University of Illinois, Chicago
Department of Philosophy
PhD, 2006
Johnson City, Tennessee, United States of America
  •  48
    A Likely Explanation: IBE as a Guide to Better Hypotheses
    South African Journal of Philosophy 30 (1): 16-28. 2011.
    Several friends of inference to best explanation have claimed in recent work that explanatory virtues, such as consilience, simplicity and increased precision, play an important heuristic role in assigning probabilities to available hypotheses and that it is this role that justifies continued efforts to investigate the scope, nature and epistemic value of the inference rule. In this paper I argue that understanding explanatory virtues as a guide to probability assignments creates a critical dile…Read more
  • A Review of: “Speth, James Gustave. Red Sky at Morning: America and the Crisis of the Global Environment” (review)
    with Diane Bates
    Society and Natural Resources - Soc Natur Resour 18 941-943. 2005.
  •  157
    Two arguments for scientific realism unified
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 41 (2): 192-202. 2010.
    Inferences from scientific success to the approximate truth of successful theories remain central to the most influential arguments for scientific realism. Challenges to such inferences, however, based on radical discontinuities within the history of science, have motivated a distinctive style of revision to the original argument. Conceding the historical claim, selective realists argue that accompanying even the most revolutionary change is the retention of significant parts of replaced theorie…Read more
  •  16
    Review of Eric Barnes' The Paradox of Predictivism (review)
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 62 (1): 219-223. 2011.
  •  58
  •  163
    The judgment that a given event is epistemically improbable is necessary but insufficient for us to conclude that the event is surprising. Paul Horwich has argued that surprising events are, in addition, more probable given alternative background assumptions that are not themselves extremely improbable. I argue that Horwich’s definition fails to capture important features of surprises and offer an alternative definition that accords better with intuition. An important application of Horwich’s an…Read more
  •  180
    How to Split a Theory: Defending Selective Realism and Convergence without Proximity
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 64 (1): 79-106. 2013.
    The most influential arguments for scientific realism remain centrally concerned with an inference from scientific success to the approximate truth of successful theories. Recently, however, and in response to antirealists' objections from radical discontinuity within the history of science, the arguments have been refined. Rather than target entire theories, realists narrow their commitments to only certain parts of theories. Despite an initial plausibility, the selective realist strategy faces…Read more
  •  24
    For decades, cigarette companies helped to promote the impression that there was no scientific consensus concerning the safety of their product. The appearance of controversy, however, was misleading, designed to confuse the public and to protect industry interests. Created scientific controversies emerge when expert communities are in broad agreement but the public perception is one of profound scientific uncertainty and doubt. In the first book-length analysis of the concept of a created scien…Read more
  •  41
    Inference to the best explanation has at times appeared almost indistinguishable from a rule that recommends simply that we should infer the hypothesis which is most plausible given available evidence. In this paper I argue that avoiding this collapse requires the identification of peculiarly explanatory virtues and consider Woodward's concept of invariance as an example of such a virtue. An additional benefit of augmenting IBE with Woodward's model of causal explanation is also suggested.
  •  25
    Demarcation and The Created Controversy
    Philosophia 45 (1): 247-256. 2017.
    The problem of demarcation continues to attract attention, in part because solutions are perceived to have enormous social significance. The civic motivation, however, I argue is in tension with the heterogeneity of the sciences. Philosophers of science would be better employed reflecting on the features, causes, and consequences, of created, scientific controversies. These arise when relevant experts are in broad agreement about what conclusions can sensibly be drawn from available evidence, bu…Read more
  •  90
    On the predilections for predictions
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 59 (3): 429-453. 2008.
    Scientific theories are developed in response to a certain set of phenomena and subsequently evaluated, at least partially, in terms of the quality of fit between those same theories and appropriately distinctive phenomena. To differentiate between these two stages it is popular to describe the former as involving the accommodation of data and the latter as involving the prediction of data. Predictivism is the view that, ceteris paribus, correctly predicting data confers greater confirmation tha…Read more
  •  80
    Accommodation and prediction: The case of the persistent head
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 57 (2): 309-321. 2006.
    A not unpopular thesis, when it comes to the confirmation of scientific theories, is that data which were used in the construction of a theory afford poorer support for that theory than data that played no role. Some compelling thought experiments have been offered in favour of this view, not as proof but rather to add some intuitive plausibility. In this paper I consider such thought experiments and argue that they do not support the thesis; the perceived importance of prediction over accommoda…Read more