(click titles for abstracts)
[Forthcoming] Journal of the History of Philosophy
The kataleptic impression—an impression that is, in some special way, “true and such as could not be false”—is at the core of Stoic epistemology. Since Gisela Striker’s groundbreaking work on the criterion of truth, the dominant view among scholars is that the Stoics restricted kataleptic impressions to certain perceptual impressions. I argue that the Stoics in fact countenanced non-perceptual kataleptic impressions and explain how they thought non-perceptual impressions can meet the definition of the kataleptic impression.
[Forthcoming] The Oxford Handbook of Hellenistic Philosophy (edited by Jacob Klein and Nate Powers)
This article discusses ancient Pyrrhonian Skepticism (as presented by Sextus Empiricus) especially in relation to Academic Skepticism. It focuses in particular on whether, in rejecting the Academic Skeptics’ notion of the plausible impression (phantasia pithanê), Pyrrhonists mean to report that they find all impressions equipollent (i.e. equal in their convincingness). It argues, against a long-standing and widespread view, that the Pyrrhonists do discriminate among their impressions and then explores the consequences that this position has for other central elements of Pyrrhonism. In particular, it argues that that Pyrrhonian Skeptics do not suspend judgment universally but, rather, assent to some impressions, do form beliefs, and can engage in a wide range of actions. It also argues that by recognizing that Pyrrhonists do not find all their impressions to be equipollent, Pyrrhonism is a more viable position than is often thought.
 Philosophy and Phenomenological Research
This paper examines an ancient debate over the rationality of perception. What leads the Stoics to affirm, and the Epicureans to deny, that to form a sense-impression is an activity of reason? The answer, we argue, lies in a disagreement over what is required for epistemic success. For the Stoics, epistemic success consists in believing the right propositions, and only rational states, in virtue of their predicational structure, put us in touch with propositions. Since they identify some sense-impressions as criteria of truth and thus as the basis for epistemic success, the Stoics maintain that sense-impressions must be rational. The Epicureans agree with the Stoics that sense-impressions function as criteria of truth, and also agree broadly on what it means for a state to be rational, but deny that sense-impressions are rational because (1) they think that epistemic success must be supported by a state that is necessarily error-free and (2) accept that rational states can be false. In reconstructing this debate, we refine the standard interpretation of the fundamental difference between Epicurean and Stoic epistemology and also develop parallels with epistemological debates today. One upshot is a more nuanced appreciation of the merits of Epicurean epistemology vis-à-vis the Stoics.
 The Routledge Handbook of Hellenistic Philosophy (edited by Kelly Arenson)
One of the most powerful and consistent objections lodged against ancient skepticism is that it incompatible with action (thus, the label “inaction” (apraxia) objection). Because skeptics do not assent to any of their impressions, the objection goes, they cannot act. In this paper I survey the responses of three skeptics–Arcesilaus, Carneades, and Sextus Empiricus–to the inaction objection, focusing especially on how each develops their response in part to overcome perceived shortcomings in earlier responses.
 What the Ancients Offer to Contemporary Epistemology (edited by Stephen Hetherington and Nicholas Smith)
The last two decades have seen an inferno of interest in the nature and value of understanding. This inferno was sparked, in part, by reflecting on the epistemological concerns of Plato (and other ancient thinkers) and realizing that his discussions of epistêmê are more appropriately thought of as discussions of understanding than as discussions of knowledge. In this paper, I examine what insights we might glean from Plato’s methodological approach to understanding. In particular, I argue that Plato’s account of epistêmê in the Republic is an account of ideal, that is, perfected or complete understanding. Once that is established I consider what light Plato’s methodology could shed on some current debates in the literature on understanding.
 Journal of the History of Philosophy (Winner, Philosopher's Annual 2019 Award , JHP Article Prize)
It is widely accepted that doxa, which plays a major role in Plato’s and Aristotle’s epistemologies, is the Ancient counterpart of belief. We argue against this consensus: doxa is not generic taking-to-be-true, but instead something closer to mere opinion. We then show that Plato shows little sign of interest in the generic notion of belief; it is Aristotle who systematically develops that notion, under the rubric of hupolêpsis (usually translated as ‘supposition’), a much-overlooked notion that is, we argue, central to his epistemology. We close by considering the significance of this development, outlining the shifts in epistemological concerns enabled by the birth of belief as a philosophical notion.
