Articles and Short Stories
“Soul Drive,” Sledgehammer, October 2021
“Human Contact,” After Dinner Conversations, 2020
“Square Peg,” Five on the Fifth, October 5, 2019
“Special” Litbreak, November 2018
“A Load on my Mind” Clover, January 2018
“Daymare” Words We Piled Loosely, January 2018
“Heart Rot,” Halfway Down the Stairs, June 2017
“Time of Trial” Collection of Philosophical Essays on God and Value. Dean Zimmerman (ed) OUP 2018
“The Pearl of Great Price” International Journal for the Philosophy of Religion, Special issue on Faith, edited by Daniel McCaughan and Rebekah Rice, 2017
“The Letter,” Silver Pen Youth Imagination, May 2016
“Leap of Faith” Wordhaus, October 15, 2014
“Truth in Fiction: the Whole Story” in Realism, William Alston (ed.) (Cornell UP, 2002)
“The Leak,” longlisted for the Dillydoun Review Prize for short fiction, 2022.
“Through a Glass Darkly.” First place short story collection at Chanticleer International Book Awards, 2022.
“Little Fool,” Finalist at Chanticleer International Book Awards, 2022.
“Little Fool.” Quarterfinalist at Ruminate short fiction competition, 2021.
“Human Contact.” First Place, After Dinner Conversation, 2019.
“Winter of Our Discontent.” First place, Short Fiction Break Prize 2015.
From “Why Are Literature and Philosophy Such an Awkward Match? – A new anthology reveals the perils and rewards of philosophical fiction.”
by Sheon Han, February 23, 2021
For one, good philosophical fiction is like a Rorschach test: It generates a plurality of responses. It prickles your conscience and knocks your moral sense askew. And like a well-designed thought experiment, it possesses a prism-like quality. Just when you thought you were done, a slight shift to the viewing angle shines a wholly different light on the issue—hence the infinite permutations of Philippa Foot’s trolley problem.
“The Eye of the Needle,” by the philosopher Frances Howard-Snyder, is a case in point. The protagonist, Imogene, is a philosophy professor troubled by her moral shortcomings. She is jealous of a friend’s success but simultaneously alarmed by her own negativity; she feels ashamed that her son’s college admission result affects her more than the news of the war in Yemen. An occupational hazard of philosophers is that one’s moral flaws are painfully transparent to oneself: “You don’t get to live 47 years and become a full professor of philosophy without some dim awareness of your own moral failings.”
To cure her “empathy deﬁcit,” Imogene undergoes an experimental treatment that activates her mirror neurons, brain cells that are associated with our ability to empathize with the plight of others. Her empathy is suddenly unbounded, utterly disrupting her life, in one instance causing her to use her son’s college fund to pay for someone else’s rehab. But unlike, say, King Midas, who regretted the superpower that had been granted him, Imogene does not want to go back: “Her mind and heart had been changed forever. She now saw the randomness of her attachments to one or two people.”
Your mileage may vary on whether this epiphany is heartwarming or eerie. But philosophers have a term for what happens in this story: “transformative experience.” In her 2015 book Transformative Experience, the Yale philosopher L.A. Paul describes the difference between “epistemically transformative” and “personally transformative” experiences. The latter is like watching a powerful documentary: “It changes your point of view, including your core preferences.” The former is like tasting an exotic fruit: “The only way to know what it is like to have it is to have it yourself.” A truly transformative experience is one that’s both epistemically and personally transformative. Though Imogene had been epistemically aware of her moral failings, it’s only after her transformative experience that she starts acting according to the algebra of her moral preferences.
Please use the form to get in touch with me!