• Humean learning (how to learn)
    Philosophical Studies 1-17. forthcoming.
    David Hume’s skeptical solution to the problem of induction was grounded in his belief that we learn by means of custom. We consider here how a form of reinforcement learning like custom may allow an agent to learn how to learn in other ways as well. Specifically, an agent may learn by simple reinforcement to adopt new forms of learning that work better than simple reinforcement in the context of specific tasks. We will consider how such a bootstrapping process may lead to a system that includes…Read more
  • This chapter defends a deflationary, or ‘quietist’ account of causation in science. It begins by laying out the elements of four central philosophical theories of causation, namely the regularity, counterfactual, probabilistic and process accounts. It then proceeds to briefly criticise them. While the criticisms are essentially renditions of arguments that are well-known in the literature, the conclusion that is derived from these is new. It is argued that the limitations of each of the theories…Read more
  • Can Somebody Please Say What Gibbsian Statistical Mechanics Says?
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 72 (1): 105-129. 2021.
    Gibbsian statistical mechanics (GSM) is the most widely used version of statistical mechanics among working physicists. Yet a closer look at GSM reveals that it is unclear what the theory actually says and how it bears on experimental practice. The root cause of the difficulties is the status of the averaging principle, the proposition that what we observe in an experiment is the ensemble average of a phase function. We review different stances toward this principle, and eventually present a coh…Read more
  • Middle-range theory: Without it what could anyone do?
    Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 35 (3): 269-323. 2020.
    Philosophers of science have had little to say about ‘middle-range theory’ although much of what is done in science and of what drives its successes falls under that label. These lectures aim to spark an interest in the topic and to lay groundwork for further research on it. ‘Middle’ in ‘middle range’ is with respect to the level both of abstraction and generality. Much middle-range theory is about things that come under the label ‘mechanism’. The lectures explore three different kinds of mechan…Read more
  • Knowledge before belief
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 44. 2021.
    Research on the capacity to understand others' minds has tended to focus on representations ofbeliefs,which are widely taken to be among the most central and basic theory of mind representations. Representations ofknowledge, by contrast, have received comparatively little attention and have often been understood as depending on prior representations of belief. After all, how could one represent someone as knowing something if one does not even represent them as believing it? Drawing on a wide ra…Read more