"Intellectual virtues and biased understanding"
Journal of Philosophical Research 45.
Biases affect much of our epistemic lives; do they affect the ways in which we understand things? According to a prominent conception of understanding (Zagzebski 2001), we only understand something when we exercise intellectual virtues or skills (like open-mindedness or imaginativeness). Relying on how widespread biases are, Carter and Pritchard (2016) raise a skeptical objection to understanding, when it is conceived as based on virtues and skills. Their objection runs as follows: Most of us seem to understand many things. We genuinely understand to the extent that we exercise our intellectual virtues or skills in understanding, and are cognitively responsible for so doing. Yet much of what we seem to understand consists in beliefs whose formation could have easily been due to biases rather than virtues or skills. And biases operate in ways that are opaque to reflection. If the beliefs underwriting how we understand things could have easily been due to biases, then we’re not cognitively responsible for them because we can’t reflectively endorse them. So, the objection goes, to the extent that virtue-based conceptions of understanding are correct, we are mistaken in thinking we genuinely understand most of the time. I will defend the grounding of understanding in intellectual virtues and skills from Carter and Pritchard’s objection. We are cognitively responsible for understanding by the exercise of our expertise. We can do so, I will argue, without being required to reflectively endorse our own understanding.
"Quine's ontology - the interplay between commitment and decision"
European Journal of Pragmatism and American Philosophy 12 (2).
"The structure and dynamics argument against materialism revisited"
Problemos 98 (2).
Alter (2016) elaborates and defends an ambitious argument advanced by Chalmers (2002) against physicalism. As Alter notes, the argument is valid. But I will argue that not all its premises are true. In particular, it is false that all physical truths are purely structural. In denying this, I focus not on the objects of pure physical theory but on the homely, macroscopic objects of our daily lives.
"Preference, dependence, addiction"
Protecția Socială a Copilului 22.
Co-authored with Mirela Nicoleta Dinescu and Teodora Valentina Chiac. In Romanian: “Preferință, dependență, adicție”.

Published articles and book chapters

"Justified by thought alone"
(2020) Logos & Episteme 11, pp. 195-208.
The new rationalists – BonJour, Bealer, and Peacocke – have characterized one type of a priori justification as based on intellectual intuitions or seemings. I argue that they are mistaken in thinking that intellectual intuitions can provide a priori justification. Suppose that the proposition that a surface cannot be red and green all over strikes you as true. When you carefully consider it, you couldn’t but realize that no surface could be both red and green all over. Ascertaining the truth of what you believe (when you believe that a surface cannot be red and green all over) requires conscious experiences of thinking. The character of such experiences (propositions’ striking you as true, and the sense of incoherence you would experience were they to be false) is what justifies your belief. It should follow that the justification for such propositions (and your believing them) is a posteriori, i.e., based on conscious experience. Your cognitive phenomenology plays a constitutive role to justifying your belief. Hence your belief is not a priori justified, contra the new rationalists.
"Rationality, consciousness and cognition"

(2020) Romanian Journal of Analytic Philosophy 10 (2), pp. 35-44.

How do consciousness and cognition relate? Smithies (2012) has offered an argument for thinking cognitive states (beliefs) should be individuated relative to conscious states. Beliefs can be appraised for rationality, the argument goes, only if they are introspectively accessible. I think Smithies is largely correct about the relation between consciousness and cognition. However, I argue that he is wrong about thinking we should support introspective accessibility by rational evaluation – where that evaluation is construed as amenability to reflective scrutiny. Instead, I argue that we should support the introspective availability of our beliefs to ourselves by appealing to the cognitive responsibility we hold for our believings.
"Inaccurate complex hallucinations have content"

(2020) Studia Universitatis Babes-Bolyai 65, pp. 85-94.

"Does the hidden indexical theory of belief reports have a logical form problem?"

(2020) Romanian Journal of Analytic Philosophy 10 (1), pp. 27-48.

