I was working on a PhD in mathematics, focusing on set theory, when I encountered the philosophical puzzle of mathematical truth and undecidability: what should we say about the truth of statements of set theory that cannot be proved or disproved from the standard axioms? Wondering about this, I turned my attention to philosophy, and my interest in mathematical truth grew into an interest in the nature of truth and justification more generally. I did my Philosophy PhD at the University of California, Irvine, in the Department of Logic and Philosophy of Science, and wrote a dissertation on truth, supervised by Penelope Maddy.
Since then my interests have broadened. Research in ethical theory, prompted partly by Ruth Barcan Marcus’s work on moral conflict and dilemmas, resulted in a body of work discussing moral reasoning and value pluralism, including my 2015 book on that subject. Around the time of the financial crisis in 2008, with economic models much in the news, I became interested in philosophy of economics as a domain that involves both normative issues and topics in philosophy of applied mathematics.
Recently, I have become interested in the ethics of quantification and formalization. My current research project “The Ethics of Optimality: Values and Formalization in Social Decision-Making” focuses on the problem that problem that optimality methods such as cost-benefit analysis ignore, and even violate, fundamental ethical norms, such as those of justice, fairness, and equity. One potential solution to that problem is to “extend” CBA: taking “costs” and “benefits” to include not only self-interested preferences but also “moral preferences” such as a “taste” for fairness. In extended CBA, ethical values are thus themselves optimized. Can extending CBA address the problems of justice and fairness an equity?
I’ve also written on sexual objectification, autonomy, rationality, ambivalence, desires, theories of truth and justification, epistemology, and philosophy of mathematics.
I’ve been at the University of Waterloo since 2004. Before that, I was a Mellon Fellow in the Humanities at Stanford University, and in 2008 I spent a semester as a Visiting Assistant Professor at the Philosophy Department of the University of Michigan.
You can read more about my work at my research page.
Page last updated Jan 1, 2023