•  64
    Quantum holism: nonseparability as common ground
    Synthese 197 (10): 4131-4160. 2020.
    Quantum mechanics seems to portray nature as nonseparable, in the sense that it allows spatiotemporally separated entities to have states that cannot be fully specified without reference to each other. This is often said to implicate some form of “holism.” We aim to clarify what this means, and why this seems plausible. Our core idea is that the best explanation for nonseparability is a “common ground” explanation, which casts nonseparable entities in a holistic light, as scattered reflections o…Read more
  • Passage, Flow, and the Logic of Temporal Perspectives
    In Christophe Bouton & Philippe Huneman (eds.), Time of Nature and the Nature of Time, Springer Verlag. 2017.
  •  35
    In a famous passage drawing implications from determinism, Laplace introduced the image an intelligence who knew the positions and momenta of all of the particles of which the universe is composed, and asserted that in a deterministic universe such an intelligence would be able to predict everything that happens over its entire history. It is not, however, difficult to establish the physical possibility of a counterpredictive device, i.e., a device designed to act counter to any revealed predict…Read more
  •  51
    Book Symposium: David Albert, After Physics
    with Wayne C. Myrvold, David Z. Albert, and Craig Callender
    On April 1, 2016, at the Annual Meeting of the Pacific Division of the American Philosophical Association, a book symposium, organized by Alyssa Ney, was held in honor of David Albert’s After Physics. All participants agreed that it was a valuable and enlightening session. We have decided that it would be useful, for those who weren’t present, to make our remarks publicly available. Please bear in mind that what follows are remarks prepared for the session, and that on some points participants m…Read more
  •  33
    How Physics Makes Us Free
    Oxford University Press USA. 2016.
    In 1687 Isaac Newton ushered in a new scientific era in which laws of nature could be used to predict the movements of matter with almost perfect precision. Newton's physics also posed a profound challenge to our self-understanding, however, for the very same laws that keep airplanes in the air and rivers flowing downhill tell us that it is in principle possible to predict what each of us will do every second of our entire lives, given the early conditions of the universe. Can it really be that …Read more
  • The Situated Self
    Oxford University Press USA. 2006.
    J. T. Ismael's monograph is an ambitious contribution to metaphysics and the philosophy of language and mind. She tackles a philosophical question whose origin goes back to Descartes: What am I? The self is not a mere thing among things--but if so, what is it, and what is its relationship to the world?
  •  31
    In Defense of IP: A Response to Pettigrew
    Noûs 49 (1): 197-200. 2015.
  •  54
    Self-Organization and Self-Governance
    Philosophy of the Social Sciences 41 (3): 327-351. 2011.
    The intuitive difference between a system that choreographs the motion of its parts in the service of goals of its own formulation and a system composed of a collection of parts doing their own thing without coordination has been shaken by now familiar examples of self-organization. There is a broad and growing presumption in parts of philosophy and across the sciences that the appearance of centralized information-processing and control in the service of system-wide goals is mere appearance, i.…Read more
  •  623
    Probability in deterministic physics
    Journal of Philosophy 106 (2): 89-108. 2009.
    The role of probability is one of the most contested issues in the interpretation of contemporary physics. In this paper, I’ll be reevaluating some widely held assumptions about where and how probabilities arise. Larry Sklar voices the conventional wisdom about probability in classical physics in a piece in the Stanford Online Encyclopedia of Philosophy, when he writes that “Statistical mechanics was the first foundational physical theory in which probabilistic concepts and probabilistic explana…Read more
  •  1156
    An Empiricist's Guide to Objective Modality
    In Matthew Slater & Zanja Yudell (eds.), Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Science: New Essays, Oxford University Press. pp. 109-125. 2017.
    In this paper, I defend an empiricist account of modality that keeps a substantive account of modal commitment, but throws out the metaphysics. I suggest that if we pair a deflationary attitude toward representation with a substantive account of how scientific models are constructed and put to use, the result is an account that deflates the metaphysics of modal commitment without deflating the content of modal claims.
  •  41
    Causation, Free Will, and Naturalism
    In Harold Kincaid, James Ladyman & Don Ross (eds.), Scientific Metaphysics, . pp. 208--235. 2013.
    This chapter addresses the worry that the existence of causal antecedents to your choices means that you are causally compelled to act as you do. It begins with the folk notion of cause, leads the reader through recent developments in the scientific understanding of causal concepts, and argues that those developments undermine the threat from causal antecedents. The discussion is then used as a model for a kind of naturalistic metaphysics that takes its lead from science, letting everyday concep…Read more
  •  93
    So you think you exist? — In defense of nolipsism
    with John L. Pollock
    In Thomas M. Crisp, Matthew Davidson & David Vander Laan (eds.), Knowledge and Reality: Essays in Honor of Alvin Plantinga, Springer. 2006.
    Human beings think of themselves in terms of a privileged non-descriptive designator — a mental “I”. Such thoughts are called “_de se_” thoughts. The mind/body problem is the problem of deciding what kind of thing I am, and it can be regarded as arising from the fact that we think of ourselves non-descriptively. Why do we think of ourselves in this way? We investigate the functional role of “I” (and also “here” and “now”) in cognition, arguing that the use of such non-descriptive “reflexive” des…Read more
  •  89
    Science and the phenomenal
    Philosophy of Science 66 (3): 351-69. 1999.
