I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy, a member of the Rotman Institute of Philosophy and an associate member of the Brain and Mind Institute at the University of Western Ontario. Prior to moving to Western in 2012, I was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and had a secondary appointment in UAB’s Department of Neurobiology. I have a PhD in History and Philosophy of Science (2007) and an MS in Neuroscience (2003) from the University of Pittsburgh.
My research is situated at the intersection of philosophy of neuroscience, philosophy of mind and philosophy of science and has its origin in a single basic question: What light does contemporary neuroscience shed on the relationship between mind and brain? My approach to this question is unique insofar as I contend that answering it requires directing analytical scrutiny at the investigative strategies neuroscientists use to probe this relationship. To this end, the project at the heart of my research program is to develop and refine a conceptual framework for analyzing experiments and experimental practice in the neurosciences of cognition (e.g., Sullivan 2009). By applying elements of this framework to cognitive neurobiological case studies, my work has illuminated an interesting set of epistemological problems that require solutions (e.g., Sullivan 2009, 2010a, 2010b, Forthcoming (as of May 2015 paper on natural kinds). Characterizing the nature and sources of these problems, identifying their implications for the explanatory goals of neuroscience, and developing viable strategies for overcoming them, are the primary aims of my current research.