On this page, you can look at a number of my projects (in progress and planned) or just download my current Research Statement.
Rosenhagen, R.: Philosophy in the Key of Love. Murdochian Dialogues [monograph, planned]
Rosenhagen, R. (ed.): Reformed Empiricism and Its Prospects [edited volume, in preparation]
Philosophy of Perception
- Theoretically General, Practically Generalizable. Gupta’s Hypothetical Given.
Over the past two decades, Anil Gupta has developed an original account of experience and its role in empirical rationality: Reformed Empiricism. At its core lies his conception of the rational role of experience—the so-called hypothetical given.
In this paper, I show, first, that the generality of the hypothetical given has two interesting corollaries: i) alternative conceptions of the rational role of experience can be characterized as special cases of it, ii) if the conception of the hypothetical given is accepted, then a seemingly central debate within philosophy of perception—that between relationalists and representationalists—loses a lot of the importance that is commonly attributed to it. This serves to show that the hypothetical given is theoretically general. Next, I point out that Gupta develops his position as an intervention within the area of philosophy of perception and, more broadly, as a contribution to theoretical philosophy. But as I argue, nothing in the structure of the hypothetical given forces us to restrict its application to the realm of the theoretical. If suitably generalized, the idea of the hypothetical given has various interesting applications in the domain of practical reasoning, or so I will argue. This serves to show that the hypothetical given is practically generalizable.
- RRME & EMRR: Rational Role of Moral Experience and Empiricist Moral Realism Reconstrued
What is moral or morally relevant experience and how are we to think of its rational role? If we seek to address this question, further questions arise. In this paper, I argue that the answer to each of them is “no”.
- Must we think of moral experience in terms of providing knowledge or justification?
- Must those who entertain an account of moral experience be representationalists and hold that moral concepts inform or comprise part of our experiential representational contents?
- If not, must we think of moral experience as acquainting us with moral properties?
- Are representationalism and relationalism with respect to moral experience the only available options?
- Can only moral realists have an account of moral experience?
- Internalism without Content: How to Avoid Evil Demons [interm. draft]
I argue that the New Evil Demon Problem as it figures in, e.g., Robert Howell (2015) and in the debate between Andrew Moon and Kevin McCain does not properly capture the internalist intuition. First, I show that both relationalists and disjunctivists will object to the way the problem is phrased. Relationalist must take issue with the idea that to subjects in radically different worlds, things can seem the same, where ‘seem the same’ is spelled out in terms of the phenomenal character of the relevant experiences. Representationalist disjunctivists, on the other hand, reject the idea that if things seem the same to different subjects, the justificatory status of their beliefs must be the same. To them, the rational impact of a given seeming differs depending on whether it is a mere seeming or a proper seeing. The latter, but not the former, puts on in a position to know. Yet, I argue, there is a third way to object to NEDP, one that is neither relationalist nor disjunctivist. Against the relationalist, the objection grants that two different experiences can have identical phenomenal character. Against the disjunctivist, it is claimed that experience lacks representational content and does not play a rational role if considered in isolation. Rather, whether or not it plays a role, and which one depends on what background views subjects bring to bear on it. The resulting view, I suggest, is attractive. For one, it dodges objections faced by relational and representational views. For another, it can be used to construct a modified version of NEDP, which arguably captures the internalist intuition much better than the original version while at the same time forestalling certain worries raised by Howell and Moon.
- Propositionalist Evidentialism, a False Dilemma, and the Variable Content View [advanced draft]
How can evidentialists accommodate the idea that experience plays a vital rational role? One way for evidentialists to do so that, I argue, has so far been neglected is by embracing what I dub the Variable Content View. According to it, experience has propositional content, yet that content, rather than fixed by its phenomenal character (as phenomenal conservatists would hold), is at least partly determined by the experiencing subject’s background view. The Variable Content View, I suggest, is attractive because it successfully navigates between a) the Scylla of epistemological coherentism and b) the Charybdis of epistemological foundationalism. Avoiding the problems associated with them, it manages to accommodate both the vital role of experience in our justificatory endeavors and the importance of the background beliefs we bring to bear on it.
- Buddhist Elements in Murdochian Ethics [under construction]
As both Jay Garfield (2015) and Maria Heim (2014) argue, Buddhist Ethics, particularly as construed in Buddhaghosa’s Visuddhimagga, centers on techniques to develop and transform human experience, for doing so is what ultimately drives the moral and spiritual progress of unselfing. Such an understanding of the fundamental role of ethical experience, I suggest, has a close Western cousin in Iris Murdoch’s particular version of virtue ethics. Obvious differences with respect to the underlying metaphysical assumptions notwithstanding, the Buddhist terminology, I argue, allows to to further explain and develop Murdoch’s account. Moreover, drawing both on the differences and commonalities between Buddhist and Murdochian thought enables us to shed light on Murdoch’s otherwise enigmatic claim that she might be understood as a Buddhist Christian (a companion piece to this paper, focuses on failing concepts, compassion, and emptiness in Buddhism and Murdoch’s work).
- Anekāntavāda and Presentationalism–Two Peas in a Pod? [submitted & under review]
In this paper, I argue a) that Anil Gupta’s recently developed presentationalist position within philosophy of perception is very hospitable to central elements of Jaina philosophy, and b) that based on a reflection on the latter elements we can enrich the presentationalist framework further to arrive at a position that should be attractive not just to the committed Jaina, but to philosophers of perception more broadly.
