My academic work (research and teaching in universities) covers an eclectic mix of interrelated topics and questions. I mostly focus on the nature of experience (phenomenal consciousness) and how it relates to neural activity in the head. I explore not only perceptual experience, but also experience in dreams, hallucination, and memory.

Research Questions

  • Could what it’s like for you to perceptually experience your environment really be duplicated in a dream, like Descartes thought? I’ve argued maybe not.
  • Do dreams involve a feeling of presence, like normal waking perception, or are they more like imagination, which lacks that feeling? I’ve argued that it’s complicated.
  • What, exactly, is the feeling of presence (characteristic of normal perception), vs the feeling of pastness (characteristic of memory)? How do these feelings differentiate waking perception, memory, imagination, and dreams?
  • What is it that we experience when we hallucination and dream? I argue that, at least in some cases, we’re experiencing past-perceived objects.
  • Is mental time travel real time travel? (yes)
  • Does normal sensory perception itself ever involve experience of the past? (I think so.)
  • Do you ever experience things not represented by your sensory neural activity? (I argue you do.) Is everything represented in conscious sensory neural activity experienced? (I argue not.)
  • How is it that perception makes objects available for thought? Against the dominant tradition, I don’t think it’s by providing information channels which feed mental files.
  • Does phenomenal consciousness (i.e., experience) play a role in how perception makes objects available for thought? (Yes, but it’s complicated.)

Published Research

Teaching

I’ve taught philosophy at wide range of schools, including community colleges, a regional state school, a SLAC, a large public research university, and a small elite university. I most recently taught in the winter 2021 term at York University (in Toronto). Here’s a list, organized by the last time I taught the course and where.

  • Philosophy of Artificial Intelligence, York University (Cogs/Phil 3750, winter 2021) | syllabus
  • Minds, Brains, and Machines, York University (Cogs/Phil 2160, fall 2020)
  • Philosophy of Psychology, York University (Phil 3260, fall 2020)
  • The Examined Life, Lebanon Valley College (Phl 110, spring 2018)
  • American Philosophy: Pragmatism, Kutztown University of Pennsylvania (Phi 280, spring 2017)
  • Topics in Moral Theory: Virtue Ethics, Kutztown University of Pennsylvania (Phi 235, fall 2016)
  • Introduction to Philosophy, Kutztown University of Pennsylvania (Phi 030, fall 2017)
  • Objectivity in Perception, Rice University (Fwis 129, spring 2015)
  • Introduction to Logic, Rice University (Phil 106, summer 2014)
  • Introduction to Ethics, Lone Star College (Phil 2306, fall 2011)