Monthly Archives: November 2012

Two postdoctoral positions on the nature of representation

Two postdoctoral positions at the University of Leeds are currently being advertised in connection with the ERC-funded project The Nature of Representation. They are fixed term for 4 years, to start on 1 September 2013

One focuses on the philosophy of language. Official details here.

The other focuses on the philosophy of mind.  Official details here.

Deadline for applications is 19th December. Contact Robert Williams at for further details.


New papers on reference; indeterminacy; personal identity.

I’ve got a new paper on Donald Davidson’s theory of reference (to appear in a Companion to Davidson’s philosophy). It has three sections: (1) The role of Reference in T-theories; (2) Inscrutability of Reference; (3) Explanations and Reference. It has quite a bit of stuff on exactly how to think about his attitude to reference (especially given he effectively endorses some kind of inscrutability of reference). I end up puzzling a lot about how to reconcile two things: his official relativization strategy, and the analogy he often draws to instrumentalism. This is something that I hope to think more about in connection with the new project. The paper is here: Davidson on Reference

The two other papers both feature indeterminate personal identity. Indeed, they used to be one (rather disjunctive) paper, and concern two radically different approaches to the same puzzle: how to act under indeterminacy. 

The first—Decision making under indeterminacy—investigates a treatment of action under indeterminacy which builds in an inconstant pattern of action. This connects to recent debate on `imprecise’ or `mushy’ credences. One of the interpretative suggestions I float there (the mind-making proposal).

The second–Nonclassical minds and indeterminate survival—kicks off with a review of some work I’ve been doing for a while, on how our account of rational beliefs, desires, and other states of mind need to adapt when truth and logic go nonclassical. The core of the paper is a case study of the kind of commitments that are tacit in Lewis’s attempt to reconcile `personal identity being what matters’ and `psychological relations being what matters’ in the face of Parfit’s challenges. 

As ever, thoughts and feedback really welcome!

How can you know you’re present?

I’ve posted a new paper online: ‘How Can You Know You’re Present?

Some argue that non-presentist A-theories face an epistemic objection: if they were true, then we could not know whether we are present.  I argue that the presentist is in no better an epistemic position than the non-presentist.  In §1 I introduce the sceptical puzzle: I look at two ways in which the non-presentist could claim that our experiences give us evidence for our presentness, but find each wanting.  In §2, I argue that the puzzle also faces the presentist, and that a number of potential solutions either fail or are equally available to the non-presentist.  I conclude by defending one solution to the puzzle.