•  108
    Values in Psychometrics
    Perspectives on Psychological Science. forthcoming.
    When it originated in the late 19th century, psychometrics was a field with both a scientific and a social mission: psychometrics provided new methods for research into individual differences, and at the same time, these psychometric instruments were considered a means to create a new social order. In contrast, contemporary psychometrics - due to its highly technical nature and its limited involvement in substantive psychological research - has created the impression of being a value-free discip…Read more
  •  112
    Well-being and Pluralism
    Journal of Happiness Studies. forthcoming.
    It is a commonly expressed sentiment that the science and philosophy of well-being would do well to learn from each other. Typically such calls identify mistakes and bad practices on both sides that would be remedied if scientists picked the right bit of philosophy and philosophers picked the right bit of science. We argue that the differences between philosophers and scientists thinking about well-being are more difficult to reconcile than such calls suggest, and that pluralism is central to th…Read more
  •  101
    Back to the big picture
    Journal of Economic Methodology 28 (1): 54-59. 2021.
    We distinguish between two different strategies in methodology of economics. The big picture strategy, dominant in the twentieth century, ascribed to economics a unified method and evaluated this m...
  •  937
    Mental Health Without Wellbeing
    Journal of Medicine and Philosophy. forthcoming.
    What is it to be mentally healthy? In the ongoing movement to promote mental health, to reduce stigma and to establish parity between mental and physical health, there is a clear enthusiasm about this concept and a recognition of its value in human life. However, it is often unclear what mental health means in all these efforts and whether there is a single concept underlying them. Sometimes the initiatives for the sake of mental health are aimed just at reducing mental illness, thus implicitly …Read more
  •  258
    Measuring utility: from the marginal revolution to behavioral economics
    with Lukas Beck
    Journal of Economic Methodology 26 (4): 380-384. 2019.
    Volume 26, Issue 4, December 2019, Page 380-384.
  •  284
    Progress in economics: Lessons from the spectrum auctions
    In Harold Kincaid & Don Ross (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Economics, Oxford University Press. pp. 306--337. 2009.
    The 1994 US spectrum auction is now a paradigmatic case of the successful use of microeconomic theory for policy-making. We use a detailed analysis of it to review standard accounts in philosophy of science of how idealized models are connected to messy reality. We show that in order to understand what made the design of the spectrum auction successful, a new such account is required, and we present it here. Of especial interest is the light this sheds on the issue of progress in economics. In …Read more
  •  1448
    Prisoner's dilemma doesn't explain much
    In Martin Peterson (ed.), The Prisoner’s Dilemma. Classic philosophical arguments., Cambridge University Press. pp. 64-84. 2015.
    We make the case that the Prisoner’s Dilemma, notwithstanding its fame and the quantity of intellectual resources devoted to it, has largely failed to explain any phenomena of social scientific or biological interest. In the heart of the paper we examine in detail a famous purported example of Prisoner’s Dilemma empirical success, namely Axelrod’s analysis of WWI trench warfare, and argue that this success is greatly overstated. Further, we explain why this negative verdict is likely true genera…Read more
  •  142
    It’s Just A Feeling: Why Economic Models Do Not Explain
    Journal of Economic Methodology 20 (3). 2013.
    Julian Reiss correctly identified a trilemma about economic models: we cannot maintain that they are false, but nevertheless explain and that only true accounts explain. In this reply we give reasons to reject the second premise ? that economic models explain. Intuitions to the contrary should be distrusted
  •  114
    Buyer beware: robustness analyses in economics and biology
    with Jay Odenbaugh
    Biology and Philosophy 26 (5): 757-771. 2011.
    Theoretical biology and economics are remarkably similar in their reliance on mathematical models, which attempt to represent real world systems using many idealized assumptions. They are also similar in placing a great emphasis on derivational robustness of modeling results. Recently philosophers of biology and economics have argued that robustness analysis can be a method for confirmation of claims about causal mechanisms, despite the significant reliance of these models on patently false assu…Read more
  •  144
    Can the Science of Well-Being Be Objective?
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (2): 421-445. 2018.
    Well–being, health and freedom are some of the many phenomena of interest to science whose definitions rely on a normative standard. Empirical generalizations about them thus present a special case of value-ladenness. I propose the notion of a ‘mixed claim’ to denote such generalizations. Against the prevailing wisdom, I argue that we should not seek to eliminate them from science. Rather, we need to develop principles for their legitimate use. Philosophers of science have already reconciled val…Read more
  •  920
    A Philosophy for the Science of Well-Being
    Oxford University Press. 2017.
