See my  blog here.

Philosophy

I’m currently focusing most on Transformative Choices–the kind of choice you make where you don’t know what you’ll know afterwards, and you also don’t know what values you’ll have. In other words, the kinds of decisions where you can’t really know what you’re getting yourself into until you do it. I study how these choices are to be made, at the applied level.

The application I’m currently working on is the choiceworthiness of near-death experiences (NDEs). I ask wheter an NDE i ever choiceworthy, and under what conditions? This involves getting detailed descriptions of the NDEs, focusing on necessary and contingent features. They have several standard features, including travelling through a dark tunnel towards a bright light and a reflection on one’s life considered in total. But attempts to define NDEs are complicated by the variety of fuzzy cases. Some putative NDEs have only some of the common features, and some we seem to be able to induce with certain drugs that do not bring the subject near death, at least as we commonly understand nearness to death. However, my purpose is to explore what sorts of choices we should make with regard to NDEs, so if some of the fuzzy cases turn out to be more choiceworthy than bona fide NDEs, then so be it. My primary focus is on the potential improvement or worsening of life for the subject of an NDE. This culminates in practical payoffs, in minimizing the costs of having NDEs, maximizing their benefits, and identifying the correct situations in which an NDE is advisable. Because of the extreme nature of NDEs, I also frame many of the conclusions as normative suggestions for psychiatry.

Primary Areas of Interest: Philosophy of Consciousness, Philosophy of Psychiatry and Psychopathology, Philosophy of Neuroscience
Secondary Areas of Interest: Philosophy of Mind, Philosophy of Engineering, Philosophy of Technology, Philosophy of Medicine, Philosophy of Race, Metaphilosophy, Philosophy of Science, Personhood, Philosophy of Biology, Idealism
Tertiary Areas of Interest: Metaphysics, Epistemology, Philosophy of Religion, Biomedical Ethics, Philosophy of Mathematics, Logic, Philosophy of Cognitive Science

Current Projects (status)

  • Intuitions should not be used as evidence in the investigation of phenomenal consciousness. (Draft)
  • Willpower is not a thing. (Draft)
  • How can we define phenomenal consciousness? (Reading)
  • How do race, racism, racialism, etc. affect consciousness and how we ought to study it? (Reading)
  • We should shift from a therapeutic model of psychopharmacology to an enhancement model. (Reading)
  • Kant’s idea of a metametamaxim as found in the Religion is best understood as identical with one’s actions (as Sussman argues), but it needs expansion in the form of other values to be better. (Draft)
  • The important difference between external and internal reasons is best captured by expressing reasons is a three-place relation of the reason, the reason whom its for, and whom the reason is applied to, and determining whether the last two are the same in any instance of a reason statement. (Draft)
  • Mental attitudes can be usefully modelled without content. (Draft in progress)
  • Knowing Infallibly: A Case for Infallible Phenomenal Knowledge (Published)

See also the philosophy tag on my blog.

Poetry

See the poetry tag on my blog.

Music

Teaching

I have TAed the following at University of California, Riverside: Philosophy of Evil, Introduction to the History of Philosophy (Ancient), Introduction to Philosophy.

I have TAed the following at Valparaiso University: Discrete Mathematics, Logic and Critical Thinking, Calculus I, Calculus II, Calculus III, Linear Algebra, Finite Mathematics, and Transitions in Mathematics (an introduction to proof and professional mathematics).

Mathematics

Log_Concavity_of_Restricted_Integer_Partitions:_The_Game
What Are Numbers?

About Me & Contact

I can be reached by email at nsmit015@ucr.edu

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