steve's professional lifeI am a philosophy professor. I did my undergrad at Harvard (with math as an "allied field"), and my PhD at the University of Michigan. Then I did a Mellon 2-year postdoctoral fellowship at Kalamazoo College, and now I am an assistant professor in the growing philosophy department at Niagara University.
- Here's my most recent curriculum vitae. (Note that "most recent" does not strictly imply "recent".)
- My (old and a bit naive but somewhat accurate) research statement, in pdf.
- An old page on my teaching.
steve's current researchMy research centers on a strongly naturalistic approach to good thinking. How can physical creatures - biological or artificial - think better? This involves issues in normative epistemology (what is it to think better?), philosophy of mind (what is it for a physical system to think in the first place?), and cognitive science (how do we humans manage to think well much of the time, and how might we teach machines to do it?). I also study related topics such as inference to the best explanation, formal models of simplicity, information theory, conceptual analysis, and the emotions.
All papers here are in Adobe portable document format (pdf); here is a free pdf reader.
- Utilitarian epistemology, in Synthese, forthcoming. (Linked version is a penultimate draft.)
- Designing people to serve, in Robot Ethics, forthcoming from MIT Press. (Linked version is a penultimate draft.)
- Analysis, schmanalysis, in the Canadian Journal of Philosophy, June 2008, volume 38, number 2, pp. 289-300. [html abstract]
- Construing faith as action won't save Pascal's wager, in Philo, Fall-Winter 2006, volume 9, number 2, pp. 221-229. [html abstract]
- The ethics of robot servitude, in the Journal of Experimental and Theoretical Artificial Intelligence, March 2007, volume 19, number 1, pp. 43-54. A video presentation of a shorter version is available on the NA-CAP 2006 website (mine is the second of three 30-minute talks in the video). [html abstract]
- Functions, creatures, learning, emotion, in Architectures for Modeling Emotion: Cross-Disciplinary Foundations, 2004, AAAI Press. A paper for conference proceedings of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence. [html abstract]
presentationsSlides of selected recent presentations. They're a bit harder to read without my patter, of course, but the outlines along the top of each slide should help.
- Naturalism as a coherent ism, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee invited talk, fall 2009.
- Comments on Carl Wagner's Jeffrey conditioning and external Bayesianity, given May 2008 at the Formal Epistemology Workshop. [view on Slideshare]
- Utilitarian epistemology, given spring 2008 at an epistemology seminar at the University of Buffalo. This is a revised version of the paper / presentation below. [view on Slideshare]
- Utilitarian epistemology and the value of knowledge, given August 2007 at the Value of Knowledge conference in Amsterdam. It's a sort of brief prospectus for a purely utilitarian approach to epistemic value, with applications to the Meno problem, skepticism, and epistemic justification. [view on Slideshare]
- Minimum message length as a truth-conducive simplicity measure, given at the 2007 Formal Epistemology Workshop at Carnegie Mellon June 2nd. Good compression must track higher vs lower probability of inputs, and this is one way to approach how simplicity tracks truth. [view on Slideshare]
- Naturalism is (literally) self-explanatory, given at the Center for Inquiry. It's about how construing naturalism as a methodological commitment to inference to the best explanation - and then construing explanation as unification - solves many problems for naturalism. In particular, it saves naturalism from being self-undermining. I'm working this into a paper and am eager for comments. [view on Slideshare]
- The ethics of robot servitude, given at the University of Buffalo Center for Cognitive Science. This is the presentation version of the paper, above. [view on Slideshare]
- The ethics of intellectual property, given at the 13th Annual International Conference Promoting Business Ethics. Not my area of specialization, but a topic about which I feel strongly.
referencesMy research references are advisor Eric Lormand (Michigan), Jessica Wilson (formerly Michigan, now Toronto), Marc Alspector-Kelly (Western Michigan University), and Jim Joyce (Michigan).
Were I to choose an auspicious image for the new millennium, I would choose … the sudden agile leap of the poet-philosopher who raises himself above the weight of the world, showing that with all his gravity he has the secret of lightness, and that what many consider to be the vitality of the times - noisy, aggressive, revving and roaring - belongs to the realm of death, like a cemetery for rusty old cars.from Italo Calvino, Six Memos for the Next Millennium