On the hidden indexical theory of belief reports (Crimmins and Perry 1989), believing the proposition that Mark Twain was a writer is believing it under a mode of presentation. This view faces the logical form problem (Schiffer 1992): belief is said to be a relation between three arguments (agent, proposition, mode of presentation), yet the predicate “believes” is a relation between just an agent and a proposition. I sketch two solutions to the problem, one semantic and one pragmatic (Larson and Ludlow 1993, Jaszczolt 2000). Both solutions involve quantifying not only over modes, but also over types of modes of presentation. I conclude with a methodological argument in favor of Jaszczolt’s solution.
"Does understanding solve problems?"
(2020) Prolegomena 19, pp. 27-39.
It is intuitive to think that understanding, at least in exemplary cases, solves problems. This has motivated a general view concerning the nature of understanding, and its tie to problem-solving. In this text, I examine four reasons offered in favor of thinking that understanding solves problems. I argue that the reasons given aren’t conclusive. It is telling that all these reasons can be questioned because they explore different facets of understanding, phenomenal and epistemic alike, suggesting that no aspect essential to understanding necessarily involves problem-solving. I conclude by exploring the larger significance this fact may have for the nature of understanding.
"A pragmatic understanding of indispensability"

(2020, in Romanian: “O înţelegere pragmatistă a indispensabilităţii”). Revista de Filosofie 67, pp. 157-169.

"Mathematical understanding and ʻWhat if things had been different?ʼ questions"
(2019) Balkan Journal of Philosophy 11, pp. 145-154
According to Grimm (2014), we only understand a phenomenon if we know what other phenomena it depends on, and we identify dependencies according to how we answer “What if things had been different?” questions. I argue that this view meets with mathematical counterexamples. For, in mathematics, things couldn’t have been different. I consider three replies Grimm may make, and argue they do not succeed.
"Understanding, Problem-Solving, and Conscious Reflection"

(2019) Acta Analytica 34, pp. 71-81.

According to Zagzebski, understanding something is justified by the exercise of cognitive skills and intellectual virtues the knower possesses. Zagzebski develops her view by suggesting that “understanding has internalist conditions for success”. Against this view, Grimm raises an objection: what justifies understanding is the reliability of the processes by which we come to understand, and we need not be aware of the outcome of all reliable processes. Understanding is no exception, so, given that understanding something results from reliable processes, we need not always be aware of what we understand. I reply to Grimm’s objection; I argue that Zagzebski’s internalist requirement is best conceived as accessibility to conscious reflection. The accessibility condition is satisfied because understanding solves problems on the knower’s research agenda. And whenever problem-solving is non-trivial, the knower needs to reflect on what the best solving strategy is.
"Wisdom and Reason"

(2018) Croatian Journal of Philosophy 18, pp. 367-374.

On Ryan’s (2012) theory of wisdom as deep rationality, to believe or act wisely is to believe or act in a justified way, informed by a body of other justified beliefs about the good life. Ryan (2017) elaborates the view along evidentialist lines: one’s belief or act is justified when it is based on the best available evidence. The resulting package faces seeming counterexamples. Transformative experiences are rational ‘leaps of faith’ (Paul 2014), so the agent’s decision to undergo one is not best supported by the evidence available. Many transformative experiences (such as deciding to become a mother, or choosing a career path) often endow lives with meaning, and agents with a sense of purpose (Wolf 2010). Because so much is at stake, it is sometimes rational for agents to take on the risk involved in transforming themselves. Deciding to undergo such experiences may be wise – even if the evidence available at the time doesn’t positively support that decision. I reply to this challenge; I argue that, instead of evidentialism, Ryan’s view should include virtue epistemology, which helps explain the seeming counterexamples. I focus on the virtues of openness to experience, and of steadfastness in the face of experience.
"Why believe there are infinite sets?"

(2018) Axiomathes 28, pp. 447-460.

The axiom of infinity states that infinite sets exist. I will argue that this axiom lacks justification. I start by showing that the axiom is not self-evident, so it needs separate justification. Following Maddy’s (1988) distinction, I argue that the axiom of infinity lacks both intrinsic and extrinsic justification. Crucial to my project is Skolem’s (1922) distinction between a theory of real sets, and a theory of objects that theory calls “sets”. While Dedekind’s (1888) argument fails, his approach was correct: the axiom of infinity needs a justification it currently lacks. This epistemic situation is at variance with everyday mathematical practice. A dilemma ensues: should we relax epistemic standards or insist, in a skeptical vein, that a foundational problem has been ignored?
"Are Propositions Facts?"