    The Hard Problem of the mind is addressed and it is argued that physical-phenomenal property identities have the same status as the identification of an ostended bit of physical space and the coordinates assigned the spot on a map of the terrain. It is argued, that is to say, that such identities are, or follow from, stipulations which interpret the map
  •  40
    We review and discuss the recent monograph by David Wallace on Everettian Quantum Mechanics. This book is a high point of two decades of work on Everett in both physics and philosophy. It is also a beautiful and welcome exemplar of a modern way of doing metaphysics. We discuss certain aspects more critically, and take the opportunity to sketch an alternative pragmatist approach to probability in Everett, to be fully developed elsewhere.
  •  97
    Quantum mechanics
    Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2008.
    Quantum mechanics is, at least at first glance and at least in part, a mathematical machine for predicting the behaviors of microscopic particles — or, at least, of the measuring instruments we use to explore those behaviors — and in that capacity, it is spectacularly successful: in terms of power and precision, head and shoulders above any theory we have ever had. Mathematically, the theory is well understood; we know what its parts are, how they are put together, and why, in the mechanical sen…Read more
  •  28
    Me, again
    In Joseph Keim Campbell, Michael O'Rourke & Harry Silverstein (eds.), Time and Identity, Mit Press. 2010.
    Thought about the self raises some very special problems. Some of these concern indexical reference quite generally, but there is one having to do with identity over time that seems to be unique to the self. I use an historical exchange between Anscombe and Descartes to bring out the problem, and propose a resolution that casts light both on why self-directed thought presents a unique epistemic predicament and where Descartes’ cogito may have gone wrong.
  •  129
    Denial of death We don’t like to think about our deaths, and there are cultural developments – social, technological, economic – that make it easier than ever before to live without constant reminders of our mortality. We hide the evidence of death. We live separately from our old people, and quarantine the dying in hospitals and hospices. It’s impolite to mention death in conversation. We view death not as natural and inevitable stage of life, but as a calamity, a mistake, an accident. This att…Read more
  •  82
    The Situated Self
    Oxford University Press. 2007.
    J. T. Ismael's monograph is an ambitious contribution to metaphysics and the philosophy of language and mind. She tackles a philosophical question whose origin goes back to Descartes: What am I? The self is not a mere thing among things--but if so, what is it, and what is its relationship to the world? Ismael is an original and creative thinker who tries to understand our problematic concepts about the self and how they are related to our use of language in particular
  •  32
    A philosopher of science looks at idealization in political theory
    Social Philosophy and Policy 33 (1-2): 11-31. 2016.
  •  64
    There’s a long history of discussion of probability in philosophy, but objective chance separated itself off and came into its own as a topic with the advent of a physical theory - quantum mechanics - in which chances play a central, and apparently ineliminable, role. In 1980 David Lewis wrote a paper pointing out that a very broad class of accounts of the nature of chance apparently lead to a contradiction when combined with a principle that expresses the role of chance in guiding belief. There…Read more
  •  108
    Huw Price has argued that on an interventionist account of cause the distinction is perspectival, and the claim prompted some interesting responses from interventionists and in particular an exchange with Woodward that raises questions about what it means to say that one or another structure is perspectival. I’ll introduce his reasons for claiming that the distinction between cause and effect on an interventionist account is perspectival. Then I’ll introduce a distinction between different ways …Read more
  •  163
    Curie's principle
    Synthese 110 (2): 167-190. 1997.
    A reading is given of Curie''s Principle that the symmetry of a cause is always preserved its effects. The truth of the principle is demonstrated and its importance, under the proposed reading, is defended.As far as I see, all a priori statements in physics have their origin in symmetry. (Weyl, Symmetry, p. 126).
  •  164
    Saving the baby: Dennett on autobiography, agency, and the self
    Philosophical Psychology 19 (3): 345-360. 2006.
    Dennett argues that the decentralized view of human cognitive organization finding increasing support in parts of cognitive science undermines talk of an inner self. On his view, the causal underpinnings of behavior are distributed across a collection of autonomous subsystems operating without any centralized supervision. Selves are fictions contrived to simplify description and facilitate prediction of behavior with no real correlate inside the mind. Dennett often uses an analogy with termite c…Read more
  •  111
    Raid! Dissolving the big, bad bug
    Noûs 42 (2). 2008.
    No Abstract
  •  58
    Descartes begins his discussion in the Meditations with the question ‘what am I?’ and concludes, famously, that he is a non-material substance. His reasoning turns on the thesis that nothing can be true of his..
  •  494
    Doublemindedness: A model for a dual content cognitive architecture
    PSYCHE: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Research On Consciousness 12. 2006.
    The outstanding stumbling blocks to any reductive account of phenomenal consciousness remain the subjectivity of phenomenal properties and cognitive and epistemic gaps that plague the relationship between physical and phenomenal properties. I suggest that a deflationary interpretation of both is available to defenders of self- representational accounts
  •  165
    What chances could not be
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 47 (1): 79-91. 1996.
    The chance of a physical event is the objective, single-case probability that it will occur. In probabilistic physical theories like quantum mechanics, the chances of physical events play the formal role that the values of physical quantities play in classical (deterministic) physics, and there is a temptation to regard them on the model of the latter as describing intrinsic properties of the systems to which they are assigned. I argue that this understanding of chances in quantum mechanics, des…Read more