My current research focuses on the nature of reasoning and the mechanisms through which our deliberative practices are subject to bias and manipulation. My work is driven by both theoretical and practical considerations. Theoretically, I develop an empirically informed account of reasoning, with a particular focus on the cognitive and epistemic roles of (i) inner speech, e.g., covert verbal thinking through internally asserting premises and lemmas, posing questions to oneself, etc., (ii) mental imagery, e.g., using visuospatial imagery to mentally simulate objects and events to assist in planning and problem solving, and (iii) extramental technologies, e.g., utilizing diagrams, an abacus, etc., in calculation. Through a comparative analysis, I argue that extramental technologies can function epistemically just like our internal representational uses of language and imagery; on this basis, I show that our belief updating procedures can constitutively include extramental representations and operations. I utilize my account of representation and reasoning to provide new insights into philosophical debates concerning the nature of epistemic basing (i.e., what it is to believe something for a reason), internalist and externalist conceptions of justification, and, more broadly, theories of rationality.
Practically, my research concerns how the widespread adoption of recent and emerging information technologies (e.g., social media platforms, AI, smartphones, etc.) can manipulatively influence our reasoning, especially in the moral and political domains. Philosophical discussions of manipulation primarily focus on interpersonal contexts in which there are individuated and identifiable manipulators and manipulees. My research theorizes other types of manipulation that arise in a contemporary technological context. For example, I develop accounts of (i) self-manipulation, in which one manipulates one’s own reasoning through the motivated use of information technologies, and (ii) structural manipulation, in which the structure of one’s informational environment predictably biases one’s reasoning.
“Words on Psycholinguistics,” The Journal of Philosophy. 113.12 (2016): 593-616
“Testimonial Injustice and Prescriptive Credibility Deficits,” Canadian Journal of Philosophy. 46.6 (2016): 924-947
“Rationality, Reasoning Well, and Extramental Props,” Res Philosophica. 96.2 (2019): 175-198
“Reasoning, Rationality, and Representation,” Synthese. (forthcoming)
“The Challenge of Heritability: Genetic Determinants of Beliefs and Their Implications,” Inquiry. (forthcoming)
“Unconscious Inference Theories of Cognitive Achievement,” with Kirk Ludwig, In Inference and Consciousness, edited by Timothy Chan and Anders Nes. Routledge. (forthcoming)