•  961
    God, fine-tuning, and the problem of old evidence
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 57 (2): 405-424. 2006.
    The fundamental constants that are involved in the laws of physics which describe our universe are finely-tuned for life, in the sense that if some of the constants had slightly different values life could not exist. Some people hold that this provides evidence for the existence of God. I will present a probabilistic version of this fine-tuning argument which is stronger than all other versions in the literature. Nevertheless, I will show that one can have reasonable opinions such that the fine-…Read more
  •  604
    Minimizing Inaccuracy for Self-Locating Beliefs
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 70 (2): 384-395. 2005.
    One's inaccuracy for a proposition is defined as the squared difference between the truth value (1 or 0) of the proposition and the credence (or subjective probability, or degree of belief) assigned to the proposition. One should have the epistemic goal of minimizing the expected inaccuracies of one's credences. We show that the method of minimizing expected inaccuracy can be used to solve certain probability problems involving information loss and self-locating beliefs (where a self-locating be…Read more
  •  576
    God Acts in the Quantum World
    In Jonathan L. Kvanvig (ed.), Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion Volume 5, Oxford University Press. 2014.
    Suppose that God exists, and that God does not violate the laws of nature he created for the world. God can nevertheless act in the world, by acting at the indeterministic quantum level. This chapter makes two specific points about God’s quantum action. First, on some ways of understanding quantum mechanics (specifically, the GRW theory, and the associated Continuous Spontaneous Localization theories), God’s actions are almost unlimited, contrary to those who say that God would be quite constrai…Read more
  •  531
    Metaphysicians sometimes appeal to physics to establish claims about the fundamental nature of the world. But given the current state of inquiry in physics, where there are two most fundamental theories that are incompatible, such arguments of physics-based metaphysics are problematic. I support this line of thought by focussing on two sorts of problematic arguments, special-relativity-based arguments against presentism and big-bang-based arguments in favor of the existence of God. I am not argu…Read more
  •  508
    An Atheistic Defence of Christian Science
    European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 5 (3): 43--54. 2013.
    Should the Christian community engage in Christian science  – doing science starting from the standpoint of the Christian evidence base? Plantinga asks this question, and I  argue that the answer is ‘yes’. Moreover, this is an answer that both Christians and atheists can agree upon. Scientific progress should not be shackled by methodological naturalism; instead we need an ecumenical approach to science, which will allow for various high-level research programmes to count as science (including C…Read more
  •  368
    Against Multiverse Theodicies
    Philo 13 (2): 113-135. 2010.
    In reply to the problem of evil, some suggest that God created an infinite number of universes—for example, that God created every universe that contains more good than evil. I offer two objections to these multiverse theodicies. First, I argue that, for any number of universes God creates, he could have created more, because he could have created duplicates of universes. Next, I argue that multiverse theodicies can’t adequately account for why God would create universes with pointless suffering…Read more
  •  305
    Time travel without causal loops
    Philosophical Quarterly 59 (234): 54-67. 2009.
    It has sometimes been suggested that backwards time travel always incurs causal loops. I show that this is mistaken, by describing worlds where backwards time travel occurs and yet no causal loops occur. Arguments that backwards time travel can occur without causal loops have been given before in the literature, but I show that those arguments are unconvincing.
  •  305
    We grant that anthropic reasoning yields the result that we should not expect to be in a small civilization. However, regardless of what civilization one finds oneself in, one can use anthropic reasoning to get the result that one should not expect to be in that sort of civilization. Hence, contra Ken Olum, anthropic reasoning does not conflict with observation.
  •  300
    Constructive Empiricism and Modal Nominalism
    with Monton Bradley and Fraassen Bas C. Van
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 54 (3). 2003.
