*Abstracts of Essays*
a comprehensive introduction to the epistemology of disagreement to be published
by Polity Press.
"Scepticism and Disagreement", in progress for Diego Machuca and
Baron Reed (eds.), Continuum Companion to Scepticism.
Renegades", forthcoming in an Oxford University Press book The
Epistemology of Disagreement: New Essays, edited by Jennifer Lackey
and David Christensen.
Disagreement", forthcoming in an Acumen book Handbook of
Contemporary Philosophy of Religion, edited by Graham Oppy.
coauthored with Allan Hazlett, forthcoming in Companion to Analytical
Philosophy, edited by Barry Dainton and Howard Robinson, Continuum
Suffering and the Problem of Evil: A Comprehensive Introduction,
Routledge Press, 2013.
Epistemic Peers and Superiors", International Journal of Philosophical
Studies, 20 (2012), 1-21.
"Kripke", in Barry Lee,
ed., Key Thinkers in the Philosophy of Language, 2011.
"The Reflective Epistemic
Renegade," Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 81
"The Problems with the Commonsensical
Solution to the Semantic Paradoxes", a work in progress.
"Disagreement," in Duncan Pritchard and Sven Bernecker, eds., Routledge Companion
to Epistemology, 2010.
Philosophers," in Jon Kvanvig, ed., Oxford
Studies in Philosophy of Religion, v. 1, 2008.
Skeptical Hypotheses," in John Greco, ed., Oxford Handbook
of Skepticism, 2008.
Hunks," Philosophical Studies,
133 (2007), 199-232.
Leibniz's Law Arguments for Pluralism" Mind, 115
Skeptical Hypothesis is Live," Noûs, 39
Alive, Oxford University Press, 2005.
of Belief Ascription," Analysis,
62 (2002), 116-25, revised.
and Substitutivity," Mind, 109 (2000), 519-25.
Defense," Mind, 108 (1999), 563-6.
Millian Theories," Mind, 107 (1998), 703-27.
Reprinted in The General Philosophy of John Stuart Mill, Victor
Sanchez Valencia, ed., Ashgate Publishers, 2002.
Explanatory Deficiencies of Linguistic Content," Philosophical
Studies, 93 (1999), 45-75.
Closure Principles," Mind and Language,
Frege’s Fundamental Principle," Mind and Language,
13 (1998), 341-6.
Twin-Earth Thought Experiments," a guided tour entry in A
Field Guide to the Philosophy of Mind, a publication of the
Department of Philosophy at the University of Rome, III, 1998.
"Plato's Response to
the Third Man Argument in the Paradoxical Exercise of the Parmenides,"
Ancient Philosophy, 16 (1996), 47-64.
My First Book
Alive, Oxford University Press, 2005.
There are two reasons
why you should read my brilliant first book. First, it's the only thing I've
ever written that's really good and original; so it's the only thing standing
between me and utter mediocrity. Second, people who read it like it:
Comes Alive is an ingenious and persuasive book that brings to
light a new kind of skepticism. (It is also one of the funniest
philosophy books I have read.) It is required reading for those
interested in the theory of knowledge."
Brueckner, Philosophical Quarterly
is exceptionally clear and well-argued. He writes with an engaging
style and presents original arguments for a fairly radical skepticism.
Its central conclusion is highly controversial...I think it might make
quite a splash."
Fumerton, University of Iowa
"I think this is
a terrific book...well-argued, clearly written and well-organized. It
is also entertaining and fun to read. Frances has an excellent command
of the relevant issues and literature. In short, I think [it] is very
interesting and of very high quality."
St. Louis University
excellent book--lucid and quite original, richly argued, and very, very
funny (laugh-out-loud funny). The sceptical renaissance continues."
"Frances is right to claim that he has discovered something new and
interesting. Like all good philosophical ideas, it is deceptively
simple, so simple that one wonders why no one noticed it before. He's
also right that there is no obvious answer to the sceptical problem
that he poses."
--Duncan Pritchard, Mind
N.B. I'm not
really that much funnier than other philosophers. I'm just one of the
few who try to put some humor in some of their work. I've written
mind-numbingly boring essays as well as funny ones.
