•  11
    Insofar as empirical inquiry involves the coevolution of descriptive language and theoretical commitments, a satisfactory model of empirical knowledge should describe the coordinated evolution of both language and theory. But since we do not know what conceptual resources we might need to express our future theories or to provide our best future faithful descriptions of the world, we do not now know even what the space of future descriptive options might be. One strategy for addressing this shif…Read more
  •  16
    Editors’ pick
    The Philosophers' Magazine 66 112-114. 2014.
  •  25
    Hugh Everett III's pure wave mechanics is a deterministic physical theory with no probabilities. He nevertheless sought to show how his theory might be understood as making the same statistical predictions as the standard collapse formulation of quantum mechanics. We will consider Everett's argument for pure wave mechanics, how it depends on the notion of branch typicality, and the relationship between the predictions of pure wave mechanics and the standard quantum probabilities.
  •  49
    We consider how cue-reading, sensory-manipulation, and signaling games may initially evolve from ritualized decisions and how more complex games may evolve from simpler games by polymerization, template transfer, and modular composition. Modular composition is a process that combines simpler games into more complex games. Template transfer, a process by which a game is appropriated to a context other than the one in which it initially evolved, is one mechanism for modular composition. And polyme…Read more
  •  12
    Accuracy in the philosophical theory of rationality demands that we recognize particular beliefs as arising within the context of larger units, the cultural or conceptual schemes, patterns, or practices, involvement in which itself provides standards and grounds for their rational evaluation. At the same time, though, a satisfactory account of rationality cannot hold the standards, values, or commitments of one particular culture, practice, or conceptual scheme, even one’s own, immune from ratio…Read more
  •  78
    On the Evolution of Truth
    Erkenntnis 81 (6): 1323-1332. 2016.
    This paper is concerned with how a simple metalanguage might coevolve with a simple descriptive base language in the context of interacting Skyrms–Lewis signaling games Lewis. We will first consider a metagame that evolves to track the successful and unsuccessful use of a coevolving base language, then we will consider a metagame that evolves a truth predicate for expressions in a coevolving base language. We will see how a metagame that tracks truth provides an endogenous way to break the symme…Read more
  •  42
  •  5
    Lewis signaling games illustrate how language might evolve from random behavior. The probability of evolving an optimal signaling language is, in part, a function of what learning strategy the agents use. Here we investigate three learning strategies, each of which allows agents to forget old experience. In each case, we find that forgetting increases the probability of evolving an optimal language. It does this by making it less likely that past partial success will continue to reinforce subopt…Read more
  •  68
    Dynamic partitioning and the conventionality of kinds
    Philosophy of Science 74 (4): 527-546. 2007.
    Lewis sender‐receiver games illustrate how a meaningful term language might evolve from initially meaningless random signals (Lewis 1969; Skyrms 2006). Here we consider how a meaningful language with a primitive grammar might evolve in a somewhat more subtle sort of game. The evolution of such a language involves the co‐evolution of partitions of the physical world into what may seem, at least from the perspective of someone using the language, to correspond to canonical natural kinds. While the…Read more
  •  59
    The evolution, appropriation, and composition of rules
    Synthese 195 (2): 623-636. 2018.
    This paper concerns how rule-following behavior might evolve in the context of a variety of Skyrms–Lewis signaling game, how such rules might subsequently evolve to be used in new contexts, and how such appropriation allows for the composition of evolved rules. We will also consider how the composition of simpler rules to form more complex rules may be significantly more efficient than evolving the complex rules directly. And we will review an example of rule following by pinyon and scrub jays a…Read more
  •  226
    On what it takes to be a world
    with David Z. Albert
    Topoi 14 (1): 35-37. 1995.
    A many-worlds interpretation is of quantum mechanics tells us that the linear equations of motion are the true and complete laws for the time-evolution of every physical system and that the usual quantum-mechanical states provide complete descriptions of all possible physical situations. Such an interpretation, however, denies the standard way of understanding quantum-mechanical states. When the pointer on a measuring device is in a superposition of pointing many different directions, for exampl…Read more
  •  30
    Rule-Following and the Evolution of Basic Concepts
    Philosophy of Science 81 (5): 829-839. 2014.
    This article concerns how rule-following behavior might evolve, how an old evolved rule might come to be appropriated to a new context, and how simple concepts might coevolve with rule-following behavior. In particular, we consider how the transitive inferential rule-following behavior exhibited by pinyon and scrub jays might evolve in the context of a variety of the Skyrms-Lewis signaling game, then how such a rule might come to be appropriated to carry out inferences regarding stimuli differen…Read more
  •  5
    α-recursion lifts classical recursion theory from the first transfinite ordinal ω to an arbitrary admissible ordinal α [10]. Idealized computational models for α-recursion analogous to Turing machine models for classical recursion have been proposed and studied [4] and [5] and are applicable in computational approaches to the foundations of logic and mathematics [8]. They also provide a natural setting for modeling extensions of the algorithmic logic described in [1] and [2]. On such models, an …Read more
  •  1
    There is good reason to suppose that our best physical theories are false: In addition to its own internal problems, the standard formulation of quantum mechanics is logically incompatible with special relativity. There is also good reason to suppose that we have no concrete idea concerning what it might mean to claim that these theories are approximately or vaguely true. I will argue that providing a concrete understanding the approximate or vague truth of our current physical theories is not a…Read more
  •  31
    A field-theoretic version of Wigner’s friend (1961) illustrates how the quantum measurement problem arises for field theory. Similarly, considering spacelike separate measurements of entangled fields by observers akin to Wigner’s friend shows the sense in which relativistic constraints make the measurement problem particularly difficult to resolve in the context of a relativistic field theory. We will consider proposals by Wigner (1961), Bloch (1967), Helwig and Kraus (1970), and Bell (1984) for…Read more
  •  1
    Editors’ pick
    The Philosophers' Magazine 66 112-114. 2014.