    James Ladyman has argued that constructive empiricism entails modal realism, and that this renders constructive empiricism untenable. We maintain that constructive empiricism is compatible with modal nominalism. Although the central term 'observable' has been analyzed in terms of counterfactuals, and in general counterfactuals do not have objective truth conditions, the property of being observable is not a modal property, and hence there are objective, non-modal facts about what is observable. …Read more
  •  294
    Adam Elga takes the Sleeping Beauty example to provide a counter-example to Reflection, since on Sunday Beauty assigns probability 1/2 to H, and she is certain that on Monday she will assign probability 1/3. I will show that there is a natural way for Bas van Fraassen to defend Reflection in the case of Sleeping Beauty, building on van Fraassen’s treatment of forgetting. This will allow me to identify a lacuna in Elga’s argument for 1/3. I will then argue, however, that not all is well with Refl…Read more
  •  280
    I argue that space has three dimensions, and quantum mechanics does not show otherwise. Specifically, I argue that the mathematical wave function of quantum mechanics corresponds to a property that an N-particle system has in three-dimensional space.
  •  265
    Wave Function Ontology
    Synthese 130 (2): 265-277. 2002.
    I argue that the wave function ontology for quantum mechanics is an undesirable ontology. This ontology holds that the fundamental space in which entities evolve is not three-dimensional, but instead 3N-dimensional, where N is the number of particles standardly thought to exist in three-dimensional space. I show that the state of three-dimensional objects does not supervene on the state of objects in 3N-dimensional space. I also show that the only way to guarantee the existence of the appropriat…Read more
  •  249
    Mixed strategies can't evade Pascal's Wager
    Analysis 71 (4): 642-645. 2011.
    I defend Pascal's Wager from a particular way of evading it, the mixed strategy approach. The mixed strategies approach suggests that Pascal's Wager does not obligate one to believe in God, because one can get the same infinite expected utility from other strategies besides the strategy of believing in God. I will show that while there's nothing technically wrong with the mixed strategy approach, rationality requires it to be applied in such a way that Pascal's Wager doesn't lose any force.
  •  240
    In the case of Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District, et al., Judge Jones ruled that a pro-intelligent design disclaimer cannot be read to public school students. In his decision, he gave demarcation criteria for what counts as science, ruling that intelligent design fails these criteria. I argue that these criteria are flawed, with most of my focus on the criterion of methodological naturalism. The way to refute intelligent design is not by declaring it unscientific, but by showing th…Read more
  •  239
    How are inferences to design affected when one makes the (plausible) assumption that the universe is spatially infinite? I will show that arguments for the existence of God based on the improbable development of life don’t go through. I will also show that the model of design inferences promulgated by William Dembski is flawed. My model for design inferences has the (desirable) consequence that there are circumstances where a seeming miracle can count as evidence for the existence of God, even i…Read more
  •  229
    There is a philosophical tradition of arguing against presentism, the thesis that only presently existing things exist, on the basis of its incompatibility with fundamental physics. I grant that presentism is incompatible with special and general relativity, but argue that presentism is not incompatible with quantum gravity, because there are some theories of quantum gravity that utilize a fixed foliation of spacetime. I reply to various objections to this defense of presentism, and point out a …Read more
  •  227
    McTaggart and modern physics
    Philosophia 38 (2): 257-264. 2009.
    This paper delves into McTaggart’s metaphysical account of reality without time, and compares and contrasts McTaggart’s account with the account of reality given by modern physics. This comparison is of interest, because there are suggestions from contemporary physics that there is no time at the fundamental level. Physicists and philosophers of physics recognize that we do not have a good understanding of how the world could be such that time is unreal. I argue that, from the perspective of one…Read more
  •  219
    Pascal’s Wager holds that one has pragmatic reason to believe in God, since that course of action has infinite expected utility. The mixed strategy objection holds that one could just as well follow a course of action that has infinite expected utility but is unlikely to end with one believing in God. Monton (2011. Mixed strategies can’t evade Pascal’s Wager. Analysis 71: 642–45.) has argued that mixed strategies can’t evade Pascal’s Wager, while Robertson (2012. Some mixed strategies can evade …Read more
  •  217
    Pseudoscience
    In Martin Curd & Stathis Psillos (eds.), Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Science, Second Edition, Routledge. pp. 468-479. 2013.
