Besides introductory philosophy courses, I regularly teach undergraduate courses in the philosophy of language and metaphysics, and graduate courses on topics concerning the nature and value of truth, facts, action and events

 

My pedagogical practices are informed by my ongoing collaborative research projects on scaffolded learning with Rob Colter (Wyoming), in the scholarship of teaching and learning.  He and I have devised a Socratic Model of Scaffolded Learning that moves students from a relative state of ignorance to well developed autonomous thinkers. Rob and I's The Socratic Classroom should be available soon.

 

Upcoming Offerings in 2022A

PHILO355-22A: The Fundamental Structure of the World (syllabus)

The study of ontology has as its primary question: "What exists?" "Everything!", said the twentieth century philosopher W.V.O. Quine. This first-order debate concerns whether objects of various sorts exist, such as numbers, fictional characters, universals, and mereologically complex material objects, but the positions defended in the debate are irreconcilable. But this seminar-style paper will examine the status of such intractable debates by asking higher-order questions: what exactly are they disagreeing about? Is it some deep matter of fact? Or, is it merely a verbal dispute? Could it be indeterminate who is correct? How do we decide who is correct? And our focus will be the works of Rudolf Carnap and Ludwig Wittgenstein, as well as their contemporaries and students.

We will explore how these two 20C philosophers have continued to shape the discussion and how some have re-conceived ontological questions as an investigation into how the world is structured, rather than about what populates it. This alternative conception of metaphysics suggests that we study the methodology of metaphysics. We should prioritise the (more) fundamental building blocks of reality over the (more) derivative. Accordingly, the main task of philosophy is to organise the world. So conceived, a practical upshot of this deeply theoretical paper is to provide a means of how to think about organising the complexity in one's life and to provide recommendations for how to navigate this complex world.

PHILO304-22A: Meaning, Understanding, and Truth (co-taught w Jeremy Wyatt)

(syllabus)

Thinkers across many traditions within philosophy have sought to identify the nature of truth. This isn't surprising, as a moment's reflection will reveal that one of our most basic projects as thinkers is to separate true claims, hypotheses, and theories from false ones. To do this, it would seem that we must first understand what it is for a claim, hypothesis, or theory to be true or false. That is, it would seem that to responsibly and effectively think about the world that we inhabit, we must understand the nature of truth.

The theories of truth that philosophers have defended over the years are multifarious, and this paper offers an overview of the major classic and contemporary theories. We will begin with the classic trifecta: correspondence, coherence, and pragmatist theories. We'll then move on to influential, if less popular, alternatives to these: primitivist and identity theories.

 

In the second half of the paper, we'll begin by covering Alfred Tarski's landmark semantic conception of truth, which among other things, served to safeguard the notion of truth during the anti-metaphysical campaigns of the logical positivists. We'll then move to what is now the dominant approach to truth, which was inspired by Tarski's work, as well as that of Frank Ramsey and Gottlob Frege: deflationism. We'll consider two deflationary theories, known as disquotationalism and minimalism. We'll also take up one of the main challenges to deflationism: that deflationists cannot account for the value of truth. Next, we'll look at two approaches that have been highly impactful in recent years: pluralism and relativism about truth. To close our discussion, we'll consider a pair of cutting-edge approaches that promise to transform the ways in which we study the nature of truth (and happen to have been respectively defended by the convenors): experimental and cross-linguistic truth theory.

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Past & Future Courses

2022

PHILO304-22A: Meaning, Truth, and Understanding (co-taught with Jeremy Wyatt)

PHILO355-22A: The Fundamental Structure of the World

PHILO150-22B: The Big Questions: An Introduction to Philosophy

PHILO204-22B: Wisdom, Language and Communication

2021

B Semester - research study leave

B Semester - Karol Wojtyła - St Pope John Paul II Visiting Fellow, Pope John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin

PHILO204-21A: Wisdom, Language, and Communication

PHIL588-21A: Foundations of Philosophical Research Focal topic: Truth and politics

2020

PHILO208-20B: Reason, Science and Pseudoscience

PHILO304-20B: Meaning, Understanding, and Truth (co-taught with Jeremy Wyatt)

A Semester - Centenary Fellow, University of Aberdeen

A Semester - Future of Truth Residential Fellow, University of Connecticut

2019

B Semester - Future of Truth Residential Fellow, University of Connecticut

PHILO204-19A: Wisdom, Language, and Communication

PHIL588-19A: Foundations of Philosophical Research Focal topic: the nature of truth and facts

2018

PHILO 204-18A: Wisdom, Language, and Communication

PHILO 102-18B: Introduction to Logic (w/ Stephanie Gibbons)

PHIL 350-18B: Recent Analytical Philosophy Focal topic: Metametaphysics 

PHIL 545-18B: Aesthetics (w/ Justine Kingsbury and Liezl van Zyl)

2017

PHIL 309-17B: Ethical Theory (w/ Liezl van Zyl)

PHIL 222-17A: Possible Worlds

PHIL 103-17A: Critical Reasoning (w/ Justine Kingsbury)

PHIL 204-17S: Language and Communication

2016

PHIL 350-16B: Recent Analytical Philosophy (w/ Cathy Legg)

PHIL 150-16B: Big Questions (w/ Dan Weijers)

PHIL 102-16A: Critical Reasoning (w/ Stephanie Gibbons)

PHIL 250-16A: Knowledge & Reality (w/ Stephanie Gibbons)

PHIL 208-16A: Understanding Science (w/ Justine Kingsbury)

Metropolitan State University of Denver (2015)

PHIL 3360: Business Ethics

University of Texas at El Paso (2013-2015)

PHIL 1301: Introduction to Philosophy (4 sections)

PHIL 4352: Ethics for Security Professionals

PHIL 4311: Epistemology

PHIL 4352: Death and the Meaning of Life

PHIL 3317: Modern Philosophy

PHIL 4302: Metaphysics

PHIL 3311: Philosophy of Science

PHIL 4352/5352: Graduate Seminar: The Nature of Truth

University of Wyoming (2012-2013; 2008-2009)

PHIL 3000-04: The Meaning of Life

PHIL 2345-01: Natural Resource Ethics

PHIL 4440/5440-01: Graduate Seminar: Philosophy of Mind

PHIL 3140-01: Philosophy of Science

PHIL 3000-04: Metaphysics of Race

PHIL 3000-06: Moral Psychology & Neuroethics

PHIL 1000-01: Introduction to Philosophy

PHIL 4000/5000-01: Graduate Seminar: Experimental Philosophy

PHIL 1200-01: Intellectual Community in Philosophy

University of Mississippi (2011-2012)

PHIL 101-05: Introduction to Philosophy (3 sections)

PHIL 611-01: Graduate Seminar: Metaphysics

PHIL 103-01: Symbolic Logic

University of Nevada, Las Vegas (2009-2011)

PHIL 499-01: Brandom's Making It Explicit

PHIL 330-01: Computers and Culture

HON 102H-1001: Honours: Critical Reasoning (4 sections)

PHIL 102-003: Critical Reasoning (3 sections)

PHIL 499-001: Philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein

Weber State University (2006-2008)

PHIL 1000: Introduction to Philosophy (9 sections)

PHIL 1250: Critical Reasoning (4 sections)

PHIL 3550: Philosophy of Eastern Religion

PHIL 3150: Existentialism

PHIL 3500: Philosophy of Western Religion

Methodist College (Summers 2003-2005)

PHIL 411-21: Moral Philosophy and Contemporary Ethical Problems

PHI 212-01: Symbolic Logic (3 sections)

PHI 211-01: Introduction to Philosophy (3 sections)