Neuroexistentialism and Language
Neuroexistentialism is a response to the advances in neuroscience that are seen, by some, as a threat to certain beliefs about the ontology and value of the human person. From this threat of neuroscience arises angst about issues concerning humanity, including issues of free will, ethics, and life’s meaningfulness. Thus far, however, no work has been done on developing a neuroexistentialist philosophy of language, which I see as a critical issue of concern rising from neuroexistentialist claims. I am working to construct a framework for what a neuroexistentialist philosophy of language should look like and what questions about language it should concern itself with.
Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.”
My work on scientific explanation centers on the epistemological debate over whether we are justified in believing in the unobservable entities postulated by scientific theories. Some have argued that the best argument for scientific realism rests on an equivocation of "explains". My current project focuses on the equivocation in this argument. My position is that the argument does rest on an equivocation of the term, but that there is an easy fix. There are two ways of understanding "explains," and, on either reading, an argument can be constructed to demonstrate that we are, in fact, justified in our beliefs in unobservable entities postulated by the best scientific theories.
A Sensational Account of Desire
Our desires are an important part of what makes us who we are. A person who desires to murder innocents is an importantly different kind of person than a person who desires to feed the hungry. Since desires are such an important part of the human person, it's important to figure out what a desire is. A common account of what a desire is says that a desire is a behavioral disposition. In my project, I analyze the behavioral disposition account of desire, arguing that desires are not dispositions to act in certain ways, but that dispositions to act are, instead, results of means-ends beliefs that are co-occurrent with desires. A large portion of our desires are desires which cannot, even in principle, dispose us to act. Since these kinds of desires make up such a large portion of our full set of desires, a theory that neglects them, such as the behavioral disposition account, must be rejected. On my view, desires are more like pains, pleasures, and smells. They are sensations that we experience in response to some stimuli. When I have a pain, pleasure, or an olfactory sensation, I might act or be disposed to act in a certain way, but these dispositions to act are not the sensations themselves. Dispositions to act are co-occurrent phenomena with these sensations. Being disposed to act in a way that causes pleasure to continue, pain to stop, or odors to be neutralized results from attitudes about these sensations coupled with means-ends beliefs. If I have a negative attitude toward a pain, for example, I might formulate means-ends beliefs to upon which I can act in order to stop the pain.