A copy of my current, updated CV:
I am Senior Lecturer in Philosophy and Director of the Experimental Philosophy Research Group at the University of Waikato, New Zealand. I am originally from Boston (USA), where I grew up in a suburb about 14kms from the city centre. When I am not working, you can find me running, fly fishing, enjoying craft beer, or doing genealogical research. To relax I like to play air traffic control simulator games, mastering the most efficient arrival and departure traffic patterns for BOS, LGA, JFK, PHL, and LAX.
Academic and professional background
I earned a BS in Business Administration with a concentration in Professional Golf Management and a BS in History from Methodist University (1998), an MA in Philosophy from the University of Mississippi (2002), and a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Utah (2008).
Methodist University provided an interesting educational backdrop as it is located next door to Ft Bragg, the largest US military installation and home of the special operations command. While I completed the usual suite of courses in business management, accounting, economics and a variety of history courses on WWI, WWII, the Holocaust and American Social History, I am likely the only philosopher in the world to have completed an elective Military Science course on explosives ordinance and disposal (EOD).
Following the completion of my PhD, I held down visiting positions at a variety of universities in the United States. Such experience allowed me the opportunity to teach courses outside my areas of research speciality, including in applied ethics and moral philosophy. Now, I mostly teach and supervise students in metaphysics and philosophy of language.
I have a rather unusual narrative leading me to philosophy. Like a bad parking job, I kind of backed into it by mistake. My university had us satisfy area requirements in the arts and humanities; it was because of this that I took my first philosophy course. The rest is... well, wait a minute. Perhaps my fondness for philosophy began earlier than that.
Beginning in 1987, when I was 12, I worked at a local golf course. The job had me waking up at 5am every Saturday and Sunday morning to pick-up golf balls by hand at the driving range. Eventually, I was 'promoted' to cart boy. Then, I changed jobs and worked in the 'bag room' at a private country club a little further from my house. Among its members were faculty members at many local universities, including Boston College, Babson College, Harvard University, MIT, and Northeastern University. (For a few seasons before he left for Jacksonville, I was Tom Coughlin's caddy.) Faculty members were always willing to have a chat with me about their current research, teaching, and talented students they were supervising.
During winters when golf courses in New England are closed, I enrolled in extra-curricular art classes. In my junior year, the Department of Art at Boston University invited local school districts to nominate talented artists for a 12-week figure drawing course. The local school district nominated me and two other members of my cohort. All of us were admitted, and we completed the course for college credit. The arts were a large part of my upbringing, and remain so to this day. Still, I had never heard of philosophy, outside the occasional reference to Plato or Descartes in civics or maths class, until my second year of university study at Methodist University.
Methodist did not offer a philosophy major, but did offer a minor with 24 possible credit hours. I completed six of the eight philosophy courses available to students, including the History of Philosophy from Thales to Quine (in one 15-week semester!) skipping out on business ethics and criminal justice ethics. Why did I decide to take philosophy courses? What brought me to philosophy was my love of music, in particular the music of The Doors.
I became quite fond of deciphering the lyrics of the songs and poured over the works of Sophocles, Friedrich Nietzsche, Søren Kierkegaard, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Anais Nin, Louis-Ferdinand Celiné, Jack Kerouac, Sir James George Frazer, Aldous Huxley, and William Blake--authors to whom I had never been introduced in primary or secondary school.
Like The Doors lead singer, Jim Morrison, I became consumed by thinking about death, what it is, why it's bad, what immortality is if it's anything at all, and why so many different religions conceived of it in so many ways but science seemed convinced death is total annihilation. Because I was advised not to concentrate on these issues during graduate study, only recently have I returned to these themes in my scholarly work, e.g., see my "What Is It Like To Be Immortal?" Still, my current work on the nature of truth, the self, and action has been deeply influenced by my very early concerns trying to reconcile living a meaningful life with pessimistic perspective on death as total annihilation.
The sole philosophy faculty member was not well connected in analytic philosophy circles, so I was very lucky to secure admission to graduate study, fully-funded, following a brief two-year hiatus working for two law firms in Washington, D.C.
What are my areas of research interest?
My research focuses upon the nature and value of truth and facts, what they are, how we understand them, and why we value them. Facts form the very core of all our intellectual pursuits and are the bedrock upon which we build scholarly academic and practical pursuits. This view will make up the heart of my forthcoming book, Why Facts Matter: Facts and Pluralism in the Age of Fake News. This research on facts is continuous with my work on the nature of truth in Commonsense Pluralism about Truth: An Empirical Defence (Palgrave Macmillan 2017).
So, whatcha working on now?
See my projects page for more information on what I'm working on now.
Please read this before you email me. If I don't reply to your email immediately, I'm not ignoring you. Please be patient with me; I receive more emails in one day than I can possibly respond to.