•  9
    Self-Assembling Games and the Evolution of Salience
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science. forthcoming.
  •  2
    How signaling conventions are established
    with Calvin T. Cochran
    Synthese 1-25. forthcoming.
    We consider how human subjects establish signaling conventions in the context of Lewis-Skyrms signaling games. These experiments involve games where there are precisely the right number of signal types to represent the states of nature, games where there are more signal types than states, and games where there are fewer signal types than states. The aim is to determine the conditions under which subjects are able to establish signaling conventions in such games and to identify a learning dynamic…Read more
  •  40
    A Note on the Physical Possibility of Transfinite Computation
    with Wayne Aitken
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 61 (4): 867-874. 2010.
    In this note, we consider constraints on the physical possibility of transfinite Turing machines that arise from how one models the continuous structure of space and time in one's best physical theories. We conclude by suggesting a version of Church's thesis appropriate as an upper bound for physical computation given how space and time are modeled on our current physical theories
  •  5
    On the Evolution of Compositional Language
    with Calvin Cochran and Brian Skyrms
    Philosophy of Science 87 (5): 910-920. 2020.
    We present here a hierarchical model for the evolution of compositional language. The model has the structure of a two-sender/one-receiver Lewis signaling game augmented with executive agents who m...
  •  18
    Quantum Randomness and Underdetermination
    Philosophy of Science 87 (3): 391-408. 2020.
    We consider the nature of quantum randomness and how one might have empirical evidence for it. We will see why, depending on one’s computational resources, it may be impossible to determine whether...
  •  21
    Epistemology and the Structure of Language
    Erkenntnis 1-15. forthcoming.
    We are concerned here with how structural properties of language may come to reflect features of the world in which it evolves. As a concrete example, we will consider how a simple term language might evolve to support the principle of indifference over state descriptions in that language. The point is not that one is justified in applying the principle of indifference to state descriptions in natural language. Instead, it is that one should expect a language that has evolved in the context of f…Read more
  • The Conceptual Foundations of Quantum Mechanics
    Oxford University Press. 2019.
    This book provides an introduction to the conceptual foundations of quantum mechanics, from classical mechanics and a discussion of the quantum phenomena that undermine our classical intuitions about how the physical world works, to the quantum measurement problem and alternatives to the standard von Neumann-Dirac formulation.
  •  171
    Self-Assembling Networks
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (1): 1-25. 2019.
    We consider how an epistemic network might self-assemble from the ritualization of the individual decisions of simple heterogeneous agents. In such evolved social networks, inquirers may be significantly more successful than they could be investigating nature on their own. The evolved network may also dramatically lower the epistemic risk faced by even the most talented inquirers. We consider networks that self-assemble in the context of both perfect and imperfect communication and compare the b…Read more
  •  46
    Propositional content in signals
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 74 34-39. 2019.
    Propositional content arises from the practice of signaling with information transfer when a signaling process settles into some sort of a pattern, and eventually what we call meaning or propositional content crystallizes out. We give an evolutionary account of this process.
  •  18
    Typical worlds
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 58 31-40. 2017.
  •  41
    Self-assembling Games
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (2): 329-353. 2017.
    We consider how cue-reading, sensory-manipulation, and signaling games may initially evolve from ritualized decisions and how more complex games may evolve from simpler games by polymerization, template transfer, and modular composition. Modular composition is a process that combines simpler games into more complex games. Template transfer, a process by which a game is appropriated to a context other than the one in which it initially evolved, is one mechanism for modular composition. And polyme…Read more
  •  39
  •  82
    On Everett’s Formulation of Quantum Mechanics
    The Monist 80 (1): 70-96. 1997.
    Everett wanted a formulation of quantum mechanics that took the linear dynamics to be a complete and accurate description of the time-evolution of all physical systems and logically entailed the same subjective appearances predicted by the standard formulation of quantum mechanics. While most everyone would agree with this description of Everett’s project, there is little agreement on exactly how his relative-state formulation was supposed to work. In this paper, I consider two very different re…Read more
  •  70
    Approximate Truth and Descriptive Nesting
    Erkenntnis 68 (2): 213-224. 2008.
