Welcome! I am a visiting assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Virginia, where I defended my dissertation in March 2017. My primary research lies at the intersection of value theory, philosophy of language, and philosophy of psychology. I also have interests in the history of philosophy, feminist philosophy, and applied ethics.
In my dissertation I offer a novel hybrid metanormative theory. I argue that when we make normative claims we are making use of distinct and hitherto unrecognized types of speech acts. Just like the speech acts of assertion, promising, or placing a bet, these normative speech acts find their homes in particular human practices with distinctive rules, goals, and possibilities. For example, when we make normative claims within the aesthetic domain, we are sharing both our beliefs about the aesthetic properties of certain objects and the affective reactions we have had in response to them. When we make normative claims in the ethical domain, we are sharing both our beliefs about the ethical properties of certain actions or traits of character and also the patterns of motivation to which we are disposed. What enables us to do these things are the constitutive rules (or “felicity conditions”) of the speech acts we are performing.
My current project is to take these insights from the realm of social speech and translate them into an explanation of what we are up to when we speak silently. By synthesizing my work in pragmatics with current empirical research on the phenomenon of inner speech I aim to illuminate conscious, dialogic forms of thought. This has led me to more carefully delineate the boundaries of speech act theory in general, and to enrich our picture of normative deliberation in particular.
In the future I see this project expanding into investigations of other important uses of language (e.g. phatic communion, social media, silent uses of slurs, etc.) that fall somewhat short of standard, audible, social speech and have not yet been adequately explored by philosophers.