Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States of America
Areas of Interest
Epistemology
Metaphysics
Philosophy of Physical Science
Philosophy of Probability
General Philosophy of Science
Causal Eliminativism
Causal Realism
Causal Reductionism
Counterfactual Theories of Causation
Manipulability Theories of Causation
Nomological Theories of Causation
Process Theories of Causation
Statistical Theories of Causation
Theories of Causation, Misc
Chance and Determinism
Chance and Objective Probability, Misc
Frequentism
Logical Probability
Probabilistic Laws
Propensities
Chance-Credence Principles
Humeanism and Nonhumeanism about Chance
Dispositional and Categorical Properties
Dispositions and Bases
Dispositions and Laws
Anti-Realism about Laws
Best-Systems Analyses
Ceteris Paribus Laws
Humeanism and Nonhumeanism about Laws
Law Statements
Laws as Relations between Universals
Necessitarianism about Laws
Nomological Necessity
Special Science Laws
Laws of Nature, Misc
Explanation and Laws
Causation and Laws
Logical Atomism
Metaphysical Naturalism
Formulating Physicalism
Causal Closure of the Physical
Nonreductive Materialism
Supervenience and Physicalism
Humean Supervenience
Methodology in Metaphysics
Ontological Disagreement
Actualism and Possibilism
Essence and Essentialism, Misc
Scientific Essentialism
Necessitism and Contingentism
De Re Modality, Misc
Conceptual Necessity
Metaphysical Necessity
Natural Properties
Property Nominalism
Quantities
Realism and Anti-Realism
Metaphysical Realism
Internal Realism
The Model-Theoretic Argument
Quasi-Realism
Standard Scientific Realism
Convergent Realism
Structural Realism
Constructive Empiricism
Instrumentalism
Convergence and Scientific Realism
Abduction and Scientific Realism
Novel Predictions and Scientific Realism
The Observation-Theory Distinction
Underdetermination of Theory by Data
Historical Arguments Against Scientific Realism
The Miracle Argument for Scientific Realism
Arguments For and Against Scientific Realism, Misc
Semantic Anti-Realism
Realism and Anti-Realism, Misc
Temporal Ontology
Eternalism
Growing Block Views
Presentism
The Open Future
Determinism
Fatalism
A-Theories of Time
B-Theories of Time
Experience of Temporal Passage
McTaggart's Argument
Physics of Time
The Specious Present
Time and Memory
Temporal Experience, Misc
The Direction of Time
Time Travel
Free Will and Neuroscience
Free Will and Physics
Free Will and Psychology
Compatibilism
Semi-Compatibilism
Theories of Freedom
Alternative Possibilities
Free Will and Responsibility
Free Will and Foreknowledge
Responsibility and Reactive Attitudes
The Consequence Argument
Topics in Free Will, Misc
Control and Responsibility
Causal Decision Theory
Evidential Decision Theory
Decision-Theoretic Frameworks, Misc
Newcomb's Problem
Deflationary Theories of Meaning
Inferentialist Accounts of Meaning and Content
Interpretivist Accounts of Meaning and Content
Use Theories of Meaning
Deflationary Theories of Reference
Verificationist Theories of Meaning
Rule-Based Theories of Meaning
Conceptual Analysis
Analyticity and A Priority
The Analytic-Synthetic Distinction
Radical Interpretation
The Intentional Stance
Reference
Liar Paradox
Correspondence Theory of Truth
Minimalism and Deflationism about Truth
Pragmatism about Truth
Prosentential Theory of Truth
Primitivism about Truth
Pluralism about Truth
Relativism about Truth
Truth and Justification
Truth-Value Gaps
Contextual Theories of Vagueness
Degree Theories of Vagueness
Supervaluationism
Fine-Tuning in Cosmology
Arguments for Theism, Misc
The Argument from Evil
Divine Hiddenness
Epistemology of Religion, Misc
Reformed Epistemology
Religious Experience
Religious Imagination
Buddhism
Judaism
Religious Inclusivism and Exclusivism
Religious Pluralism
Science and Religion
Philosophy of Religion, General Works
Philosophy of Religion, Misc
M&E, Misc
Logical Consequence and Entailment
Sorites Paradox
Logical Semantics and Logical Truth
Mathematical Neo-Fregeanism
Bohmian Interpretation
Collapse Interpretations
Copenhagen Interpretation
Decoherence Interpretations
Everett Interpretation
Measurement Problem
Probabilities in Quantum Mechanics
Relational Interpretations
Transactional Interpretation
Action at a Distance
Bell's Theorem
Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen
Entanglement
Quantum Determinism and Indeterminism
