•  3
    Empirical incoherence and double functionalism
    Synthese 199 (S2): 413-439. 2019.
    Recent work on quantum gravity suggests that neither spacetime nor spatiotemporally located entites exist at a fundamental level. The loss of both brings with it the threat of empirical incoherence. A theory is empirically incoherent when the truth of that theory undermines the empirical justification for believing it. If neither spacetime nor spatiotemporally located entities exist as a part of a fundamental theory of QG, then such a theory seems to imply that there are no observables and so no…Read more
  •  14
    Several approaches to quantum gravity signal the loss of spacetime at some level. According to spacetime functionalism, spacetime is functionally realised by a more fundamental structure. According to one version of spacetime functionalism, the spacetime role is specified by Ramsifying general relativity. In some approaches to QG, however, there does not appear to be anything that exactly realises the functional role defined by a Ramsey sentence for GR. The spacetime role is approximately realis…Read more
  •  194
    Mathematical Explanation: A Pythagorean Proposal
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science. forthcoming.
    Mathematics appears to play an explanatory role in science. This, in turn, is thought to pave a way toward mathematical Platonism. A central challenge for mathematical Platonists, however, is to provide an account of how mathematical explanations work. I propose a property-based account: physical systems possess mathematical properties, which either guarantee the presence of other mathematical properties and, by extension, the physical states that possess them; or rule out other mathematical pro…Read more
  •  37
    Time, and time again
    The Philosophical Quarterly. forthcoming.
    A number of philosophers uphold a metaphysical symmetry between time and hypertime, in this sense: in so far as hypertime exists, the nature of hypertime should agree with the nature of time. Others allow that we can mix and match the metaphysics of time and hypertime. Thus, it may be that time really passes, but hypertime does not or vice versa. In this paper, we provide a preliminary defense of the mix and match approach. We outline a number of arguments for the claim that time and hypertime m…Read more
  •  28
    Parts of Spacetime
    American Philosophical Quarterly. forthcoming.
    Consider the following pair of theses: (i) all fundamental physical objects are spatiotemporal and (ii) all non-fundamental physical objects are ultimately composed of fundamental objects. Work on the physics of quantum gravity suggests that spacetime is a non-fundamental, emergent phenomenon and thus that thesis (i) is false. The fundamentals are non-spatiotemporal in nature. In this paper, I will argue against (ii) on the grounds that non-fundamental spatiotemporal objects cannot be composed o…Read more
  •  72
    Eliminating Spacetime
    Erkenntnis 1-20. forthcoming.
    A number of approaches to quantum gravity (QG) seem to imply that spacetime does not exist. Philosophers are quick to point out, however, that the loss of spacetime should not be regarded as total. Rather, we should interpret these approaches as ones that threaten the fundamentality but not the existence of spacetime. In this paper, I argue for two claims. First, I argue that spacetime realism is not forced by QG; spacetime eliminativism remains an option. Second, I argue that eliminativism prov…Read more
  •  129
    Composing Spacetime
    Journal of Philosophy. forthcoming.
    According to a number of approaches in theoretical physics spacetime does not exist fundamentally. Rather, spacetime exists by depending on another, more fundamental, non-spatiotemporal structure. A prevalent opinion in the literature is that this dependence should not be analysed in terms of composition. We should not say, that is, that spacetime depends on an ontology of non-spatiotemporal entities in virtue of having them as parts. But is that really right? On the contrary, we argue that a me…Read more
  •  73
    Mathematics clearly plays an important role in scientific explanation. Debate continues, however, over the kind of role that mathematics plays. I argue that if pure mathematical explananda and physical explananda are unified under a common explanation within science, then we have good reason to believe that mathematics is explanatory in its own right. The argument motivates the search for a new kind of scientific case study, a case in which pure mathematical facts and physical facts are explanat…Read more
  •  73
    On Drugs
    with Sara Linton and Maureen O'Malley
    Journal of Medicine and Philosophy. forthcoming.
    Despite their centrality to medicine, drugs are not easily defined. We introduce two desiderata for a basic definition of medical drugs. It should: (i) capture everything considered to be a drug in medical contexts and (ii) rule out anything that is not considered to be a drug. After canvassing a range of options, we find that no single definition of drugs can satisfy both desiderata. We conclude with three responses to our exploration of the drug concept: maintain a monistic concept, or choose …Read more
  •  246
    Quantum Gravity and Mereology: Not So Simple
    Philosophical Quarterly (1): 19-40. 2021.
