Working Papers

The papers on this page are works in progress, so please do not cite them without permission. I post them here primarily because I am eager for feedback on my thoughts as they develop. They are very much in development. (Titles without links are not yet ready to see the light of day.)

Papers under Review

These papers are currently under review at journals, but it is still possible that I can benefit from feedback on them, so it is for me worth the risk that anonymity may be broken.

“John Dewey’s Pragmatic Alternative to the Belief-Acceptance Dichotomy.”

This paper is for a collection that comes out of a conference on Cognitive Attitudes and Values in Science. The idea of the conference was to explore how distinctions between cognitive attitudes (e.g., belief vs. acceptance) could improve discussions of values in science. I was asked to talk about John Dewey’s views on the topic. Dewey has a very different view of the relation between cognitive attitudes, action, and values than many contemporary philosophers. In this paper, I argue that defenders of the value-free ideal for science appeal to cognitive attitudes as part of a wedge strategy, to mark a distinction between science proper and the uses of science for decision-making, policy, etc. Distinctions between attitudes like belief and acceptance have played an important role in defending the value-free ideal. In this paper, I will explore an alternative to the philosophical framework the wedge strategy rests on—John Dewey’s pragmatist philosophy of science. Dewey does draw significant and useful distinctions between different sorts of cognitive attitudes taken by inquirers, but none can be used to support the wedge strategy.

“The Functional Complexity of Scientific Evidence.”

I sketch the main features of traditional philosophical models of evidence, indicating idealizations in such models that I regard as doing more harm than good. I then proceed to elaborate on an alternative model of evidence that is functionalist, complex, dynamic, and contextual, a view I call dynamic evidential functionalism.

“Back to Rigidity: Another attempt at rigidity for general terms.”

I wrote this paper in graduate school and recently recently attempted to resurrect it. On Scott Soames’ critique of Kripke’s account of general terms.

Papers in Progress

“Cognition as Situational Problem Solving: John Dewey Meets Jean Lave”

For John Dewey and Jean Lave, the concept “situation” figures prominently in their theories of cognition. In comparing Lave’s work on situated learning and cognition with John Dewey’s situational theory of thinking and inquiry and his anti-Cartesian theory of mind, I show that there is a fruitful convergence and complementarity between these two major theorists of mind, culture, and activity. Their work shows that “situation” remains an important way of thinking about cognition in ecological and cultural context.

“Dewey’s Situational Theory of Science”

The main goal of this paper is to provide a satisfactory interpretation of John Dewey’s concept of “situation,” which plays a central role in his theory of inquiry and thus his philosophy of science. The secondary goal is to show the consequences of Dewey’s situationism for his theory of science. The paper needs some work, and perhaps to go in a somewhat different direction, focusing more on “situation” as a contested idea in Dewey scholarship.

“The Science and Politics of Global Climate Change: A Feminist Pragmatist Perspective” (w/ Joyce C. Havstad)

We offer a critical analysis of the science and politics of global climate change from a feminist pragmatist perspective, paying special attention to the interaction between science and policy. We find the current state of play in all three areas (science, policy, and their interaction) to be lacking. We attribute mutual responsibility for the current impasse in addressing the climate crisis. What is called for is an alternative framework for thinking about science and policy interaction, which we sketch in general and in application to the increasingly serious problem of global climate change.

Papers in Purgatory

These papers are not currently in development, but I don’t yet have the heart to throw in the dustbin.

A Centennial Retrospective of John Dewey’s ‘The Influence of Darwinism on Philosophy‘”

In 1909, the 50th anniversary of both the publication of Origin of the Species and his own birth, John Dewey published “The Influence of Darwin on Philosophy.”  This optimistic essay saw Darwin’s advance not only as one of empirical or theoretical biology, but a logical and conceptual revolution that would shake every corner of philosophy. Dewey tells us less about the influence that Darwin exerted over philosophy over the past 50 years and instead prophesied the influence it would (or should) take in the future.  I will discuss this landmark paper and the key lessons Dewey draws from Darwinism for philosophy, and give a preliminary assessment of how well we’ve done so far.  (Dewey would be largely disappointed.)


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