Research Summary

Moral and Legal Theory

I write on topics in moral and legal philosophy such as how antidiscrimination law should treat relatively small discriminatory impacts, the nature of legal reasonableness and "the reasonable person", and how moral theories should confront the imperfect acceptance of rules.

The Self and Personal Identity

Which types of change make someone seem like "no longer the same person"? I've found that deteriorations seem more disruptive to identity, compared to similar improvements. My theoretical work asks whether this is an untrustworthy judgment, erroneously affecting our views about the apparent identity-disruptiveness of mental deterioration and cognitive enhancement's apparent identity-preservation. More recent experimental work discovers similar judgments about changing non-human entities (e.g. organizations), and suggests that folk teleology drives these judgments.

Intuition, Methodology, and Expertise

What are moral, legal, or philosophical "intuitions"; are they reliable; and do professionals - such as ethicists, judges, or philosophers - have expertise in intuition? I address questions like these in theoretical and experimental work.

Concepts and Meaning

My recent work uses experimental methods to illuminate debates about concepts and meaning. For example, experiments reveal that people do not share the standard "Twin Earth" intuition about natural kinds. Another project finds that legal reasonableness is best understood as a hybrid concept, one that is partly descriptive and partly prescriptive. And a work-in-progress tests whether sources of evidence for legal interpretation, like dictionaries or corpora, generally provide reliable and accurate evidence about meaning.

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