History and Philosophy of Science
- Predictive Coding and Presentationalism – Natural Bedfellows? [draft, presented])
On predictive coding accounts of perception, the generation of percepts in the brain is massively determined by top-down effects. Whether predictive coding accounts are accurate is, of course, contentious. Moreover, it is not obvious that such effects, if they obtain, must be construed as effects on conscious experience (see Macpherson 2016). In this paper, I suggest that if the relevant top-down effects are to be construed as effects on conscious experience, then presentationalism, a view according to which experience is neither relational nor representational, is particularly well-suited to accommodate them. Indeed, presentationalism, I argue, has a leg up both on relational views and certain versions of representationalism.
- No Theory-Neutral Observation Necessary [abstracted]
I argue against Gerhard Schurz’s claim that to avoid a position according to which reasoning in science is inevitably circular, we must rehabilitate a notion of theory-neutral observation. Vicious circularity, I agree, must be avoided. But a notion of theory-neutral observation, I argue, is neither available nor required. We can accept that observations are thoroughly theory-laden and at yet avoid circularity that is vicious.
- Off to a Bad Start. The Early Reception of Hanson’s Notion of Theory-Ladenness [interm. draft]
In this paper, I look at the early reception of Hanson’s notion of the theory-ladenness of observation (by, e.g., Carl Kordig, Peter Achinstein, G. Gale and E. Walter) and show how, surprisingly, they all got Hanson rather wrong, which, in turn, gave theory-ladenness the bad reputation that it still mostly enjoys.
Philosophy of Love and Friendship
- Murdoch on Love and Privacy [advanced draft, presented]
Following up on issues raised in Setiya (2013), in this paper, I provide a detailed analysis of Iris Murdoch’s concept of love as just attention and explain how her realism can be squared with her remarks on privacy.
- The Power of Love [draft, presented] In this paper, I investigate what, if anything, we are to make of the phrase “The Power of Love.” In an unlikely journey that begins with Huey Lewis & the News and Jennifer Rush and then moves from Carnap to Murdoch, I argue for an interpretation on which love is powerful when it is transformative in a way that has not just moral, but–perhaps surprisingly–epistemic implications.
- “Polyamory in a Murdochian Key” [in preparation]
In this paper, I investigate how questions that are pressing in the standard discussion about polyamory are modified if the notion of love under consideration is not that of romantic love, but Murdoch’s notion of love as just attention. I show that a) some issues that are problems in the standard debate do not arise for that conception, but that b) other problems arise, some of which have counterparts in the standard debate.
- Inputs from Murdoch and Rosenberg for Philosophical Counselling [forthcoming in Philosophical Practice 18.1]
In this article, I suggest that combining resources from philosophy and psychology can yield useful tools for philosophical counselling. More specifically, I argue for three theses: a) Iris Murdoch’s notion of just attention and Marshall Rosenberg’s method of non-violent communication are interestingly compatible; b) engaging in non-violent communication serves to support one’s endeavors to acquire the kind of clear vision Murdoch thinks doing well by others requires; and c) non-violent just communication would be beneficial to both counsellors and counselees and thus a useful resource for philosophical counsellors.
- The Four A’s of Philosophical Counselling: Aparadigmatic, Amethodical, Attention-based Art [in preparation]
In this paper, I look at the current state of the debate about Philosophical counselling, at what it is and at where it may or should be going. I argue, first, against the view that Philosophical Counselling could be understood, with Kuhn, as a science in a pre-paradigmatic phase. Taking a leaf from Achenbach’s reflections on the nature of philosophical practice, I argue that we should take it to be aparadigmatic and amethodical. Methods can be useful tools, but as with every tool, one must know how and when to use it–and when not. Philosophical counselling has a heart, but that heart is neither a paradigm nor a method. Instead, I think that it is best characterized as a set of capacities that philosophical counsellors must cultivate, not unlike artists, who need to practice certain skills that allow them to express themselves. For the philosophical practitioner, I suggest, the most important one of these capacities is the ability to attend.
- Dual Character Concepts and the Idea of Perfection [advanced draft]
This paper has four parts: in the first, I begin by quickly reviewing the conceptual terrain within which dual character concepts are located. As I do, I raise some doubts concerning the category of the purely descriptive. If substantiated, these doubts would threaten to undermine our confidence that when drawing a distinction between the descriptive and evaluative aspects of dual character concepts, we know what we are doing. Yet we can vindicate the common practice of drawing that distinction. Doing so, I argue, requires that we eschew a certain lingering conception of how normative, modal, and descriptive vocabularies must be related to one another. In the second part of the paper, I focus on a pertinent thesis culled from the extant literature on dual character concepts. According to it, the two aspects of dual character concepts are said to be related but independent. Drawing on the predicate ‘being an artist’ as an example, I try to tease out how independent these aspects really are and argue for the thesis that the alleged independence is in fact severely constrained. In the third part, I sketch Murdoch’s account of moral concepts and her central idea that moral progress crucially involves progress in our understanding and proper application of concepts, which in turn are construed as perfectible. I then show that Murdoch’s account of perfectible concepts provides a useful framework to understand how dual character concepts function. More specifically, I propose that dual character concepts are a proper subset of perfectible concepts. In the fourth and final part, I draw out some implications of Murdoch’s account for the debate and for future empirical work on dual character concepts.