I am starting in Fall 2013 as a Lecturer in the Department of Psychology and Philosophy at Sam Houston State University.

I have previously taught at:

This site was created to serve as an online source of information for my students and for colleagues.

 

Areas of Specialization:

History of Early Analytic Philosophy (esp. Wittgenstein)
Critical Social Theory (esp. Marxist Theory)

Areas of Competence:

Logic, History of Modern Philosophy, Philosophy of Language, Contemporary Continental Philosophy, Feminist Theory

Other Things I like to Think About:

Critiques of Empiricism, Semantic Normativity, Philosophy of Mathematics, Philosophy of Economics, Spinoza, Computer Ethics, Metaphilosophy, French Social theory (esp. Althusser, Baudrillard, Foucault), Teaching Pedagogy, Philosophy and Literature

Hobbies

Linux, Coffee, Music, Open Source Software, Politics

 

Current topics of Research:

Wittgenstein and the Philosophy of Social Sciences I have recently become interested in a constellation of issues surrounding the application of Wittgenstein's philosophy to social theory. Currently, I am researching the philosophy of Peter Winch, whose work is undergoing an odd--and in my opinion, well deserved--renaissance. Winch was one of the first Wittgenstein scholars to make the application of Wittgenstein's philosophy to social theory explicit, through his 1958 'manifesto' The Idea of Social Science and its Relation to Philosophy, and co-editing (with von Wright) the collection of Nachlass remarks that would become published as Culture and Value. And interestingly, Winch was also one of the first scholars to take seriously the 'no-theory' reading of Wittgenstein's later philosophy. These two details are rarely taken together in the secondary literature. Winch has been criticized in different places as either a relativist, as an idealist, or as providing too intellectualized an account of human understanding. But I believe that these criticisms miss the mark, and rest upon either a misunderstanding of Wittgenstein's philosophical method, or upon a misunderstanding of what Winch meant to say.

Through the past few decades, we have seen an explosion of theoretical material based on Wittgenstein's writings, or that are Wittgensteinian in spirit. Just as one might make the distinction between Kant's ethics and Kantian ethics, I think we might split these theoretical positions into those who study Wittgenstein's philosophy of society and Wittgenststeinian (that is, Wittgenstein-inspired) philosophy of society. Overall I believe that, although there are many coherent and interesting Wittgensteinian accounts in social theory, many of them rely upon Wittgenstein's words without taking into account Wittgenstein's philosophical method. The proper analysis would take both into account--and herein, I believe, lies the value of Winch's work.

Three Wittgensteins There have been three major interpretations of Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus since its initial publication in 1921. In this essay, I present each and critically analyze them to assess which one is the 'right' interpretation (if there ever is such a thing). The first, which I refer to as the 'Positivist reading' understands the Tractatus as a neo-positivist text, in harmony with the philosophical position of the Vienna Circle. The second, which I refer to as the 'standard reading,' draws upon the drawbacks of the positivist interpretation. According to this second understanding of the text, Wittgenstein is a indeed a metaphysician of a very specific type. The so-called 'realist' and 'anti-realist' standard readings are analyzed, and the tensions between them diagnosed. The last of which is Diamond and Conant's 'resolute reading,' that takes Wittgenstein seriously at 6.54 that all of his propositions are indeed nonsense [ Unsinnig], but nevertheless elucidatory. The last interpretation denies that Wittgenstein was making any substantive philosophical contributions in his text, but his goal (in harmony with the 'later' Wittgenstein) is therapeutic: to rid us of philosophical confusions.

Other research projects in developmental stages are:

  • Hegelianism and Analytic Philosophy: When Moore and Russell defined 'analytic philosophy,' it was largely in opposition to the Hegelian tradition, especially in England. Russell and Moore both studied with professors at Cambridge in this tradition, and their earliest publications attest to its influence. It is believed that the development of the new logic of Principia Mathematica led them to reject several key idealist doctrines, such as the connection between act of cognition and object, as well as internal relations. I would like to study these arguments in more depth. In addition, there has recently been a rise of Hegelian analytic philosophy, in such figures as Sellars, McDowell and Brandom. So what exactly is the connection between the rejection of idealism and analytic philosophy? If Russell and Moore's version of analytic philosophy is incompatible with Hegelian idealism, and contemporary analytic philosophers are using Hegelian themes, then several interesting solutions present themselves: Is the long standing believe that analytic philosophy is incompatible with Hegelianism false? Is McDowell and Brandom's version of analytic philosophy substantively different than Russell and Moore's? What does Hegelian anayltic philosophy mean? etc.
  • An introductory textbook for logic classes: The best book on the market for undergraduate logic classes, in my opinion, is Paul Tomassi's Logic. It is based on the Lemmon book Beginning Logic, which uses the same intuitive (and compact!) Genzen-style rule set, and proof system which charts assumptions through the proof. In many ways, the late Tomassi's book is an improvement from its predecessor--which was short on exercise problems, and rather dense and inaccesible to students (especially those 'filling a requirement'). I have found great success using Prof. Tomassi's book, but teaching it now over the past five years has also led me to question some of its idiosyncracies. Although it has many references to the history of logic generously scattered, there is no extended discussion of syllogistic logic. I tend to teach a different version of the subproof prodecedure, and I find some of his conventions (especially the vE rule, or 'proof by cases') cumbersome and unintuitive. I'd like to write a book amending some of these defects. I know that there is a wealth of textbooks on the market, but in my opinion there is always need for another good one. (If anyone from Routledge is reading this and would be intersted in doing a second edition of Tomassi, let me know).

 

My CV

My Online Teaching Portfolio

Some Online Papers