On the simplest view, the mind is a unified computer consisting of a single processing unit, which employs both inputs (perception) and stored representations (memory) to determine mental activity and downstream behavior  (McCullogh & Pitts, 1943; Turing, 1950). My research explores the various ways in which the mind is disunified. On my account, it is better to think of the mind as a network consisting of multiple computational units with different forms of inputs and memory stores that coordinate, without always directly interacting, to determine our mental lives. My current research explores such disunity in vision, arguing that the visual system uses separate core mechanisms to produce distinct visual representations for different person-level functions. And I explore the implications of this disunity for the epistemology of perception. My upcoming research expands into a broader project on the role of divided processing in natural and artificial computational systems.


Responsibility and Perception. The Journal of Philosophy. Forthcoming. [Draft] [Published]

I argue that beliefs based on irresponsibly formed experiences — whose causes were not appropriately regulated by the subject — are doxastically unjustified. Only this position, I claim, accounts for the higher epistemic standard required of perceptual experts. Section I defends this standard and applies it to a pair of cases in which either an expert umpire or a complete novice judge a force play in baseball. I argue that when the latter, but not the former, fails to follow rules about perceiving force plays, their resulting belief is justified. Section II shows that this difference can be explained by the fact that the novice, but not the expert, formed her experience responsibly. Section III shows that alternative explanations of the expert’s unjustified belief — from defeat, reliability, and inference — fail. Section IV shows that the epistemic relevance of responsible experience formation has broad implications for the epistemology of perceptual beliefs. 

Visual Streams as Core Mechanisms. The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science. Forthcoming. [Draft

Milner and Goodale (2006) argue that the ventral and dorsal streams of cortical processing are independent modules for different functions, perception and online motor control respectively. But this conception is undermined by evidence for functional and informational connectivity between the streams. I present a new conception of the visual streams on which they are core mechanisms for different person-level functional roles. I defend this view by arguing that it better accords with the empirical evidence and helps us better understand the role that the streams play in the study of visual perception.

(Un)conscious Perspectival Shape and Attention Guidance in Visual Search: A reply to Morales, Bax, and Firestone (2020). Conscious and Unconscious States and Processes: Examining their Nature, Similarities, and Differences. Routledge. Forthcoming. (w/ Assaf Weksler) [Draft

When viewing a circular coin rotated in depth, it fills an elliptical region of the visual scene. For some, this appears to generate a two-fold experience, in which one sees the coin as simultaneously circular (in light of its 3D shape) and elliptical (in light of its 2D ‘perspectival shape’ or ‘p-shape’). An energetic philosophical debate asks whether the latter p-shapes are genuinely presented in perceptual experience (as ‘perspectivalists’ argue) or if, instead, this appearance is somehow derived or inferred from experience (as ‘anti-perspectivalists’ argue). This debate, however, has largely turned on introspection. In a recent study, Morales, Bax, and Firestone (2020) aim to provide the first empirical test of this question. They asked subjects to find an elliptical coin seen face-on from a search array that also included a circular coin seen either face-on or at an angle. They found that subjects reacted more slowly when the distracting circle was seen at an angle. From this, they concluded that the similar p-shape between the ellipse and circle constituted a phenomenal similarity between the two, and thus that perspectivalism is true. We show that these results can also be explained by pre-attentive guidance by unconscious representations (in what follows, just “unconscious pre-attentive guidance”) and that this explanation is at least as plausible as one from phenomenal similarity. Thus, we conclude that the experiment does not support perspectivalism over anti- perspectivalism.

A Fresh Look at the Two Visual Streams. Journal of Consciousness Studies. 2021. Winner of the Antwerp Centre for Philosophical Psychology Essay Prize. [Draft] [Published]

I defend a new account of the function of the “ventral” and “dorsal" streams of visual processing. On Milner and Goodale’s (2006) account, the streams constitute isolated processing systems, each with a proprietary function: ventral stream generates perceptual experiences while dorsal stream guides motor activity. This account is challenged by evidence for functional connections between the streams and for each stream’s involvement in the other’s “proprietary” function. I show that a weaker view—that dorsal stream representations directly guide motor activity, without cognitive intermediaries—is consistent with such evidence, but has the same theoretical and methodological implications for the perceiving mind.

Current working papers 

My talk on the function of functional division in the visual system (presented to the Antwerp Centre for Philosophical Psychology in 2021) was posted to the Brains Blog. You can watch it here.

"Responsibility and Perception" heavily references the famous "Near-Perfect Game". Here is the relevant play.

From my participation in this study.

The images reveal that my brain is a good one.