Mental Action and Epistemology
Mental Means (under contract with Oxford University Press)
This book is about complex mental action. When you do one type of thing intentionally in thought—say, J—by intentionally doing another type of thing in thought—say, K-ing—then you J by K-ing, and in so doing perform a complex (as opposed to basic) mental action. Understanding complex mental action can help us understand how one and the same mental event can have several contents under several (true) descriptions. By seeing judgment and inference as forms of complex mental action, we can see how the intrinsically evaluative structure of intentional action grounds the application of norms to thought—including, most importantly, epistemic norms. By seeing other forms of thought as complex mental action too, we can understand how executive control is more unified than some cognitive scientists say it is.
Mental Action (Philosophy Compass, 2021)
This opinionated overview of historical and contemporary philosophy of mental action argues for its crucial importance in epistemology and the philosophy of mind.
How to Think Several Thoughts at Once: Content Plurality in Mental Action (Mental Action and the Conscious Mind, ed. Michael Brent and Lisa Miracchi, forthcoming)
Thoughts that are intentional mental actions can have several contents at once. Recognizing the content plurality of mental actions lets us ask better questions in epistemology—e.g. about self-knowledge, the relationship between judgment and decision, and the nature of inference. In this paper I give lots of examples and explain how mental action with content plurality is possible.
Embedded Mental Action in Self-Attribution of Belief (Philosophical Studies, 2017)
You can self-attribute a belief that p 'transparently' partly by judging that p. I argue that, in the relevant embedded context, an event of judging that p is also an event of self-attributing a belief that p. Seeing the numerical identity of these mental actions in this context solves an epistemological puzzle about 'transparent' self-knowledge of belief.
Aesthetics and Literature
Phenomenal Experience and the Aesthetics of Agency (Journal of the Philosophy of Sport)
The most provocative proposal in C. Thi Nguyen’s gripping and creative book Games: Agency as Art is the claim that there is a genuine aesthetics of agency. It is provocative in the implications it generates in conjunction with the further compelling claim that aesthetic appreciation and evaluation is properly centered on firsthand phenomenal experience. I consider the role of emotions of agency, patterns of attention, and affordances in making game experiences feel some way to their subjects, and argue that these genuinely phenomenal aspects of striving play are aesthetically significant.
Let's Be Liberal: An Alternative to Aesthetic Hedonism (British Journal of Aesthetics, 2020)
Aesthetic hedonism meets four basic adequacy conditions on a theory of aesthetic value, but it is not the only view that can do so. In this paper I introduce and motivate an alternative to hedonism I call “aesthetic liberalism,” which counts more responses than pleasurable ones as crucially relevant to the aesthetic value of an object.
How Literature Expands Your Imagination (Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 2021)
You can only phenomenally imagine what you have already experienced. But appreciating literary comparisons can nonetheless give you new phenomenal concepts, and thereby expand the range of what you can actively call to mind in phenomenal imagination. This fact explains poets’ optimism about the personal and moral importance of their work.