    A number of philosophers have argued in favour of extended simples on the grounds that they are needed by fundamental physics. The arguments typically appeal to theories of quantum gravity. To date, the argument in favour of extended simples has ignored the fact that the very existence of spacetime is put under pressure by quantum gravity. We thus consider the case for extended simples in the context of different views on the existence of spacetime. We show that the case for extended simples bas…Read more
  •  24
    We argue that a certain variety of presentist time travel ends up significantly undermining the motivational foundations which lead some, but not all, presentists to their view. We suggest that if presentism is motivated by phenomenology, and part of that phenomenology is that it’s an experiential datum that we experience temporal passage, then the basis for believing presentism is less secure than we might have thought.
  •  81
    Explanation impossible
    Philosophical Studies 178 (2): 559-576. 2021.
    We argue that explanations appealing to logical impossibilities are genuine explanations. Our defense is based on a certain picture of impossibility. Namely, that there are impossibilities and that the impossibilities have structure. Assuming this broad picture of impossibility we defend the genuineness of explanations that appeal to logical impossibilities against three objections. First, that such explanations are at odds with the perceived conceptual connection between explanation and counter…Read more
  •  75
    A Counterfactual Approach to Explanation in Mathematics
    Philosophia Mathematica 28 (1): 1-34. 2020.
    ABSTRACT Our goal in this paper is to extend counterfactual accounts of scientific explanation to mathematics. Our focus, in particular, is on intra-mathematical explanations: explanations of one mathematical fact in terms of another. We offer a basic counterfactual theory of intra-mathematical explanations, before modelling the explanatory structure of a test case using counterfactual machinery. We finish by considering the application of counterpossibles to mathematical explanation, and explor…Read more
  •  58
    Empirical incoherence and double functionalism
    Synthese (Suppl 2): 1-27. 2019.
    Recent work on quantum gravity suggests that neither spacetime nor spatiotemporally located entites exist at a fundamental level. The loss of both brings with it the threat of empirical incoherence. A theory is empirically incoherent when the truth of that theory undermines the empirical justification for believing it. If neither spacetime nor spatiotemporally located entities exist as a part of a fundamental theory of QG, then such a theory seems to imply that there are no observables and so no…Read more
  •  180
    Grounding at a distance
    Philosophical Studies 177 (11): 3373-3390. 2020.
    What distinguishes causation from grounding? One suggestion is that causation, but not grounding, occurs over time. Recently, however, counterexamples to this simple temporal criterion have been offered. In this paper, we situate the temporal criterion within a broader framework that focuses on two aspects: locational overlapping in space and time and the presence of intermediaries in space and time. We consider, and reject, the idea that the difference between grounding and causation is that gr…Read more
  •  236
    Counterfactuals of Ontological Dependence
    Journal of the American Philosophical Association. forthcoming.
    A great deal has been written about 'would' counterfactuals of causal dependence. Comparatively little has been said regarding 'would' counterfactuals of ontological dependence. The standard Lewis-Stalnaker semantics is inadequate for handling such counterfactuals. That's because some of these counterfactuals are counterpossibles, and the standard Lewis-Stalnaker semantics trivializes for counterpossibles. Fortunately, there is a straightforward extension of the Lewis-Stalnaker semantics availab…Read more
  •  198
    Mathematical Explanation by Law
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (3): 683-717. 2019.
    Call an explanation in which a non-mathematical fact is explained—in part or in whole—by mathematical facts: an extra-mathematical explanation. Such explanations have attracted a great deal of interest recently in arguments over mathematical realism. In this article, a theory of extra-mathematical explanation is developed. The theory is modelled on a deductive-nomological theory of scientific explanation. A basic DN account of extra-mathematical explanation is proposed and then redeveloped in th…Read more
  •  240
    Non-naturalistic moral explanation
    with Samuel Baron, Mark Colyvan, Kristie Miller, and Michael Rubin
    Synthese 198 (5): 4273-4294. 2019.
    It has seemed, to many, that there is an important connection between the ways in which some theoretical posits explain our observations, and our reasons for being ontologically committed to those posits. One way to spell out this connection is in terms of what has become known as the explanatory criterion of ontological commitment. This is, roughly, the view that we ought to posit only those entities that are indispensable to our best explanations. Our primary aim is to argue that the moral non…Read more
  •  319
    Temporal Fictionalism for a Timeless World
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 102 (2): 281-301. 2019.
