More Information


Email: dyetman@brandeis.edu

Douglas Yetman

yetman_photo.png

I was born, bred, and continue to live in New York City, with the exception of a hiatus at the University of Massachusestts-Amherst, where I earned a BA in Philosophy in 2014.  My interests range broadly over metaphysics and the philosophy of language, though in truth I have some (positive) interest in virtually all areas of philosophy. 

In metaphysics, I’m especially interested in questions concerning the ontological status of abstract objects, and the extent to which such objects – be they numbers, propositions, or laws – may admit of reduction to more basic entities. I maintain a strong interest in the philosophy of time, including the presentism/eternalism debate, and particularly whether presentism is in fact vitiated by the absence of suitable truthmakers for sentences concerning past events (given the standard presentist commitments). Lately, I have become interested in issues concerning the nature of modality, and particularly in whether modal statements can ultimately be reduced to more primitive constituents of our ontology. In this vein, I’ve begun to wonder whether there isn’t some “third way” between possibilism and actualism that is both sufficiently robust to ground possible worlds semantics, and which manages to eschew the extravagant ontological commitments of modal possibilism (to say nothing of the technical objections raised against modal fictionalism). In addition to this range of issues, I’m interested in properties, relations, the distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic properties – including whether such a distinction is well-motivated – and causation.

My interests in the philosophy of language center on the theory of meaning, the theory of reference, and whether one is prior to the other (or indeed whether the two are coextensive). More perspicuously, I’m interested in the extent to which a semantic theory ought to admit of context-sensitivity (and, if so, whether such sensitivity imposes a further ontological cost), as well as whether a semantics for propositional attitudes need be a truth-conditional semantics.

At the intersection of metaphysics and the philosophy of language, I am particularly interested in the nature of propositions – whether they should be understood as structured, whether they ought to be characterized as abstract or concrete objects, and whether they can be reduced to sets without falling prey to Benacerraf-style identification problems. I've lately begun to wonder whether abstract entities could plausibly be the objects of our attitude reports. Beyond this, I've become interested in the relationship between ontology and ideology – both the degree to which our ontological commitments necessitate certain constraints upon our semantics, as well as prospects for – perhaps – crafting indispensability arguments for the acceptance of a particular ontological scheme given semantic desiderata. 

When not philosophizing, I can usually be found reading omnivorously, listening to opera and instrumental classical music, playing quizbowl, eating brunch (whilst trying to attain the highest-ever ratio of drinks imbibed to dollars spent), and lifting heavy objects.