• 1. On Ad Hoc Hypotheses On Ad Hoc Hypotheses (pp. 1-14)
    with J. Christopher Hunt, Kareem Khalifa, Ryan Muldoon, Tony Smith, Michelle G. Gibbons, Elliott O. Wagner, and Andreas Wagner
    Philosophy of Science 79 (1). 2012.
  •  16
    Why Does the Chinese Public Accept Evolution?
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A. forthcoming.
    A substantial proportion of Chinese nationals seem to accept evolution, and the country is sometimes held up to show that the sorry state of evolution acceptance in the United States is not inevitable. Attempts to improve evolution acceptance generally focus on improving communication, curricular reform, and even identifying cognitive mechanisms that bias people against evolution. What is it that the Chinese scientific community did so well, and can it be generalized? This paper argues that evol…Read more
  •  34
    The Dark Galaxy Hypothesis
    with Melissa Jacquart, Barry Madore, and Marja Seidel
    Philosophy of Science 85 (5): 1204-1215. 2018.
    Gravitational interactions allowed astronomers to conclude that dark matter rings all luminous galaxies in gigantic halos, but this only accounts for a fraction of the total mass of dark matter believed to exist. Where is the rest? We hypothesize that some of it resides in dark galaxies, pure dark matter halos that either never possessed or have totally lost their baryonic matter. This paper explores methodological challenges that arise due to the nature of observation in astrophysics, and exami…Read more
  •  1
    When Less is More: Tradeoffs and Idealization in Model-Building
    Dissertation, Stanford University. 2003.
    Scientific models almost always contain idealizations, and this fact suggests methodological questions about how model building should proceed. Biologist Richard Levins addressed such questions by arguing that highly idealized models have a special role in helping to explain the behavior of populations. In When Less is More: Tradeoffs and Idealization in Model Building, I assess and partially endorse Levins' views first on their own terms and then through a novel analysis of idealization in mode…Read more
  •  46
    Target Directed Modeling
    Modern Schoolman 87 (3-4): 251-266. 2010.
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    Interpreting Aristotle on mixture: Problems about elemental composition from philoponus to Cooper
    Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science 35 (4). 2004.
    Aristotle’s On generation and corruption raises a vital question: how is mixture, or what we would now call chemical combination, possible? It also offers an outline of a solution to the problem and a set of criteria that a successful solution must meet. Understanding Aristotle’s solution and developing a viable peripatetic theory of chemical combination has been a source of controversy over the last two millennia. We describe seven criteria a peripatetic theory of mixture must satisfy: uniformi…Read more
  •  20
    Non‐Scientific Criteria for Belief Sustain Counter‐Scientific Beliefs
    with S. Emlen Metz and Deena S. Weisberg
    Cognitive Science 42 (5): 1477-1503. 2018.
    Why is evolutionary theory controversial among members of the American public? We propose a novel explanation: allegiance to different criteria for belief. In one interview study, two online surveys, and one nationally representative phone poll, we found that evolutionists and creationists take different justifications for belief as legitimate. Those who accept evolution emphasize empirical evidence and scientific consensus. Creationists emphasize not only the Bible and religious authority, but …Read more
  •  66
    Segregation That No One Seeks
    with Ryan Muldoon and Tony Smith
    Philosophy of Science 79 (1): 38-62. 2012.
    This paper examines a series of Schelling-like models of residential segregation, in which agents prefer to be in the minority. We demon- strate that as long as agents care about the characteristics of their wider community, they tend to end up in a segregated state. We then investigate the process that causes this, and conclude that the result hinges on the similarity of informational states amongst agents of the same type. This is quite dierent from Schelling-like behavior, and sug- gests (in …Read more
  •  36
    Interpreting Aristotle on mixture: problems about elemental composition from Philoponus to Cooper
    with Rega Wood
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 35 (4): 681-706. 2004.
    Aristotle’s On generation and corruption raises a vital question: how is mixture, or what we would now call chemical combination, possible? It also offers an outline of a solution to the problem and a set of criteria that a successful solution must meet. Understanding Aristotle’s solution and developing a viable peripatetic theory of chemical combination has been a source of controversy over the last two millennia. We describe seven criteria a peripatetic theory of mixture must satisfy: uniformi…Read more
  •  160
    one takes to be the most salient, any pair could be judged more similar to each other than to the third. Goodman uses this second problem to showthat there can be no context-free similarity metric, either in the trivial case or in a scientifically ...
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  •  279
    Contemporary literature in philosophy of science has begun to emphasize the practice of modeling, which differs in important respects from other forms of representation and analysis central to standard philosophical accounts. This literature has stressed the constructed nature of models, their autonomy, and the utility of their high degrees of idealization. What this new literature about modeling lacks, however, is a comprehensive account of the models that figure in to the practice of modeling.…Read more
  •  117
    Challenges to the Structural Conception of Chemical Bonding
    Philosophy of Science 75 (5): 932-946. 2008.