Quantum Self-Observation
Schrodinger's Cat
Uncertainty Principle
History of Quantum Mechanics
Causal Theories of Spacetime
Conventionalism about Spacetime
Relationism about Spacetime
Substantivalism about Spacetime
The Hole Argument
Metaphysics of Spacetime, Misc
Simultaneity
General Relativity
Space and Time, Misc
Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics
Probability in the Physical Sciences, Misc
Philosophy of Physical Science, Misc
Conditional Probability
Degrees of Belief
Imprecise Credences
Philosophy of Statistics
Induction, Misc
Inductive Logic
Inductive Reasoning
Inductive Skepticism
Justification of Induction
New Riddle of Induction
Inference to the Best Explanation, Misc
Hypothetico-Deductive Method
Causal Accounts of Explanation
Deductive-Nomological Explanation
Unification Accounts of Explanation
Pragmatic Theories of Explanation
Theories of Explanation, Misc
Functional Explanation
Mathematical Explanation
Mechanistic Explanation
Narrative Explanation
Statistical Explanation
Explanatory Pluralism
Varieties of Explanation, Misc
Explanation in Mathematics
Pragmatics and Explanation
Explanatory Value
Explanation and Understanding
Explanation, Miscellaneous
History of Physics
Logical Empiricism
Philosophy of Science, General Works
General Philosophy of Science, Misc
Downward Causation
Emergence, Misc
Emergence in Physical Science
Concepts of Emergence
Reductionism
Ludwig Wittgenstein
Multiple Realizability
Theory Reduction
Reductive Explanation
Measurement in Science
Science and Values
Francis Bacon
Isaac Newton
Thomas Reid
Leibniz: Metaphysics
Leibniz: Epistemology
Leibniz: Philosophy of Mathematics and Logic
Leibniz: Philosophy of Science
Leibniz: Philosophy of Religion
Moses Mendelssohn
Kant: Space
Kant: Time
Kant: Transcendental Idealism
Kant: Causation
Kant: Freedom
Kant: Modality
19th Century Philosophy
William James
Josiah Royce
Charles Sanders Peirce
Ernst Mach
John Stuart Mill
Ludwig Feuerbach
Friedrich Nietzsche
Arthur Schopenhauer
Friedrich Schleiermacher
20th Century Philosophy
Rudolf Carnap
Donald Davidson
Paul Feyerabend
Nelson Goodman
David Lewis
Wilfrid Sellars
Gilbert Ryle
Bertrand Russell
Chinese Buddhist Philosophy
Logics
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  •  93
    Undermining undermined: Why Humean supervenience never needed to be debugged (even if it's a necessary truth)
    Proceedings of the Philosophy of Science Association 2001 (3). 2001.
    The existence of "undermining futures" appears to show that a contradiction can be deduced from the conjunction of Humean supervenience (HS) about chance and the Principal Principle. A number of strategies for rescuing HS from this problem have been proposed recently. In this paper, a novel way of defending HS from the threat is presented, and it is argued that this defense has advantages not shared by others. In particular, it requires no revisionism about chance, and it is equally available to…Read more
  •  230
    Measurability And Physical Laws
    Synthese 144 (3): 433-447. 2005.
    I propose and motivate a new account of fundamental physical laws, the Measurability Account of Laws (MAL). This account has a distinctive logical form, in that it takes the primary nomological concept to be that of a law relative to a given theory, and defines a law simpliciter as a law relative to some true theory. What makes a proposition a law relative to a theory is that it plays an indispensable role in demonstrating that some quantity posited by that theory is measurable. In Section 1, I …Read more
  •  25
    Contact with the Nomic: A Challenge for Deniers of Humean Supervenience about Laws of Nature Part I: Humean Supervenience
    with John Earman
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 71 (1): 1-22. 2005.
    This is the first part of a two-part article in which we defend the thesis of Humean Supervenience about Laws of Nature. According to this thesis, two possible worlds cannot differ on what is a law of nature unless they also differ on the Humean base. The Humean base is easy to characterize intuitively, but there is no consensus on how, precisely, it should be defined. Here in Part I, we present and motivate a characterization of the Humean base that, we argue, enables HS to capture what is real…Read more
  •  69
    The Law Governed Universe
    Oxford University Press. 2008.
