philosophy and Psychology.
September 2006: Rather than going to conferences this semester, I'll have them come to me – the WCPA will be here in October, and the Philosophy of Science Association will be here in November. I'll be giving talks for UBC's Cognitive Systems program on September 23, and UBC's philosophy department on November 24.
May 2006: This will be a busy summer. I'll be presenting at the Society for Philosophy and Psychology, commenting at the Formal Epistemology Workshop, defending my dissertation, moving to Vancouver, and getting ready to teach this fall.
March 2006: I've accepted a position at the University of British Columbia as an Assistant Professor without review (renewable for up to three years). There I'll teach upper-level philosophy courses and help team-teach mid-level cognitive science courses. I'm looking forward to being in Vancouver and at UBC.
August 2005: I'm settling into Tucson again for my fifth year in the Ph.D. program, after a year spent visiting other universities (fall and spring at the University of North Carolina, and summer at the Australian National University).
July 2004: I was awarded the Society for Philosophy and Psychology's 2004 William James Prize for best grad student paper in philosophy for my paper “Does Simulation Theory Really Involve Simulation?” which I presented at their joint meeting with the ESPP in Barcelona in July. As a consequence, the paper will be published in the journal Philosophical Psychology.
June 2004: I've accepted an invitation to spend the next academic year as a visiting graduate student at the University of North Carolina, where I will teach a course on Ethics and Economics.
February 2004:I passed my general exams (Philosophy of Mind major and Philosophy of Science minor).
April 2003:I received the William H. Fink prize for outstanding philosophy graduate student from the University of Arizona Philosophy Department.
Description: I propose that we think of our shared concepts as having whatever application conditions they would need to have in order best to deliver benefits in the ways they have regularly delivered benefits in the past. This view combines naturally with a philosophical methodology for discovering the correct application conditions of our shared concepts, the methodology that I call Pragmatic Conceptual Analysis. I articulate and defend this methodology, and show how it may fruitfully be applied to various philosophical problems.
Areas of Specialization: Read about my research
Areas of Competence:
Australian National University (visiting graduate student, June-August 2005)
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (visiting graduate student, Fall 2004 - Spring 2005)
Research Assistant in Prof. John Pollock's artificial intelligence research group. (Fall 2002-Spring 2004; Fall 2005-Spring 2006)
As Primary Instructor:
Creation, Discovery and Science.Discussion-oriented course exploring various topics in the philosophy, history, psychology and sociology of science, including theoretical virtues, the relation between theory and observation, scientific revolutions, scientific creativity, and debates about scientific realism.(Spring 2014)
Philosophy of Biology.Discussion-oriented course exploring various topics, including levels of selection, cultural evolution, niche construction, and evolutionary psychology. (Spring 2008, 2009; Fall 2010; Summer 2011; Fall 2013, 2014)
Minds, Brains and Robotics. Survey of issues in cognitive science, including theories of representation, computational theories of mind, connectionism, consciousness, artificial intelligence and extended cognition. Students build Lego Mindstorms robots to help understand principles discussed in lecture.(Spring 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013; Fall 2014)
Intro to Philosophy. Might we be living in a matrix? Does God exist? Can computers think? Do we have free will? (Fall 2008, 2009, 2013; Spring 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014)
Epistemology. Discussion-oriented course exploring various topics, including analysis of knowledge, use of intuitions, relation between epistemology and decision theory.(Fall 2010)
Meaning and Methodology. Seminar-format course exploring the relations between contemporary theories of meaning and contemporary understandings of the goals and methods of analytic philosophy. Readings included the manuscript of my Pragmatic Conceptual Analysis, background readings, and alternative points of view. (Fall 2006, 2009)
Philosophy of Mind - Boundaries of the Mind. Seminar-format course exploring questions about whether a creature's body, environment, or history might play a constitutive role in determining its current mental state. (Fall 2007)
Metaphysics. Seminar-format course exploring debates about what really exists. Topics include mereological nihilism, monism, unrestricted composition, constructive empiricism, blobjectivism, and methodological and epistemological questions regarding our potential for favoring some of these views over others. (Spring 2007)
Philosophy of Science 305. Survey including positivism, falsificationism, under-determination, Kuhn, and anti-realism (University of Arizona, Summer 2004 and Summer 2002).
Minds, Brains, and Computers. A 300-level survey of issues in the philosophy of cognitive science, including computationalism, connectionism, dynamical systems, and consciousness; cross-listed with Psychology 346 (University of Arizona, Summer 2003)
Ethics and Economics. An upper-level undergraduate course, including arguments for and against market economies, applications to current issues, and decision and game theory (University of North Carolina, Fall 2004).
Business Ethics. A 300-level course addressing ethical role of business in society and applications to various current issues (University of Arizona, Winter 2001-2).
On a Team of Professors:
Cognitive Systems 300. Survey of issues in cognitive science, including theories of representation, computational theories of mind, connectionism, consciousness, artificial intelligence and extended cognition. This course is accompanied by a lab in which students build Lego ® Mindstorms robots to help understand principles discussed in lecture. (University of British Columbia, Fall&Spring x 2006&2007)
Cognitive Systems 200. Introduction to issues in cognitive science, including functionalism, concepts, perception, and language acquisition. (University of British Columbia, Fall&Spring x 2006&2007)
As Teaching Assistant:
Last updated 2010.06.05, by Justin C. Fisher. email@example.com