Welcome! I am a visiting assistant professor in the philosophy department at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Before coming to Alabama I was a visiting assistant professor at the University of Virginia, where I defended my dissertation in March 2017. While studying in Virginia, I also taught several classes at Virginia Military Institute. My primary research lies at the intersection of value theory, philosophy of language, and social philosophy. I also have interests in the history of philosophy, feminist philosophy, and applied ethics.
In my dissertation I offered a novel hybrid metanormative theory. I argued that when we make normative claims we are making use of distinct and hitherto unrecognized types of speech acts. Just like the speech acts of assertion, promising, or placing a bet, these normative speech acts find their homes in particular human practices with distinctive rules, goals, and possibilities. For example, when we make normative claims within the aesthetic domain, we are sharing both our beliefs about the aesthetic properties of certain objects and the affective reactions we have had in response to them. When we make normative claims in the ethical domain, we are sharing both our beliefs about the ethical properties of certain actions or traits of character and also the patterns of motivation to which we are disposed. What enables us to do these things are the constitutive rules (or “felicity conditions”) of the speech acts we are performing.
My current research extends different aspects of this project into the sub-disciplines of moral psychology, social philosophy, and philosophy of language. In moral psychology I am constructing a theory of moral deliberation as dialogic activity. This project synthesizes my previous work on the pragmatics of normative language use with empirical research on the phenomenon of inner speech. In social philosophy, my colleague Ralph DiFranco and I are developing an expressive theory of derogation. Our work explains what is derogatory (and morally objectionable) about using slurs and other pejoratives in different situations. In philosophy of language, I defend the Force Conventionalist theory of speech acts by highlighting its strengths over other approaches. This involves analyzing the pragmatics of undertheorized conversational contexts such as inner speech, speech in social media, political rhetoric, and phatic communication.
In my spare time I enjoy singing medieval and renaissance choral music as a member of the Zephyrus vocal ensemble.