Most of my research falls into one of two areas: first-person (or de se) thought and the philosophy of time.

In first-person thought, I am interested in arguments for and against uniquely de se content, the role of de se content in action explanation, modelling de se communication and updating, and the relation between de se content and the nature of the self. From 2016 to 2019, I was Principal Investigator for the Leverhulme International Network Project What’s So Special about First-Person Thought? Details on the project are available here.

In philosophy of time, I am interested in debates about the nature of persistence, about the ontology of time, questions concerning in what sense the future is open, the semantics of future-contingents, and questions about how temporal experience and mental attitudes square with our best physical theories of time.

My other interests in philosophy include: the free will debate, personal identity, the metaphysics of modality, the surprise exam puzzle, Lewisania, and conditionals.

Current Research Project: Future-Directed Attitudes

Recently my focus has been on how we mentally represent the future. There are clear asymmetries in our mental attitudes towards the future as compared to our attitudes towards the past. For one, we seem to know much more about the past compared to the future: we know more about how the weather has been the last few days than we know about how the weather will be the next few days. Nonetheless, I think we have substantial knowledge about the future. In “Knowledge of the Future and Reliable Belief-Forming Processes”, I highlight some of the processes by which we gain knowledge of the future and argue for a contextualist account of such knowledge. The processes by which we acquire beliefs about the future are fundamentally different from those by which we aquire beliefs about the past and our ascriptions of knowledge are sensitive to this fact.

I am also interested in exploring how so-called interrogative attitudes like inquiry, wondering, and suspension of judgment extend to the future. Are there asymmetries in our interrogative attitudes towards the past and present versus our interrogative attitudes towards the future? Is there a difference between wondering who won last night’s tennis match versus who will win tomorrow’s? In “Wondering about the Future”, I argue that reflecting on the nature of wondering about the future supports an Ockhamist account of future contingents according to which many of them are true. In wondering how the future will go, we implicitly assume that there is a determinate fact of the matter.

One stark difference between the past and the future lies in our ability to shape the future in a way in which we are unable to shape the past. What must the content of our future-directed beliefs be for them to play the appropriate role in our practical reasoning? If we think about belief in terms of agents representing the world, we cannot lose sight of the fact that agents are part of, and shape, the same world they represent. One way to come to believe that someone will read Camus’ The Stranger aloud this afternoon is by now deciding to read Camus’ The Stranger aloud this afternoon. My beliefs about the future depend on what I now decide to do in a way in which my beliefs about the past do not. I argue that belief in future-directed counterfactuals play a central role in our practical reasoning and in how we conceptualize the actual future. The asymmetry in our belief content about the past versus the future fits well with an account of the open future in terms of counterfactual dependence.