I teach a freshman Philosophy
of Human Nature course every semester, which I enjoy immensely. Teaching the
excellent students at Fordham is very rewarding. Some upper division
and graduate courses I have taught at Fordham:
- Existence, Vagueness, and Composition
- Responding to Skepticism
- Vagueness and Material Composition (graduate)
- Symbolic Logic
- Symbolic Logic (graduate)
- Philosophy of Language
- The Epistemology of Disagreement (graduate)
- Paradoxes in Philosophy
- Contemporary Responses to Skepticism (graduate)
- Analytic Philosophy of Religion
Some Teaching Materials:
in Non-Applied, Non-Interdisciplinary, Non-Historical
Philosophy is Worthwhile
Good, or Really Bad, Philosophy Essay
Some Basic Notions of Reasoning
Primer On the Twin-Earth Thought Experiments
Four Puzzles About Reference and Meaning
A Brief Explanation of Rigid Designation
Substitutivity and Psychology
The Offer Paradox
The Vagueness Mystery
Introduction to the Semantic Paradoxes
Use versus Mention
Epistemology In several
recent and forthcoming works I argue for a new kind of skepticism with
a new kind of skeptical argument. It has a traditional form (here's a
hypothesis; you can't neutralize it; you have to be able to neutralize
it to know P; so you don't know P), but the hypotheses I plug into it
are "real, live" scientific and/or philosophical hypotheses often
thought to be actually true, unlike any of the outrageous traditional
hypotheses (e.g., 'You're just a brain in a vat'). Notably, the
argument goes through even if we adopt all the clever anti-skeptical
fixes thought up in recent years. Furthermore, the skeptical conclusion
(applied to scientifically interesting philosophical hypotheses) is
bizarre: you can know that there are black holes, but you can't know
that your shirt is red, that Moore thought that skepticism is false,
that John Rawls was kind, or even that you believe any of
those things. Applied to purely philosophical hypotheses the resulting
skepticism is much more encompassing.
I'm also interested in
the epistemic standing of the philosophical beliefs of philosophers. In some
recent works I address the following problem. Often we hold philosophical
belief P even though we know full well that many living philosophers who believe
¬P are our epistemic superiors, even regarding the topics surrounding
P. This looks epistemically irresponsible. You say that David Lewis, Tim Williamson,
and David Chalmers are all wrong in their belief in P, but surely you'll admit
that they could kick your ass when it came to topics surrounding P; so how
can you say they're wrong and you're right about P? Are you just insufferably
arrogant? (I'm not; I have just about no opinions on anything philosophically
interesting.) I want to know whether appearances are deceiving.
In a recent International Journal of Philosophical Studies essay I
gave a ridiculously ambitious answer to the question 'Under what conditions
am I epistemically blameworthy in retaining my belief after I have discovered
recognized peers or superiors who disagree with me?' Then I offered a partial
answer to the question 'How often and for which beliefs are those conditions
actually satisfied in our lives, thereby requiring us to lower our confidence
These projects will result
in some books, a research monograph Philosophical Renegades: The Epistemology
of Philosophical Disagreement and a textbook Disagreement.
A third interest
is in the epistemology of religious belief. Presumably, many professors
of philosophy have epistemically upstanding theistic beliefs. In a 2008
essay in the inaugural volume of the Oxford Studies in Philosophy of
Religion series I explore what facts about spiritual experience
might make those beliefs upstanding.
A work in progress, "Ontological Presentism",
tries to tease out what interesting philosophical truths might be hidden behind
slogans such as 'The only things that exist exist right now', 'Present entities
are more real than past or future entities', and 'There is an ontological
divide separating the present from both the past and the future'. In addition,
in a 2006 Mind article I investigate some of the paradoxes of material
constitution, criticizing some arguments for the conclusion that, for instance,
a statue is distinct from the hunk of clay that is materially coincident with
investigating the seemingly perfect argument for sharp cutoffs in
meaning, coming from reflections on vagueness. I think this is one of
the hardest philosophical problems there is; it also has profound
In addition, I have an irrational conviction that the solution to the semantic
paradoxes has something to do with Kripke's Wittgenstein. In my rational moments
I think this project will go nowhere.
Finally, I am writing a popular metaphysics book tentatively titled Unexpected
Philosophical Mysteries. I plan on using it to get rich.
