*My Lady Gaga Gag Site*

*Abstracts of Essays*


Disagreement, 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.), Bloomsbury Companion to Scepticism.

"The Rationality of Religious Belief", forthcoming in Think.

"The Irrationality of Religious Belief", forthcoming in Think.

"Philosophical Renegades", in The Epistemology of Disagreement: New Essays, edited by Jennifer Lackey and David Christensen, Oxford University Press, 2013 (121-166).

"Religious Disagreement", forthcoming in an Acumen book Handbook of Contemporary Philosophy of Religion, edited by Graham Oppy.

"Knowledge", coauthored with Allan Hazlett, forthcoming in The Bloomsbury Companion to Analytic Philosophy, edited by Barry Dainton and Howard Robinson, Bloomsbury Press.

Gratuitous Suffering and the Problem of Evil: A Comprehensive Introduction, Routledge Press, 2013.

"Discovering Disagreeing 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, Continuum Press, 2011 (249-267).

"The Reflective Epistemic Renegade," Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 81 (2010), 419-63.

"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, Routledge Press, 2010 (68-74).

"Spirituality, Expertise, and Philosophers," in Jon Kvanvig, ed., Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion, v. 1, Oxford University Press, 2008 (44-81).

"Live Skeptical Hypotheses," in John Greco, ed., Oxford Handbook of Skepticism, Oxford University Press, 2008 (225-245).

"Externalism, Physicalism, Statues, and Hunks," Philosophical Studies, 133 (2007), 199-232.

"The New Leibniz's Law Arguments for Pluralism" Mind, 115 (2006), 1007-1022.

"When a Skeptical Hypothesis is Live," Noûs, 39 (2005), 559-95.

Scepticism Comes Alive, Oxford University Press, 2005.

"A Test for Theories of Belief Ascription," Analysis, 62 (2002), 116-25, revised.

"Disquotation and Substitutivity," Mind, 109 (2000), 519-25.

"Defending the Defense," Mind, 108 (1999), 563-6.

"Defending Millian Theories," Mind, 107 (1998), 703-27. Reprinted in The General Philosophy of John Stuart Mill, Victor Sanchez Valencia, ed., Ashgate Publishers, 2002.

"On the Explanatory Deficiencies of Linguistic Content," Philosophical Studies, 93 (1999), 45-75.

"Contradictory Belief and Epistemic Closure Principles," Mind and Language, 14 (1999), 203-26.

"Arguing for Frege’s Fundamental Principle," Mind and Language, 13 (1998), 341-6.

"The 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

Scepticism Comes Alive, Oxford University Press, 2005.

--Preface & Chapter 1

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:

"Scepticism 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."

--Anthony Brueckner, Philosophical Quarterly

"Frances's book 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."

--Richard 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."

--John Greco, St. Louis University

"It's an excellent book--lucid and quite original, richly argued, and very, very funny (laugh-out-loud funny). The sceptical renaissance continues."

--Brian Ribeiro, Philosophical Books

"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:

Some Teaching Materials:

Why I Think Research in Non-Applied, Non-Interdisciplinary, Non-Historical Philosophy is Worthwhile

How to Write a 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

The Material Composition Problem

Skeptical Stories: Introduction to Live Skepticism

Introduction to the Semantic Paradoxes

Use versus Mention



Current Research Interests

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 levels?'

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.

Metaphysics    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 it.

I'm also 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 implications.

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.

For personal reasons, I left Leeds for Fordham in 2005.

When I am not on campus, I am in Philadelphia with my family.

Main Education/Employment

B.S. Physics, University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana

M.A. Physics, University of Southern California

M.A. Philosophy, University of Minnesota

Ph.D. Philosophy, University of Minnesota (1998)

Lecturer, University of Leeds, 2000-2005

Assistant Professor, Fordham University, 2005-2006

Associate Professor, Fordham University 2006-present

Administrative Work

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.





The Experts Weigh In...

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
Colin McGinn
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 web

By the way, Wikipedia is NOT generally recommended for philosophy. It is unreliable, and the above two sources are superior.

Metaphysical Values

~ a website devoted to many interesting philosophical topics

Certain Doubts

~ a website devoted to epistemology

Other Individuals and Groups with Philosophical Weblogs

Vagueness Resources

Philosophy Journals

Homepages of U.S. Philosophy Departments

Homepages of U.K. Philosophy Departments


Occasionally Correct Political Sites

Glenn Greenwald

Daily Kos

Juan Cole


More Important Sites


The Leaky Cauldron


George W. Bush Weighs in on the Philosophical Issues

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.

Our nation 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.

.On His 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.

You see, 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.

There's 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 that right.

Summing Up:

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).