Helen is a metaphysician and philosopher of language. She has been developing a solution to the ancient “sorites” paradox--the paradox of the heap. The source of the problem, as she sees it, is the difficulty of understanding how ordinary vague language can be used in precise logical reasoning. Her theory of vague language is unusual in that it relies upon pragmatics, it captures the dynamic and interactive nature of language use, it preserves classical logic, and it has significant explanatory power when applied to practical cases. She has fruitfully applied her theory of vagueness to the case of human sex categories. The words ‘male’ and ‘female’ are vague, that is, they do not pick out determinate sets of people, because there are people to whom either word applies equally well (and equally poorly). In light of that, how should we understand the meanings of those words? What logic underlies their use? Those are the questions her theory answers. Most recently, Helen has developed a "model" of sex/gender that is sensitive to the vagueness and ambiguity of 'man' and 'woman'. It offers a more accurate framework for addressing practical problems of sex/gender categorization than was previously available.
In addition to that major research project, Helen has also started working on a systematic account of insults. If you know of any good ones, she would be delighted to hear them.
"Modeling Sex/Gender" (forthcoming in 2016) Think: Philosophy for Everyone.
“Sex, Vagueness, and the Olympics” (2015) Hypatia 30 (4):708-724.
“Mental Causation” (2009) with Cei Maslen and Terry Horgan. In The Oxford Handbook of Causation. Edited by H. Beebee, C. Hitchcock, and P. Menzies. Oxford.
“Jaegwon Kim” (2009) with Terry Horgan. In A Companion to Metaphysics, 2nd ed. Edited by J. Kim, E. Sosa and G. Rosenkrantz. Blackwell.
PH 101 Greek Philosophy
PH 226 Formal Logic
PH 229 Philosophy of Language
PH 301 20th Century Analytic Philosophy
PH 321 Metaphysics
B.A., University of Akron, 2002
Ph.D., University of Arizona, 2011
Committees & Governance
Serving a one-year term on the Faculty Executive Committee, Governance subcommittee, during 2016-17
2015-16, Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid
2013-14, Curriculum Committee
2012-13, Budget Committee
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