•  5
    Spacetime (edited book)
    Dartmouth Pub. Co.. 1996.
    This collection of articles on the theme of space and time covers such broad topics as the philosophy of spacetime, spacetime structure, spacetime ontology, the epistemology of geometry, and general relativity.
  •  85
    That Does Not Compute: David Lewis on Credence and Chance
    Philosophy of Science. forthcoming.
    Like Lewis, many philosophers hold reductionist accounts of chance (on which claims about chance are to be understood as claims that certain patterns of events are instantiated) and maintain that rationality requires that credence should defer to chance (in the sense that under certain circumstances one's credence in an event must coincide with the chance of that event). It is a shortcoming of an account of chance if it implies that this norm of rationality is unsatisfiable by computable agent…Read more
  •  144
    Ratbag Idealism
    In Yemima Ben-Menahem (ed.), Rethinking the Concept of Laws of Nature, . forthcoming.
    A discussion of the sense in which reality is mind-dependent for Kant and for David Lewis. Plus a lot about space-aliens (and a bit about pimple-worms).
  •  169
    Gravity and Grace
    Philosophers' Imprint 22 (1). 2022.
    This paper revisits the bearing of underdetermination arguments on scientific realism. First it argues that underdetermination considerations provide good reason to doubt that science is objective in the strong sense that anyone following the its methods will be led closer and closer to the truth about any given question within the purview of those methods, as more relevant data are considered. Then it argues that scientific realism is difficult to maintain in the absence of this sort of objecti…Read more
  •  202
    Absolutely No Free Lunches!
    Theoretical Computer Science. forthcoming.
    This paper is concerned with learners who aim to learn patterns in infinite binary sequences: shown longer and longer initial segments of a binary sequence, they either attempt to predict whether the next bit will be a 0 or will be a 1 or they issue forecast probabilities for these events. Several variants of this problem are considered. In each case, a no-free-lunch result of the following form is established: the problem of learning is a formidably difficult one, in that no matter what method …Read more
  •  19
    An Automatic Ockham’s Razor for Bayesians?
    Erkenntnis 84 (6): 1361-1367. 2019.
    It is sometimes claimed that the Bayesian framework automatically implements Ockham’s razor—that conditionalizing on data consistent with both a simple theory and a complex theory more or less inevitably favours the simpler theory. It is shown here that the automatic razor doesn’t in fact cut it for certain mundane curve-fitting problems.
  •  330
    An Automatic Ockham’s Razor for Bayesians?
    Erkenntnis 84 (6): 1361-1367. 2019.
    It is sometimes claimed that the Bayesian framework automatically implements Ockham’s razor—that conditionalizing on data consistent with both a simple theory and a complex theory more or less inevitably favours the simpler theory. It is shown here that the automatic razor doesn’t in fact cut it for certain mundane curve-fitting problems.
  • Geometry and Motion
    In Peter Clark & Katherine Hawley (eds.), Philosophy of Science Today, Clarendon Press. 2003.
  •  20
    Curve-Fitting for Bayesians?
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science. 2016.
    Bayesians often assume, suppose, or conjecture that for any reasonable explication of the notion of simplicity a prior can be designed that will enforce a preference for hypotheses simpler in just that sense. Further, it is often claimed that the Bayesian framework automatically implements Occam's razor—that conditionalizing on data consistent with both a simple theory and a complex theory more or less inevitably favours the simpler theory. But it is shown here that there are simplicity-driven …Read more
  •  10
    I survey the options for understanding the nature of the wave-function in the setting of the relativistic collapse models recently developed by Tumulka. Some of the options involve surprising features, such as backwards causation or locality.
  •  184
    Chaos out of order: Quantum mechanics, the correspondence principle and chaos
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 28 (2): 147-182. 1997.
