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 (in progress) is How Politics Makes Us Stupid. It will bring insights from political psychology and epistemology (e.g. disagreement, testimony, 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.
Articles and Book Chapters
Empathetic Understanding and Deliberative Democracy
Philosophy and Phenomenological Research (forthcoming)
Skepticism: Impractical, Therefore Implausible
Philosophical Issues (forthcoming)
Why Purists Should Be Infallibilists
Philosophical Studies (forthcoming)
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)
The Importance of Knowledge Ascriptions
Philosophy Compass (2015)
Fallibilism and the Value of Knowledge
Is Knowledge True Belief Plus Adequate Information?
The Practical Origins of Epistemic Contextualism
‘Knows’ Entails Truth
Journal of Philosophical Research (2013)
Reviews and Bibliographic Entries
Oxford Bibliographies (w/ Stephen Grimm)
Are Political Disagreements Real Disagreements?
Quillette, August 2019
Empathetic Understanding in Politics
Open for Debate, February 2019
What’s the Point of Knowledge in this Post-truth Era?
Talking Humanities, May 2018
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.
Books in Progress
How Politics Makes Us Stupid
I am at the early stages of writing a book about ignorance and irrationality in politics. Much has been written about the post-truth world of fake news, dodgy experts, and “alternative facts.” But unlike many scholars, I do not rush to the defense of truth or rationality. This book’s central thesis is that, in many situations, we should relegate the role of truth in political life and it is often rational to be irrational in politics.
Understanding: What It Is & Why It Matters
What is human understanding and why should we care about it? This book will provide an opinionated overview of the philosophy, psychology, and theology 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.
Edited Volumes in Progress
The Routledge Handbook of Political Epistemology
This handbook will include 40 chapters and seven sections:
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
Table of contents here.
Politics and Truth: New Perspectives in Political Epistemology
This book is divided into three sections:
(1) The Role of Truth in Politics
(2) The Epistemic Merits of Democracy
(3) Disagreement and Polarization.
The contributors are: Kristoffer Ahlstrom-Vij, Elizabeth Anderson, Jason Brennan, Quassim Cassam, Thomas Christiano, Elizabeth Edenberg, David Estlund, Alexander Guerrero, Jennifer Lackey, Michael Lynch, Fabienne Peter, Jeroen de Ridder, Regina Rini, Robert Talisse, and Briana Toole.
Articles in Prep or Under Review
1. A paper on epistemic spillovers and epistemic injustice
3. A paper on why humble people are epistemically egocentric
4. A paper for a special issue of Synthese on ‘The Epistemic Significance of Non-Epistemic Factors’
5. A survey article on ‘Recent Work in the Epistemology of Understanding’ for American Philosophical Quarterly
6. The Oxford Bibliographies entry for “Political Epistemology”
7. The Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry for “Knowledge, Concept of” (3,000 words).
8. The Oxford Handbook of Social Epistemology chapter on “Political Epistemology”