    There is good reason to suppose that our best physical theories, quantum mechanics and special relativity, are false if taken together and literally. If they are in fact false, then how should they count as providing knowledge of the physical world? One might imagine that, while strictly false, our best physical theories are nevertheless in some sense probably approximately true. This paper presents a notion of local probable approximate truth in terms of descriptive nesting relations between cu…Read more
  •  2
    The Quantum Mechanics of Minds and Worlds
    Oxford University Press UK. 1999.
    Jeffrey Barrett presents the most comprehensive study yet of a problem that has puzzled physicists and philosophers since the 1930s. The standard theory of quantum mechanics is in one sense the most successful physical theory ever, predicting the behaviour of the basic constituents of all physical things; no other theory has ever made such accurate empirical predictions. However, if one tries to understand the theory as providing a complete and accurate framework for the description of the behav…Read more
  • Quantum Mechanics Without the Collapse Postulate
    Dissertation, Columbia University. 1992.
    Because of the measurement problem, the standard theory of quantum mechanics is at best incomplete and at worst logically inconsistent. Everett suggested that the measurement problem could be resolved by taking the linear dynamics to be a complete and accurate description of the time-evolution of every physical system. The purpose of this dissertation is to see what happens when one takes Everett's proposal seriously. This dissertation includes a discussion of the standard theory of quantum mech…Read more
  •  152
    Relativistic Quantum Mechanics through Frame‐Dependent Constructions
    Philosophy of Science 72 (5): 802-813. 2005.
    This paper is concerned with the possibility and nature of relativistic hidden-variable formulations of quantum mechanics. Both ad hoc teleological constructions of spacetime maps and frame-dependent constructions of spacetime maps are considered. While frame-dependent constructions are clearly preferable, they provide neither mechanical nor causal explanations for local quantum events. Rather, the hiddenvariable dynamics used in such constructions is just a rule that helps to characterize the s…Read more
  •  31
    The Quantum Mechanics of Minds and Worlds
    Oxford University Press. 1999.
    Jeffrey Barrett presents the most comprehensive study yet of a problem that has puzzled physicists and philosophers since the 1930s.
  •  42
    Abstract: C. S. Peirce's psychological analysis of belief, doubt, and inquiry provides insights into the nature of scientific knowledge. These in turn can be used to construct an account of scientific knowledge where the notions of belief, truth, rational justification, and inquiry are determined by the relationships that must hold between these notions. I will describe this account of scientific knowledge and some of the problems it faces. I will also describe the close relationship between pra…Read more
  •  67
    In order to judge whether a theory is empirically adequate one must have epistemic access to reliable records of past measurement results that can be compared against the predictions of the theory. Some formulations of quantum mechanics fail to satisfy this condition. The standard theory without the collapse postulate is an example. Bell's reading of Everett's relative-state formulation is another. Furthermore, there are formulations of quantum mechanics that only satisfy this condition for a sp…Read more
  •  36
    The Evolution of Simple Rule-Following
    Biological Theory 8 (2): 142-150. 2013.
    We are concerned here with explaining how successful rule-following behavior might evolve and how an old evolved rule might come to be successfully used in a new context. Such rule-following behavior is illustrated in the transitive judgments of pinyon and scrub-jays (Bond et al., Anim Behav 65:479–487, 2003). We begin by considering how successful transitive rule-following behavior might evolve in the context of Skyrms–Lewis sender–receiver games (Lewis, Convention. Harvard University Press, Ca…Read more
  •  181
    Are our best physical theories (probably and/or approximately) true?
    Philosophy of Science 70 (5): 1206-1218. 2003.
    There is good reason to suppose that our best physical theories are false: In addition to its own internal problems, the standard formulation of quantum mechanics is logically incompatible with special relativity. I will also argue that we have no concrete idea what it means to claim that these theories are approximately true
  •  30
  •  41
    On the Coevolution of Basic Arithmetic Language and Knowledge
    Erkenntnis 78 (5): 1025-1036. 2013.
    Skyrms-Lewis sender-receiver games with invention allow one to model how a simple mathematical language might be invented and become meaningful as its use coevolves with the basic arithmetic competence of primitive mathematical inquirers. Such models provide sufficient conditions for the invention and evolution of a very basic sort of arithmetic language and practice, and, in doing so, provide insight into the nature of a correspondingly basic sort of mathematical knowledge in an evolutionary co…Read more