    I insightfully discuss the question: what is pseudoscience?
  •  194
    Presentism and the objection from being-supervenience
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 85 (3): 485-497. 2007.
    In this paper, we show that presentism -- the view that the way things are is the way things presently are -- is not undermined by the objection from being-supervenience. This objection claims, roughly, that presentism has trouble accounting for the truth-value of past-tense claims. Our demonstration amounts to the articulation and defence of a novel version of presentism. This is brute past presentism, according to which the truth-value of past-tense claims is determined by the past understood …Read more
  •  191
    Evan Fales, Divine Intervention: Metaphysical and Epistemological Puzzles
    European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 7 (4): 259--263. 2015.
  •  184
    Supererogatory Superluminality
    with Brian Kierland
    Synthese 127 (3): 347-357. 2001.
    We argue that any superluminal theory T is empirically equivalent to a non-superluminal theory T*, with the following constraints on T*: T* preserves the spacetime intervals between events as entailed by T, T* is naturalistic, and all the events which have causes according to T also have causes according to T*. Tim Maudlin defines standard interpretations of quantum mechanics as interpretations 'according to which there was a unique set of outcomes in Aspect's laboratory, which outcomes occurred…Read more
  •  183
    It is often thought that presentism is incompatible with time travel. I will argue that this common view is incorrect. Specifically, I will argue that presentism is compatible with some stories that involve closed timelike curves, and that some of these stories are time-travel stories.
  •  175
    We discuss the cable guy paradox, both as an object of interest in its own right and as something which can be used to illuminate certain issues in the theories of rational choice and belief. We argue that a crucial principle—The Avoid Certain Frustration (ACF) principle—which is used in stating the paradox is false, thus resolving the paradox. We also explain how the paradox gives us new insight into issues related to the Reflection principle. Our general thesis is that principles that base you…Read more
  •  170
  •  168
    Quantum-Mechanical Self-Measurement
    In D. Dieks & P. Vermaas (eds.), The Modal Interpretations of Quantum Mechanics, Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 307-318. 1998.
    The idea of self-measurement by a quantum-mechanical automaton is presented, and the conclusions that are typically reached about what we can come to know from doing self-measurements are shown to be mistaken. Specifically, it is shown that, while we are capable of _predicting_ and _measuring_ the values of two incompatible observables, we are incapable of _knowing_ both these values simultaneously. This is an example of the interesting limitations quantum mechanics places on knowledge.
  •  165
    Quantum Mechanics and 3N‐Dimensional Space
    Philosophy of Science 73 (5): 778-789. 2006.
    I maintain that quantum mechanics is fundamentally about a system of N particles evolving in three-dimensional space, not the wave function evolving in 3N-dimensional space.
  •  164
    This paper addresses the question: how should the traditional doxastic attitude of agnosticism be represented in a Bayesian framework? Bas van Fraassen has one proposal: a Bayesian is agnostic about a proposition if her opinion about the proposition is represented by a probability interval with zero as the lower limit. I argue that van Fraassen's proposal is not adequate. Mark Kaplan claims that this leads to a problem with constructive empiricism; I show that Kaplan's claim is incorrect.
  •  163
    Common-sense Realism and the Unimaginable Otherness of Science
    Principia: An International Journal of Epistemology 11 (2): 117-126. 2007.
    Bas van Fraassen endorses both common-sense realism — the view, roughly, that the ordinary macroscopic objects that we take to exist actually do exist — and constructive empiricism — the view, roughly, that the aim of science is truth about the observable world. But what happens if common-sense realism and science come into conflict? I argue that it is reasonable to think that they could come into conflict, by giving some motivation for a mental monist solution to the measurement problem of quan…Read more