My research focuses on medieval philosophy on a variety of topics, from details of medieval science to God's existence and nature.

 

I recently wrapped up a project on the ethical thought of John Duns Scotus. I think that Scotus is much more a natural lawyer and much less a voluntarist than he is given credit for. My paper, "A Most Mitigated Friar: Scotus on Natural Law and Divine Freedom," recently won the 2018 American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly Rising Scholar Essay Contest. 

Currently, I'm working on the history of theories of divine ideas. I'm also writing an introduction to John Duns Scotus, aimed at educated people who would be bored to death by a standard introduction to John Duns Scotus. 

In all my historical work I'm motivated by several things: first, I want to know the ancestry of our ways of understanding the world. Coming to understand our ways of understanding is one aspect of living out the Socratic maxim that the unexamined life is not worth living. Second, the old stuff I work on is intrinsically interesting: it is beautiful, intellectually rigorous, and exotic. Third, I want to give these dead philosophers a voice among the living, lest they be forgotten.

 

Fourth, and most importantly, I do history of philosophy for the same reason people do philosophy: to come to as good an understanding of the natures of things as I can. None of the big answers to the big questions of philosophy is false (or true) just because it is old (or new). I often have the experience, when reading the old stuff, that I am on the track of the truth.   

I studied philosophy as an undergraduate during one kind of golden age at Biola University, a time when it was so cool to want to be a professional philosopher and when many of those who so aspired actually went on to become one. After Biola I did a M.Phil in medieval theology with Marilyn McCord Adams at Oxford, and then a Ph.D in philosophy working mostly with Calvin Normore and John Carriero. 

In addition to my courses in Ancient and Medieval philosophy, I also regularly teach a class on Lewis and Tolkien, focusing on their creative works and their philosophical views about the value of stories, especially fantasy stories. 

As a husband and father of four, my adventures these days tend to be focused around the house and backyard. But I'm an expert camper and road-tripper. In fact, if I could be a truck driver driving only in the American West, with nothing to deliver and no containers to haul, I'd probably be a truck driver.