Contemporary philosophy is characterized by a trend towards hyper-specialization. As a result, there is not much communication between philosophers working in different fields and traditions. I favour a “Big-Picture” approach to philosophy. This means that I try to connect seemingly unrelated debates by identifying shared metaphysical and epistemological problems they try to solve, and by consequently developing uniform solution strategies.
For example, in my monograph Ineffability and Its Metaphysics: The Unspeakable in Art, Religion, and Philosophy (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), I develop a uniform metaphysical account of ineffability, a phenomenon that has fascinated and puzzled philosophers for over two thousand years, by drawing on a range of debates from contemporary metaphysics, philosophy of religion, epistemology, philosophy of mathematics, philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, and aesthetics.
My current research project, Mathematical Realism and Theism, continues this comprehensive approach by applying argumentative strategies from the philosophy of mathematics to ontological, semantic, and epistemological questions arising in the philosophy of religion, specifically for theism. Here is a summary of published and in-progress work relating to this project:
‘Modal Structuralism and Theism’ (forthcoming, OUP)
Drawing an analogy between modal structuralism about mathematics and theism, I offer a structuralist account that implicitly defines theism in terms of three basic relations: logical and metaphysical priority, and epistemic superiority. On this view, statements like ‘God is omniscient’ have a hypothetical and a categorical component. The hypothetical component provides a translation pattern according to which statements in theistic language are converted into statements of second-order modal logic. The categorical component asserts the logical possibility of the theism structure on the basis of uncontroversial facts about the physical world. This structuralist reading of theism preserves objective truth-values for theistic statements while remaining neutral on the question of ontology. Thus, it offers a way of understanding theism to which a naturalist cannot object, and it accommodates the fact that religious belief, for many theists, is an essentially relational matter.
‘Access Problems and Explanatory Overkill’ (Philosophical Studies, 2016)
I argue that recent attempts to use evolutionary data in order to dispel the problem of epistemic access for realism about a priori domains such as mathematics, logic, morality, and modality result in two kinds of explanatory overkill: (1) the problem of epistemic access is trivially solved for theism as well as a number of objectionable ‘realisms’, and (2) realist belief becomes viciously immune to arguments from dispensability, and to non-rebutting counter- arguments more generally.
‘On Mathematical and Religious Belief, and On Epistemic Snobbery’ (Philosophy, 2015)
In this paper, I compare mathematical and religious belief with regard to four conditions of rational acceptability: the immediate acceptability of fundamental premises (axioms); Internal and external consistency; applicability to (some aspects of) the physical world; and predictability. I show that mathematical and religious belief fail and succeed in similar ways to fulfil these conditions. The argument is directed against a wide-spread view according to which belief in mathematics is obviously rationally acceptable whereas belief in religion is not.
‘Mathematical, Moral, and Religious Disagreement’ (in progress)
‘Analogical Reasoning About Domains of A Priori Knowledge’ (in progress)
‘Explanatory Indispensability: Mathematics Meets Religion’ (in progress)
‘Counter-intuitive Assumptions in Physics, Mathematics, and Theology’ (with Karl Svozil; in progress)