    The covalent bond, a difficult concept to define precisely, plays a central role in chemical predictions, interventions, and explanations. I investigate the structural conception of the covalent bond, which says that bonding is a directional, submolecular region of electron density, located between individual atomic centers and responsible for holding the atoms together. Several approaches to constructing molecular models are considered in order to determine which features of the structural conc…Read more
  •  1
    Roald Hoffmann on the Philosophy, Art, and Science of Chemistry (edited book)
    with Jeffrey Kovac
    Oxford University Press USA. 2014.
    Nobel laureate Roald Hoffmann's contributions to chemistry are well known. Less well known, however, is that over a career that spans nearly fifty years, Hoffmann has thought and written extensively about a wide variety of other topics, such as chemistry's relationship to philosophy, literature, and the arts, including the nature of chemical reasoning, the role of symbolism and writing in science, and the relationship between art and craft and science. In Roald Hoffmann on the Philosophy, Art, a…Read more
  •  35
    Proponents of individual-based modeling in ecology claim that their models explain the emergence of population-level behavior. This article argues that individual-based models have not, as yet, provided such explanations. Instead, individual-based models can and do demonstrate and explain the emergence of population-level behaviors from individual behaviors and interactions
  •  67
    Philosophy of chemistry
    with Paul Needham and Robin Hendry
    Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2011.
  •  157
    Forty years of 'the strategy': Levins on model building and idealization (review)
    Biology and Philosophy 21 (5): 623-645. 2006.
    This paper is an interpretation and defense of Richard Levins’ “The Strategy of Model Building in Population Biology,” which has been extremely influential among biologists since its publication 40 years ago. In this article, Levins confronted some of the deepest philosophical issues surrounding modeling and theory construction. By way of interpretation, I discuss each of Levins’ major philosophical themes: the problem of complexity, the brute-force approach, the existence and consequence of tra…Read more
  •  187
    Scientific research is almost always conducted by communities of scientists of varying size and complexity. Such communities are effective, in part, because they divide their cognitive labor: not every scientist works on the same project. Philip Kitcher and Michael Strevens have pioneered efforts to understand this division of cognitive labor by proposing models of how scientists make decisions about which project to work on. For such models to be useful, they must be simple enough for us to und…Read more
  •  19
    Scientific Collaboration and Collective Knowledge (edited book)
    Oxford University Press. 2017.
    Current scientific research almost always requires collaboration among several (if not several hundred) specialized researchers. When scientists co-author a journal article, who deserves credit for discoveries or blame for errors? How should scientific institutions promote fruitful collaborations among scientists? In this book, leading philosophers of science address these critical questions.
  •  641
    Three Kinds of Idealization
    Journal of Philosophy 104 (12): 639-659. 2007.
    Philosophers of science increasingly recognize the importance of idealization: the intentional introduction of distortion into scientific theories. Yet this recognition has not yielded consensus about the nature of idealization. e literature of the past thirty years contains disparate characterizations and justifications, but little evidence of convergence towards a common position
  •  19
    Modeling herding behavior and its risks
    Journal of Economic Methodology 20 (1). 2013.
    (2013). Modeling herding behavior and its risks. Journal of Economic Methodology: Vol. 20, Methodology, Systemic Risk, and the Economics Profession, pp. 6-18. doi: 10.1080/1350178X.2013.774843
  •  7
    Biology and Philosophy 1-2. forthcoming.
  •  141
    Evolutionary biology – or, more precisely, two (purported) applications of Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection, namely, evolutionary psychology and what has been called human behavioral biology – is on the cusp of becoming the new rage among legal scholars looking for interdisciplinary insights into the law. We argue that as the actual science stands today, evolutionary biology offers nothing to help with questions about legal regulation of behavior. Only systematic misrepresentati…Read more
  •  206
    Who is a Modeler?
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 58 (2): 207-233. 2007.
    Many standard philosophical accounts of scientific practice fail to distinguish between modeling and other types of theory construction. This failure is unfortunate because there are important contrasts among the goals, procedures, and representations employed by modelers and other kinds of theorists. We can see some of these differences intuitively when we reflect on the methods of theorists such as Vito Volterra and Linus Pauling on the one hand, and Charles Darwin and Dimitri Mendeleev on the…Read more
  •  69
    Qualitative theory and chemical explanation
    Philosophy of Science 71 (5): 1071-1081. 2002.
    Roald Hoffmann and other theorists claim that we ought to use highly idealized chemical models (“qualitative models”) in order to increase our understanding of chemical phenomena, even though other models are available which make more highly accurate predictions. I assess this norm by examining one of the tradeoffs faced by model builders and model users—the tradeoff between precision and generality. After arguing that this tradeoff obtains in many cases, I discuss how the existence of this trad…Read more
  •  38
    Group-level traits are not units of selection
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 37 (3): 271-272. 2014.