My main research interests are life meaning and spirituality. My approach to meaningfulness judgments emphasizes the internal standpoint (what makes living meaningful to me as I live it?) over the external standpoint (what would a third-person bystander say about the meaningfulness of my life?). The external approach has become dominant in recent theory (e.g., Susan Wolf, Thaddeus Metz) and merits foundational critique. I also explore the meaningfulness of things apart from their contribution to a meaningful "life" - for instance, the meaningfulness of attachment to other people.
My approach to spirituality seeks a secular standpoint that makes sense of the common phrase "spiritual but not religious", building on the insights of John Dewey and Robert Solomon. "Gifts without Givers" (forthcoming in the peer-reviewed journal Sophia) applies rigorous philosophy of language and metaphor to show that viewing life as a gift worthy of gratitude is an advisable attitude that's available to the secularist as an appropriate response to reality. "Becoming a Hollow Bone" explores the role played by paranormal healing power in establishing humanity's concept of spirituality, and also to what extent the value of spirituality can be preserved without commitment to the paranormal.
- "Gifts without Givers: Secular Spirituality and Metaphorical Cognition" (forthcoming)
- "Becoming a Hollow Bone: How Lakota Respect for the Sacred Fosters Morality and Meaning in Life" (Forthcoming)
Ph.D., Tulane University
The Human Person
Making Moral Decisions
Self & the Sacred
Areas of Expertise
Philosophy of Life Meaning, Philosophy of Spirituality, Applied Ethics, Philosophy of Language