I’m a fifth-year PhD student studying linguistics at Stony Brook University, specializing in semantics and its interfaces with pragmatics and syntax. I am currently working on my dissertation (The Mereology of Attitudes), advised by Richard Larson and summarized below:
Dissertation summary for non-linguists: The philosopher Donald Davidson argued that verbs like run and hate serve, on some level, to describe events or states, characterizing them as events of running, states of hating, etc. Treating the meanings of verbs as “hovering around” an event/state in this manner has turned out to be highly productive, leading to a number of surprisingly general insights about how meaning works in language. Meanwhile, there is another class of verbs—what linguists and philosophers call attitudes, such as want, wish, regret, believe, etc.—that have had their own, separate tradition of semantic analyses, leading to their own, separate insights. Recent work has sought to bring these two programs of research closer together. My work represents a continuation of this line of research, further fleshing out a view of the semantics of attitudes in which they behave in certain crucial respects more like simpler verbs like run and hate.
Dissertation summary for linguists: My dissertation is on the relationship between neo-Davidsonian event semantics and the semantics of attitudes, and in particular on the interaction between the semantics and the part-whole relations of attitude states. Topics addressed in the dissertation include the mereological basis of attitude intensity, the uniqueness of attitude contents, and cumulative attitude ascriptions.
Outside of linguistics, my primary hobby is music. I studied music composition and jazz piano performance at Williams College, and was a professional (or at least “professional”) jazz pianist before seeing the light and becoming a linguist. (You can check out my music on the appropriately labeled page on this site.) I’m also a diehard fan of Baltimore sports, and have not been known to turn down a cup of coffee.