• Scientific Realism and the Quantum (edited book)
    with S. French
    Oxford University Press. forthcoming.
  • Explanations are very important to us in many contexts: in science, mathematics, philosophy, and also in everyday and juridical contexts. But what is an explanation? In the philosophical study of explanation, there is long-standing, influential tradition that links explanation intimately to causation: we often explain by providing accurate information about the causes of the phenomenon to be explained. Such causal accounts have been the received view of the nature of explanation, particularly in…Read more
  • On Explanations from Geometry of Motion
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science. 2016.
    This paper examines explanations that turn on non-local geometrical facts about the space of possible configurations a system can occupy. I argue that it makes sense to contrast such explanations from “geometry of motion” with causal explanations. I also explore how my analysis of these explanations cuts across the distinction between kinematics and dynamics.
  • The Routledge Handbook of Scientific Realism (edited book)
    Routledge. forthcoming.
  • The Structural Foundations of Quantum Gravity (edited book)
    Oxford University Press. 2006.
    What is spacetime? General relativity and quantum field theory answer this question in very different ways. This collection of essays by physicists and philosophers looks at the problem of uniting these two most fundamental theories of our world, focusing on the nature of space and time within this new quantum framework, and the kind of metaphysical picture suggested by recent developments in physics and mathematics. This is a book that will inspire further philosophical reflection on recent adv…Read more
  • I review prominent historical arguments against scientific realism to indicate how they display a systematic overshooting in the conclusions drawn from the historical evidence. The root of the overshooting can be located in some critical, undue presuppositions regarding realism. I will highlight these presuppositions in connection with both Laudan’s ‘Old induction’ and Stanford’s New Induction, and then delineate a minimal realist view that does without the problematic presuppositions
  • The epistemic conception of scientific progress equates progress with accumulation of scientific knowledge. I argue that the epistemic conception fails to fully capture scientific progress: theoretical progress, in particular, can transcend scientific knowledge in important ways. Sometimes theoretical progress can be a matter of new theories ‘latching better onto unobservable reality’ in a way that need not be a matter of new knowledge. Recognising this further dimension of theoretical progress …Read more
  • On Explanations from 'Geometry of Motion'
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (1). 2018.
    This paper examines explanations that turn on non-local geometrical facts about the space of possible configurations a system can occupy. I argue that it makes sense to contrast such explanations from ‘geometry of motion’ with causal explanations. I also explore how my analysis of these explanations cuts across the distinction between kinematics and dynamics
  • This chapter defends a (minimal) realist conception of progress in scientific understanding in the face of the ubiquitous plurality of perspectives in science. The argument turns on the counterfactual-dependence framework of explanation and understanding, which is illustrated and evidenced with reference to different explanations of the rainbow.
  • I examine the epistemological debate on scientific realism in the context of quantum physics, focusing on the empirical underdetermin- ation of different formulations and interpretations of QM. I will argue that much of the interpretational, metaphysical work on QM tran- scends the kinds of realist commitments that are well-motivated in the light of the history of science. I sketch a way of demarcating empirically well-confirmed aspects of QM from speculative quantum metaphysics in a way that co…Read more
  • Symmetries and Explanatory Dependencies in Physics
    In Alexander Reutlinger & Juha Saatsi (eds.), Explanation Beyond Causation: Philosophical Perspectives on Non-Causal Explanations, Oxford University Press. pp. 185-205. 2018.
    Many important explanations in physics are based on ideas and assumptions about symmetries, but little has been said about the nature of such explanations. This chapter aims to fill this lacuna, arguing that various symmetry explanations can be naturally captured in the spirit of the counterfactual-dependence account of Woodward, liberalized from its causal trappings. From the perspective of this account symmetries explain by providing modal information about an explanatory dependence, by showin…Read more
  • This chapter examines issues surrounding inference to the best explanation, its justification, and its role in different arguments for scientific realism, as well as more general issues concerning explanations’ ontological commitments. Defending the reliability of inference to the best explanation has been a central plank in various realist arguments, and realists have drawn various ontological conclusions from the premise that a given scientific explanation best explains some phenomenon. This c…Read more
  • Explanations are important to us in many contexts: in science, mathematics, philosophy, and also in everyday and juridical contexts. But what is an explanation? In the philosophical study of explanation, there is a long-standing, in uential tradition that links explanation intimately to causation: we often explain by providing accurate information about the causes of the phenomenon to be explained. Such causal accounts have been the received view of the nature of explanation, particularly in phi…Read more
  • Contribution to a review symposium on Marc Lange's Because without cause: Non-causal explanation in science and mathematics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017
  • Grasping at Realist Straws (review)
    Metascience 18 (3): 355-390. 2009.
  • This paper analyses the anti-reductionist argument from renormalisation group explanations of universality, and shows how it can be rebutted if one assumes that the explanation in question is captured by the counterfactual dependence account of explanation.
