"Hume on Modal Projection." Forthcoming. Mind.
Hume’s claim that we project necessity onto objects we take to be causally related has been influential in contemporary discussions of modality, inspiring deflationary accounts of our modal commitments. Hume is commonly understood as holding that modal projection explains our judging that an effect must follow its cause. This misunderstands the role of projection in Hume’s discussions of causation and causal judgement. Projection is a diagnosis of a distinctively philosophical confusion: the commitment to mind-independent necessary connections. In arguing for this, I provide an account of the psychological process that, in Hume’s view, underlies projection. This account resolves problems with Hume’s projectivism identified by his commentators.
"Fiction and Content in Hume's Labyrinth." Forthcoming. The Philosophical Quarterly.
In the “Appendix” to the Treatise, Hume claims that he has discovered a “very considerable” mistake in his earlier discussion of the self. Hume's expression of the problem is notoriously opaque, leading to a vast scholarly debate as to exactly what problem he identified in his earlier account of the self. I propose a new solution to this interpretive puzzle. I argue that a tension generated by Hume's conceptual skepticism about real “principles of union” and his account of fictions of the imagination is the defect identified in the “Appendix.”
This paper aims to clarify Locke’s distinction between simple and complex ideas. I argue that Locke accepts what I call the “compositional criterion of simplicity.” According to this criterion, an idea is simple just in case it does not have another idea as a proper part. This criterion is prima facie inconsistent with Locke’s view that there are simple ideas of extension. This objection was presented to Locke by his French translator, Pierre Coste, on behalf of Jean Barbeyrac. Locke responded to Barbeyrac’s objection, but his response, along with a passage from Chapter XV of Book II of the Essay, “Of Duration and Expansion, considered together,” has been taken to show that he did not accept the compositional criterion. I examine these passages and argue that they are not in tension with but rather affirm that criterion.
The Molyneux problem is one of the major questions addressed by early modern authors. Whereas Locke’s response to Molyneux’s question has been the subject of extensive scholarly discussion, Leibniz’s response has received comparatively little attention. This paper defends an interpretation of Leibniz’s nuanced response to the problem and criticizes a competing interpretation that has recently been proposed.
That Socrates took himself to possess a divine sign is well attested by ancient sources. What is problematic for contemporary scholars is that Socrates unfailingly obeys the warnings of his sign. His unquestioning obedience to his sign appears to be in conflict with another of his defining characteristics: namely, his relentless rationality. However, Socrates does not seem to recognize such inconsistency. Is Socrates’ professed commitment to rationality consistent with his unquestioning deference to his daimonion’s warnings? And if so, how? In this paper, I first discuss several solutions to the problem of the daimonion. I aim to show that none of the accounts of Socrates’ sign that have appeared in the scholarly literature are adequate. I then propose a new account of the daimonion, which, I argue, secures the rationality of Socrates’ obedience to his divine sign.