Lilly Fellows Program
1320 South Chapel Drive
Valparaiso University
Valparaiso, IN 46383

Kenneth L. Pearce

Curriculum Vitae
Phone: 219-464-5003
Fax: 219-464-5496

Areas of Specialization

Early Modern Philosophy, Philosophy of Religion

Areas of Teaching Competence

Metaphysics, Epistemology, Philosophy of Mind, History and Philosophy of Physics, Ancient Philosophy


English (native), Ancient Greek (competent, reading only), Latin (intermediate, reading only), French (intermediate, reading only)

Academic Employment

2014 - PresentLilly Postdoctoral Fellow, Valparaiso University


2009 - 2014Ph.D, Philosophy, University of Southern California
2008 - 2009Graduate Student, Philosophy, University of California, Irvine
2003 - 2007B.A., Philosophy and Classical Studies, University of Pennsylvania
2003 - 2007B.A.S., Computer Science, University of Pennsylvania


Journal Articles

"Berkeley's Lockean Religious Epistemology," Journal of the History of Ideas 75 (2014): 417-438

"Understanding Omnipotence" (with Alexander R. Pruss), Religious Studies 48 (2012): 403-414

"Thomas Reid on Character and Freedom," History of Philosophy Quarterly 29 (2012): 159-176

"The Semantics of Sense Perception in Berkeley," Religious Studies 44 (2008): 249-268

Book Chapters

"Mereological Idealism" in Idealism: New Essays in Metaphysics, ed. Tyron Goldschmidt and Kenneth L. Pearce (Oxford University Press, forthcoming)

"Matter, God, and Nonsense: Berkeley's Polemic against the Freethinkers in the Three Dialogues" in Berkeley's Three Dialogues: New Essays, ed. Stefan Storrie (Oxford University Press, forthcoming)

"Infinite Power and Finite Powers" in The Infinity of God: Scientific, Theological, and Philosophical Perspectives, ed. Benedikt Paul Göcke and Christian Tapp (Notre Dame University Press, forthcoming)

Edited Volume

Idealism: New Essays in Metaphysics (with Tyron Goldschmidt), under contract with Oxford University Press

Reference Articles

"Deism," The Special Divine Action Project, Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion, Oxford University (Bodleian Library, commissioned)

"Port Royal School" in The Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy Online, ed. Tim Crane (Routledge, forthcoming)

"Berkeley's Philosophy of Religion" in The Continuum Companion to Berkeley, ed. Richard Brook and Bertil Belfrage (Bloomsbury, forthcoming)

"Omnipotence" in The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ed. James Fieser and Bradley Dowden (November 8, 2011)

Book Review

Review of The Puzzle of Existence: Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing?, ed. Tyron Goldschmidt, Faith and Philosophy 31 (2014): 341-344


Title: Language and the Structure of Berkeley's World
Committee: Prof. James Van Cleve (chair), Prof. Edwin McCann, Prof. Gideon Yaffe, Prof. Samuel Rickless, Prof. Anthony Kemp
Defended: March 21, 2014

Berkeley's philosophy is meant to be a defense of commonsense. However, Berkeley's claim that the ultimate constituents of physical reality are fleeting, causally passive ideas appears to be radically at odds with commonsense. In particular, such a theory seems unable to account for the robust structure which commonsense (and Newtonian physics) takes the world to exhibit. The problem of structure, as I understand it, includes the problem of how qualities can be grouped by their co-occurrence in a single enduring object and how these enduring objects can bear spatiotemporal, causal, and other relations to one another. I argue that Berkeley's solution to these problems lies in his views about language. At one level, human language allows us to exploit patterns in our perceptions to construct a highly structured representation of the physical world which allows us to make accurate predictions at minimal cognitive expense. At a deeper level, these patterns occur in perception because our perceptions themselves form a language in which God speaks to us.

