I am an associate professor in the Philosophy Department and the Neuroscience Institute at
At GSU, I am the Director of Undergraduate Research, and I am leading a search for three position in Neuroethics, which will include one ethical/legal theorist who considers the ethical or legal issue raised by neuroscience, a cognitive neuroscientist who works on moral cognition, emotion, or behavior, and a philosopher of mind/cognitive science who considers the implications of neuroscience for moral theory and moral psychology.
I have conducted experimental philosophy research with several graduate students at FSU and GSU. Our studies suggest that most ordinary people do not take determinism, properly understood, to be incompatible with free will and moral responsibility. Rather, people take determinism to be threatening when they misinterpret it to entail reductionism, epiphenomenalism, or fatalism. In these papers, we also discuss the role such data should play in the philosophical debates. In the “Research” section on the left side of this website, see, for instance, “Experimental Philosophy on Free Will: An Error Theory for Incompatibilist Intuitions” (with Dylan Murray), “Free Will, Moral Responsibility, and Mechanism: Experiments on Folk Intuitions” (with Trevor Kvaran and Justin Coates), and with Thomas Nadelhoffer, Jason Turner, and Stephen Morris: “Is Incompatibilism Intuitive?”, “Surveying Freedom,” and “The Phenomenology of Free Will.” In “The Past and Future of Experimental Philosophy” Thomas Nadelhoffer and I classify various projects of experimental philosophy and defend the methodology against objections.
I have written several papers that discuss the relevance of scientific research to free will and agency, including "Scientific Challenges to Free Will", “The Psychology of Free Will," “Why ‘Willusionism’ Leads to ‘Bad Results’,” which offers an explanation for why recent scientific claims that free will is an illusion may lead people to behave worse, “Autonomous Agency and the Threat of Social Psychology,” which considers how research in situationist social psychology potentially threatens free will, and two papers that examine Daniel Wegner’s claims about the illusion of conscious will, “Agency, Authorship, and Illusion” and “When Consciousness Matters.”
In “Close Calls and the Confident Agent,” I consider the significance of alternative possibilities for free will. In the unpublished paper, “The State of the Free Will Debate: From Frankfurt Cases to the Consequence Argument,” I discuss the structure of incompatibilist arguments. And in an unpublished talk, “Free Will and Knowledge,” I consider the auspicious implications of understanding free will as a set of capacities to obtain knowledge about oneself and the world.
I also examine the intersection of the above questions with questions about moral responsibility and the moral sentiments. Along with Thomas Nadelhoffer and Shaun Nichols, I have co-edited a volume, Moral Psychology: Historical and Contemporary Readings (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010). The volume brings together contemporary texts by philosophers, psychologists and other cognitive scientists with foundational works from both philosophy and psychology that discuss key debates in moral psychology, including moral motivation, altruism, responsible agency, virtues, and intuitions.
I enjoy teaching very much and find that my research is motivated by my attempts to make philosophical questions interesting and relevant to my students. In the Teaching section, see “Polling as Pedagogy” and “Some Practical Suggestions for Teaching Small Philosophy Classes”. Recent graduate seminars include “Free Will and the Sciences of the Mind”, “Moral Psychology”, “Ethics, Agency & the Sciences of the Mind,” “Philosophy of Mind: Consciousness and Mental Causation” and “Issues in Free Will,” and I have also taught a course on “Teaching Philosophy” for graduate students at FSU. At the undergraduate level, I teach Philosophy of Mind, Introduction to Philosophy, and various Honors seminars. In 2003 I won the Superior Honors Teaching Award from the Florida State Honors program.
I love to play soccer
(but since my knee blew out, now I just coach my kids and
watch it), watch Duke basketball, read the newspaper,
watch movies, and play guitar. My wife Cheryl is an
Instructional Coach at a middle school. In addition
to Cheryl, the loves of my life are my sons, Lucas and Sam,
and my daughter Eve.