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Blake Harper


Within the philosophy of mind, my research explores the relationship between personal-level commonsense psychological explanations and sub-personal, scientific psychological explanations.

Between the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of action, I am interested in the metaphysics of capacities, and how generally applicable a “disjunctive” analysis of these capacities might be. Within these debates, I’m interested in the role played by indistinguishability arguments, skepticism, and transcendental arguments.

My interests in the philosophy of action have to do with event-individuation, the knowledge-how vs. knowledge-that debate, and what interesting relations there are between the metaphysics of action and the metaphysics of value.

In the fledgling field of data ethics, I’m interested in data ownership, privacy protection, and what consent models are appropriate for data collection. I believe that these questions are particularly pressing now because new analytics technologies are unlocking massive value in data, but the existing ethical and legal frameworks for data usage do not always fit well with the actual or potential uses of these technologies.

As for the philosophy of biology I am most interested in debates over the naturalization of proper function. In particular, I’m interested in how, if at all, drift can be distinguished from selection; debates around “adaptationism”; and whether information-theoretic explanations in molecular genetics are anything more than metaphorical.

And when I’m not doing philosophy I am most likely skiing, training for triathlons, tweeting about AI, or hanging out in Oakland.