I'm a PhD candidate in the Department of  Philosophy at New York University. My main research interests are in philosophy of mind, epistemology, and cognitive science, with a focus on the imagination.

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BIO

I am currently a PhD candidate in the Department of Philosophy at New York University. I entered the PhD program in 2017.

Before coming to New York University I was an undergraduate at the University of Miami. I graduated in 2017 with a B.A. in philosophy and psychology.

I enjoy noodling around on my guitar, cooking vegetarian feasts, listening to various forms of extreme metal, mixing funky cocktails, and running the occasional half marathon.


I am lucky to have an incredible and talented partner, Madelyn, who does a lot of cool things.

Here is my CV.

 

RESEARCH

The imagination is a rich and powerful tool for learning about the world. If I want to better understand my partner's emotional state, I might imagine myself in her shoes. If I want to decide whether to have pizza or ramen for dinner, I might imagine each option in order to help me make a decision.  If I want to inquire what caused a loud thump outside of my office in the philosophy department, I might use my imagination to generate some hypotheses.


While these examples make it clear that the imagination plays a number of different epistemic roles, there is little consensus on how to understand those roles. How is it possible for the imagination, which is traditionally associated with the fantastical and fictional, to generate hypotheses, justify beliefs, and make decisions? My dissertation integrates philosophy of mind and epistemology to investigate the roles of imagination in inquiry, reasoning, and action.

I am also pursuing a number of side projects. With my collaborators, I am developing accounts of the nature and semantics of analog and iconic representations. I am also developing a theory of the ontology of theatre that is informed by actual theatrical practice. Finally, I have published on the relationship between attention and phenomenal consciousness.

Outside of the focus of my research, I have wide-ranging interests throughout much of philosophy, but especially in philosophy of mind, epistemology, cognitive science, philosophy of art, philosophy of science, and value theory.

I enjoy talking about my research interests with others. Feel free to reach out if you have questions or comments, or if you would like access to a draft paper.

Here are my publications and works in progress:

Forthcoming in Noûs (co-authored with Andrew Lee and Gabriel Rabin)

 THE STRUCTURE OF ANALOG REPRESENTATION (PDF​)

We explicate and defend the rulebound structure theory of analog representation, according to which analog representation is a matter of interpretive rules mapping structure to structure. First, we argue that the mark of the analog is to be found in the rules of a system's interpretation function. We go on to develop measures that capture three dimensions of analogicity.

Philosophical Studies 2021

THE EPISTEMIC STATUS OF THE IMAGINATION (PDF)

I argue that imaginings are justified justifiers; imaginings can have an epistemic status and this epistemic status grounds their ability to justify beliefs. I show how this thesis best explains certain puzzling features of imaginative justification and argue that it is grounded in the fact that imaginings can be based on evidence.

Epistemic Uses of Imagination, edited by Amy Kind and Christopher Badura, Routledge, 2021

REASONING WITH IMAGINATION (PDF)

I argue that epistemic uses of the imagination are a sui generis kind of reasoning. First, I argue that they instantiate an epistemic structure that is distinctive of reasoning. Then, I argue that reasoning with imagination is not reducible to reasoning with beliefs. This provides a useful framework for theorizing about the epistemology of imagination.

Florida Philosophical Review 2017

DOES PHENOMENAL CONSCIOUSNESS OVERFLOW ATTENTION? AN ARGUMENT FROM FEATURE-INTEGRATION. (PDF)

In this paper I argue that attention is necessary for phenomenal consciousness. This paper was published as part of the Gerrit and Edith Schipper Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Paper from the Florida Philosophical Association.

Under review (ask for a draft)

PLAYS, PRODUCTIONS, AND PERFORMANCES: AN ONTOLOGY OF THEATRE

This paper argues for an ontology of theatre which contains three elements: plays, productions, and performances. Plays are event-types individuated by sets of instructions, productions are sub-types of plays individuated by ways of carrying out those instructions, and performances are event-tokens. This framework is best able to account for theatrical practice as well as partially improvised forms of theatre.

