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

I am interested in non-linguistic representations: their nature, semantics, epistemology, and role in the mind. This interest has manifested in two related research projects: one on the epistemology of imagination and the other on analog and iconic representation.


The imagination is a powerful tool for learning about the world. If I want to figure out whether my luggage will fit in the trunk of my car, I might imagine trying to fit it inside. If I want to figure out how my partner is feeling, I might imagine what things are like from her perspective. If I want to figure out whether two ingredients will go together in a dish, I might imagine both flavors together to see if they result in a pleasant experience.

My dissertation investigates the nature, structure, and scope of imaginative justification. It tackles questions such as the following: Can imaginings justify beliefs? If so, what sorts of beliefs are they capable of justifying? Under what conditions do imaginings justify beliefs? Do imaginings generate new justification or merely preserve existing justification? How does the phenomenal character of an imagining contribute to its justificatory force? Are imaginings themselves epistemically evaluable? Along the way, it draws out some lessons for how to think about the nature of the imagination.

I also have an ongoing collaborative research project on the nature and semantics of analog and iconic representations. Although sentences, thermometers, maps, and photographs are all used to represent the world, they do so in very different ways. How exactly should we characterize these different representational kinds? This is the question that my co-authors and I are pursuing in a series of papers.

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:

Noûs 2022 (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)

I argue that attention is necessary for phenomenal consciousness (or, at least, that arguments to the contrary fail). This paper was published as part of the Gerrit and Edith Schipper Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Paper from the Florida Philosophical Association.

Under review

TITLE REDACTED FOR REVIEW

I give two arguments for the existence of imaginative beliefs: imaginings that are also beliefs in their content. First, there are imaginings that play functional roles that are constitutive of belief. Second, imaginative beliefs offer a satisfying explanation of the epistemic roles of the imagination. I go on to consider the implications for theorizing about the nature of the imagination.

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

THE STRUCTURE OF ICONIC REPRESENTATION

This paper defends a theory of iconic representation. We begin by criticizing a number of influential proposals that appeal to the parts principle. Our positive view is that iconic representations are analog locative structures. We go on to show how our theory solves the longstanding functional space problem in cognitive science and yields a useful taxonomy of representational kinds.

In progress (ask for a draft)

IMAGINATIVE JUSTIFICATION: NEITHER IMMEDIATE NOR INFERENTIAL

This paper objects to two natural views of the structure of imaginative justification. On the first view, imaginings are immediate justifiers that generate new justification all on their own. On the second view, imaginings only justify in tandem with a separate inference. After exploring different ways of motivating and developing these views, I argue that both are false. Imaginative justification is mediate but non-inferential.

In progress (ask for a draft)

IMAGINATION AND SUPPOSITIONAL REASONING

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. I argue that this view fails to capture both the scope and grounds of imaginative justification. In its place, I argue that imaginings justify in a way analogous to model-based reasoning.

In progress

AGAINST PHENOMENALISM ABOUT IMAGINATIVE JUSTIFICATION

I argue that imaginative phenomenology is neither necessary nor sufficient for imaginative justification. Against its sufficiency I argue that phenomenally identical imaginings can differ in justificatory force. Against its necessity I argue that that aphantasic subjects, who lack conscious imagination, can form justified beliefs in the same way as non-aphantasic subjects.

In progress

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.

 

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 SHIVAM PATEL'S "TOWARDS A CONATIVE ACCOUNT OF MENTAL IMAGERY"

Southern Society for Philosophy and Psychology 

Mobile, AL 2022

THE STRUCTURE OF ICONIC REPRESENTATION

CUNY CogSci Speaker Series
NYC 2022

THE STRUCTURE OF ANALOG REPRESENTATION

NYU Philosophy of Mind Discussion Group

NYC 2021

IMAGINATION, SUPPOSITIONAL REASONING, AND MENTAL MODELS

Washington Square Circle (NYU Grad Student WIP Group)
NYC 2021

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

 

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