My current research focuses on topics at the intersections of philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, action theory, and social/political philosophy. The theme uniting my work is practical language and thought, the kinds of language and thought that connects to action. Below are some of my projects. Many are based on my dissertation work; others are extensions of that work. Please contact me for drafts. Comments are welcome.
Kapitan on Indexicals and Indexical Thought (Forthcoming, Southern Journal of Philosophy)
The Essential Indexicality of Intentional Action (2016, Philosophical Quarterly)
–Winner of the Philosophical Quarterly Essay Prize; view it here.
Imperatives & Directives
Imperatives Express Nonmodal Propositions (draft available)
The Publicality of Directives
'Do A if p'
The Role of Mood in Syntax, Semantics, and Pragmatics
Intentions and the De Se (draft available)
Intentions Believed True are Irrational
Are Intentions Motivational?
Intentions, Ignorance, and Uncertainty
Coercion, Involuntarism, and Reflexive Action (draft available)
Directives and Deliberation
Directives and Responsibility: Taking Passive Agency Seriously (draft available)
Making Sense of the Just Following Orders Defense in American Law
Imperativism and What Pains are About (draft available)
Three Conceptions of De Se Content
Telling Each Other What To Do: On Imperative Language
Abstract: I examine the syntax, semantics, and pragmatics of imperative sentences. The guiding question is What are the meanings of imperatives? To answer this question I begin by arguing, in Chapter 1, that the syntax of imperatives structurally parallels the syntax of declaratives, such that imperatives and declaratives have all the same structural features (subject NP, predicate VP, mood feature, etc.). From this starting point I then go on to argue, in Chapter 2, that two of the most prominent theories of imperative meaning on the market today – the Property Theory and the Deontic Proposition Theory – are inadequate. In Chapter 3 I present, develop, and defend a theory of imperative meaning which builds on the work of Castañeda, Hamblin, Ludwig, and Mastop, among others, while departing from each in significant ways. I call it Naïve Satisfactionism. This theory faces a number of challenges however. In Chapter 4 I tackle perhaps the most pressing difficult for any theory of imperative meaning: compound sentences containing both imperatives and clauses with different types of meanings (e.g. 'You do the laundry and I will vacuum the carpets'). I review a number of potential ways to account for these "mixed" compound sentences. Ultimately, I argue that this problem requires holding that imperatives and declaratives have exactly the same semantics. This means that imperatives and declaratives have both the same intensions and the same extensions. Thus, Chapter 4 draws the surprising conclusion that despite surface differences, there is no interesting semantic difference between imperatives and declaratives (or any other clause-type). Nevertheless, I argue that there are still conversational differences between imperatives and declaratives. Namely, I argue that sentential moods conversationally function to determine which areas of one's mental life one should be engaging. For instance, while accepting a sentence in the declarative mood involves forming a belief, accepting a sentence in the imperative mood involves forming an intention. Another pressing problem for Naïve Satisfactionism is it's not clear how proponents of the theory can make good on the claim that there is a significant connection between imperatives and action. Chapter 5 responds to this problem by linking imperative sentences up with reasons for action: one accepts an imperative sentence only if they have motivating reasons to carry the imperative out. In linking imperatives up with reasons for action, I am able to account for the practical "oomph" that language-users report experiencing when being on the receiving end of an imperative, and thereby am able to explain how it is that we tell each other what to do.