Visiting Assistant Professor
Department of Philosophy, Hope College
I study the history of, and substantive prospects for, pragmatic attempts to warrant our fundamental beliefs and commitments.View More
"Sellars's Core Critique of C. I. Lewis" (Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie, 2022)
"Sellars' Metaethical Quasi-Realism" (Synthese, 2018/2020)
"He is a buddha when it comes to metaphysics. By the end of the class, he had me believing I was some kind of god that could warp space and time."
- Random Reddit testimonial (for what it's worth)
You can reach me at:
klemick (at) hope (dot) edu
I am a Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Hope College. For the 2021-22 academic year, I served as a teaching-stream Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto, where I earned my PhD under Cheryl Misak in 2022.
My central research interest concerns pragmatist approaches to justification and responses to skepticism. My dissertation, How to Be a Pragmatist in the End, critically interpreted pragmatist attempts to account for objectivity, arguing that pragmatism's most promising contribution in this area lies not in a theory of meaning but in a pragmatic justification for our basic empirical beliefs. My present work aims to develop the substance of this pragmatist epistemology and extend it to other domains, especially metaethics. This last project brings my work into contact with important thinkers beyond the pragmatist tradition, especially Hannah Arendt and Iris Murdoch.
My teaching interests and experience are wide-ranging. I've taught courses in ethics, social/political philosophy, metaphysics/epistemology, Continental philosophy, and the history of philosophy (ancient to early analytic). This year, I taught early modern philosophy in the Fall and am teaching feminist philosophy in the Spring. I'm also teaching 5 sections of an interdisciplinary philosophy/literature course on ancient & medieval perspectives on evil and suffering. (The Spring edition has earned an international diversity flag for incorporating a substantial unit on Chinese philosophy during these periods.)
I'm married to Brittani. Our kiddos are Juniper and (as of September 2022!) Evangeline.
We live in Holland, Michigan.
"Constitution, Causation, and the Final Opinion: A Puzzle in Peirce's Illustrations"
2023. History of Philosophy Quarterly , 40/1. (Forthcoming January.)
"Sellars's Core Critique of C. I. Lewis: Against the Equation of Aboutness with Givenness"
2022. Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie . (Print forthcoming.)
"C. I. Lewis was a Foundationalist After All"
2020. History of Philosophy Quarterly, 37/1.
"Sellars' Metaethical Quasi-Realism"
2018/2020. Synthese, 197/5 (2020).
"Two Sorts of Self-Creation: On Galen Strawson's 'Basic Argument'"
2013. Lyceum, XII/1. (Selected as best undergrad submission.)
"Inferentialism, Modal Anti-Realism, and the Problem of Affection"
Forthcoming. M. Rahnee & L. C. Seiberth (eds.), Reading Kant with Sellars (Routledge)
"Phenomenalism, Skepticism, and Sellars's Account of Intentionality"
2022. International Journal of Philosophical Studies . (Forthcoming December.)
(Contribution to a symposium on L. C. Seiberth, Intentionality in Sellars )
"Prospects for an Objective Pragmatism:
Frank Ramsey on Truth, Meaning, and Justification"
2017. Sami Pihlström (ed.), Pragmatism and Objectivity (Routledge).
With Charles Guth III. Review, Mikel Burley (ed.), Wittgenstein, Religion and Ethics
2019. Faith and Philosophy, 36/4.
*A paper (R&R) on Wilfrid Sellars's epistemology that suggests that pragmatists are better off opting for purely pragmatic responses to skepticism over semantic ones.
*A paper (under review) defending a pragmatic response to skepticism about the external world, one that centrally appeals to the indispensability of reliable perceptual faculties for our effective agency -- and so for our attaining control over our empirical circumstances.
*A paper (under review) arguing that Arendt's critique of human rights is best read neither as a banal point about rights' enforceability nor as an implausible claim that all rights are socially conferred, but as a rejection of the metaphysical and axiological priority of our bearing individual rights over our capacity to participate in political community.
*A paper offering a Peircean pragmatist construal of our fundamental epistemic commitments, not as Wittgensteinian hinges, but as hopes of a special sort.
