Academic Profile

Degrees:
  • Ph.D., Philosophy, University of Chicago, 1998. Dissertation: “Kant and the Problem of Judgments of Taste.” Committee: Ted Cohen, Michael Forster, Robert Pippin
  • A.B., Philosophy with Honors in Humanities, with Distinction, Stanford University, 1982

Positions held:
  • Lecturer, Department of Philosophy, Suffolk University, spring 2014
  • Visiting Scholar, Department of Philosophy, Brandeis University, 2003–2010
  • Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy, Bentley College, fall 2004
  • Lecturer, Department of Philosophy, Suffolk University, spring 2004
  • Lecturer, College of Arts and Sciences Writing Program, Boston University, fall 2003
  • Andrew W. Mellon Post-doctoral Fellow and Lecturer, Department of Philosophy and Department of English and American Literature, Brandeis University, 2001–2003
  • Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Cincinnati, 2000–2001
  • Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy, Virginia Tech, 1999–2000
  • Lecturer, Harold Washington College and University of Chicago Hospital Academy, 1998
  • Instructor, College of the University of Chicago, 1994
  • Instructor, Continuing Education, University of Chicago, 1991
  • Grader and Teaching Assistant, University of Chicago, 1988–1991

Articles published (links to texts at Academia.edu):
  • The Concept of Interest and Kant’s Distinction between the Beautiful and the Agreeable,” Proceedings of the European Society for Aesthetics 2 (2010): 427–42
    In the exposition of the first moment of the judgment of taste, Kant argues that the satisfaction in the beautiful, or “favor,” is the only “free” satisfaction, because it alone is not determined by interests. Examination of what Kant means by “interest”—an element of his thought that has not been well understood—shows that, even if this argument is effective in application to the distinction between favor and the satisfaction in the good, it fails in application to the distinction between favor and the satisfaction in the agreeable. The thesis that favor is the only “free” satisfaction does not, however, depend essentially on the concept of interest; in fact, Kant's argument is strengthened by being reformulated without that concept.
  • What Is an Attributive Adjective?” (with Lauren Tillinghast), Philosophy 83 (2008): 77–88
    Peter Geach’s distinction between logically predicative and logically attributive adjectives, first advanced just over fifty years ago, has become part of the technical apparatus of philosophers. For all that, no satisfactory explanation of what an attributive adjective is has yet been provided. We argue that Geach’s discussion suggests two different ways of understanding the notion. According to one, an adjective is attributive just in case predications of it in combination with a noun fail to behave in inferences like a logical conjunction of two separate predications. According to the other, an adjective is attributive just in case it cannot be applied in a truth-value-yielding fashion unless combined with a noun. We argue that the latter way of understanding the notion yields both a more defensible version of Geach’s arguments that ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are attributive and a more satisfactory explanation of attributivity.
  • Addison, Joseph” and “Longinus, Pseudo-” in Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd ed., ed. Donald Borchert (Macmillan, 2006)
  • Kant’s Beautiful Roses: A Response to Cohen’s ‘Second Problem’,” British Journal of Aesthetics 43 (2003): 65–74
    According to Kant, the singular judgement ‘This rose is beautiful’ is, or may be, aesthetic, while the general judgement ‘Roses in general are beautiful’ is not. What, then, is the logical relation between the two judgements? I argue that there is none, and that one cannot allow there to be any if one agrees with Kant that the judgement ‘This rose is beautiful’ cannot be made on the basis of testimony. The appearance of a logical relation between the two judgements can, however, be explained in terms of what one does in making a judgement of taste. Finally, I describe an analogy between Kant’s treatment of judgements of taste and J. L. Austin’s treatment of explicit performative utterances, which I attribute to a deeper affinity between their respective projects.
  • Can Kant’s Deduction of Judgments of Taste Be Saved?”, Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 84 (2002): 20–45
    Kant’s argument in § 38 of the Critique of Judgment is subject to a dilemma: if the subjective condition of cognition is the sufficient condition of the pleasure of taste, then every object of experience must produce that pleasure; if not, then the universal communicability of cognition does not entail the universal communicability of the pleasure. Kant’s use of an additional premise in § 21 may get him out of this difficulty, but the premises themselves hang in the air and have no independent plausibility. What Kant offers as a proof of our right to make judgments of taste is more charitably construed as an indirect argument for the adequacy of a speculative explanation of a presumed right to make judgments of taste.
  • The Concept of Disinterestedness in Eighteenth-Century British Aesthetics,” Journal of the History of Philosophy 40 (2002): 67–87
    There is a widely held view, due to the work of Jerome Stolnitz, that the concept of a distinctively aesthetic mode of perception, one defined by the characteristic of disinterestedness, originated with such writers as Shaftesbury, Addison, Hutcheson, Burke, and Archibald Alison. I argue through a detailed examination of the texts that this view is a complete misrepresentation. Those of the writers under discussion who employ the concept of disinterestedness (which not all of them do) do not give it the so-called “perceptual” meaning that Stolnitz does, and none of them use it to define a specifically “aesthetic” mode of perception, attention, pleasure, or anything else. The governing concept of their aesthetic thought was neither “disinterestedness” nor “the aesthetic” but (with the exception of Shaftesbury) “taste.” I conclude with an analysis of what the differences are, and why they matter.
  • “The Trouble with Kant’s Deduction of Judgments of Taste,” in Volker Gerhardt, Rolf-Peter Horstmann and Ralph Schumacher, eds., Kant und die Berliner Aufklärung: Akten des Neunten Internationalen Kant Kongresses (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2001), 3: 462–67
    (Compressed version of “Can Kant’s Deduction of Judgments of Taste Be Saved?”)
  • What Is Claimed in a Kantian Judgment of Taste?”, Journal of the History of Philosophy 38 (2000): 63–85
    Against interpretations of Kant that would assimilate the universality claim in judgments of taste either to moral demands or to theoretical assertions, I argue that it is for Kant a normative requirement shared with ordinary empirical judgments. This raises the question of why the universal agreement required by a judgment of taste should consist in the sharing of a feeling, rather than simply in the sharing of a thought. Kant’s answer is that in a judgment of taste, a feeling assumes the role of predicate. Such a solution presents a problem as serious as the one it purports to solve.

Book reviews:
  • Matthew Hutson, The Seven Laws of Magical Thinking: How Irrational Beliefs Keep Us Happy, Healthy, and Sane, in The American Rationalist 59.1  (Jan.–Feb. 2013): 11–12
  • Paul Crowther, The Kantian Aesthetic: From Knowledge to the Avant-Garde, in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews (December 2010)
  •  Christian Helmut Wenzel, An Introduction to Kant’s Aesthetics, in British Journal of Aesthetics 47 (2007): 105–106
  • Immanuel Kant, Critique of the Power of Judgment, translated by Paul Guyer and Eric Matthews, in Journal of the History of Philosophy 39 (2001): 594–96
  • Richard Eldridge, On Moral Personhood: Philosophy, Literature, Criticism, and Self-Understanding, in Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 49 (1991): 169–70

Academic curriculum vitae (PDF file at Academia.edu)

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