• Routledge Handbook for Metaphysical Grounding (edited book)
    Routledge. forthcoming.
    A collection of 37 essays surveying the state of the art on metaphysical ground. Essay authors are: Fatema Amijee, Ricki Bliss, Amanda Bryant, Margaret Cameron, Phil Corkum, Fabrice Correia, Louis deRosset, Scott Dixon, Tom Donaldson, Nina Emery, Kit Fine, Martin Glazier, Kathrin Koslicki, David Mark Kovacs, Stephan Krämer, Stephanie Leary, Stephan Leuenberger, Jon Litland, Marko Malink, Michaela McSweeney, Kevin Mulligan, Alyssa Ney, Asya Passinsky, Francesca Poggiolesi, Kevin Richardson, Stef…Read more
  •  145
    Explaining Essences
    Philosophical Studies. forthcoming.
    This paper explores the prospects of combining two views. The first view is metaphysical rationalism (the principle of sufficient reason): all things have an explanation. The second view is metaphysical essentialism: there are real essences. The exploration is motivated by a conflict between the views. Metaphysical essentialism posits facts about essences. Metaphysical rationalism demands explanations for all facts. But facts about essences appear to resist explanation. I consider two solutions …Read more
  •  73
    Metaphysical Grounding
    Oxford Bibliographies in Philosophy. 2019.
    An annotated bibliography for metaphysical ground.
  •  35
    Simon Evnine’s Making Objects and Events: A Hylomorphic Theory of Artifacts develops amorphic hylomorphism. I critically discuss three of its main themes. One theme is its attempt to do the work of form without forms. A second theme is the requirement that hylomorphs have ‘metabolisms at work’. A third theme is the use of artifacts as the paradigms for hylomorphs. I will raise some criticisms of each of these themes. Although the themes might at first appear disconnected, I believe the third und…Read more
  •  28
    Chalmers, Manley, and Wasserman's "Metametaphysics" anthology is reviewed.
  •  278
    Is ground a strict partial order?
    American Philosophical Quarterly 50 (2): 191-199. 2013.
    Interest surges in a distinctively metaphysical notion of ground. But a Schism has emerged between Orthodoxy’s view of ground as inducing a strict partial order structure on reality and Heresy’s rejection of this view. What’s at stake is the structure of reality (for proponents of ground), or even ground itself (for those who think this Schism casts doubt upon its coherence). I defend Orthodoxy against Heresy.
  •  103
    Is Lewis's Mixed Theory Mixed Up?
    Theoria 79 (1): 57-75. 2013.
    My aim is to rekindle interest in David Lewis's (1983) infamous but neglected Mixed Theory of mental states. The Mixed Theory is a mix of physicalism and functionalism designed to capture the intuitions that both Martians and abnormal human Madmen can be in pain. The Mixed Theory is widely derided. But I offer a new development of the Mixed Theory immune to its most prominent objections. In doing so, I uncover a new motivation for the Mixed Theory: its unique ability to explain cases in which it…Read more
  •  117
    Can Time Pass at the Rate of 1 Second Per Second?
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89 (3). 2011.
    Some believe reality is dynamic: time passes, not just in our experience of reality, but objectively, in reality itself. There are many objections to this view. I focus on the rate objection: that time passes only if it passes at the rate of 1 second per second, but that it cannot coherently pass at that rate. Existing replies to this objection do not fully engage with its motivation. My aim is to refute the rate objection. Time can coherently pass at the rate of 1 second per second. This does n…Read more
  •  524
    Fundamentality without Foundations
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 93 (3): 607-626. 2016.
    A commonly held view is that a central aim of metaphysics is to give a fundamental account of reality which refers only to the fundamental entities. But a puzzle arises. It is at least a working hypothesis for those pursuing the aim that, first, there must be fundamental entities. But, second, it also seems possible that the world has no foundation, with each entity depending on others. These two claims are inconsistent with the widely held third claim that the fundamental just is the foundation…Read more
  •  48
    Review of Metaphysical Grounding (review)
    Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews. 2013.
  •  114
    New work for a theory of ground
    Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 60 (6): 625-655. 2017.
