•  194
    Hierarchies and levels of reality
    Synthese 176 (3): 379-397. 2010.
    We examine some assumptions about the nature of 'levels of reality' in the light of examples drawn from physics. Three central assumptions of the standard view of such levels (for instance, Oppenheim and Putnam 1958) are (i) that levels are populated by entities of varying complexity, (ii) that there is a unique hierarchy of levels, ranging from the very small to the very large, and (iii) that the inhabitants of adjacent levels are related by the parthood relation. Using examples from physics, w…Read more
  •  120
    Can the Bundle Theory Save Substantivalism from the Hole Argument?
    with Glenn Parsons and Patrick McGivern
    Philosophy of Science 68 (S3). 2001.
    One of the most serious theoretical obstacles to contemporary spacetime substantivalism is Earman and Norton's hole argument. We argue that applying the bundle theory of substance to spacetime points allows spacetime substantivalists to escape the conclusion of this argument. Some philosophers have claimed that the bundle theory cannot be applied to substantival spacetime in this way due to problems in individuating spacetime points in symmetrical spacetimes. We demonstrate that it is possible t…Read more
  •  42
    Emergence in Physics
    In Antonella Corradini & Timothy O'Connor (eds.), Emergence in Science and Philosophy, Routledge. pp. 213-232. 2010.
    We examine cases of emergent behavior in physics, and argue for an account of emergence based on features of the phase space portraits of certain dynamical systems. On our account, the phase space portraits of systems displaying emergent behavior are topologically inequivalent to those of the systems from which they ‘emerge’. This account gives us an objective sense in which emergent phenomena are qualitatively novel, without involving the difficulties associated with downward causation and th…Read more
  •  23
    Brian Ellis, Scientific Essentialism (review)
    Philosophy in Review 22 (4): 269-271. 2002.
  •  20
    Harm and the Boundaries of Disease
    Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 42 (4): 467-484. 2017.
    What is the relationship between harm and disease? Discussions of the relationship between harm and disease typically suffer from two shortcomings. First, they offer relatively little analysis of the concept of harm itself, focusing instead on examples of clear cases of harm such as death and dismemberment. This makes it difficult to evaluate such accounts in borderline cases, where the putative harms are less severe. Second, they assume that harm-based accounts of disease must be understood nor…Read more
  •  16
    We examine arguments for distinguishing between ontological and epistemological concepts of fundamentality, focusing in particular on the role that scale plays in these concepts. Using the fractional quantum Hall effect as a case study, we show that we can draw a distinction between ontologically fundamental and non-fundamental theories without insisting that it is only the fundamental theories that get the ontology right: there are cases where non-fundamental theories involve distinct ontologie…Read more
  •  9
    Gallagher on Non-Reductive Naturalism: Complementarity, Integration or Multiscale Science?
    Australasian Philosophical Review 2 (2): 159-170. 2018.
    Gallagher [2019] defends a form of naturalised phenomenology based on a non-classical view of science. A central component of this argument involves an analogy between phenomenology and quantum-mechanics: Gallagher suggests that both require us to give up key components of a classical view of the natural world. Here, I try to clarify this analogy and consider two associated problems. The first problem concerns the concept of subjectivity and its different roles in physics and phenomenology, and …Read more