Hiking, Mount Charleston area, August 2022
This page contains information about

1. About Me

I am (since 2006) a transplant to Las Vegas and (since 2012) an Associate Professor in the Philosophy Department at UNLV. This Spring (2024) term I am teaching a Senior Seminar on Theories of Truth and Introduction to Philosophy (through Science Fiction). Over the past few semesters I have taught Metaphysics, Philosophy of Science, a Senior (Capstone) Seminar on Fiction and Fictionalism, Philosophy of Language, Great Philosophers: Wittgenstein, and Intro. In Spring 2020 I was on leave, getting more expertise in linguistics (mainly Chomsky and Tomasello). In other past terms I have taught Philosophy of Mathematics (with Ian Dove), Advanced Logic, Introduction to Symbolic Logic, and a First-Year Seminar (COLA 100LA) course on Science Fiction and Philosophy. Before coming to UNLV, I was a reluctant academic nomad, teaching at such institutions as Yale University (2005-6), The University of Michigan (2004-5), The College of William and Mary (2001-4), and New York University (1999-2001). I've taught a variety of classes at these different places, including Philosophy of Mind, Language and Mind, a First-Year Seminar on Relativism, and Ethics.

I am (in origin and demeanor) a northeasterner. I grew up in Glastonbury, Connecticut but managed to escape the suburbs every summer at Camp Quinebarge in New Hampshire, where I spent most of my time hiking in the White Mountains. I did an undergraduate degree at Amherst College in Massachusetts, where I also devoted a lot of time to singing, both in the men's Glee Club and in an a cappella group called the DQ that I helped "revive". During my college years I spent three summers living in a tent and working outrageous hours at the Columbia Wards salmon fishery in Kenai, Alaska. After graduating from Amherst with a double major in philosophy and physics, I spent a year traveling around the world, mostly in New Zealand, Australia, China, Thailand, Nepal, India, Italy, Germany, and Croatia. When I got back to the U.S. I lived in Boston for two years and worked as a research technician at the Harvard School of Public Health. My (rather strange) job there was to make computer models of human and dog rib cages for use in the study of respiratory mechanics. (Here is an abstract.) From Boston I moved to Ann Arbor to pursue a graduate degree in philosophy at the University of Michigan (Go Blue). I relocated to NYC in 1998 and then (after completing my Ph.D.) moved to Virginia in 2001 to teach at William & Mary. Three years later I returned to Ann Arbor to spend a year teaching for my old alma mater (Go Blue, uh, again). After that, I ended up back in my old home state of CT for a year, teaching at Yale. Now here I am in the middle of a desert, in the craziest city on earth.

2. My Interests

Outside of academic pursuits, I'm trying to get back into rock climbing, after a very long break from it. (Here are some old pictures from way, way back when.) I'm just an occasional gym climber for now (but I'm looking forward to getting back out to Red Rock Canyon and Porcelain Wall on Mt. Potosi). My main interest these days is music, mostly "indie" rock (as in Wolf Parade, Le Butcherettes, Ty Segall, St. Vincent, LCD Soundsystem) and early 70s rock (as in Zeppelin, Bowie (of course), T. Rex, Big Star), blues, post-war jazz, real country music (as in Hank Williams, Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard), and bluegrass/old time. From 2007-2012 I booked a lot of indie rock shows in several venues in Downtown Las Vegas, and I co-organized the then twice-yearly Neon Reverb Festival--which returned in 2016-2018 as a once-yearly March event after a 3-year hiatus and is looking to revive again soon! Other interests include movies from the 30's and 40's, traveling(!), and camping. And then, of course, there are my two dogs, Rufus (the bigger guy) and Baxter (the Boston Terrier)! (Scout, you are missed, you funny beast.)

3. What I Work On

My philosophical interests include the philosophy of language and mind, metaphysics, and philosophical logic. I mainly focus on the topic of truth and have developed (most recently, in collaboration with Bradley Armour-Garb) a novel analysis of truth-talk (the fragment of language that employs the notion of truth). The view has connections with deflationism about truth (a general approach that also is really more an analysis of truth-talk than one of truth itself, although it has implications for that more traditional issue). Deflationism holds that all of our uses of truth-talk are explained by the fact that it generates the instances of the equivalence schema: it is true that p if and only if p. The instances of this schema are explanatorily and conceptually basic, in the sense that they follow just from how truth-talk operates (logico-linguisitically) rather than from the underlying nature of some property of truth. Deflationism thus denies that truth-talk really functions to describe anything (e.g., a statement or a belief) or to attribute any kind of substantial property or relation (more on this here). According to deflationism, the only purposes truth-talk really serves are certain logical or pragmatic ones. The related analysis of truth-talk that I have developed is a kind of fictionalism about truth-talk, one that sees this way of talking as part of an established, rule-governed semantic pretense. Truth-talk is a pretense-based figure of speech we employ in order make certain non-semantic claims (in particular, a certain kind of general claim) we could not otherwise make. Brad and I further developed and extended this idea in our 2015 CUP book Pretense and Pathology: Philosophical Fictionalism and its Applications.

My curriculum vitae has more information about my work and background.

My paper "Truth as a Pretense" lays out the basic details of my original views on truth-talk. A (much) shorter "talk-version" is available here.

Other recent work:

4. My Teaching

At University of Nevada, Las Vegas: At Yale University: At The University of Michigan: At The College of William and Mary: At New York University:

5. Philosophy Web Sites

You can contact me at:

Last updated December 22, 2023
This site is maintained by James A. Woodbridge

This document was created on September 3, 1997.

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