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Toby Napoletano, PhD

I am a lecturer in the Cognitive and Information Sciences department at the University of California-Merced. I received my PhD in Philosophy from the University of Connecticut in 2017.

My academic research currently focuses on the concepts of desert and meritocracy, their connections to justice, and related areas in political philosophy. I also teach courses on Human Rights and the philosophy of education (though my initial specialization was in philosophy of linguistics/language). I have run the Badlands Politics and Philosophy Podcast since 2018.

My current course rotation:

  • Meritocracy and the American Dream: The course examines the status of meritocracy as a normative ideal, and the role of merit in our various institutions

  • Education and Democracy: The course explores the role of the educational system in a democracy, and examines our educational institutions in light of the basic aims of a democratic society.

  • Political Philosophy

  • Foundations of Human Rights

(Pictured left: Wally, the mountain ranger cat.)

(Pictured Below: Mariposa Lily, a native wildflower in the Sierra Nevada which blooms on our property each May)

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Research and Writing

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Academic Publications

"Desert Is a Dyadic Relation" (forthcoming), Analysis.

"Measurement and desert: Why grades cannot be deserved" (2021), Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 10 (4): 282-292.

"How Important Are Truth-Conditions In Truth-Conditional Semantics?" (2019), Linguistics and Philosophy 42 (6): 541-575. 

"Why Truth-Conditional Semantics in Generative Linguistics is Still the Better Bet" (2017), Erkenntnis 82 (3): 673-692.

"Compositionality As Weak Supervenience" (2015), Synthese 192 (1): 201-220.

Works In Progress

  1. "Can Retributivism and Risk-Assessment be Reconciled?" with H. K. Gunn

  2. "Dignity or Desert? Rethinking the Desert of Jobs and Wages"

  3. "Can Essentiality of Origin Rescue Meritocracy from the Luck Objection?"



The Badlands Politics and Philosophy

I also run The Badlands Politics and Philosophy podcast. The Badlands aims to present, in a publicly accessible way, the philosophical dimensions of contemporary political issues, with a particular focus on progressive politics and issues. All Badlands related content can be found at (Twitter: @TheBadlandsPod).

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