Graduate students

One of my greatest professional blessings has been to work with some really excellent graduate students. These are a few of the students I have supervised to date:

  • Matt King completed his PhD at the University of Maryland in February 2008 with a dissertation on moral responsibility, and is currently assistant professor at the University of Alabama Birmingham. His articles have appeared in EthicsSocial Theory and Practice, the Journal of Moral Philosophy, the European Journal of Philosophy, and the Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy, among other places.

  • Sam Shpall completed his PhD at USC in May 2011. He was a USC Dornsife Distinguished Teaching Postdoctoral Fellow in 2011-2013, a postdoctoral fellow in law and philosophy at Yale University in 2013-2015, and has accepted a permanent lectureship at the University of Sydney starting in 2015. Sam works in ethics, action theory, and aesthetics, particularly on the normative concept of commitment and the philosophy of film. His article, 'Wide and Narrow Scope', has appeared in Philosophical Studies, and 'Moral and Rational Commitment' as appeared Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.

  • Ryan Hay completed his PhD at USC in August 2011, writing a dissertation on hybrid expressivism and the analogy between moral terms and pejorative expressions. He has taught courses at UC-Riverside and Occidental College, and is currently teaching at CSU San Bernardino. His article, "Hybrid Expressivism and the Analogy between Pejoratives and Moral Language", has appeared in the European Journal of Philosophy, and he was an invited speaker at the international conference on Hybrid Metaethical Theories held at the University of Edinburgh in July 2012.

  • Johannes Schmitt completed his PhD at USC in August 2012. His dissertation showed how to embed the insights of probabilistic approaches to conditionals in a dynamic framework. Our co-authored paper, 'Supervenience Under Relaxed Assumptions', has appeared in Philosophical Studies. Johannes completed a three-year postdoc at the University of Konstanz, and has moved into a career in business.

  • Ben Lennertz completed a dissertation on epistemic modals at USC, focusing on their role in thought and on their pragmatic role in conversation. His paper, 'Taking 'Might' Communication Seriously', has appeared in  the Journal of Analytic Philosophy, and 'Quantificational Credences' has appeared in Philosophers' Imprint.  He has won the Routledge Taylor and Francis Award for the best article published in a given year by someone holding a non-tenure-track position in philosophy.  He has taught at Davidson College and the University of Western Kentucky, and is now an assistant professor at Colgate University.

  • Justin Snedegar received his PhD from USC in May 2013. His dissertation defended contrastivism about reasons and explores a range of applications for different kinds of constrastivist theses. His paper, 'Contrastive Semantics for Deontic Modals', has been published in a volume of work on Contrastivism in Philosophy, edited by Martijn Blaauw, and he has also published in EthicsOxford Studies in MetaethicsPhilosophical StudiesThought and, with Steve Finlay, in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. He is now a senior lecturer at the University of St. Andrews.

  • Alida Liberman has completed a dissertation at USC about the nature of promissory obligation. She is particularly interested in the relationship between sincere promises and resolutions, and in the conditions under which it is permissible to break a promise. Her review of David Owens' book, Shaping the Normative Landscape, is published in Ethics, and our co-authored paper, 'Commitment: Worth the Weight', is published in Errol Lord and Barry Maguire, eds, Weighing Reasons.  Her paper, 'A Promise Acceptance Model of Organ Donation', is published in Social Theory and Practice, and she is the winner of the RoME Young Ethicist Award.  She completed a postdoctoral fellowship in bioethics at the Rotman Institute of Philosophy at the University of Western Ontario, has taught at the University of Indianapolis, and is now an assistant professor at Southern Methodist University.

  • Joshua Crabill completed a dissertation at USC about the nature of normative authority.  Josh's dissertation explored the analogy between theories of normative authority and debates between 'common factor' and disjunctivist theories in the philosophy of mind, and sought to defend a 'common factor' account of normative authority in terms of institutions whose motivation does not depend on the kind of 'least common factor' reasoning that has been criticized by disjunctivists in the philosophy of mind.  He has taught at the University of Indianapolis.

  • Indrek Reiland completed a dissertation at USC defending an account of the nature of linguistic meaning in terms of rules of use. His paper, 'Propositional Attitudes and Mental Acts', had been published in Thought, and he has also published papers in American Philosophical Quarterly and in the Southern Journal of Philosophy. Indrek has wide interests in the philosophy of mind and language, covering topics connected to content, including work on the nature and structure of perception.  He has held visiting positions at Rice University and in Paris, and is now a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Barcelona.