Manuscripts Under Review

Language and the Structure of Berkeley's World (monograph)

"Leibniz and the Veridicality of Body Perceptions"

"Arnauld's Verbal Distinction Between Perceptions and Ideas"

Manuscripts in Progress

"How Berkeley's Gardener Knows his Cherry Tree"

"Foundational Grounding and the Argument from Contingency"

"What Descartes Doubted, Berkeley Denied, and Kant Endorsed"

"A Leibnizian Theory of Miracles"

Research Presentations

"Leibniz and the Veridicality of Body Perceptions," Eighth Annual Leibniz Society of North America Conference, Tampa, Florida (October 31, 2014)

"Matter, God, and Nonsense: Berkeley's Polemic against the Freethinkers in the Three Dialogues," Berkeley Conference, Dublin, Ireland (April 4, 2014)

"How Berkeley's Gardener Knows his Cherry Tree," International Berkeley Conference: The 300th Anniversary of the Publication of Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous, Krakow, Poland (August 21, 2013)

"Infinite Power and Finite Powers" (invited), The Infinity of God: Scientific, Theological, and Philosophical Approaches, Bochum, Germany (August 10, 2013)

"Leibniz on Phenomenalism, Mechanism, and the Great Chain of Being," International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science, Halifax, NS (June 22, 2012)

"Divine Language, Unperceived Objects, and Berkeley's Response to Skepticism," International Berkeley Society Group Session, American Philosophical Association Eastern Division Meeting, Washington, DC (December 28, 2011)

"Berkeley's Lockean Religious Epistemology," International Berkeley Conference, Zurich, Switzerland (June 23, 2011)

"A Leibnizian Theory of Miracles"

Society of Christian Philosophers Pacific and Mountain Region Conference, Newberg, OR (March 4, 2011)

Southern California Philosophy Conference, Pomona, CA (November 6, 2010)

Interdisciplinary and International Graduate Conference in French and Francophone Studies, Santa Barbara, CA, (May 14, 2010)

"In Defense of Ignorant Assertions," Mountain-Plains Philosophy Conference, Washington, PA (October 16, 2010)

"Can Berkeley's God Raise the Same Body, Transformed?" Society of Christian Philosophers Pacific Division Conference, Riverside, CA, (October 31, 2008)

Other Conference Activity

Comments on Linda Zagzebski, "Omnisubjectivity and Christian Doctrine," Classical Theism Workshop, St. Paul, MN (August 1, 2015)

Participant, St. Thomas Summar Seminar in Philosophy of Religion and Philosophical Theology, St. Paul, MN (June 16 - July 1, 2015)

Session chair for Irem Kurstal Steen, "Ordinary Objects for Plenitude Lovers," The Third California Metaphysics Conference: Ordinary Objects, Los Angeles, CA (January 17, 2014)

Comments on Daniel M. Johnson, "Reidian Internalism," American Philosophical Association Pacific Division Meeting, San Diego, CA (April 21, 2011)

Fellowships and Academic Honors

2013USC School of Philosophy Michael McCann Award for Excellence in the History of Philosophy
Spring 2013USC School of Philosophy Flewelling Research Fellowship
2011 - 2012USC Dornsife College General Education Graduate Assistant Award
2009 - 2014USC College Merit Fellowship

Teaching Experience

As Primary Instructor

Fall 2015
CC 300H: Science-Fiction and Philosophy (Valparaiso University)
Interdisciplinary Honors College Seminar
Spring 2015PHIL 280: Early Modern Philosophy (Valparaiso University)
Spring 2015PHIL 145: Elementary Logic/Critical Thinking (Valparaiso University)
Fall 2014PHIL 150: Formal Logic/Critical Thinking (Valparaiso University)
Fall 2014PHIL 145: Elementary Logic/Critical Thinking (Valparaiso University)
Fall 2012PHIL 527: Philosophy of Religion (Pepperdine University)
Fall 2012PHIL 320: Ethics (Pepperdine University)