    The law-governed world-picture -- A remarkable idea about the way the universe is cosmos and compulsion -- The laws as the cosmic order : the best-system approach -- The three ways : no-laws, non-governing-laws, governing-laws -- Work that laws do in science -- An important difference between the laws of nature and the cosmic order -- The picture in four theses -- The strategy of this book -- The meta-theoretic conception of laws -- The measurability approach to laws -- What comes where -- In de…Read more
  •  150
    Contact with the Nomic
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 71 (1): 1-22. 2005.
    This is the first part of a two-part article in which we defend the thesis of Humean Supervenience about Laws of Nature (HS). According to this thesis, two possible worlds cannot differ on what is a law of nature unless they also differ on the Humean base. The Humean base is easy to characterize intuitively, but there is no consensus on how, precisely, it should be defined. Here in Part I, we present and motivate a characteriza- tion of the Humean base that, we argue, enables HS to capture what …Read more
  •  270
    In Part I, we presented and motivated a new formulation of Humean Supervenience about Laws of Nature (HS). Here in Part II, we present an epistemological argument in defense of HS, thus formulated. Our contention is that one can combine a modest realism about laws of nature with a proper recognition of the importance of empirical testability in the epistemology of science only if one accepts HS
  •  167
  •  24
    Belot, Gordon. Geometric Possibility
    Review of Metaphysics 65 (4): 863-864. 2012.
  •  19
    The Range Conception of Probability and the Input Problem
    Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 47 (1): 171-188. 2016.
    Abrams, Rosenthal, and Strevens have recently presented interpretations of the objective probabilities posited by some scientific theories that build on von Kries’s idea of identifying probabilities with ranges of values in a space of possible states. These interpretations face a problem, forcefully pointed out by Rosenthal, about how to determine ‘input probabilities.’ I argue here that Abrams’s and Strevens’s attempts to solve this problem do not succeed. I also argue that the problem can be s…Read more
  •  283
    This is the first part of a two-part article in which we defend the thesis of Humean Supervenience about Laws of Nature (HS). According to this thesis, two possible worlds cannot differ on what is a law of nature unless they also differ on the Humean base. The Humean base is easy to characterize intuitively, but there is no consensus on how, precisely, it should be defined. Here in Part I, we present and motivate a characterization of the Humean base that, we argue, enables HS to capture what is…Read more
  •  73
    Reply to Skow
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 75 (1): 163-167. 2007.
    We have argued against a standard way of defining Humean supervenience about laws, and in favor of an alternative definition. Skow says that our argument against the standard definition makes a big mistake. He is right about this. But that mistake is correctable. Skow also argues that our alternative definition is seriously flawed. We think he is wrong about this
  •  28
    I propose understanding CP-law statements as statements that assert the existence of vague statistical laws, not by fully specifying the contents of those laws, but by picking them out via a description that is both self-referential and self-locating. I argue that this proposal validates many common assumptions about CP-laws and correctly classifies many examples of putative CP-laws. It does this while avoiding the most serious worries that motivate some philosophers to be skeptical of CP-laws, …Read more
  •  637
    Ceteris Paribus Lost
    with John Earman and Sheldon Smith
    Erkenntnis 57 (3): 281-301. 2002.
    Many have claimed that ceteris paribus laws are a quite legitimate feature of scientific theories, some even going so far as to claim that laws of all scientific theories currently on offer are merely CP. We argue here that one of the common props of such a thesis, that there are numerous examples of CP laws in physics, is false. Moreover, besides the absence of genuine examples from physics, we suggest that otherwise unproblematic claims are rendered untestable by the mere addition of the CP op…Read more
  •  31
    The existence of "undermining futures" appears to show that a contradiction can be deduced from the conjunction of Humean supervenience about chance and the Principal Principle. A number of strategies for rescuing HS from this problem have been proposed recently. In this paper, a novel way of defending HS from the threat is presented, and it is argued that this defense has advantages not shared by others. In particular, it requires no revisionism about chance, and it is equally available to defe…Read more
  •  217
    David Lewis's best-system analysis of laws of nature is perhaps the best known sophisticated regularity theory of laws. Its strengths are widely recognized, even by some of its ablest critics. Yet it suffers from what appears to be a glaring weakness: It seems to grant an arbitrary privilege to the standards of our own scientific culture. I argue that by reformulating, or reinterpreting, Lewis's exposition of the best-system analysis, we arrive at a view that is free of this weakness. The result…Read more
  •  275
    Some Laws of Nature are Metaphysically Contingent
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 88 (3): 445-457. 2010.