  • Shyam Nair completed a dissertation at USC focusing on issues at the intersection of ethics, logic, and epistemology that are raised by the idea that reasons explain oughts. His paper, 'Consequences of Reasoning with Conflicting Obligations', has been published in Mind and was nominated for the 2014 Philosophers' Annual.  His paper, 'Conflicting Reasons, Conflicting Obligations' is forthcoming in Philosophical Studies.  He has taught at Lingnan University, in Hong Kong, and is now an assistant professor at Arizona State University.

  • Nick Laskowski completed a dissertation at the intersection of metaethics and the philosophy of mind, focusing on analogies between 'just too different' intuitions in metaethics and in the philosophy of mind.  His dissertation explores whether reductive naturalists in metaethics can fruitfully take advantage of an analogue of the phenomenal concepts strategy in the philosophy of mind, as well as whether reductivists should believe that it is possible to know the true reductive theory.  He has published related papers in Res Philosophica and in the Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy, among other places, and now teaches at Duisberg-Essen University.

  • Michael Milona completed a dissertation focusing on the possible role in moral epistemology of the idea that desires and emotions are analogous to perceptions of the good.  His dissertation argues that the most defensible form of perceptual moral epistemology must attribute moral perceptions to affective states of some kind, and develops a view about the most promising way of doing so, in the face of problems about content determination, armchair knowledge, and perspective.  He has published papers in ErgoEthical Theory and Moral Practice, and Oxford Studies in Metaethics, among other places, and has won the Routledge Taylor and Francis Award for the best article published in a given year by someone holding a non-tenure-track position in philosophy.  He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Cornell University and currently teaches at Auburn University.
  • Abelard Podgorski completed a dissertation about the basic targets of rational assessment.  His dissertation argues that most of contemporary theorizing about rationality has gone astray in taking rational requirements to apply to states of agents, either synchronically, or diachronically.  He argues that rational requirements are instead best construed as applying to processes that unfold over time.  Pieces of his dissertation have been published in MindPhilosophers' ImprintPhilosophical Studies, and Ergo, and he has other work in moral philosophy published in Nous.  He is now an assistant professor at the National University of Singapore.
  • Caleb Perl has broad interests in language and metaethics. His dissertation develops an elegant view that he calls deontic positivism, which promises to solve a range of interesting problems in moral epistemology by appeal to an underlying rationale in the philosophy of language.  According to deontic positivism, the basic import of deontic claims like 'you ought to phi' divide into a core semantic content, which varies from context to context, and a presupposed content, which says that the contextual parameter is the correct parameter.  He has published in Philosophical StudiesErgo, and other places.  He is now assistant professor of philosophy at Shandong University.

  • Tanya Kostochka  is a sixth-year PhD student, with special interests in moral psychology and Buddhist philosophy.  Her dissertation develops an original account of the nature of moods on which they are not so different from emotions but consist in nothing over and above patterns of attention.  She is also using her time in graduate school to advance her interests in Japanese Buddhist thought.

  • Nathan Howard is a sixth-year PhD student, with special interests in reasons and normative ethical theory.  Nathan's dissertation argues that moral philosophers have made a simple but important mistake about the nature and structure of reasons, and that this mistake has had pervasive consequences for our attempts to understand moral worth, analyze normative concepts in terms of the balance of competing reasons, and make sense of knowledge, moral motivation, and moral understanding.

  • Christa Peterson is a fourth-year PhD student working in metaethics.  She is particularly interested in moral concepts, expressivism, and Hobbes.

  • Daniel Pallies is a fourth-year PhD student working in the philosophy of mind.  He is particularly interested in why painful experiences are bad for us and pleasurable ones good for us, why we tend to desire pleasure and be aversive to pain, and what this might tell us about the natures of pleasure and pain, desire and aversion, and well-being itself.

  • Jennifer Head is a third-year PhD student interested in the intersection of language, metaethics, aesthetics, and the significance of disagreement.  She is currently completing her area exam in metaethics.

  • Shane Ward is a third-year PhD student interested in metaethics and practical reason.  He is currently completing his area exam in metaethics.

  • Vishnu Sridharan is a third-year PhD student with particular interests in autonomy, responsibility, moral understanding, and moral worth.  He is currently completing an area exam in practical reason.