•  188
    Do Counterfactuals Ground the Laws of Nature? A Critique of Lange
    Philosophy of Science 79 (3): 333-344. 2012.
    Most philosophers of science hold that the laws of nature play an important role in determining which counterfactuals are true. Marc Lange reverses this dependence, arguing that it is the truth of certain counterfactuals that determines which statements are laws. I argue that the context sensitivity of counterfactual sentences makes it impossible for them to determine the laws. Next, I argue that Lange’s view cannot avoid additional counterexamples concerning nested counterfactuals. Finally, I a…Read more
  •  135
    Fundamental Properties and the Laws of Nature
    Philosophy Compass 10 (5): 334-344. 2015.
    Fundamental properties and the laws of nature go hand in hand: mass and gravitation, charge and electromagnetism, spin and quantum mechanics. So, it is unsurprising that one's account of fundamental properties affects one's view of the laws of nature and vice versa. In this essay, I will survey a variety of recent attempts to provide a joint account of the fundamental properties and the laws of nature. Many of these accounts are new and unexplored. Some of them posit surprising entities, such as…Read more
  •  86
    Fission May Kill You
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 93 (3): 565-582. 2016.
    If a person, A, branches into B and C, then it is widely held that B and C are not identical to one another. Many think that this is because B and C have contradictory properties at the same time. In this paper, I show why this explanation cannot be right. I argue that contradictory properties at times are not necessary for non-identity between descendants, and that contradictory properties at times are not sufficient for non-identity. I also argue that the standard explanation cannot be salvage…Read more
  •  51
    Similarity and enjoyment: Predicting continuation for women in philosophy
    with Robertson Seth, Haggard Megan, Martin-Seaver Madeline, and Bickel Jewelle
    Analysis 77 (3): 525-541. 2017.
    On average, women make up half of introductory-level philosophy courses, but only one-third of upper-division courses. We contribute to the growing literature on this problem by reporting the striking results of our study at the University of Oklahoma. We found that two attitudes are especially strong predictors of whether women are likely to continue in philosophy: feeling similar to the kinds of people who become philosophers, and enjoying philosophical puzzles and issues. In a regression anal…Read more
  •  38
    The Universe Had One Chance
    Philosophy of Science 83 (2): 248-264. 2016.
    In a deterministically evolving world, the usefulness of nontrivial probabilities can seem mysterious. I use the ‘Mentaculus’ machinery developed by David Albert and Barry Loewer to show how all probabilities in such a world can be derived from a single, initial chance event. I go on to argue that this is the only genuine chance event. Perhaps surprisingly, we have good evidence of its existence and nature. I argue that the existence of this chance event justifies our epistemic reliance on nontr…Read more
  •  34
    Generalizing the Problem of Humean Undermining
    In Christian Loew, Siegfried Jaag & Michael Townsen Hicks (eds.), Humean Laws for Human Agents, Oxford Up. forthcoming.
    For Humeans, many facts—even ones intuitively “about” particular, localized macroscopic parts of the world—turn out to depend on surprisingly global fundamental bases. We investigate some counterintuitive consequences of this picture. Many counterfactuals whose antecedents describe intuitively localized, non-actual states of affairs nevertheless end up involving wide-ranging implications for the global, embedding Humean mosaic. The case of self-undermining chances is a familiar example of this. …Read more
  •  30
    Isolation, not locality
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. forthcoming.
    There is a long tradition of preferring local theories to ones that posit lawful or causal influence at a spacetime distance. In this paper, we argue against this preference. We argue that nonlocality is scientifically unobjectionable and that nonlocal theories can be known. Scientists can gather evidence for them and confirm them in much the same way that they do for local theories. We think these observations point to a deeper constraint on scientific theorizing and experimentation: the (quasi…Read more
  •  27
    Mentaculus Laws and Metaphysics
    Principia: An International Journal of Epistemology 23 (3): 387--399. 2019.
    The laws of nature are central to our understanding of the world. And while there is often broad agreement about the technical formulations of the laws, there can be sharp disagreement about the metaphysical nature of the laws. For instance, the Newtonian laws of nature can be stated and analyzed by appealing to a set of possible worlds. Yet, some philosophers argue the worlds are mere notational devices, while others take them to be robust, concrete entities in their own right. In this paper, I…Read more
  •  21
    Powerful Properties, Powerless Laws
    In Jonathan D. Jacobs (ed.), Causal Powers, Oxford University Press. pp. 38-53. 2017.
    I argue that the best scientific package is anti-Humean in its ontology, but Humean in its laws. This is because potencies and the best system account of laws complement each other surprisingly well. If there are potencies, then the BSA is the most plausible account of the laws of nature. Conversely, if the BSA is the correct theory of laws, then formulating the laws in terms of potencies rather than categorical properties avoids three serious objections: the mismatch objection, the impoverished…Read more
  •  3
    Review of Laws of Nature (review)
    Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 1. 2018.
    This book is a collection of interesting papers edited by Walter Ott and Lydia Patton. It fills an oft-noted gap in the laws literature: namely, connecting familiar contemporary accounts to their early modern predecessors. Chapters one through six describe and evaluate several different notions of laws that appear in early modern history and explore how those transformed into contemporary notions. Chapters seven through twelve address familiar topics in current laws literature. The first half of…Read more