    Do the new sciences of well-being provide knowledge that respects the nature of well-being? This book written from the perspective of philosophy of science articulates how this field can speak to well-being proper and can do so in a way that respects the demands of objectivity and measurement.
  •  47
    Is Construct Validation Valid?
    with Daniel M. Haybron
    Philosophy of Science 83 (5): 1098-1109. 2016.
    What makes a measure of well-being valid? The dominant approach today, construct validation, uses psychometrics to ensure that questionnaires behave in accordance with background knowledge. Our first claim is interpretive—construct validation obeys a coherentist logic that seeks to balance diverse sources of evidence about the construct in question. Our second claim is critical—while in theory this logic is defensible, in practice it does not secure valid measures. We argue that the practice of …Read more
  •  65
    Is Well-being Measurable After All?
    Public Health Ethics 10 (2). 2017.
    In Valuing Health, Dan Hausman argues that well-being is not measurable, at least not in the way that science and policy would require. His argument depends on a demanding conception of well-being and on a pessimistic verdict upon the existing measures of subjective well-being. Neither of these reasons, I argue, warrant as much skepticism as Hausman professes.
  •  35
    with Nancy Cartwright, Andrew Hamilton Sophia Efstathiou, and Ioan Muntean
    In Frank Jackson & Michael Smith (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Philosophy, Oxford University Press. 2005.
  •  83
    Doing Well in the Circumstances
    Journal of Moral Philosophy 10 (3): 307-328. 2013.
    Judgments of well-being across different circumstances and spheres of life exhibit a staggering diversity. Depending on the situation, we use different standards of well-being and even treat it as being constituted by different things. This is true of scientific studies as well as of everyday life. How should we interpret this diversity? I consider three ways of doing so: first, denying the legitimacy of this diversity, second, treating well-being as semantically invariant but differentially rea…Read more
  •  139
    Well-Being as an Object of Science
    Philosophy of Science 79 (5): 678-689. 2012.
    The burgeoning science of well-being makes no secret of being value laden: improvement of well-being is its explicit goal. But in order to achieve this goal its concepts and claims need to be value adequate; that is, they need, among other things, to adequately capture well-being. In this article I consider two ways of securing this adequacy—first, by relying on philosophical theory of prudential value and, second, by the psychometric approach. I argue that neither is fully adequate and explore …Read more
  •  70
    Kristin Shrader-frechette Tainted: How philosophy of science can expose bad science (review)
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (3): 901-905. 2016.
  •  418
    Paternalism in economics
    with Daniel M. Haybron
    In Christian Coons Michael Weber (ed.), Paternalism: Theory and Practice, Cambridge University Press. pp. 157--177. 2013.
  •  133
    First-person reports and the measurement of happiness
    Philosophical Psychology 21 (5). 2008.
    First-person reports are central to the study of subjective well-being in contemporary psychology, but there is much disagreement about exactly what sort of first-person reports should be used. This paper examines an influential proposal to replace all first-person reports of life satisfaction with introspective reports of affect. I argue against the reasoning behind this proposal, and propose instead a new strategy for deciding what measure is appropriate.
  •  87
    When Analytic Narratives Explain
    Journal of the Philosophy of History 3 (1): 1-24. 2009.
    Rational choice modeling originating in economics is sweeping across many areas of social science. This paper examines a popular methodological proposal for integrating formal models from game theory with more traditional narrative explanations of historical phenomena, known as “analytic narratives”. Under what conditions are we justified in thinking that an analytic narrative provides a good explanation? In this paper I criticize the existing criteria and provide a set of my own. Along the way,…Read more
  •  151
    Making models count
    Philosophy of Science 75 (3): 383-404. 2008.
    What sort of claims do scientific models make and how do these claims then underwrite empirical successes such as explanations and reliable policy interventions? In this paper I propose answers to these questions for the class of models used throughout the social and biological sciences, namely idealized deductive ones with a causal interpretation. I argue that the two main existing accounts misrepresent how these models are actually used, and propose a new account. *Received July 2006; revised …Read more
  •  29
    Adequacy for Purpose: The Best Deal a Model Can Get
    Modern Schoolman 87 (3/4): 295-301. 2010.