•  199
    The Mechanistic and Normative Structure of Agency
    Dissertation, University of California San Diego. 2019.
    I develop an interdisciplinary framework for understanding the nature of agents and agency that is compatible with recent developments in the metaphysics of science and that also does justice to the mechanistic and normative characteristics of agents and agency as they are understood in moral philosophy, social psychology, neuroscience, robotics, and economics. The framework I develop is internal perspectivalist. That is to say, it counts agents as real in a perspective-dependent way, but not in…Read more
  •  153
    In this paper, I argue that what counts as the proper function of a trait is a matter of the de facto perspective that the biological system, itself, possesses on what counts as proper functioning for that trait. Unlike non-perspectival accounts, internal perspectivalism does not succumb to generality problems. But unlike external perspectivalism, internal perspectivalism can provide a fully naturalistic, mind-independent grounding of proper function and natural norms. The attribution of perspec…Read more
  •  379
    Emergence is much discussed by both philosophers and scientists. But, as noted by Mitchell (2012), there is a significant gulf; philosophers and scientists talk past each other. We contend that this is because philosophers and scientists typically mean different things by emergence, leading us to distinguish being emergence and pattern emergence. While related to distinctions offered by others between, for example, strong/weak emergence or epistemic/ontological emergence (Clayton, 2004, pp. 9–11…Read more
  •  35
    The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, axy042
  •  106
    Mechanistic Causation and Constraints: Perspectival Parts and Powers, Non-perspectival Modal Patterns
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 71 (4): 1385-1409. 2020.
    Any successful account of the metaphysics of mechanistic causation must satisfy at least five key desiderata. In this article, I lay out these five desiderata and explain why existing accounts of the metaphysics of mechanistic causation fail to satisfy them. I then present an alternative account that does satisfy the five desiderata. According to this alternative account, we must resort to a type of ontological entity that is new to metaphysics, but not to science: constraints. In this article, …Read more
  •  67
    Existing accounts of mechanistic causation are not suited for understanding causation in biological and neural mechanisms because they do not have the resources to capture the unique causal structure of control heterarchies. In this paper, we provide a new account on which the causal powers of mechanisms are grounded by time-dependent, variable constraints. Constraints can also serve as a key bridge concept between the mechanistic approach to explanation and underappreciated work in theoretical …Read more