My PhD thesis is on Rudolf Carnap’s philosophy of mathematics, with a focus on questions of ontology. I argue that an old objection put forward by E.W. Beth poses a more serious challenge to Carnap’s position than he himself and his defenders have recognised so far. On my interpretation, Beth correctly identifies a deep tension between Carnap’s philosophy of mathematics and his behaviourist conception of language, which undermines his attempt to do mathematics without ontology.
I have papers under review on Carnap’s philosophy of mathematics and the role of names in Wittgenstein’s Tractatus. Please email me for drafts if you are interested.
- 2021: Does Semantic Deflationism entail Meta-Ontological Deflationism? (with Thomas Schindler). The Philosophical Quarterly. Deflationary positions have been defended in many areas of philosophy: Most prominent are semantic deflationism about truth and reference, and meta-ontological deflationism, according to which existence has no deep nature and the standard neo-Quinean approach to ontology is misguided. Although both kinds of views have generated much discussion, surprisingly little attention has been paid to the question of how they relate to each other. Are they independent, is it advisable to hold them all at once, or do they even entail each other? One exception is Amie Thomasson, who has argued that semantic deflationism actually entails meta-ontological deflationism. This is unexpected, since semantic deflationism is usually regarded as much less controversial than meta-ontological deflationism. In our paper, we will argue that Thomasson’s argument fails though, and that the connection between the views is in fact weaker than she makes them out to be.Link via Publisher
- Forthcoming: Easy Ontology, Quantification, and Realism. Synthese.Amie Thomasson has defended a view called Easy Ontology, according to which most ontological questions can be answered straightforwardly using conceptual truths and empirical knowledge. Furthermore, she claims that this deflationary meta-ontology does not commit her to any form of anti-realism. In this paper I identify a problem with Thomasson’s account of quantification, according to which everything we quantify over falls under a sortal. Thomasson’s defence of the easiness of answering ontological questions relies on a certain thesis about the hierarchical order of sortals, but the case for the compatibility of Easy Ontology and realism suggests that this thesis is actually false.Link via Publisher
- 2019: Conceptualizing Kant’s Mereology. Ergo.In the Resolution of the Second Antinomy of the first Critique and the Dynamics chapter of the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Sciences, Kant presents his critical views on mereology, the study of parts and wholes. He endorses an unusual position: Matter is said to be infinitely divisible without being infinitely divided. It would be mistaken to think that matter consists of infinitely many parts — rather, parts “exist only in the representation of them, hence in the dividing”. This view, according to which parts are created through division somehow, was criticized as obscure early on, and has not received much attention since. Against this trend, I show how a coherent position, which I call Mereological Conceptualism, can be extracted from the sparse textual basis.Link via Publisher
- 2018: Metasemantics, Intentions and Circularity. Synthese (with Lukas Lewerentz).According to intentionalism, a demonstrative d refers to an object o only if the speaker intends d to refer to o. Intentionalism is a popular view in metasemantics, but Gauker has recently argued that it is circular. We defend intentionalism against this objection, by showing that Gauker’s argument rests on a misconstrual of the aim of metasemantics. We then introduce two related, but distinct circularity objections: the worry that intentionalism is uninformative, and the problem of intentional bootstrapping, according to which it is impossible to have referential intentions. We also show how intentionalists could respond to these new objections.Link via Publisher
- upcoming: Quine’s Empiricist Platonism. SSHAP 2021, Vienna.
- upcoming: Carnapian Explication and the Limits of Voluntarism. Logik Café, Vienna.
- 2020: Quine on Ontology and the Primacy of Truth. Serious Metaphysics Group, Cambridge.
- 2019: Carnap’s Defence of Abstract Objects. Abstract Objects and Circularity Workshop, Munich; 3rd TiLPS History of Analytic Philosophy Workshop, Tilburg; Moral Sciences Club, Cambridge; 23rd Annual Graduate Philosophy Conference, Oxford.
- 2019: Carnap’s Internal Platonism. Serious Metaphysics Group, Cambridge; Modal Metaphysics: Issues on the (Im)Possible VII, Bratislava.
- 2018: Easy Ontology and Categorical Quantification. The 7th International Philosophy Graduate Conference, CEU Budapest; The 2018 Joint Session, Oxford
[Credit for picture of Carnap: University of Chicago Photographic Archive, apf1-01559, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library].