My research lies primarily at the intersection of value theory, normative theory and vagueness, a phenomenon that has received a great deal of attention in certain areas of analytic philosophy (esp. metaphysics and logic) but whose significance for value and normativity has largely been neglected. The first paper coming out of this research is entitled 'Superhard choices' and is forthcoming in the Australasian Journal of Philosophy.
Occasionally, I also do research on other, unrelated topics, such as the relationship between fiction and emotion, a topic on which I published a paper in the Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism.
Sometimes, when comparing a pair of items, it appears that neither is better than the other, nor that they are equally good, relative to a certain value that they bear. Cases of this kind have come to be referred to as superhard comparisons. What grounds superhard comparisons? On the dominant views, held by Joseph Raz and Ruth Chang, they are grounded, at least partially, in the failure of the three classic value relations—‘better than’, ‘worse than’ and ‘equally good’. On an alternative view, which might be called the vagueness view, first developed by John Broome, they are grounded in vagueness about which of the classic value relations holds between the items. In this paper, I pay special attention to superhard comparisons in the context of choice and develop a novel argument against the dominant views on the basis of an account of decision-making under vagueness in ‘better than’. The upshot is that a new vagueness view emerges.
Walton's quasi-emotions do not go away
The debate about how to solve the paradox of fiction has largely been a debate between Kendall Walton and the so-called thought theorists. In recent years, however, Jenefer Robinson has argued, based on her affective appraisal theory of emotion, for a noncognitivist solution to the paradox as an alternative to the thought theorists’ solution and especially to Walton's controversial solution. In this article, I argue that, despite appearances to the contrary, Robinson's affective appraisal theory is compatible with Walton's solution, at the core of which lies the thesis that there are quasi-emotions. Moreover, since Robinson's theory is compatible with Walton's solution, I show how it can be used as a model to empirically test whether quasi-emotions exist.
© Stanley Kubrick, The Shining, 1980