Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, Lewis & Clark College

I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Lewis & Clark College. Last year, while on sabbatical, I am Fulbright Visiting Research Chair in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Calgary. My main areas of research interest are in the philosophy and history of science though I have strong interests in aesthetics and ethics. In the history of philosophy, I am especially fascinated by the American pragmatists and their descendants. Here is my CV.

My research has tended to focus on foundational issues related to the  sciences especially in evolutionary biology and ecology. In my published work, I have examined a variety of topics including: 

  • The strategies that scientists employ to use highly idealized models in the face of limited data;

  • The nature of species, communities, and ecosystems;

  • The role of consensus, dissent, and advocacy in science and policy

Some of my papers are downloadable here.

As of late, I am interested in what psychology, behavioral ecology, and evolutionary biology have to say about our emotions and their expression. In addition, I am want to see what light they shed on emotions in moral judgment and emotional expression in the arts. Here are four recent papers:

Nothing in Ethics Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution? Natural Goodness, Normativity, and Naturalism

A Guilt Trip: Expressivism, Moral Judgment, and Basic Emotions

Human Nature, Anthropology, and the Problem of Variation

Protecting Biodiversity and Moral Pschology; or Why Philosophers Are Asking the Wrong Questions

Neutrality, Niche, and Nulls: Causal Relevance in Ecology

Another topic that I am working on is moral psychology and climate skepticism. "On the Contrary: How to Think about Climate Skepticism" an essay I am currently working on diagnosing these problems and offering ways to de-politicize this and other environmental issues.

Last, in the tradition of American pragmatism, I believe philosophy can be deeply practical. As recent examples, in 2009 I participated in a working group on the topic of "managed relocation" which is the deliberate movement of species due to anthropogenic climate change. This working group met to discuss the scientific, legal, and ethical challenges that managed relocation presents and our essay on the topic "Managed Relocation: Integrating the Scientific, Regulatory, and Ethical Challenges" has appeared in Bioscience. Here is a press release regarding the paper. In 2013, I participated in a conference and working group on de-extinction at Stanford University. In 2015, I participated in a workshop on denialism in science at Wake Forest University. And, if you are curious, I was recently on the radio show Philosophy Talk in a discussion regarding the nature of wilderness and whether, and to what extent, Homo sapiens is simply another part of the natural world.