steve petersen's (professional) homepage

[steve petersen,
professional picture]

steve's professional life

I 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.

steve's current research

My 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.



Slides 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.



My research references are advisor Eric Lormand (Michigan), Jessica Wilson (formerly Michigan, now Toronto), Marc Alspector-Kelly (Western Michigan University), and Jim Joyce (Michigan).

My teaching references are David Velleman (formerly Michigan, now NYU) and Chris Latiolais (Kalamazoo College).

nice quotation

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