I am a postdoc in philosophy at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. I received my PhD from the London School of Economics, where I investigated the relationship between moral responsibility and causation, with a particular focus on collective settings.
Much of my work concerns agency. Issues of agency pervade a broad range of philosophical questions. Some of these questions are rather theoretical, such as what an agent is and whether corporations and states are collective agents. Other questions are more applied, including how responsibility for collective actions should be distributed to the individuals involved or how human agency meshes with non-human agency and artificial intelligence. Generally, I am interested in topics at the intersection of moral philosophy, philosophy of mind, and metaphysics and in applying them to issues in political philosophy, philosophy of the social sciences, decision theory, and philosophy of economics.
Starting this fall I will be a postdoctoral fellow in Stanford University’s McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society. I will also work with Josh Cohen at Apple University on the ethics of automated systems and machine learning.
Abstract: This paper develops a taxonomy of kinds of actions that can be seen in group agency, human–machine interactions, and virtual realities. These kinds of actions are special in that they are not embodied in the ordinary sense. I begin by analysing the notion of embodiment into three separate assumptions that together comprise what I call the Embodiment View. Although this view may find support in paradigmatic cases of agency, I suggest that each of its assumptions can be relaxed. With each assumption that is given up, a different kind of disembodied action becomes available. The taxonomy gives a systematic overview and suggests that disembodied actions have the same theoretical relevance as the actions of any ordinarily embodied human.
Australasian Journal of Philosophy 95(1), January 2017.
Abstract: This paper is about the status of collective actions. According to one view, collective actions metaphysically reduce to individual actions because sentences about collective actions are merely a shorthand for sentences about individual actions. I reconstruct an argument for this view and show via counterexamples that it is not sound. The argument relies on a paraphrase procedure to unpack alleged shorthand sentences about collective actions into sentences about individual actions. I argue that the best paraphrase procedure that has been put forward so far fails to produce adequate results.
Paper: published version.
With Jason Alexander and Chris Thompson. Philosophy of Science 82(3), July 2015.
Abstract: This paper examines two questions about scientists’ search for knowledge. First, which search strategies generate discoveries effectively? Second, is it advantageous to diversify search strategies? We argue pace Weisberg and Muldoon (2009) that, on the first question, a search strategy that deliberately seeks novel research approaches need not be optimal. On the second question, we argue they have not shown epistemic reasons exist for the division of cognitive labor, identifying the errors that led to their conclusions. Furthermore, we generalize the epistemic landscape model, showing that one should be skeptical about the benefits of social learning in epistemically complex environments.
Additional material: The model used for this article is written using NetLogo. The source code of our model is available here. It involves a swarm strategy, which draws on the model by Couzin et al. (2005) and the Boids model. You can find a simple simulation that I wrote to study the behaviour of this model here.
Economics and Philosophy 31(3), November 2015.
Abstract: First, I summarize select contributions focussing mostly on social ontology. Second, I point to some flaws in particular arguments, and illustrate the potential of seeking synergies with related debates in the philosophy of mind. Third, I put forward the hypothesis that some disagreements between participants in the debate are merely verbal.
Abstract: We are responsible for some things but not for others. In this thesis, I investigate what it takes for an entity to be responsible for something. This question has two components: agents and actions. I argue for a permissive view about agents. Entities such as groups or artificially intelligent systems may be agents in the sense required for responsibility. With respect to actions, I argue for a causal view. The relation in virtue of which agents are responsible for actions is a causal one. I claim that responsibility requires causation and I develop a causal account of agency. This account is particularly apt for addressing the relationship between agency and moral responsibility and sheds light on the causal foundations of moral responsibility.
Thesis: available online.
Courses at LSE were taught as a teaching assistant; all other courses were taught as primary instructor.