I am a visiting professor of philosophy at Western Kentucky University. My research focuses on the metaphysics of science, addressing classic problems in metaphysics, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of science. I'm also very interested in philosophy of religion, epistemology, and the history of philosophy. 


( 01 )

Recent and Upcoming Events

Tennessee Philosophical Association. November 8-9. "Avoiding the Collapse Problem for Emergentism." Vanderbilt University.


( 02 )


My research interests include philosophy of mind, metaphysics, and philosophy of science. I am interested both in projects that are exclusive to these sub-disciplines and projects where these sub-disciplines intersect. For a more detailed description of my research, see here. Drafts of papers are available upon request.


My dissertation identifies a problem for contemporary science and philosophy: Both speak frequently of levels – the quantum level, cellular level, or neuroscientific level – but all the accounts of what levels are and what conditions are responsible for them are inadequate. Some have thought that levels come about when parts come together to form wholes, while others have thought that constitution, the relation said to hold between a statue and its clay, is responsible. Reductivist materialism implies that there are no levels of being, just levels of explanation or something else less ontologically weighty; nonreductivist materialists, on the other hand, have argued that so-called higher-level things (like organisms) have unreducible characteristics, and the conditions that give rise to them are responsible for levels. I argue that each of these views is wrong. Emergence is necessary for levels, and this better accords with science's success at giving reductive explanations and its inability to give them in recalcitrant cases. See here for more details.

Works in Progress
No Fundamental Determinables (under revision, copy available upon request)
Improving the Parent Analogy (under revision, copy available upon request)
In Favor of Catholicism

( 03 )


Teaching Statement

Philosophy is for everyone, and I try to teach it in a way that invites everyone into philosophical reflection. As the only field that encourages examination of all assumptions, it is a vital tool in answering the important questions that most people care about, regardless of race, gender, or background. Philosophy enriches students’ pursuit of knowledge and truth. It deepens the strength of other disciplines by encouraging critical reflection on claims—as well as the evidence given in support of those claims—and enables students to be better scientists, historians, doctors, lawyers, and entrepreneurs. Click here to read the full statement with evidence of teaching excellence.


Philosophical Inquiry: The Big Questions, Fall 2017

Science and Theism, Spring 2017

Reasoning and Writing in the College, Spring 2017

Science and Religious Faith, Fall 2016

All Evaluations from 2014-Spring 2016

Courses Taught

Philosophical Inquiry: The Big Questions, Nazareth College PHL.Q 101, Fall 2017

This is Nazareth College’s introductory philosophy course, which introduces students to Aristotelian and Stoic logic with a view to understanding the role of logic in philosophical inquiry. Using Plato’s Five Dialogues, this section acquaints students with philosophy and logic by thinking about the nature of the universe, morality, and knowledge.

Science and Belief, Fall 2017

Thomas Huxley, known as Darwin’s Bulldog, said, “The man of science has learned to believe in justification, not by faith, but by verification.” Many today agree, adding that assessing claims scientifically precludes faith. Others, however, think they are compatible, or that science is evidence for religious belief. How might we articulate such views? What are their strengths and weaknesses? And, how should we understand science and religious belief in the first place? Interacting with the writings of Darwin, atheist Richard Dawkins, as well as great Christian, Islamic, and Chinese scholars, we will engage these questions with an eye toward developing the skills of argument and writing.

Science and Religious Faith: WRT 105A, Fall 2016, Fall 2017

This is a freshman level class that that I designed, targeting international students and domestic students who are not confident academic writers, teaching argumentative academic writing and critical reading through philosophical engagement with literature on science and religious faith.

Reasoning and Writing in the College: WRT 105B, Spring 2017

The second-half of the WRT 105A-WRT 105B sequence, WRT 105B immerses students in the experience of academic writing, with a particular emphasis on analyzing, using, and documenting scholarly and non-scholarly texts. It provides instruction and practice in constructing cogent and compelling arguments, as students draft and revise a proposal and an 8-10 page argumentative research paper.

Science and Theism: Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017

This is a freshman level class that I designed especially to teach argumentative writing via the examination of philosophical literature about the relationship between science and theism. Students should have a basic understanding of academic writing upon completion of the course.

Jannai Shields

Ph.D., Philosophy

jannaishields - at - gmail - dot - com

1906 College Heights Blvd.

Bowling Green, KY  42101-1086

  • Black LinkedIn Icon
  • Black Twitter Icon
  • Black Google+ Icon