    Laws of nature are puzzling because they have a 'modal character'—they seem to be 'necessary-ish'—even though they also seem to be metaphysically contingent. And it is hard to understand how contingent truths could have such a modal character. Scientific essentialism is a doctrine that seems to dissolve this puzzle, by showing that laws of nature are actually metaphysically necessary. I argue that even if the metaphysics of natural kinds and properties offered by scientific essentialism is corre…Read more
  •  122
    This is the first part of a two-part article in which we defend the thesis of Humean Supervenience about Laws of Nature (HS). According to this thesis, two possible worlds cannot differ on what is a law of nature unless they also differ on the Humean base. The Humean base is easily to characterize intuitively, but there is no consensus on how, precisely, it should be defined. Here in Part I, we present and motivate a characterization of the Humean base that, we argue, enables HS to capture what …Read more
  •  422
    Much of the literature on "ceteris paribus" laws is based on a misguided egalitarianism about the sciences. For example, it is commonly held that the special sciences are riddled with ceteris paribus laws; from this many commentators conclude that if the special sciences are not to be accorded a second class status, it must be ceteris paribus all the way down to fundamental physics. We argue that the (purported) laws of fundamental physics are not hedged by ceteris paribus clauses and provisos. …Read more
  •  15
    Measurements, laws, and counterfactuals
    In Stephen Mumford & Matthew Tugby (eds.), Metaphysics and Science, Oxford University Press. pp. 29. 2013.
  •  11
    And counterfactuals
    In Stephen Mumford & Matthew Tugby (eds.), Metaphysics and Science, Oxford University Press. pp. 29. 2013.
  •  7
    A Philosophical Memoir: Notes on Bhaskar, Realism and Cultural Theory
    Journal of Critical Realism 15 (2): 175-186. 2016.
    In this philosophical memoir I trace out the part that Roy Bhaskar's philosophy of science played in the development of a non-reductive account of realism in art and cultural theory in the 1970s and 1980s in the UK, and the part his Dialectic played in the theorization of the concept of the philistine developed by myself and Dave Beech between 1996 and 1998. Our de-positivization of the concept as a symptomatic negation of the bourgeois ‘aesthete’ drew extensively on Bhaskar's notion of absence …Read more
  •  3
    Laws of Nature: Meeting the Empiricist Challenge
    Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. 1999.
    Many philosophers insist that any adequate philosophical account of laws of nature must be consistent with Humean supervenience about the nomic . This is the thesis that the facts about the laws of nature must supervene on the particular, occurrent facts about the actual world. Earman argues that Humean supervenience poses an "empiricist loyalty test on laws." I concur, for as I argue, consistency with Humean supervenience is a necessary condition for upholding a plausible minimal empiricism con…Read more
  •  51
    Taking relativism seriously
    with Caroline New and Ruth Groff
    Journal of Critical Realism 4 (1): 221-246. 2005.
  •  10
    Comments
    with M. S. Dresselhaus, Clark Kerr, Walter E. Massey, and Charles H. Townes
    Minerva 30 (2): 148-162. 1992.
  •  127
    Chance without Credence
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 64 (1): 33-59. 2013.
    It is a standard view that the concept of chance is inextricably related to the technical concept of credence . One influential version of this view is that the chance role is specified by (something in the neighborhood of) David Lewis's Principal Principle, which asserts a certain definite relation between chance and credence. If this view is right, then one cannot coherently affirm that there are chance processes in the physical world while rejecting the theoretical framework in which credence…Read more
  •  21
    Review Symposium: Taking relativism seriously
    with Caroline New and Ruth Groff
    Journal of Critical Realism 4 (1): 221-246. 2005.
  •  17
    Saving Private Ryan: Realism and the Enigma of Head-Wounds
    Historical Materialism 3 (1): 157-172. 1998.
    In Ernst Friedrich's Krieg dem Kriege there is a large section of photographs of survivors of World War I with the most hideous disfigurements of the face: jaws are missing, gaping slashes stare out where mouths should be. Friedrich leaves this gallery of ‘untouchables’ to the end of the book as if to achieve the maximum debasement of military glory and heroism. The head and face are obviously the most vulnerable part of the body in warfare – brutal wounds to the face and decapitations are commo…Read more
  •  38
    Often when a new scientific theory is introduced, new terms are introduced along with it. Some of these new terms might be given explicit definitions using only terms that were in currency prior to the introduction of the theory. Some of them might be defined using other new terms introduced with the theory. But it frequently happens that the standard formulations of a theory do not define some of the new terms at all; these terms are adopted as primitives. The audience is expected to come to gr…Read more