  • The central concern of this article is whether the semantic approach has the resources to appropriately capture the core tenets of structural realism. Chakravartty (2001) has argued that a realist notion of correspondence cannot be accommodated without introducing a linguistic component, which undermines the approach itself. We suggest that this worry can be addressed by an appropriate understanding of the role of language in this context. The real challenge, however, is how to incorporate the c…Read more
  • The Structural Foundations of Quantum Gravity (edited book)
    Oxford University Press. 2006.
    This volume closes that gap, with essays written by some of the leading researchers in the field.
  • Whence Ontological Structural Realism?
    In M. Rédei M. Dorato M. Suàrez (ed.), Epsa Epistemology and Methodology of Science, Springer. pp. 255--265. 2008.
    'Structural realism' is a buzzword in the scientific realism debate. Various positions with diverse motivations fall under this label. A much advertised distinction is between epistemic and ontological forms of structuralism. This paper scrutinizes the alleged dichotomy between these two 'alternatives', and criticises the considerations that have been taken to motivate the ontic variety over the epistemic. I will argue that ontological structural realism is not called for within the traditional …Read more
  • Dynamical Systems Theory and Explanatory Indispensability
    Philosophy of Science 84 (5): 892-904. 2017.
    I examine explanations’ realist commitments in relation to dynamical systems theory. First I rebut an ‘explanatory indispensability argument’ for mathematical realism from the explanatory power of phase spaces (Lyon and Colyvan 2007). Then I critically consider a possible way of strengthening the indispensability argument by reference to attractors in dynamical systems theory. The take-home message is that understanding of the modal character of explanations (in dynamical systems theory) can und…Read more
  • Reconsidering the Fresnel–Maxwell theory shift: how the realist can have her cake and EAT it too
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 36 (3): 509-538. 2005.
    This paper takes another look at a case study which has featured prominently in a variety of arguments for rival realist positions. After critically reviewing the previous commentaries of the theory shift that took place in the transition from Fresnel’s ether to Maxwell’s electromagnetic theory of optics, it will defend a slightly different reading of this historical case study. Central to this task is the notion of explanatory approximate truth, a concept which must be carefully analysed to beg…Read more
  • Models, Idealisations, and Realism
    In F. Sterpetti, E. Ippoloti & T. Nickles (eds.), Models and Inferences in Science, Springer. 2016.
    I explore a challenge that idealisations pose to scientific realism and argue that the realist can best accommodate idealisations by capitalising on certain modal features of idealised models that are underwritten by laws of nature.
  • Form vs. Content-driven Arguments for Realism
    In P. D. Magnus & Jacob Busch (eds.), New Waves in Philosophy of Science, Palgrave-macmillan. 2009.
    I offer a meta-level analysis of realist arguments for the reliability of ampliative reasoning about the unobservable. We can distinguish form-driven and content-driven arguments for realism: form-driven arguments appeal to the form of inductive inferences, whilst content-driven arguments appeal to their specific content. After regimenting the realism debate in these terms, I will argue that the content-driven arguments are preferable. Along the way I will discuss how my analysis relates to John…Read more
  • Travelling in New Directions
    In Steven French & Juha Saatsi (eds.), Continuum Companion to the Philosophy of Science, Continuum. pp. 337. 2011.
    This chapter discusses some emerging trends, new directions, and outstanding issues in philosophy of science. The first section places contemporary philosophy of science in context by considering its relationship to analytic philosophy at large, to the history of science, and to science itself. The subsequent sections will then take a look at a selection of interesting trends emerging from current research, and some important issues calling for further work. The presentation is inevitably colour…Read more
  • The Enhanced Indispensability Argument: Representational versus Explanatory Role of Mathematics in Science
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 62 (1): 143-154. 2011.
    The Enhanced Indispensability Argument (Baker [ 2009 ]) exemplifies the new wave of the indispensability argument for mathematical Platonism. The new wave capitalizes on mathematics' role in scientific explanations. I will criticize some analyses of mathematics' explanatory function. In turn, I will emphasize the representational role of mathematics, and argue that the debate would significantly benefit from acknowledging this alternative viewpoint to mathematics' contribution to scientific expl…Read more
  • On the pessimistic induction and two fallacies
    Philosophy of Science 72 (5): 1088-1098. 2004.
    The Pessimistic Induction from falsity of past theories forms a perennial argument against scientific realism. This paper considers and rebuts two recent arguments—due to Lewis (2001) and Lange (2002)—to the conclusion that the Pessimistic Induction (in its best known form) is fallacious. It re-establishes the dignity of the Pessimistic Induction by calling to mind the basic objective of the argument, and hence restores the propriety of the realist program of responding to PMI by undermining one…Read more
  • This paper erects a framework for analyzing some idealized models as (what I call) inferentially veridical representations. It adopts a version of the semantic view of theories that focuses on properties, and mobilizes conceptual resources associated with properties and the way that properties are related in various ways. The outcome is an elaboration of some aspects of the analysis of Jones (2005).
  • Critical Commentaries on Critical Rationalism (review)
    Metascience 16 (2): 271-275. 2007.