Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Affiliated Faculty in Cinema
The University of Mississippi
My research is primarily in early modern metaphysics. My dissertation was on Hume and his British context, but I also have interests in the continental rationalists and especially the interplay between commitments in philosophical methodology and metaphysics (including the various forms of the principle of sufficient reason in Leibniz, Spinoza, and Clarke). My research and my teaching reflect a commitment to uncovering and encouraging the diversity of early modern philosophical work, including currently under-discussed figures.
I have an ongoing research project on theories of demonstration, which are often implicit and assumed, in early modern British philosophy through Hume. This includes a cluster of articles about the standards for demonstration in Hume, how understanding his critiques of demonstrations helps us appreciate difficult or dismissed passages in Hume, the nature of adequate ideas and their role in demonstrative reasoning from Boyle to Hume, and British debates about the ontology of space.
I regularly teach metaphysics, ethics, philosophy of religion, and philosophy of film. Some of my work falls at the intersection of cinema studies and philosophy, including essays on a potentially paradoxical portrayal of love in Buster Keaton's films and a new approach to teaching philosophy through film that connects philosophical questions of the good life to cinephillia. A video discussing some of the latter essay, recording a talk given to a broad audience, is here. I am currently thinking through issues related to performance, especially in film.
Published and Forthcoming
Harmony in Spinoza and His Critics, Spinoza’s Philosophy of Ratio, ed. Beth Lord (with editor).
Hume, Christian Theology and the Modern Philosophers, ed. Greg Ganssle and Ben Arbour (at press).
Cinephilia and Philosophia: Or Why I Don't Show The Matrix in Philosophy 101, For the Love of Cinema: Teaching Our Passion in and outside the Classroom, ed. Rashna Richards and David T. Johnson (at press).
Buster Keaton and the Puzzle of Love, Faith and Spirituality in Masters of World Cinema, Volume 3, eds. Kenneth R. Morefield and Nicholas Olson (2015).
Clarke Against Spinoza on the Manifest Diversity of the World, British Journal of the History of Philosophy 22.2 (2014).
Samuel Clarke, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ed. Uri Nodelman. (Co-authored with Ezio Vailati.) [Substantial revisions: 2009, 2014.]
Hume's Adequate Idea Criterion and Precise Standard Criterion [under review]
Why Hume Knows Nothing
Direct and Indirect Routes from Locke to Hume
Against the Certainty of the Causal Maxim: An Analysis of Treatise 1.3.3
Adequate Ideas in Early Modern British Philosophy
Is Team Loyalty a Virtue?
Review: D. N. Rodowick, Philosophy's Artful Conversation, Teaching Philosophy (forthcoming).
Review: Jamie C. Kassler, Seeking Truth: Roger North’s Notes on Newton and Correspondence with Samuel Clarke c.1704-1713, Isis 106.4 (2015).
Review: Peter R. Anstey (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of British Philosophy in the Seventeenth Century, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews (2014).
My courses typically combine close readings of texts,
engaging discussions, and even lecture when necessary.
I am committed to (and have written about) teaching that crosses disciplinary boundaries and engages the
I was a fellow at the Yale Teaching Center (now the Yale Center for Teaching and Learning), which was dedicated to promoting excellent teaching by graduate students. I provided individual observations and consultations, and I led workshops on Teaching Texts in the Humanities, Course Design, Diversity in the Classroom, and more.
I have taught courses in
I have served (or am serving) as the adviser on multiple master's theses and undergraduate honors theses, including ones on Kant's aesthetics, Berkeley's notion of spirit, NeoPlatonism in Cockburn's philosophy, and 17th-century French Jesuit responses to Cartesian metaphysics. I have also served on thesis committees or advised independent studies in metaphysics, ethics, philosophy of religion, philosophy of film, and philosophy of humor.
PhilPapers [academic network]
Academia.edu [academic network]
The Mod Squad [a group blog in early modern philosophy]
Khan Academy: Wi-Phi [videos introducing a general audience to philosophy]
The Outtake [occasional pop culture essays]
Letterboxd [capsule-length film reviews]
Twitter [conversations about film, philosophy, teaching]
Inessentials [a personal blog, rarely updated]