(2012) In Philosophical and Formal Approaches to Linguistic Analysis, Piotr Stalmaszczyk, ed., pp. 385-404. Frankfurt: Ontos.

This paper explores whether Jeffrey King’s theory of propositions is committed to an obscure metaphysics which identifies propositions with certain kinds of facts. §1 presents the problem to which King tries to provide a solution, the problem of the unity of the proposition. §2 presents King’s doubtful identification of propositions with certain existentially generalized facts over languages, words, speakers, contexts, times and places. §3 sketches a host of objections to the identification made in §2, provided King’s identification is taken to be a substantive metaphysical claim. Given the failure of such a metaphysical reading, §4 argues in favor of a deflationist approach according to which we can better understand propositions by attempting to ramsify them – to provide substitutes that do all the explanatory work propositions do but are not metaphysically dubious. I argue King’s claim to identify propositions with facts is better interpreted as an example of such a ramsification project, and not in a metaphysically substantive way.
"Several Reconstructions of Quinean Metaontology"
(2010) In Words, Theories and Things: Quine in Perspective, M. Dumitru and C. Stoenescu, eds., pp. 173-207. Giurgiu: Pelican Publishing House.
This paper aims at reconstructing Quinean metaontology. I use the term “metaontology” in the sense of van Inwagen (2001). The paper has a negative result and two positive results. The negative result is the evaluation of several reconstructions of Quinean metaontology provided by van Inwagen, Oliver, Chateaubriand and R. Cartwright. One section is devoted to each. The first positive result is a tentative reconstruction of Quinean metaontology that improves on previous attempts. The second is a brief analysis of what Quine’s criterion of ontological commitment consists in.
"Can Persons in the Trinity Be Counted? The Answer of the Cappadocian Fathers"

(In Romanian) (2009) Sinapsa 4, pp. 167-170.

According to the Cappadocian Fathers, the persons in the Holy Trinity have the same nature, and they operate jointly. So what distinguishes one from the other? If nothing, then either they are not really distinct, or their distinction is purely numerical. Against this dilemma, proposed by Eunomius, the Cappadocians choose the latter horn. But the resulting view raises a host of questions in turn, pertaining to the nature of identity and personhood. Can persons be purely numerically distinct – so that one is the first, another is the second, and yet another the third – even if no qualitative property differentiates them? If so, in virtue of what are different divine names correctly applied to each person in turn? My text explores these questions.
"The Insufficient Connotation of Proper Names"
(2006) Annals of the University of Bucharest 55, pp. 45-51.
The aim of this paper is to provide evidence suggesting that both the causal theory concerning the reference of proper names (e.g., Kripke 1980) and descriptivism (e.g., Searle 1983) are not fully adequate accounts of the workings of proper names. I shall not stress classical counterarguments against both views, but I shall rather attempt at providing some other instances which undermine the two theories, instances provided by the field of pragmatics. The focus will be on neo-Millianism, though some examples are counter-instances for both views. I shall then put forward a sketch of an alternative view, inspired by some passages from Philosophical Investigations. According to this view, which I do not attribute to Wittgenstein, though it draws on some of his insights, some uses of proper names may connote, while others may not. However, in those contexts in which proper names do connote, I argue that their connotation is more often than not insufficient to select their denotation.


Event notice: "New directions in cognitive science"
(2011) Romanian Journal of Analytic Philosophy 5, pp. 133-138.
Note on a three-day conference at the University of Bucharest featuring contributions from Daniel Dennett, Nick Humphrey, Radu Bogdan, and other philosophers of mind.
Book review: "Franz Huber, Christoph Schmidt-Petri. Degrees of Belief."
Metapsychology 14 (2010).
The collection discusses degrees of belief from the standpoint of formal epistemology, considering the relation between probability theory and human rationality.