2021. Now-thoughts. European Journal of Philosophy, forthcoming.
‘Now’-thoughts are often categorised alongside ‘I’-thoughts. The word ‘I’ (including its counterparts in other languages) and the thoughts typically expressed with it have long been a source of fascination for philosophers. ‘I’ seemingly behaves in peculiar ways, which many writers take to reflect some interesting features of the thoughts it typically expresses. Whilst the similarities between the behaviour of ‘I’ and ‘now’ have often been noted, the latter has received much less attention in the literature. In this paper, I will take some of the most influential ideas and frameworks that have been used to analyse ‘I’-thought and draw on phenomenological descriptions of temporal experience to provide an account of ‘now’- thought. I will argue that a certain important class of ‘now’-thoughts do not involve thinking about a particular time and predicating something of it, but instead merely involve registering the presence of events. I will end by sketching an account of how these claims might sit with a theory of the word ‘now’.
2021. Merleau-Ponty: Perception and methodology. In H. Logue and L. Richardson (eds.) Purpose and Procedure in Philosophy of Perception. Oxford: OUP, 258—275.
A methodology is a theory of method. In asking for a methodology, one wants to know which method(s) we should use for investigating some topic, and why. Merleau-Ponty is a phenomenologist who is famous for his analyses of perception. Phenomenology is not a unified movement — it’s more like a tradition, where figures are linked by historical lineages: the inheritance and taking up of particular themes and ideas. Whilst it explicitly bills itself as having a distinct method, different phenomenologists interpret it in various ways. This chapter explains how Merleau-Ponty understands the phenomenological method, and how he applies it in his study of perception.
2018. The human space of the railway carriage. In A. Crawley-Jackson and C. Leffler (eds.) Railway Cultures. Sheffield: University of Sheffield and National Railway Museum, pp. 58-63.
A look at the railway carriage through the lens of phenomenology.
2018. Gestalt perception and seeing-as. In M. Beaney, B. Harrington, D. Shaw (eds.) Aspect Perception After Wittgenstein: Seeing-As and Novelty. New York: Routledge, pp. 89-107.
In this paper, I investigate Gestalt perception and seeing-as from the perspective of Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy. I argue that, contrary to first appearances, they are in fact distinct phenomena, and whilst Merleau-Ponty does not provide a thematic discussion of seeing-as experiences, they are important to his understanding of artwork and images, and so I will show that a rich account of them can be drawn from his work. My investigation will reveal that crucially, Gestalt perceptions are capable of being true and false, whilst seeing-as experiences are not truth-apt. This difference is reflected in the way that Merleau-Ponty takes Gestalt perception to characterise normal human perception in general, whilst he understands seeing-as to be a distinctive sort of imaginative seeing, which underlies the human capacity for certain kinds of creativity and artistic expression.
2017. The World and I. In my edited volume Wittgenstein and Merleau-Ponty. London: Routledge, pp. 81-99
Solipsism is the view that the I – my self – is, in some sense, alone. The standard view is that solipsism in all its varieties is at best, a deeply unattractive position, and at worst, absurd. Nevertheless, both Merleau-Ponty and Wittgenstein – two of the twentieth century’s most profound and interesting thinkers – hold that solipsism expresses something important about the human condition. My aim in this paper is to articulate what they take solipsism to express. I will argue that the form of solipsism that most concerns Merleau-Ponty and Wittgenstein is phenomenological, and their theories can be used to illuminate each other. Reading them together yields a single account of human experience that reveals how its structure makes phenomenological solipsism an ever-present possibility for us.