    A vast amount of ink has been spilled in both the physics and the philosophy literature on the measurement problem in quantum mechanics. Important as it is, this problem is but one aspect of the more general issue of how, if at all, classical properties can emerge from the quantum descriptions of physical systems. In this paper we will study another aspect of the more general issue-the emergence of classical chaos-which has been receiving increasing attention from physicists but which has largel…Read more
  •  351
    Synopsis and discussion: Philosophy of gauge theory
    with John Earman, Richard Healey, Tim Maudlin, Antigone Nounou, and Ward Struyve
    This document records the discussion between participants at the workshop "Philosophy of Gauge Theory," Center for Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh, 18-19 April 2009.
  •  210
    Pre-socratic quantum gravity
    In Craig Callender & Nick Huggett (eds.), Physics Meets Philosophy at the Planck Scale, Cambridge University Press. pp. 213--55. 2001.
    Physicists who work on canonical quantum gravity will sometimes remark that the general covariance of general relativity is responsible for many of the thorniest technical and conceptual problems in their field.1 In particular, it is sometimes alleged that one can trace to this single source a variety of deep puzzles about the nature of time in quantum gravity, deep disagreements surrounding the notion of ‘observable’ in classical and quantum gravity, and deep questions about the nature of the e…Read more
  •  58
    From metaphysics to physics
    In Jeremy Butterfield & Constantine Pagonis (eds.), From Physics to Philosophy, Cambridge University Press. pp. 166--86. 1999.
    We discuss the relationship between the interpretative problems of quantum gravity and those of general relativity. We argue that classical and quantum theories of gravity resuscitate venerable philosophical questions about the nature of space, time, and change; and that the resolution of some of the difficulties facing physicists working on quantum theories of gravity would appear to require philosophical as well as scientific creativity.
  •  94
    The Hawking Information Loss Paradox: The Anatomy of a Controversy
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 50 (2): 189-229. 1999.
    Stephen Hawking has argued that universes containing evaporating black holes can evolve from pure initial states to mixed final ones. Such evolution is non-unitary and so contravenes fundamental quantum principles on which Hawking's analysis was based. It disables the retrodiction of the universe's initial state from its final one, and portends the time-asymmetry of quantum gravity. Small wonder that Hawking's paradox has met with considerable resistance. Here we use a simple result for C*-algeb…Read more
  •  88
    Substantivalists claim that spacetime enjoys an existence analogous to that of material bodies, while relationalists seek to reduce spacetime to sets of possible spatiotemporal relations. The resulting debate has been central to the philosophy of space and time since the Scientific Revolution. Recently, many philosophers of physics have turned away from the debate, claiming that it is no longer of any relevance to physics. At the same time, there has been renewed interest in the debate among phy…Read more
  •  82
    Chaos and fundamentalism
    Philosophy of Science 67 (3): 465. 2000.
    1. It is natural to wonder what our multitude of successful physical theories tell us about the world—singly, and as a body. What are we to think when one theory tells us about a flat Newtonian spacetime, the next about a curved Lorentzian geometry, and we have hints of others, portraying discrete or higher-dimensional structures which look something like more familiar spacetimes in appropriate limits?
  •  75
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 94 (4): 781-791. 2016.
    ABSTRACTA popular strategy for understanding the probabilities that arise in physics is to interpret them via reductionist accounts of chance—indeed, it is sometimes claimed that such accounts are uniquely well-suited to make sense of the probabilities in classical statistical mechanics. Here it is argued that reductionist accounts of chance carry a steep but unappreciated cost: when applied to physical theories of the relevant type, they inevitably distort the relations of probability that they…Read more
  •  89
    Theory and truth: Philosophical critique within foundational science Lawrence Sklar (review)
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 52 (3): 647-650. 2001.
    This short and engaging book, based upon Sklar’s 1998 Locke Lectures, addresses three sorts of considerations which have been thought to undercut any claim physics has, or could have, to be getting at the truth. The overarching theme is that these considerations gain their plausibility from being deployed in arguments concerning the representational fidelity of particular physical theories, and that much is lost in the philosophical process of globalisation which converts them into doubts about …Read more
  •  80
    Remarks on the geometry of visibles
    Philosophical Quarterly 53 (213). 2003.
