I am a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Auckland. Prior to this, I was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge, as part of the project ‘New Directions in the Study of Mind’ (funded by the John Templeton Foundation, and led by Prof. Tim Crane). I have also worked as a lecturer at the Open University, Lehigh University, the University of Otago and the University of New South Wales. My Ph.D, obtained in 2012, is from the University of Sydney.
My research, broadly speaking, lies at the intersection of philosophy of mind and cognitive science. At present, I am interested in what taking development seriously might tell us about the cognitive architecture of the mind, especially the architecture of emotion. For example, are there evolved “modules” which generate our emotional responses? Or is the (apparent) modular nature of emotion an outcome of development? And what roles do social and cultural features play in shaping emotion? I am also interested in the practical ramifications of such questions. For instance, can developmental features explain the role of emotions in social phenomena such as racial bias? If so, can this, in turn, help explain why police officers are more likely to shoot some racial groups over others? Aside from my work on emotion, I am also interested in other areas of philosophy of mind that intersect with psychology. For instance, what is the nature of the unconscious mind? Are there top-down effects of cognition on perceptual experience? Do we perceive high-level properties?
I cut my philosophical teeth in Australia, both at the University of Sydney and the 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.