2017. Hermeneutical injustice and the problem of authority. Feminist Philosophy Quarterly (3) 3. Article 1.
In this paper, I discuss a problem for Fricker, which arises when we consider how to remedy an instance of hermeneutical injustice. Fricker characterizes hermeneutical injustice as involving a lack of concepts, on the part of the disadvantaged group, to capture some important aspect of their experience. But what has not been properly appreciated in the literature to date, is that it is really competing views of the world that are at stake. Moreover, Fricker’s account seemingly implies that the disadvantaged group’s understanding of the world should be treated as authoritative, and taken up by the wider culture. But the disadvantaged group’s view of the world is not one that we think should be accepted. I show that this problem bears some similarities to another debate: the dispute over feminist critiques of alien cultural practices. I argue that lessons drawn from the latter can help overcome the problem of authority in Fricker’s case.
2016. Hermeneutical injustice: blood-sports and the English Defence League. Social Epistemology, 30 (5-6): 592-610.
In this paper, I argue that Fricker’s account of hermeneutical injustice faces a serious difficulty: it relies on two intuitions about the source of hermeneutical injustice that are in tension with one another, and which cannot be made consistent within Fricker’s framework. As a result, her account is both too restrictive (it fails to capture all the cases we intuitively think it should), and too permissive (it classifies cases as instances of hermeneutical injustice that we think it should not).
Published version available online here
2015. Image: for the eye and in mind. In M. Nitsche (ed.) Image in Space. Verlag Traugott Bautz, pp. 77-96.
This paper examines the account of the image that Merleau-Ponty puts forward in Eye and Mind.
2015. Merleau-Ponty: actions, habits, and skilled expertise. In D. Dahlstrom, A. Elpidorou, W. Hopp (eds.) Philosophy of Mind and Phenomenology: Conceptual and Empirical Approaches. Routledge, pp. 98-116.
The version here is an earlier draft of the published version. I’ll upload a final draft a bit later. The paper considers some of Merleau-Ponty’s ideas about action, putting them in the context of contemporary thinking about agency. In particular, this paper takes up some criticisms made to my 2014 paper ‘Habit and Attention’, suggesting a Merleau-Pontyian response to them. It includes a short discussion of skills and their relation to habits – a topic I intend to return to later.
2014. Habit and attention. In D. Moran and R. Jensen (eds.) The Phenomenology of Embodied Subjectivity. Springer, pp. 3-19.
Habit and attention seem to play an important role in our actions, but they have been largely ignored by the traditional account. Here, I argue that neither can be properly accommodated by the dominant view, but Merleau-Ponty’s framework offers a nice explanation of them.
2013. First-person awareness of intentions and immunity to error through misidentification. International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 21 (4) pp. 493-514.
Each of us enjoys a special awareness of (some) of her mental states. The adverbial model of first-person awareness claims that to be aware of a mental state is for it to be conscious, where ‘conscious’ describes the kind of state it is, rather than denoting a form of awareness directed at it. Here, I present an argument for construing first-person awareness of intentions adverbially, by showing that this model can meet a serious challenge posed by the simulation hypothesis.
2012. Thought in action. In D. Zahavi (ed.) Oxford Handbook of Phenomenology. OUP, pp. 198-215.
In a series of recent papers, Hubert Dreyfus offers an elegant elucidation and defence of Merleau-Ponty’s view of agency that brought it to the attention of theorists working in a number of different fields. However, there is a central problem with Dreyfus’s account: he places too little importance on the role of thought in human action. This paper raises some difficulties for Dreyfus, before offering a suggestion for understanding the role of thought in action within a Merleau-Pontyian framework.
2011. Time for consciousness: intention and introspection. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 10 (3) pp. 369-76.
We ordinarily assume that we can act (in at least some cases) by consciously intending to do so. However, Wegner and Libet interpret empirical data gathered by Libet and his colleagues as showing that awareness of one’s intentions plays no role in the production of action. In this paper, I show that this interpretation of the data presupposes an act-object model of conscious intention, which is independently problematic. An alternative construes conscious intention adverbially, such that to have a conscious intention is to consciously intend. If we adopt this model of conscious intention, Wegner and Libet’s argument no longer goes through, and we can retain the claim that our conscious intentions can give rise to action.
