Curriculum Vitae
Matthew Skene
Syracuse University


B.A.       University of Colorado, Boulder            2002 (magma cum laude)
Ph.D.       Syracuse University                        Ph.D. expected Soonish
Dissertation: Putting the Ghost Back in the Machine: A Defense of Common Sense Dualism
Supervisor: Robert Van Gulick
Abstract: Gilbert Ryle once ridiculed substance dualism, describing it as the view that we are a “ghost in the machine.” Since that time, substance dualism has found few defenders, and a presumption toward naturalism has dominated philosophical inquiry. Here, I offer an unapologetic defense this unfashionable view of the self. To do so, I first explain why philosophy should endorse a shift in method away from naturalism and toward common sense philosophy. I then show how, from within that approach, substance dualism is far better supported than its competitors. My defense of the common sense method rests heavily on an account of justification and of evidence defended by Michael Huemer, and results in the view that we should give strong presumptive weight to common sense. I proceed to argue that a commitment to active, immaterial minds is built into the conception of human nature used in everyday life, and therefore qualifies as a tenet of common sense. This fact gives a strong presumption to dualism. I finish by considering objections to dualism, and showing that not only do they fail to overcome this strong presumption, but would fail to overcome even a moderate conservatism with regard to beliefs about the nature of the mind.

Areas of Specialization

Epistemology, Philosophy of Mind

Areas of Competence

Meta-Ethics, Thomas Reid, Introductory Logic, Ethics

“Seemings and the Possibility of Epistemic Justification”, forthcoming from Philosophical Studies, DOI 10.1007/s11098-011-9830-2

Teaching Experience

Syracuse University
Teaching Assistant
Introduction to Logic Fall 2003, Spring 2004, 2005
Human Nature Fall 2004
Sole Instructor
Theories of Knowledge and Reality (Epistemology, Existence of God, Free Will, Phil. Mind)
(8 terms, 13 total classes) Fall 2005-Summer 2008
Community College of Aurora
Introduction to Philosophy

Spring 2010-Spring 2013

Ethics Fall 2010, Spring 2011, 2013
Platt College
Critical Thinking Spring, 2010-Winter 2013
Philosophy and Society Winter 2012
University of Colorado at Denver
Adjunct Instructor for the CU Succeeds Program (Class taught at D’Evelyn High School)
Introduction to Philosophy Fall 2011

Academic Experience

Conference Organizer, 2007 Graduate Conference in Philosophy, Syracuse University.


  1. “Allowing for Unjustified Deliberative Beliefs”, commentary on Elizabeth Palmer’s “Deliberative Belief Formation as an Action”, April 8, 2005, Graduate Conference in Philosophy, Syracuse University.
  2. “Questioning the need for Usefulness and for Non-Circular Justification”, commentary on Deke Gould’s “Rule Circular Justification and Deduction”, ABD Series Presentation, March 30, 2007, Syracuse University.
  3. “Seemings and the Possibility of Epistemic Justification”, ABD Series Presentation, September 4, 2007, Syracuse University.
  4. “The Causal Argument Against Physicalism”, ABD Series Presentation, April 2, 2009, Syracuse University.

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