I work in epistemology, especially the social and political aspects of epistemology. I am primarily interested in the relationship between knowledge and practical life.
On the one hand, my work explores how the demands of practical life bear on issues in theoretical epistemology. In my book, What’s the Point of Knowledge? (OUP 2019), I argue that reflecting on the social role of epistemic evaluation sheds light on many epistemological issues, including: the level of justification required for knowledge, the semantics of ‘knows’, and philosophical skepticism. This book also explores how our epistemic concepts, norms, and practices contribute to human survival, cooperation, and flourishing.
On the flip side, I use the tools of theoretical epistemology to help us understand (and hopefully resolve) urgent issues in practical life. For example, our political discourse is currently saturated with epistemic notions, such as ‘fake news’, ‘post truth’, ‘epistemic bubbles’, ‘alternative facts’, ‘information cascades’, ‘trust’, and ‘expertise’. This suggests we are in the midst of an epistemic crisis, one where epistemology can play a crucial role. In my next book, titled The Role of Truth in Politics, I will bring insights from many areas of epistemology (e.g. disagreement, testimony, epistemic injustice, norms of assertion, rationality) into contact with political issues like post-truth, fake news, and the epistemic requirements of democracy.
I also dabble in cognitive science, ethics, and philosophy of language.
What's the Point of Knowledge?
Oxford University Press
Articles and Book Chapters
Why Purists Should Be Infallibilists
Philosophical Studies (2019)
A Solution to Knowledge's Threshold Problem
Philosophical Studies (2017)
Skepticism and Contextualism
Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Contextualism (2017)
The Universal Core of Knowledge
Pacific Philosophical Quarterly (2015)
Fallibilism and the Value of Knowledge
Is Knowledge True Belief Plus Adequate Information?
The Importance of Knowledge Ascriptions
Philosophy Compass (2014)
The Practical Origins of Epistemic Contextualism
‘Knows’ Entails Truth
Journal of Philosophical Research (2013)
Reviews and Bibliographic Entries
Oxford Bibliographies (w/ Stephen Grimm)
The Role of Truth in Politics
I am at the early stages of writing a book about the role of truth in politics. Much has been written about the post-truth world of fake news, dodgy experts, and “alternative facts.” But journalists and academic commentators have largely ignored recent philosophical insights about the nature of deep disagreements, the dangers of thinking for oneself, and the ways in which knowledge can actually be harmful to democracy.
Unlike many scholars, I do not rush to truth’s defense. This book’s central thesis is that, in many situations, we should relegate the role of truth in political life. Instead we should focus on deferring to appropriate authorities, the role of emotion in politics, and fostering mutual understanding.
Work in Preparation or Under Review
1. A paper for the 2019 Epistemology volume of Philosophical Issues
2. A paper on truth, understanding, and epistemic democracy
3. A paper on epistemic spillovers and epistemic injustice
4. A paper on why humble people are epistemically egocentric
5. A paper for a special issue of Synthese on ‘The Epistemic Significance of Non-Epistemic Factors’
6. A paper on trust in a digital world for the Social Epistemology Review & Reply Collective
7. A survey article on ‘Recent Work in the Epistemology of Understanding’ for American Philosophical Quarterly
8. An edited volume on Political Epistemology. Contributors: Kristoffer Ahlstrom-Vij, Elizabeth Anderson, Jason Brennan, Thomas Christiano, Elizabeth Edenberg, Catherine Elgin, David Estlund, Alexander Guerrero, Michael Hannon, Jennifer Lackey, Michael Lynch, Fabienne Peter, Jeroen de Ridder, Regina Rini, and Robert Talisse
9. The Oxford Bibliographies entry for Political Epistemology