As Teaching Assistant

Spring 2012PHIL 225: Love and its Representations in Western Literature, Philosophy, and Film (USC; Prof. Edwin McCann)
Fall 2011PHIL 285: Knowledge, Explanation, and the Cosmos (USC; Prof. Jacob Ross)
Spring 2011PHIL 101: Philosophical Foundations of Modern Western Culture (USC; Prof. James Van Cleve)
Fall 2010PHIL 137: Social Ethics for Earthlings and Others (USC; Prof. John Dreher)

Educational Presentations

February, 12, 2014A Discussion on Omnipotence and Stones
PHIL 112: Philosophy of Religion (Instructor: C. Daniel Dolson)
University of California, Santa Barbara (via Skype)
January 17, 2013Introductory Lecture to Freud's Last Session
USC Visions and Voices: The Arts and Humanities Initiative
April 8, 2011Leibniz, Newton, and Laplace on God and Physics
USC Undergraduate Philosophy Club

Graduate Coursework

Early Modern Philosophy

Fall 2012The Philosophy of Thomas Reid (USC; Prof. James Van Cleve) [Audited]
Spring 2011Locke's Essay and Leibniz's New Essays (USC; Prof. Edwin McCann)
Fall 2010Thomas Reid's Philosophy of Action (USC; Prof. James Van Cleve and Prof. Gideon Yaffe)
Fall 2009Studies in Modern Philosophy: Perception (USC; Prof. James Van Cleve)
Spring 2009Innate Ideas (UCI; Prof. Nicholas Jolley) [Audited]
Fall 2008Spinoza (UCLA; Prof. Joseph Almog) [Audited]


Spring 2013Problems of Consciousness (USC; Prof. Janet Levin) [Audited]
Spring 2012Metaphysics (USC; Prof. Shieva Klenschmidt) [Audited]
Fall 2010Metaphysics (USC; Prof. Kadri Vihvelin)
Fall 2008Material Constitution (UCI; Prof. M. Oreste Fiocco)
Spring 2007Metaphysics (Penn; Prof. Susan Schneider)

Ancient Philosophy

Spring 2009Plato and Aristotle (UCI; Prof. Gerasimos X. Santas)
Fall 2006Plato's Parmenides (Penn; Prof. Charles Kahn)


Spring 2010Epistemology (USC; Prof. Jacob Ross)
Fall 2008First Year Seminar: Skepticism (UCI; Prof. Philip J. Nickel)

Philosophy of Language, Logic, and Philosophy of Mathematics

Fall 2009Introduction to Contemporary Philosophical Literature (USC; Prof. Scott Soames)
Spring 2009Incompleteness (UCI; Prof. Kent Johnson) [Audited]
Winter 2009Defending the Axioms (UCI; Prof. Penelope Maddy) [Audited]

Value Theory

Spring 2011Recent Work in Moral Philosophy (USC; Prof. Jacob Ross)
Spring 2010Introduction to Contemporary Philosophical Literature on Value (USC; Prof. Mark Schroeder and Prof. Gary Watson)

Other Professional Activities

Referee for History of Philosophy Quarterly, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, Erkenntnis, Sophia, Berkeley Studies, Dialectica, Society and Politics, Journal of Polish Philosophy, and Diametros

Co-Editor, The Mod Squad early modern philosophy blog (

Contributor, The Prosblogion philosophy of religion blog ( category editor for "George Berkeley;" "Berkeley: Metaphysics," with subcategories; "Berkeley: Philosophy of Language;" "Berkeley: Philosophy of Religion," with subcategories; "Divine Attributes;" and "Divine Omnipotence"

Professional Affiliations

American Philosophical Association

Society of Christian Philosophers

International Berkeley Society


James Van Cleve, Professor of Philosophy, University of Southern California

Edwin McCann, Professor of Philosophy and English, University of Southern California

Gideon Yaffe, Professor of Law and Philosophy, Yale Law School

Samuel Rickless, Professor of Philosophy, University of California, San Diego

Dean Zimmerman, Professor of Philosophy, Rutgers University

Alexander Pruss, Professor of Philosophy, Baylor University

Mason Marshall, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Pepperdine University (Teaching Reference)

John Dreher, Associate Professor of Philosophy, University of Southern California (Teaching Reference)