In progress (ask for a draft)

IMAGINATIVE JUSTIFICATION: NEITHER IMMEDIATE NOR INFERENTIAL

The second chapter of my dissertation. This paper explores two natural views of imaginative justification. On the first view, imaginings are immediate justifiers. On the second view, imaginings only justify in tandem with an inference. After exploring different ways of motivating and developing these views, I argue that both are false. Imaginative justification is mediate but noninferential.

In progress (co-authored with Andrew Lee and Gabriel Rabin)

ICONIC REPRESENTATIONS ARE ANALOG STRUCTURES

This paper defends a theory of iconic representation. We begin by criticizing a number of influential proposals which appeal to the parts principle. Our positive view, very roughly, is that iconic representations are analog locative structures, or structured collections of analog representations. We go on to use the distinctions we develop in our theory to construct a useful taxonomy of representational kinds.

In progress (ask for a draft)

IMAGINATION AND HYPOTHESIS GENERATION

I argue that imagination plays a core role in hypothesis generation; to form a hypothesis is to imagine a possible way the world could be. I show how this account improves upon extant accounts and explicate some of the cognitive mechanisms by which the imagination is able to play this role. I'm expanding a scholarly blog post that you can read here.

In progress

IMAGINATION, SUPPOSITIONAL REASONING, AND MENTAL MODELS

Some philosophers have suggested that the imagination justifies belief in a way analogous to suppositional reasoning: by imagining a hypothetical scenario and then letting it unfold, one can come to form a conditional conclusion. While this suggestion is on the right track, it is incomplete. In its place, I put forward a theory that explains how imaginings can justify both conditional and non-conditional beliefs.

 

TEACHING

PRIMARY INSTRUCTOR

Aesthetics (Summer 2021, syllabus)

Epistemology (Summer 2020, 2 sections, syllabus)

TEACHING ASSISTANT

Early Modern Philosophy (Spring 2021, with Don Garrett)
Ancient Philosophy (Fall 2020, with Jessica Moss)
Nature of Values (Spring 2020, with Sharon Street)
Minds and Machines (Fall 2019, with David Chalmers)
Religion, Mind, and Society (Spring 2017, with William Green and Michael McCullough)

HIGH SCHOOL OUTREACH

Big Questions NYU/NYIP Outreach
(Fall 2017-Spring 2019, with Jessica Moss)

 

SELECTED TALKS, CONFERENCES, AND EVENTS

COMMENTS ON MICHAEL STUART'S "ONE MORE TIME FROM THE TOP: METAEPISTEMOLOGY OF IMAGINATION"

Online Imagination Conference
Zoom 2021

COMMENTS ON HOWARD G. CALLAWAY’S “FUNCTIONALISM, CONSCIOUSNESS, AND FACE RECOGNITION”

APA Eastern Division

Zoom 2021

IMAGINATIVE BELIEFS

Online Imagination Conference

Zoom 2020

REASONING WITH IMAGINATION

Southern Society for Philosophy and Psychology

Zoom 2020

PoPRocks Philosophy of Psychology Workshop

NYC 2019

OBJECT TRACKING AND THE FORMAT OF PERCEPTION

Poster, Society for Philosophy and Psychology

UC San Diego 2019

THE EPISTEMIC STATUS OF THE IMAGINATION

Fiction, Imagination, and Epistemology Conference

Ruhr-Universität Bochum 2019

SPATIOTEMPORAL REPRESENTATION AND THE FORMAT OF PERCEPTION

Southern Society for Philosophy and Psychology

Cincinnati 2019

PLAYS, PRODUCTIONS, AND PERFORMANCES: AN ONTOLOGY OF THEATRE

Canadian Society for Aesthetics

Toronto 2017

American Society for Aesthetics Eastern Division

Philadelphia 2017

Southeastern Student Conference in Aesthetics

College of Charleston 2017

DOES PHENOMENAL CONSCIOUSNESS OVERFLOW ATTENTION?

Florida Philosophical Association

Florida Institute of Technology 2016

Northwest Student Philosophy Conference

Western Washington University 2016

 

GET IN TOUCH

Please feel free to reach out to me at joshualmyers@gmail.com

New York University
Department of Philosophy

5 Washington Place

New York, NY, 10003