Plato in the Meno is standardly interpreted as committed to condition innatism: human beings are born with latent innate states of knowledge. Against this view, Gail Fine has argued for prenatalism: human souls possess knowledge in a disembodied state but completely lose it upon being embodied. We argue against both views and in favor of content innatism: human beings are born with innate cognitive contents that can be, but do not exist innately in the soul as, the contents of states of knowledge. Content innatism has strong textual support and constitutes a philosophically interesting theory.
Recollection is central to the epistemology of Plato’s Meno. After all, the character Socrates claims that recollection is the process whereby embodied human souls bind down true opinions (doxai) and acquire knowledge (epistêmê). This paper examines the exchange between Socrates and Meno’s slave to determine (1) what steps on the path to acquiring knowledge are part of the process of recollection and (2) what is required for a subject to count as having recollected something. I argue that the key to answering these questions is to get clear on the kind of process recollection is supposed to be. In particular, I argue that recollection is a process akin to the kind of process Aristotle calls “changes” (kinêseis or incomplete energeiai). The key feature of such processes is that they aim at an end beyond themselves and are not complete until that end comes about. In the case of recollection. The end is knowledge, but inferior mental states, such as false opinion, puzzlement (aporia), and true opinion can come about because of a process of recollection without making it the case that the subject has recollected anything. I argue that understanding recollection in this way allows us to accommodate everything that Socrates says about recollection and provides a philosophically interesting picture.
 Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy
This paper reconstructs the conception of epistêmê advanced in Plato’s Republic and defends the claim that epistêmê of perceptibles is impossible from two long-standing objections: that it is philosophically implausible and that it undermines Socrates’ argument that philosophers should rule. The paper argues that epistêmê consists in grasping how a fact either is a fact about or is grounded in facts about natures. It was thus natural for Socrates to rule out epistêmê of perceptibles, since the fact (as he sees it) that predicates apply to perceptibles only in certain circumstances plausibly entails that facts about perceptibles are not appropriately grounded in facts about natures. Nevertheless, philosophers’ opinions (doxai) concerning perceptibles are authoritative because they are informed by their epistêmê of intelligibles (in an analogous way, it is here suggested, to how doctors’ medical opinions concerning particular matters of health are authoritative because they are informed by their understanding of health).
 Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy
At the end of the Meno, the character Socrates famously claims that true doxa is distinguished from epistêmê by a working out of the explanation (aitias logismos). I examine the whole dialogue to argue that working out the explanation consists, for Socrates, in seeing how the fact to be explained is grounded in facts about the natures of the relevant fundamental entities of the domain to which it belongs. I then reconstruct the conception of epistêmê that results from Socrates’ claim that acquiring epistêmê requires working out an explanation. Once that reconstruction is complete, I first argue that notions of epistemic justification are out of place in interpreting the Meno and then appeal to recent work in epistemology to settle the long-standing question of whether Socrates’ account of epistêmê is better interpreted as an account of knowledge or as an account of understanding, arguing that it is more charitably taken in the latter way. Moreover, I argue that Socrates’ account of epistêmê provides possible insights that any philosopher interested in the nature of understanding should take seriously.
In this paper I examine, and reject, one of the chief philosophical arguments that purports to show that Pyrrhonian Skepticism is incompatible with possessing any beliefs. That argument, first put forward by Jonathan Barnes and since accepted by many philosophers, focuses on the skeptic's resolute suspension of judgment concerning one philosophical issue, namely whether criteria of truth exist. In short, the argument holds that, because skeptics suspend judgment whether criteria of truth exist, they have no basis on which to discriminate between their impressions, which is a necessary condition for belief formation. I show that this argument fails because it misunderstands both the nature of criteria of truth and the epistemic consequences of suspending judgment concerning their existence. Thus, I clear the main philosophical obstacle preventing an interpretation of Pyrrhonism as consistent with possessing beliefs (associated most famously with Michael Frede).
I received my PhD from Princeton University, where my advisors were Benjamin Morison and Hendrik Lorenz. Before that I received my BPhil from Oxford University and my BA from Cornell University .