Research

My primary research interests are in traditional and social epistemology, particularly where these areas connect with empirical, ethical, political, and legal questions.

Much of my recent work has been attempting to work out: what do we (qua individuals, groups, institutions) aim for when engaging in inquiry? why do we aim for these things? and what is inquiry, anyway? Some specific topics include:

  • what is curiosity, and how does it motivate inquiry? is curiosity important¬†for how we evaluate inquirers (e.g. in formulating norms or thinking about virtue)?
  • some people think inquiry should aim at understanding rather than knowledge or true belief, but what’s the difference between them?
  • how do groups (like academic communities) engage in collective inquiry?
  • is legal inquiry (e.g. in the courtroom) much different from inquiry elsewhere? are the relevant norms different?

I’ve also written about a number of other issues over the past few years:¬†

  • how should philosophers react to critiques of the methods of analytic philosophy (e.g. regarding intuition and the method of cases)?
  • what is the psychology of moral judgement like? are ethical intuitions unique compared to other sorts of judgements?
  • what should we think about secession? are recent secession movements (e.g. Scotland and Catalonia) much different from others found throughout history?

Recently, I have started to think about some other important questions:

  • what needs to be going on in our minds (e.g. regarding motives and beliefs) to deserve praise for acting in a morally worthy way?
  • is legal blame different from moral blame?
  • when it is OK to rely on statistical evidence about certain groups, and when is it prejudicial?