My primary areas of study are ancient and medieval philosophy. I have a keen interest in Aristotle’s hylomorphic theory, its history, and its applications in philosophical anthropology, contemporary metaphysics, and the philosophy of mind/perception. Put simply, this doctrine strikes me as true, and true in its historical form. It is well worth our time, then, to accurately retrieve, defend, and extend it.
In addition to these interests, I have further interests in contemporary metaphysics and philosophy of mind/perception–e.g. questions about the existence and nature of properties, questions about metaphysical grounding, and questions in the philosophy of color and color perception.
“A Defense of Aristotle’s Constituent Ontology” (Dissertation)
My dissertation—”A Defense of Aristotle’s Constituent Ontology”—was co-advised by Christopher Shields and Sean Kelsey. In it, I defend classical hylomorphism against two different kinds of opponents; the first—certain scholars of the history of philosophy who often declare themselves to be friends of hylomorphism–deflate it, so to speak, so that it does not yield the genuine distinction between body and soul so integral to its most important applications in philosophical anthropology and theology, while the second—contemporary metaphysicians who openly declare themselves to be its enemies—claim that the doctrine is unintelligible. I explain and rebut the positions of both parties, in the process producing an accurate account of classical hylomorphism and motivating its intelligibility for those who would doubt or deny it.
“Organicism and Hylomorphism on the Principle of Unity of Organisms”
This paper was presented at Fordham University in the fall 2016 for the 34th annual meeting of the Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy. In it, I make the case that the principle of unity of organisms employed in classical hylomorphism—viz. substantial form—fares better in its role than does the principle of unity of organisms employed in Peter van Inwagen’s “organicism”—viz. the “self-maintaining, well-individuated, jealous event” he terms “life.” I begin by describing a problem facing organicism’s principle of unity that I call “the problem of the unity of the principle of unity”; if life is complex because “constituted” by many activities, then what is the principle of unity of a life, such that it is one life, and not merely many activities? I then investigate a number of possible responses to this problem, showing that none of them is satisfying. Lastly, I show that classical hylomorphism’s principle of unity does not face this problem and, in fact, has a better claim than life to be the necessary and sufficient condition of the unity of complex bodies on account of its metaphysically causal character.
(Under review shortly. Email me for a draft.)
“Aristotle’s Doctrine of Nature in Light of the Meaning of ‘Archē’”
This paper was presented at Fordham University this fall 2017 for the 35th annual meeting of the Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy. Some recent Aristotelian scholars offer interpretations of Aristotle’s doctrine of nature that obscure the moderate dualism of Aristotle’s hylomorphic theory, a moderate dualism recognized by most classical, late antique, and medieval interpreters. I argue that the correct understanding of the Aristotelian technical term “archē,” as it is used in Aristotle’s engagement with the pre-Socratic philosopher Parmenides, has implications for how we must understand Aristotle’s doctrine of nature. An archē, or “source,” always implies multiplicity, for the very concept of a source implies a difference in being between a source and that which is from a source. Since the term is famously applied to nature in Physics Book 2, the proper interpretation of Aristotle’s doctrine of nature must make sense of the multiplicity implied by the term “archē.” I show that it is the moderately dualistic classical and medieval interpretations of the doctrine of nature that are best able to accomplish this, rather than reductive contemporary readings.
(Under Review Shortly. Email me for a draft.)
“Substantial Holism or Mereological Hylomorphism?”
This paper concerns the doctrine of “substantial holism,” an interpretation of hylomorphism put forward by Theodore Scaltsas and Anna Marmodoro. Scaltsas and Marmodoro are primarily concerned with Aristotle’s notion of substantial unity. They argue that, according to Aristotle, for a substance to be truly unified, it cannot contain substantial parts of any kind, whether these parts be elemental substances or, as Scaltsas says, “abstract” parts, by which he means form and proximate matter. While it is common for interpreters to understand Metaphysics Z.17 as a denial that substances are composed of other corporeal substances, Scaltsas’ and Marmodoro’s attempt to efface the duality of matter and form is novel. It represents an attack on the moderate dualism common to classical and medieval interpretations of Aristotle’s hylomorphism, as well as contemporary, moderately dualistic interpretations such as the “mereological hylomorphism” posited by Kathrin Koslicki. I argue that substantial holism cannot be squared with the works of Aristotle, since, the difference between matter and form is real, according to Aristotle, but not the kind of difference or duality that threatens the substantial unity of primary substances. I show that mereological hylomorphism properly understood poses no threat to the unity of substance and is the genuine Aristotelian view.
(Draft in Progress)
“The Coherence and Truth of Constituent Ontology”
This paper defends the coherence and truth of constituent ontology—a general ontological framework that posits that familiar particulars have non-corporeal parts, which are often properties or other metaphysical items—against contemporary Platonist claims that the view is unintelligible. I defend the coherence of the view by showing how it follows naturally from certain aesthetic claims commonly made by constituent ontologists—viz. that some properties are per se sensible, while the bearers of properties are not per se sensible. I then argue for the truth of constituent ontology by defending the soundness an argument whose premises include these aesthetic claims. The paper thus deals with questions about the nature of properties and their bearers that are central to both contemporary metaphysics and contemporary philosophy of perception.
(Draft in Progress)
“Does Constituent Ontology Involve a Category Mistake?”
Advocates of relational ontology often charge constituent ontology with unintelligibility. This charge is often rooted in the claim that—when they use terms such as “in” or “part” to describe the relationship of properties to their bearers—constituent ontologists thereby posit spatially located properties—i.e. they thereby commit a category mistake. In this paper, I investigate the doctrine of a number of prominent constituent ontologists, both classical (Aristotle) and contemporary (Bergmann, Armstrong, Loux), and show that the positing of spatially located properties is neither an essential nor even a coincidentally ubiquitous feature of constituent ontology. Many, if not most, constituent ontologists deny that properties have spatial location, and therefore do not commit the category mistake relational ontologists frequently charge them with committing.
(Draft in Progress)