I am an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Philosophy. My main areas of research interest are in the philosophy and history of science though I have interests in aesthetics, metaphysics, and ethics. In the history of philosophy, I am especially fascinated by the American pragmatists and their descendents. Here is my CV.
Much of my research has focused on foundational issues in the biological sciences especially in evolutionary biology and ecology. In my published work, I have examined a variety of topics including the following: the strategies that scientists employ to deal with the numerous idealizations in their models; the ontology of species, communities, and ecosystems; the role of consensus and advocacy in science. My papers are downloadable here.
In most of my work, I have been interested in what are theories are, how they are to be evaluated, and in what ways can they be explanatory? As of late, I have been increasingly interested in what our scientific theories say about us as a species. Specifically, I am interested in how, and to what extent, evolutionary and behavioral ecology apply to Homo sapiens. As one example, I have been examing how sciences like cognitive psychology and evolutionary biology can contribute to our understanding of emotional expression and specifically expression in the arts. Specifically, how can abstract, non-representational art like Mark Rothko's No. 14 express emotions like sadness? Currently, I am working on a paper using recent work on emotions, evolution, and mental representation to make headway on this problem.
Last, in the tradition of pragmatism, I believe philosophy can be deeply practical. As one recent example, in 2009 I participated in a working group on the topic of "managed relocation" which is the deliberate movement of species due to anthropogenic climate change. This working group met to discuss the scientific, legal, and ethical challenges that managed relocation presents and our essay on the topic "Managed Relocation: Integrating the Scientific, Regulatory, and Ethical Challenges" has appeared in Bioscience. Here is a press release regarding the paper.
If you are curious, I was recently on the radio show Philosophy Talk in a discussion regarding the nature of wilderness and whether, and to what extent, H. sapiens is simply another part of the natural world.