    An explication is offered of Reid’s claim (discussed recently by Yaffe and others) that the geometry of the visual field is spherical geometry. It is shown that the sphere is the only surface whose geometry coincides, in a certain strong sense, with the geometry of visibles.
  •  440
    Down to Earth Underdetermination
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 91 (2): 456-464. 2015.
    There are many parts of science in which a certain sort of underdetermination of theory by evidence is known to be common. It is argued that reflection on this fact should serve to shift the burden of proof from scientific anti-realists to scientific realists at a crucial point in the debate between them.
  •  18
    Bangs, crunches, wimps, and geeks (review)
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 29 (2): 273-275. 1998.
    A review of John Earman's Bangs, Crunches, Whimpers, and Shrieks
  •  249
    Failure of Calibration is Typical
    Statistics and Probability Letters 83 2316--2318. 2013.
    Schervish (1985b) showed that every forecasting system is noncalibrated for uncountably many data sequences that it might see. This result is strengthened here: from a topological point of view, failure of calibration is typical and calibration rare. Meanwhile, Bayesian forecasters are certain that they are calibrated---this invites worries about the connection between Bayesianism and rationality.
  •  496
    Understanding electromagnetism
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 49 (4): 531-555. 1998.
    It is often said that the Aharonov-Bohm effect shows that the vector potential enjoys more ontological significance than we previously realized. But how can a quantum-mechanical effect teach us something about the interpretation of Maxwell's theory—let alone about the ontological structure of the world—when both theories are false? I present a rational reconstruction of the interpretative repercussions of the Aharonov-Bohm effect, and suggest some morals for our conception of the interpretative …Read more
  •  275
    Symmetry and gauge freedom
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 34 (2): 189-225. 2002.
    The classical field theories that underlie the quantum treatments of the electromagnetic, weak, and strong forces share a peculiar feature: specifying the initial state of the field determines the evolution of some degrees of freedom of the theory while leaving the evolution of some others wholly arbitrary. This strongly suggests that some of the variables of the standard state space lack physical content-intuitively, the space of states of such a theory is of higher dimension than the correspon…Read more
  •  53
    Notes on symmetries
    In Katherine A. Brading & Elena Castellani (eds.), Symmetries in Physics: Philosophical Reflections, Cambridge University Press. pp. 393--412. 2003.
    These notes discuss some aspects of the sort of symmetry considerations that arise in philosophy of physics. They describe and provide illustration of: (i) one common sort of symmetry argument; and (ii) a construction that allows one to eliminate symmetries from a given structure.
  •  68
    Conservation principles
    In D. Borchert (ed.), Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Macmillan. 2006.
    A conservation principles tell us that some quantity, quality, or aspect remains constant through change. Such principles appear already in ancient and medieval natural philosophy. In one important strand of Greek cosmology, the rotatory motion of the celestial orbs is eternal and immutable. In optics, from at least the time of Euclid, the angle of reflection is equal to the angle of incidence when a ray of light is reflected. According to some versions of the medieval impetus theory of motion, …Read more
  •  626
    This essay revisits some classic problems in the philosophy of space and time concerning the counting of possibilities. I argue that we should think that two Newtonian worlds can differ only as to when or where things happen and that general relativistic worlds can differ in something like the same way—the first of these theses being quaintly heterodox, the second baldly heretical, according to the mores of contemporary philosophy of physics.
  •  155
    Transcendental idealism among the Jersey metaphysicians
    Philosophical Studies 150 (3). 2010.
    Some questions are posed for van Fraassen, concerning the role and status of metaphysics in his Scientific Representation
  •  177
    Rehabilitating relationalism
    International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 13 (1). 1999.
    I argue that the conviction, widespread among philosophers, that substantivalism enjoys a clear superiority over relationalism in both Newtonian and relativistic physics is ill-founded. There are viable relationalist approaches to understanding these theories, and the substantival-relational debate should be of interest to philosophers and physicists alike, because of its connection with questions about the correct space of states for various physical theories.