Assistant Professor of Philosophy, University of Nottingham

Research

 

Overview

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 knowledge 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 apply the tools of theoretical epistemology to urgent issues in practical life.
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. My next book, titled The Role of Truth in Politics, 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.

 
 

Published Work

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What’s the Point of Knowledge?
Oxford University Press

Jan 2019 (US)
Feb 2019 (UK)
with 30% discount code: AAFLYG6

 

Current Projects

I am currently writing two books and editing two other books. I’m also working on several articles and book chapters. These projects are listed below.


The Role of Truth in Politics (Book)

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.

Eureka! The Psychology and Philosophy of Human Understanding (Book)

What is human understanding and why should we care about it? This book will provide an opinionated overview of the philosophy and psychology of human understanding. It will cover topics like: the nature of understanding; varieties of understanding (e.g. moral, religious, scientific, aesthetic); the relationship between knowledge and understanding; the phenomenological “sense” of understanding; linguistic understanding; and the cognitive psychology of understanding.

Politics and Truth: Readings in Political Epistemology (Edited Volume)

This book is divided into three sections: (1) The Role of Truth in Politics, (2) The Epistemic Merits of Democracy, and (3) Disagreement and Polarization. The contributors are: Kristoffer Ahlstrom-Vij, Elizabeth Anderson, Jason Brennan, Thomas Christiano, Elizabeth Edenberg, David Estlund, Alexander Guerrero, Michael Hannon, Jennifer Lackey, Michael Lynch, Fabienne Peter, Jeroen de Ridder, Regina Rini, and Robert Talisse.

The Routledge Handbook of Political Epistemology (Edited Volume)

This handbook will include 35 chapters. It will be organized into seven sections with five or six chapters per section. The sections are:
1: Political Epistemology and Its History
2: Political Disagreement and Polarization
3: Fake News, Misinformation, and Propaganda
4: Ignorance and Irrationality in Politics
5: Epistemic Virtues and Vices in Politics
6: Democracy and Epistemology
7: Trust, Expertise, and Doubt

Articles in Preparation or Under Review

1. A paper on skepticism for the 2019 epistemology volume of Philosophical Issues: A Supplement to Noûs

2. A paper on epistemic spillovers and epistemic injustice

3. A paper on whether political disagreements are genuine disagreements

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. The Oxford Bibliographies entry for “Political Epistemology

9. The Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry for “Knowledge, Concept of” (3,000 words).

10. The Oxford Handbook of Social Epistemology chapter on “Political Epistemology