I am a philosopher working at the intersection of philosophy of mind and epistemology. Most of my research is on the imagination and imagistic representation.
I am currently a postdoctoral research fellow in the LOGOS Research Group in Analytic Philosophy at the University of Barcelona.
I earned my PhD in philosophy from New York University in 2023, supervised by Paul Boghossian, David Chalmers, and Jane Friedman. Before that, I did my undergraduate degree in philosophy and psychology at the University of Miami.
When I'm not doing philosophy, I like to noodle around on my guitar, listen to (mostly scary) music, cook lots of delicious vegetarian food, and walk all over the place.
The primary strand of my research is on the epistemology of imagination. In this work, I am developing a theory of how imagination justifies empirical belief. This has given me the opportunity to think about a lot of interesting questions like: Can we reconcile the justificatory force of the imagination with its voluntariness? Is imagination reducible to inference? Can the imagination generate new justification or does it merely preserve existing justification? Are there epistemic norms governing what you ought to imagine? Does the vividness of an imagining determine its justificatory force? How can the epistemic role of the imagination inform theorizing about its nature? In future work, I plan to investigate the epistemic role of the imagination in generating hypotheses, grounding understanding, engaging with fiction, and knowing other minds. I am the editor for the PhilPapers categories on Epistemology of Imagination and Mental Imagery.
I also have an ongoing research project on iconic representation. Consider the difference between a painting of a brown dog and the sentence 'there is a brown dog.' They both repesent a brown dog. But they do so in very different ways. The painting is iconic while the sentence is not. My research investigates the nature of this difference. Along the way, I've thought about the metaphysical grounds of representational format, the semantics of iconic representation, whether there are iconic representations in the mind, and the epistemic and practical advantages and disadvantages of iconic representation. I am the editor for the PhilPapers category on Varieties of Representation.
Imagination as a Source of Empirical Justification (forthcoming)
This paper provides a critical overview of the recent literature on the epistemology of imagination and points to avenues for future research. Topics covered include arguments for and against imaginative empirical justification, the constraints-based approach to the epistemology of imagination, and whether imagination generates or merely preserves justification. (PDF)
The Epistemic Role of Vividness (forthcoming)
Intuitively, the vividness of mental imagery is epistemically relevant. But how is vividness epistemically relevant? I argue that vividness is higher-order evidence about a subject’s epistemic state, rather than first-order evidence about the world. More specifically, the vividness of a mental image is higher-order evidence about the amount of first-order information one has about its subject matter. (PDF)
Imaginative Beliefs (2024, online first)
I argue for the existence of imaginative beliefs: mental states that are imaginative in format and doxastic in attitude. This view best explains the functional and epistemic roles of the imagination, and it is preferable to alternatives that posit distinct imaginative and doxastic states to account for the same phenomena. Along the way, I explore the philosophical significance of imaginative beliefs. (PDF)
How Imagination Informs (2023, online first)
The Philosophical Quarterly
I argue, against the received view, that the imagination is robustly informative—it can contain more information than is put into it and can thereby generate justification that is not conferred by a subject's antecedent evidence. Moreover, I defend a novel account of how the imagination informs according to which the imagination is informative in virtue of its analog representational format. (PDF)
We explicate and defend the rulebound structure theory of analog representation, according to which analog representation is a matter of interpretive rules mapping syntactic structure to semantic 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 different dimensions of analogicity. (PDF)
The imagination is typically thought to fall outside of the scope of epistemic evaluation. Against this, I argue that imaginings are justified justifiers. Imaginings can manifest an epistemic status, this epistemic status grounds their ability to justify beliefs, and they acquire this status by being epistemically based on evidence. I show how this view best explains the structure of imaginative justification. (PDF)
Reasoning with Imagination (2021)
Epistemic Uses of Imagination, Routledge
I argue that epistemic uses of the imagination are a sui generis form of reasoning. First, I argue that the imagination instantiates 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. (PDF)
A paper on the nature and epistemology of aphantasia
A paper on iconic representation (co-authored with Andrew Lee and Gabriel Rabin)
A paper about the epistemic relevance of voluntary imagining
A paper developing a new account of understanding (co-authored with Alfredo Vernazzani)
THE EPISTEMIC STRUCTURE OF THE IMAGINATION
The imagination is ubiquitous in our cognitive lives. You might imagine rotating a puzzle piece to determine whether it fits in an open space, or imagine what things are like from another person's perspective to figure out how they are feeling, or imagine a new rug in your living room to determine whether it matches the color of your sofa. These examples are mundane, but they point to a deep philosophical puzzle: how could merely imagining something give you any reason to believe that it is true? After all, you can imagine anything you want to, from the fictional to the fantastical. This has led many philosophers to be deeply skeptical of the epistemic value of the imagination. When imagination is accorded a justificatory role, it is typically limited to beliefs about what is metaphysically possible. More recently, some philosophers have begun to push back against this orthodoxy by arguing that the imagination can justify empirical beliefs about the actual world. But even then, most contemporary discussions focus on whether the imagination can justify empirical belief, rather than on how the imagination justifies empirical belief, thereby leaving many central questions about the epistemology of the imagination unanswered.
This dissertation attempts to fill this lacuna by canvassing the theoretical landscape of this exciting new literature and developing an account of the epistemic structure of the imagination. The first chapter sets the stage for the rest of the dissertation by reviewing extant arguments for and against the view that the imagination can justify empirical belief before posing a new argument in its favor. The second chapter argues that imaginative justification is mediate but non-inferential; it depends on one’s prior justification without depending on an inference from one’s prior beliefs. The third chapter argues that the imagination is informative—it can represent new content and generate new justification—in virtue of its analog representational format. The fourth and final chapter argues that some imaginings just are beliefs, and that this grounds their justificatory force. Together, the arguments of this dissertation suggest that the imagination is a distinctive kind of ampliative reasoning, and that it plays this cognitive and epistemic role by combining the analog representational format of imagery with the evidence-sensitive function of belief.
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)
GET IN TOUCH
Please feel free to reach out to me here. I love talking philosophy and I welcome feedback/questions/comments/requests for drafts.
As a bonus for scrolling all the way to the bottom of my site, here is a cool photo that I took of lightning over Washington DC.