Papers under Review
[Paper on Kant's theory of representation, consciousness, and cognition]
I provide an account of an important sense of representation, consciousness, and cognition in Kant's lectures on logic and his critical works. I argue that neither of these notions involves transparency, i.e., first-personal awareness at the agential level. Instead, I outline a picture according to which the presence and content of cognitions is opaque to cognitive subjects.
[Paper on Kant's notion of an intuition]
In this paper, I argue that, for Kant, intuitions are singular in the sense that they are thoroughgoingly determined representations of their objects. That is, for any representable feature F of the object of cognition o, an intuition of o must represent F to the subject. In this sense, intuitions are maximally fine-grained: they distinguishing their objects from any other. Moreover, this account of the content of intuitions elucidates how the historical pedigree of Kant’s theory of intuitions is squarely in the Leibnizian tradition.
[Paper on the relation between stereotypes and the ontology of race]
An influential variety of social constructionism about race – call it representational constructionism – holds that the existence and nature of each racial group is grounded in the stereotypes about the racial group which are widely available within a society. In this paper, I present a novel objection against representational constructionism: (1) there is no guarantee that there are society-wide stereotypes about a racial group R which could provide the ground for R’s existence; and, in fact, (2) there is reason to doubt that such stereotypes exist for various important features (phenotypical appearances, characteristic behaviors, etc.), since members of different significant milieux reliably and systematically vary in the stereotypes they come to form. Overall, I emphasize that disagreements about individual's racial membership are much more entrenched and common than philosophers of race have previously appreciated.
Work in Progress
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Faculty Monism in Leibniz, Wolff, and Baumgarten: How to Best Deny the Distinction between Perception and Thought
Kant often criticizes Leibniz for collapsing two cognitive faculties -- sensibility and the understanding -- into a single one. In the picture Kant attributes to Leibniz, we can sense things via merely thinking about them. Is this account coherent, and is this really Leibniz's view? In this paper, I argue for an affirmative answer to both questions. Sensation, for Leibniz, is a kind of thinking. In fact, I argue, faculty monism was quite influential in the 18th century Leibnizian tradition.
Kant on the Status of Rationalist Metaphysical Principles
I reconstruct Kant’s critique of Leibniz – and, in particular, his endorsement of the Principle of the Identity of Indiscernibles (PII) and other metaphysical principles like it – in the so-called “Amphiboly” chapter of the Critique of Pure Reason. The status of these rationalist principles within Kant’s philosophy has stumped commentators. Some passages suggest that Kant endorses a restricted version of the PII; others that he endorses a counterfactual version of it. I solve this interpretive impasse by appealing to Kant’s theory of particular laws, namely, empirical laws whose necessity does not follow from the fundamental laws of nature. Although human beings cannot help but to represent things as following particular laws, we cannot have insight into why they hold. I argue that, though he strictly speaking rejects the PII and other metaphysical principles, Kant holds that they are particular laws of nature.
The Recognition-First Account of Race
Membership in a racial group is often precarious. Someone can be embraced as a member by some people and in some contexts yet be excluded by others or in other contexts. Instead of shying away from this fact, as do most philosophical accounts of race, I build a metaphysics of race around it. I argue that racial membership depends on relations of mutual recognition between individuals. Recognition is mutual, joint, and socially valuable. It doesn't require categorization or explicit awareness. More tentatively, I suggest recognition need not even require shared experiences. For two individuals to recognize each other is for both to hold that they are subject to the same social and moral values and disvalues, as concerns their distinctive, shared lot in life.