I am a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Cambridge. My fellowship is part of the project, New Directions in the Study of Mind, which is funded by the John Templeton Foundation, and led by Prof. Tim Crane. I am also a By-Fellow at Churchill College.
Prior to moving to Cambridge, I held Lectureships at University of Otago, and Lehigh University. My Ph.D, obtained in 2012, is from University of Sydney.
I am also the recipient of a Junior Visiting Fellowship from University of Milan, and will be in Italy March-April 2017.
My research, broadly speaking, lies at the intersection of Philosophy of Mind and Cognitive Science. I am interested in how philosophy can develop, as well as draw on, ideas in Cognitive Science, and how current empirical research can shed light on problems in philosophy.
At present, I have two separate, though related, research projects. One is in the Philosophy of Perception. Here I am interested in the question, ‘Are perceptual experiences “cognitively penetrated” by higher-level cognitive states, e.g. beliefs?’ Several experiments from Cognitive Psychology suggest that they are, whilst the recent trend in philosophy has been to debunk these experiments. Drawing on experiments usually ignored in philosophy, and situating their results within a representationalist framework, I aim to adjudicate this debate, and in a way that answers the question in the affirmative.
The other project is in the Philosophy of Emotion. Emotions are “recalcitrant” when they conflict with our considered evaluative judgements. These emotions are said to be irrational, and explaining precisely how they are irrational is employed as a condition of adequacy on any given theory of emotion. I draw on Cognitive Science, including Neuropsychology, to argue that the cognitive impenetrability of some emotion generation mechanisms explains the phenomenon of emotional recalcitrance. Moreover, I argue for scepticism with regards to the current trend in using rationality constraints to inform a theory of emotion.
I cut my philosophical teeth in Australia, both at University of Sydney and Australian National University, where I worked on issues in Metaphysics and Philosophy of Language, as well as Philosophy of Mind. My doctoral dissertation, completed whilst visiting New York University, was on the “hard” problem of consciousness: the problem of explaining how and why physical processing gives rise to experiences with a phenomenal character. During this time, my interests lay in the philosophical methodology employed to investigate the mind, e.g. the Canberra Plan and Two-Dimensional Semantics, as well as the topic of phenomenal consciousness itself. My early articles defend a physicalist conception of the mind, and critique the conceptual and linguistic frameworks employed to argue against physicalism.