*A paper arguing that the "loving gaze" described by Murdoch is essentially oriented, not toward a positive view of its object, but toward accuracy.
I'm happy to send you drafts. Just email me.
How to Be a Pragmatist in the End:
Objectivity, Skepticism, and the Demands of Agency
Pragmatists face serious difficulties in accounting for the objectivity of truth and knowledge. For they clarify the meaning and truth of our beliefs by appeal to their practical success, and practical success seems to be relative to a particular context⎯and perhaps even a particular subject. Some pragmatists verge on simply accepting this consequence, but others attempt to provide for objective standards of truth and justification. My dissertation interprets and evaluates this objective pragmatist tradition. I argue for three key claims. First, there are two conceptions of objectivity prominent within this tradition, which are not only distinct but further in serious mutual tension: an empiricist conception, on which the objective constraints on belief are provided by possible experiences, and a realist-causal conception, on which they are provided by causal interaction with the mind-independent natural world in perception. These conceptions dominate in different historical periods, marking the transition from classical pragmatism to neo-pragmatism. The classical pragmatists most concerned with objectivity, C. S. Peirce & C. I. Lewis, opt for the first conception (notwithstanding apparent realist-causal sympathies in Peirce’s work that ultimately explain the emergence of the second within the pragmatist fold). Those neo-pragmatists like Wilfrid Sellars who do not jettison objectivity outright opt for the second. Second, ultimately neither camp effectively deploys its conception to vindicate the objectivity of thought: the former camp falls prey to phenomenalism while the latter fail to leverage their externalist accounts of meaning into adequate responses to skepticism. Finally and in consequence, pragmatism's most fruitful contribution to thinking about objectivity turns out not to lie in its accounts of meaning and truth at all, but in its independent epistemology: specifically, in the view of Peirce and Sellars that our right to accept our basic empirical beliefs is a pragmatic warrant that derives from the demands of effective agency—and ultimately, in my view, from the value of achievement and control.
I'm happy to send you my teaching dossier and sample teaching materials. Just email me.
As Primary Instructor
*3rd-year. Feminist Philosophy. Spring 2023.
*3rd-year. Early Analytic Philosophy. Winter 2022. [syllabus]
*3rd-year. Literature & Philosophy. Winter 2022. [syllabus]
*3rd-year. Philosophy of Emotions. Fall 2021. [syllabus]
*3rd-year. Social & Cultural Theory. Fall 2021. [syllabus]
*2nd-year. Modern Philosophy. Fall 2022. [syllabus]
*2nd-year. Knowledge & Reality. Summer 2021. [syllabus]
*2nd-year. God, Self, World: Introduction to the History
of Metaphysics. Summer 2021. [syllabus]
*2nd-year. Introduction to Continental Philosophy. Summer 2020. [syllabus]
*2nd-year. Introduction to Ethics. Summer 2018. [syllabus]
*1st-year. Introduction to Philosophy (Historical). Spring 2014.
*1st-year. "Whence Cometh Evil?": Ancient & Medieval Perspectives on Suffering and Wrongdoing. Fall 2022 (2 sections). [syllabus]
(Note: This last course is an interdisciplinary philosophy/literature course in Hope College's "Cultural Heritage" sequence. I will also teach 3 sections of it in Spring 2023 with the same theme, but with a new 4-week unit on Chinese philosophy in its classical & Buddhist periods, for which the course earned a "Global Learning–International" diversity flag.)
As Tutorial (i.e. Discussion Section) Leader & Grader
*2nd-year. Law & Morality. Winter 2021.
*2nd-year. Knowledge & Reality. Fall 2020.
*2nd-year. 17th- & 18th-Century Philosophy. 2019-20 AY.
*2nd-year. Ethics & Moral Philosophy. Spring 2018.
*2nd-year. History of Moral, Social, & Political Philosophy. 2016-17 AY.
*1st-year. Introduction to Philosophy. 5 sections, 2015-18.
*3rd-year. The Continental Tradition. Winter 2020.
*3rd-year. Knowledge & Justification. Fall 2013.
*2nd-year. Philosophy of Religion. Fall 2018