    There has been much recent interest in a distinctively metaphysical kind of determinative explanation: ground. This paper concerns various skeptical challenges to ground’s relevance to metaphysics, such as that it is an empty posit, that the work it is supposed to do is appropriated by other notions, and that it is inapt for specific issues it should serve. I argue against these challenges. My strategy is both critical and constructive. Critical because I argue that versions of these challenges …Read more
  •  27
    Collective Intelligence of the Artificial Life Community on Its Own Successes, Failures, and Future
    with Steen Rasmussen, Gordon N. Keating, and Mark A. Bedau
    Artificial Life 9 207-235. 2003.
    We describe a novel Internet-based method for building consensus and clarifying con icts in large stakeholder groups facing complex issues, and we use the method to survey and map the scienti c and organizational perspectives of the arti cial life community during the Seventh International Conference on Arti cial Life (summer 2000). The issues addressed in this survey included arti cial life’s main successes, main failures, main open scienti c questions, and main strategies for the future, as we…Read more
  •  353
    Ground
    Philosophy Compass 10 (5): 322-333. 2015.
    This essay focuses on a recently prominent notion of ground which is distinctive for how it links metaphysics to explanation. Ground is supposed to serve both as the common factor in diverse in virtue of questions as well as the structuring relation in the project of explaining how some phenomena are “built” from more fundamental phenomena. My aim is to provide an opinionated synopsis of this notion of ground without engaging with others. Ground, so understood, generally resists illumination by …Read more
  •  64
    Subjectivism is Pointless
    Logos and Episteme 4 (1): 733-748. 2013.
    Epistemic objectivists and epistemic subjectivists might agree that inquiry pursues epistemic virtues (truth, knowledge, reason, or rationality) while disagreeing over their objectivity. Objectivists will evaluate this disagreement in terms of the epistemic virtues objectively construed, while subjectivists will not. This raises a rhetorical problem: objectivists will fault subjectivism for lacking some objective epistemic virtue, whereas subjectivists, by rejecting objectivity, won’t see this a…Read more
  •  78
    Problems for testimonial acquaintance
    Noûs 42 (4): 727-745. 2008.
    We think about and refer to things that we’ve never perceived or experienced. This paper bears on how this could be. Someone is testimonially acquainted with something just in case the explanation of one’s ability to think de re thoughts about it essentially appeals to communication with others who already have that ability. The main motivation for the claim that testimonial acquaintance is possible is that it best explains how we can think de re about and refer to things we’ve never perceived o…Read more
  •  36
    Attesting the Aristotelian Future
    Philosophia 39 (4): 751-757. 2011.
    Aristotelian relativism about the future (as recently defended by MacFarlane ( 2003 )) claims that a prediction made on Monday, such as ‘It will rain’, can be indeterminate on Monday but determinate on Tuesday. A serious objection to this intuitively appealing view is that it cannot coherently be attested: for if it is attested on Monday, then our blindness to what the future holds precludes attesting that the prediction is determinate on Tuesday, and if it is attested on Tuesday (when, suppose,…Read more
  •  395
    In Defence of Ground
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 90 (4). 2012.
    I defend (metaphysical) ground against recent, unanswered objections aiming to dismiss it from serious philosophical inquiry. Interest in ground stems from its role in the venerable metaphysical project of identifying which facts hold in virtue of others. Recent work on ground focuses on regimenting it. But many reject ground itself, seeing regimentation as yet another misguided attempt to regiment a bad idea (like phlogiston or astrology). I defend ground directly against objections that it is …Read more
  •  488
    Cryptographic hash functions based on ALife
    with Mark A. Bedau and Richard Crandall
    PSIpress. 2009.
    There is a long history of cryptographic hash functions, i.e. functions mapping variable-length strings to fixed-length strings, and such functions are also expected to enjoy certain security properties. Hash functions can be effected via modular arithmetic, permutation-based schemes, chaotic mixing, and so on. Herein we introduce the notion of an artificial-life (ALife) hash function (ALHF), whereby the requisite mixing action of a good hash function is accomplished via ALife rules that give ri…Read more
  •  135
    There is a problem of change
    Philosophical Studies 155 (1): 23-35. 2011.
    Impostors are pseudo-problems masquerading as genuine problems. Impostors should be exposed. The problem of change appears genuine. But some, such as Hofweber ( 2009 ) and Rychter ( 2009 ), have recently denounced it as an impostor. They allege that it is mysterious how to answer the meta - problem of saying what problem it is: for even if any problem is genuinely about change per se, they argue, it is either empirical or trivially dissolved by conceptual analysis. There is indeed an impostor in…Read more