When I was in
college I did little work and spent most of my time listening to good
Christian music groups like Black Sabbath and the Grateful Dead. This
is why I'm hard of hearing today and expect to die young.
When I first
went to graduate school (at USC) I was in physics. I wanted to be a
physicist. Then I found out that I wasn't very good at mathematics
(better than you of course, but not good enough for research
in string theory). If I remember right, it was something about tensor
analysis in general relativity that revealed that I was hopeless. So, I
stopped with an MA degree. Fortunately, I'm much better at philosophy
and enjoy it much more as well.
My first real
job was at the University of Leeds. I learned a great deal about how to
do philosophy well from interacting with my excellent colleagues there.
reasons, I left Leeds for Fordham in 2005.
When I am not on campus,
I am in Philadelphia with my family.
B.S. Physics, University
of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana
M.A. Physics, University
of Southern California
M.A. Philosophy, University
Ph.D. Philosophy, University
of Minnesota (1998)
of Leeds, 2000-2005
Assistant Professor, Fordham University, 2005-2006
Associate Professor, Fordham University 2006-present
I did a lot of it when
I was at the University of Leeds, where the powers-that-be care very deeply
about those things. Most of it involved finance and hiring. But do you
care what administrative work I did or am doing? Probably not.
We have been
trying for a long time to solve the mind-body problem. It has
stubbornly resisted our best efforts. The mystery persists. I think the
time has come to admit candidly that we cannot resolve the mystery.
The Extreme Pessimist
Can We Solve the Mind-Body Problem?
The famous mind-body
problem...has a simple solution. This solution has been available to
any educated person since serious work began on the brain nearly a
century ago, and, in a sense, we all know it to be true. Here it is….
The Extreme Optimist
John R. Searle
The Rediscovery of the Mind
There is a perspective [on
the mind-body problem] from which agreement predominates, progress can
be discerned, and many of the most salient oppositions appear to be the
amplified products of minor differences of judgment or taste, or of
what might be called tactical overstatement.
The Desperate Ecumenist
Daniel C. Dennett
The Intentional Stance
I regard the mind-body
problem as wide open and extremely confusing.
The Wise One
Saul A. Kripke
Naming and Necessity
Useful Philosophy Sites
~ the best collection of links
to philosophy papers
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
~ the best philosophical
resource on the web
The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
~ a good philosophical resource on the
By the way, Wikipedia is NOT generally recommended for
philosophy. It is unreliable, and the above two sources are superior.
~ a website devoted to
many interesting philosophical topics
~ a website devoted to epistemology
Other Individuals and Groups with
Homepages of U.S.
Occasionally Correct Political Sites
More Important Sites
The Leaky Cauldron
George W. Bush Weighs in on the Philosophical
On Knowledge of Our Beliefs:
I know what I
believe. I will continue to articulate what I believe and what I
believe--I believe what I believe is right.
On Logical Truth:
By making the
right choices, we can make the right choice for our future.
I'm hopeful. I
know there is a lot of ambition in Washington, obviously. But I hope
the ambitious realize that they are more likely to succeed with success
as opposed to failure.
must come together to unite.
If you don't
stand for anything, you don't stand for anything.
I think we
agree, the past is over.
On Philosophical Certainty:
And there's no
doubt in my mind, not one doubt in my mind, that we will fail.
On Time and Time Travel:
I am mindful
not only of preserving executive powers for myself, but for
predecessors as well.
She is a
member of a labor union at one point.
I have a
record in office, as well. And all Americans have seen that record
September the 4th, 2001, I stood in the ruins of the Twin Towers. It's
a day I will never forget.
I come from a
different generation from my Dad.
Religious Beliefs and "Our" Religious Beliefs:
My faith tells
me that acceptance of Jesus Christ as my savior is my salvation, and I
believe I made it clear that it is not the governor's role to decide
who goes to heaven. I believe God decides who goes to heaven, not
George W. Bush.
here's what America and Americans believe--that freedom is not
America's gift to the world, that freedom is the Almighty's gift to
each and every individual who lives in the world.
nothing more deep than recognizing Israel's right to exist. That's the
most deep thought of all.... I can't think of anything more deep than
You know I
could run for governor but I'm basically a media creation. I've never
done anything. I've worked for my dad. I worked in the oil business.
But that's not the kind of profile you have to have to get elected to
public office (1989).