2011. Agency and embodied cognition. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Vol. CXI, Part I, pp. 79-95.
The dominant account of agency takes actions to be brought about and guided by intentions that represent the agent’s performance of the action. Merleau-Ponty offers an alternative view that denies intentions are essential for action. He holds instead that the agent’s activity is brought about by her apprehension of her environment, without the need for any intervening thoughts that represent her performance of it. I argue that two considerations advanced in favour of th thesis that human cognition is embodied are in tension with the dominant account of agency, and speak in favour of Merleau-Ponty’s view.
2011. Merleau-Ponty. In Routledge Companion to Phenomenology. London: Routledge, pp. 103-12.
This paper is an overview of Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy.
2009. Merleau-Ponty’s account of hallucination. European Journal of Philosophy, 17 (1) pp. 76-90.
In this paper, I offer a reading of Merleau-Ponty’s account of hallucination. He takes hallucinations to result from the malfunctioning of two capacities that are properly exercised in perception. I give an account of these capacities before examining Merleau-Ponty’s remarks on the phenomenology of hallucination, and linking these to some claims made in the clinical literature on this topic.
2008. First-person thought and the use of ‘I’. Synthese, 163 (2) pp. 145-56.
The traditional account of first-person thought draws conclusions about this type of thinking from claims made about the first-person pronoun. In this paper, I raise a worry for the traditional account. Certain uses of ‘I’ conflict with its conception of the linguistic data. I argue that once the data is analysed correctly, the traditional approach to first-person thought cannot be maintained.
2007. Merleau-Ponty and the power to reckon with the possible. In T. Baldwin (ed.) Reading Merleau-Ponty. London: Routledge, pp. 44-58.
It is traditionally claimed that actions are essentially bodily movements brought about by mental states such as intentions. Merleau-Ponty claims, in contrast, that human action can be initiated and controlled by the subject’s perception of her environment without the need for any intervening thought. Dreyfus (2000) calls this ‘absorbed coping’. However, in his presentation of Merleau-Ponty, Dreyfus omits a capacity that, for Merleau-Ponty, is essentially involved in the human ability to act. Consequently, the account he presents is both incomplete as a reading of Merleau-Ponty, and independently problematic as it cannot adequately explain how conscious deliberation gives rise to action. In this paper, I try to remedy the situation by presenting the capacity that Dreyfus overlooks, which Merleau-Ponty calls ‘the power to reckon with the possible’.
2007. Suppressed belief. Theoria, 22 (58) pp. 17-24.
Moran’s (2001) account of self-knowledge implies that suppressed belief and conscious belief cannot be the same sort of state. In this paper, I draw on Merleau-Ponty’s account of practical knowledge to suggest that suppressed beliefs can be construed as practical beliefs that are inconsistent with those the agent consciously self-attributes.
2006. ‘I’. Philosophical Studies, 128(2) pp. 257-83.
It has traditionally been maintained that every token of ‘I’ refers to its utterer. However, certain uses of indexicals conflict with this claim, and its counterparts with respect to ‘here’ and ‘now’, suggesting that the traditional account should be abandoned. In this paper, I examine some proposed alternatives and the difficulties they face, before offering a new account of indexical reference.
2005. The essential indexical. In Elsevier Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics, Second Edition.
This article provides a brief overview of issues surrounding the essential indexical.
2005. Immunity to error through misidentification. In Elsevier Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics, Second Edition.
This article provides a brief overview of the phenomenon known as ‘immunity to error through misidentification’. It explains what IEM is, and why theorists have taken it to be significant for an account of self-knowledge.
2002. Now the French are invading England! Analysis, 62 (1) pp. 34-41.
Predelli (1998) discusses the problems posed by recorded messages and written notes for what might be called the traditional view of indexicals. In this paper, I present some objections to Predelli’s account, and offer an alternative model of indexical reference.