If I were a better human being, that person’s voice wouldn’t sound so shrill to me.  Many of us may have had such thoughts.  They give voice to the worrying intuition that if we were less affected by sexism and racism, or better at keeping our tempers, our fellow humans would look and sound differently to us.  In Alien Experience, I argue that we should take this sense of unease seriously.  It is as philosophically significant as our unease over desires or fears that we disown.  Making sense of this unease requires us to re‐think the relation between experiences and standing commitments; to re‐consider what we mean by self‐control; and to attend to empirical questions about perception, attention, and tacit cognition.

Alien Experience illuminates and questions a significant assumption that underlies debates in the philosophy of mind, moral psychology, and ethics: while we may be answerable (morally, ethically, legally) for our attitudes and emotions, we are not answerable, at least not in any interesting way, for our perceptions and sensations.  That assumption leads to a flattened view of the ways experiences are related to agency. Recognizing that we in fact can be alienated from our experiences helps us appreciate distinctive opportunities for self‐improvement. 

In journal articles and essays, I’ve explored other topics in philosophy of mind (such as the nature of pain, and the difference between belief and delusion) and philosophy of language (such as the relation between expression and demonstrative reference).

In chapters I’ve contributed to edited collections, I’ve explored questions about speech acts (like announcing or refusing) as they connect to debates in feminist philosophy of language.


Alien Experience.  Available from Oxford University Press and Bookshop.org. Some libraries will have it electronically.

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