Birkbeck College, London
  • Birkbeck College, London
    Department Of Philosophy
    Assistant Professor
London School of Economics
Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
PhD, 2004
  •  57
    Back to the Big Picture
    with Anna Alexandrova and Jack Wright
    Journal of Economic Methodology. forthcoming.
    We distinguish between two different strategies in economic methodology. The big picture strategy, dominant in the twentieth century, ascribed to economics a unified method and evaluated this method against a single criterion of ‘science’. In the last thirty years a second strategy gained prominence: fine-grained studies of how some specific technique common in economics can achieve one or more epistemic goal. We argue that recent developments in philosophy of science and in economics warrant a …Read more
  •  22
    Book Review (review)
    with Anna Alexandrova
    Economics and Philosophy 20 (2): 375-381. 2004.
  •  36
    Big data and prediction: Four case studies
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 81 96-104. 2020.
    Has the rise of data-intensive science, or ‘big data’, revolutionized our ability to predict? Does it imply a new priority for prediction over causal understanding, and a diminished role for theory and human experts? I examine four important cases where prediction is desirable: political elections, the weather, GDP, and the results of interventions suggested by economic experiments. These cases suggest caution. Although big data methods are indeed very useful sometimes, in this paper’s cases the…Read more
  •  343
    Is Actual Difference Making Actually Different?
    Journal of Philosophy 106 (11): 629-633. 2009.
    This paper responds to Kenneth Waters’s account of actual difference making. Among other things, I argue that although Waters is right that researchers may sometimes be justified in focusing on genes rather than other causes of phenotypic traits, he is wrong that the apparatus of actual difference makers overcomes the traditional causal parity thesis.
  •  180
    The Irrational Game: why there’s no perfect system
    In Eric Bronson (ed.), Poker and Philosophy, Open Court. pp. 105-115. 2006.
    This is a chapter written for a popular audience, in which I use poker as a convenient illustration of probability, determinism and counterfactuals. More originally, I also discuss the roles of rationality versus psychological hunches, and explain why even in principle game theory cannot provide us the panacea of a perfect winning srategy. (N.B. The document I have uploaded here is slightly longer than the abbreviated version that appears in the book, and also differs in a few other minor detail…Read more
  •  158
    Partial explanations in social science’
    In Harold Kincaid (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Social Science, Oxford University Press. pp. 130-153. 2012.
    Comparing different causes’ importance, and apportioning responsibility between them, requires making good sense of the notion of partial explanation, that is, of degree of explanation. How much is this subjective, how much objective? If the causes in question are probabilistic, how much is the outcome due to them and how much to simple chance? I formulate the notion of degree of causation, or effect size, relating it to influential recent work in the literature on causation. I examine to what …Read more
  •  393
    A definition of causation as probability-raising is threatened by two kinds of counterexample: first, when a cause lowers the probability of its effect; and second, when the probability of an effect is raised by a non-cause. In this paper, I present an account that deals successfully with problem cases of both these kinds. In doing so, I also explore some novel implications of incorporating into the metaphysical investigation considerations of causal psychology.
  •  514
    Comparing apples with oranges
    Analysis 65 (1): 12-18. 2005.
    Comparisons of causal efficacy are ubiquitous in the practice of science and indeed everyday life. I focus on just one aspect of this task – one to my knowledge nowhere yet addressed satisfactorily – namely, comparing the efficacies of two causes that work in apparently incommensurable ways. Contrary to common opinion I argue that, to be comparable, it is neither necessary nor sufficient that two causes also be commensurable.
  •  163
    A Dilemma for the Doomsday Argument
    Ratio 29 (3): 268-282. 2016.
    I present a new case in which the Doomsday Argument runs afoul of epistemic intuition much more strongly than before. This leads to a dilemma: in the new case either DA is committed to unacceptable counterintuitiveness and belief in miracles, or else it is irrelevant. I then explore under what conditions DA can escape this dilemma. The discussion turns on several issues that have not been much emphasised in previous work on DA: a concern that I label trumping; the degree of uncertainty about rel…Read more