Associate Professor of Philosophy
Ph.D., M.A., University of Colorado; B.A., Northwestern University
Office hours: By appointment
Office: Administration Building, Room 451
Phone: (617) 975-9365
One of the reasons I love teaching is that it allows me to do interdisciplinary work and dabble in a wide range of subjects.
Areas of interest include criminal justice, conflict resolution, political philosophy, and feminist philosophy.
My research focuses on issues in philosophy of mind, philosophy of action, and the emotions. In particular, I am interested in the relationship between mind, brain, and body and how it is that conscious states play a distinctive role in causing our intentional bodily movements. My dissertation discusses how predominant accounts of the mind fail to provide us with an adequate account of mental causation and looks to insights from action theory to explain how desire, emotion, and the will causally produce action. Some of my current work explores connections between philosophy of mind and action and moral theory, self-control, addiction, and moral responsibility.
- PHIL2104 - Theories of Human Nature
- PHIL2117 - War, Terrorism, and Morality
- PHIL2101 - Problems of Philosophy
Embodiment, Emotion, and Cognition, Palgrave Macmillan, February, 2011.
Synopsis: This book characterizes emotion as a paradigmatic form of embodied consciousness and highlights how emotion and affect, which are essentially bound up with our lived bodily experience, allow for effective decision-making, moral evaluation, social cognition, and the formation of a sense of self. It also attempts to make use of this account of embodiment and emotion to gain a better understanding of psychological impairments such as schizophrenia, psychopathy, and autism.
Embodied Minds in Action, co-authored with Robert Hanna, Oxford University Press, March, 2009.
Synopsis: This book aims to provide a unified treatment of three fundamental philosophical problems: the mind-body problem, the problem of mental causation, and the problem of intentional action. We argue in favor of an account of the mind-body relation that views creatures like us as essentially embodied minds and holds that we intentionally move our own bodies through conscious desire and mental effort.
"Rethinking Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder," Philosophical Psychology, forthcoming.
Synopsis: To gain a new perspective on ADHD, I appeal to the recent work of theorists who maintain that cognition is not simply a matter of what happens inside us via brain functioning, but rather involves the active engagement of the whole living body. What is impaired in ADHD is not simply an internal management system or set of executive functions, but rather the background bodily orientation subjects rely on as they interact with and actively make sense of their surroundings.
"Autism, Empathy, and Affective Framing," in The Philosophy of Autism, eds. Jami Anderson and Simon Cushing, forthcoming.
Synopsis: According to theorists such as Simon Baron-Cohen, empathizing involves the ability to attribute mental states to others by applying a ‘theory of mind' (ToM) and is brain-based. It is because autistics are lacking in a ToM that they are lacking in their capacity for empathy. But in my view, mentalizing is not the most powerful way of making sense of the social world, nor is it how empathy normally arises. Developing a fuller understanding of empathy requires that we focus more on the essentially embodied, emotive, enactive interaction processes involved in social cognition. To make sense of the way in which interpersonal understanding is essentially embodied, I maintain that our ability to interpret other people's actions, thoughts, feelings, and expressions largely depends largely on our capacity for bodily attunement and affective framing.
"The Power of Passion on Heartbreak Hill," in Running and Philosophy, ed. Michael Austin, Blackwell Publishing, October, 2007.
Synopsis: This essay explores whether phenomenal consciousness, in particular the experience of emotion, has any causal power by considering whether it would be possible for an emotional zombie to run a marathon.
"Engaging the Emotions in Conflict Intervention," Conflict Resolution Quarterly, January, 2007.
Synopsis: In this article, I maintain that because emotions are a central driving force behind "intractable" conflict, we need to develop conflict intervention strategies that acknowledge and change the emotional world of the adversaries.
"'Proventing' Terrorism: A Human Needs Approach," Dialogue, October, 2005.
Synopsis: I argue against a "power political" approach to terrorism that regards coercion and punishment as adequate responses. Rather than focusing solely on attempts to coerce or control people or groups, we should also deal with the social conditions that tend to give rise to terrorism.