    Current debate in the metaphysics of time ordinarily assumes that we should be realists about time. Recently, however, a number of physicists and philosophers of physics have proposed that time will play no role in a completed theory of quantum gravity. This paper defends fictionalism about temporal thought, on the supposition that our world is timeless. We argue that, in the face of timeless physical theories, realism about temporal thought is unsustainable: some kind of anti-realism must be ad…Read more
  •  162
    The curious case of spacetime emergence
    Philosophical Studies 177 (8): 2207-2226. 2019.
    Work in quantum gravity suggests that spacetime is not fundamental. Rather, spacetime emerges from an underlying, non-spatiotemporal reality. After clarifying the type of emergence at issue, I argue that standard conceptions of emergence available in metaphysics won’t work for the emergence of spacetime. I go on to consider spacetime functionalism as a way to make sense of spacetime emergence. I argue that a functionalist approach to spacetime modelled on mental state functionalism is not a viab…Read more
  •  29
    Infinite idealizations appear in our best scientific explanations of phase transitions. This is thought by some to be paradoxical. In this paper I connect the existing literature on the phase transition paradox to work on the concept of indispensability, which arises in discussions of realism and anti-realism within the philosophy of science and the philosophy of mathematics. I formulate a version of the phase transition paradox based on the idea that infinite idealizations are explanatorily ind…Read more
  •  93
    Counterfactual Scheming
    Mind 129 (514): 535-562. 2020.
    Mathematics appears to play a genuine explanatory role in science. But how do mathematical explanations work? Recently, a counterfactual approach to mathematical explanation has been suggested. I argue that such a view fails to differentiate the explanatory uses of mathematics within science from the non-explanatory uses. I go on to offer a solution to this problem by combining elements of the counterfactual theory of explanation with elements of a unification theory of explanation. The result i…Read more
  •  193
    Much ado about aboutness
    with Reginald Mary Chua, Kristie Miller, and James Norton
    Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy. 2019.
    Strong non-maximalism holds that some truths require no ontological ground of any sort. Strong non-maximalism allows one to accept that some propositions are true without being forced to endorse any corresponding ontological commitments. We show that there is a version of truthmaker theory available—anti-aboutness truthmaking—that enjoys the dialectical benefits of the strong non-maximalist’s position. According to anti-aboutness truthmaking, all truths require grounds, but a proposition need no…Read more
  •  448
    Metaphysical Explanation: The Kitcher Picture
    Erkenntnis 86 (1): 187-207. 2019.
    This paper offers a new account of metaphysical explanation. The account is modelled on Kitcher’s unificationist approach to scientific explanation. We begin, in Sect. 2, by briefly introducing the notion of metaphysical explanation and outlining the target of analysis. After that, we introduce a unificationist account of metaphysical explanation before arguing that such an account is capable of capturing four core features of metaphysical explanations: irreflexivity, non-monotonicity, asymmetry…Read more
  •  357
    The End of Mystery
    American Philosophical Quarterly 56 (3): 247-264. 2019.
    Tim travels back in time and tries to kill his grandfather before his father was born. Tim fails. But why? Lewis's response was to cite "coincidences": Tim is the unlucky subject of gun jammings, banana peels, sudden changes of heart, and so on. A number of challenges have been raised against Lewis's response. The latest of these focuses on explanation. This paper diagnoses the source of this new disgruntlement and offers an alternative explanation for Tim's failure, one that Lewis would not hav…Read more
  •  7861
    A Formal Apology for Metaphysics
    Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 5. 2018.
    There is an old meta-philosophical worry: very roughly, metaphysical theories have no observational consequences and so the study of metaphysics has no value. The worry has been around in some form since the rise of logical positivism in the early twentieth century but has seen a bit of a renaissance recently. In this paper, I provide an apology for metaphysics in the face of this kind of concern. The core of the argument is this: pure mathematics detaches from science in much the same manner as…Read more
  •  189
    Time is woven into the fabric of our lives. Everything we do, we do in and across time. It is not just that our lives are stretched out in time, from the moment of birth to the moment of our death. It is that our lives are stories. We make sense of ourselves, today, by understanding who we were yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that; by understanding what we did and why we did it. Our memories shape our present selves, since we are the product of who we were, and who we remember …Read more
  •  48
    In this paper we offer a response to one argument in favour of Priority Monism, what Jonathan Schaffer calls the nomic argument for monism. We proceed in three stages. We begin by introducing Jonathan Schaffer’s Priority Monism and the nomic argument for that view. We then consider a response to the nomic argument that we presented in an earlier paper. We show that this argument suffers from a flaw. We then go on to offer a different response to the nomic argument. The core idea is that the curr…Read more
  •  23
    Reality Making By Mark Jago
    Analysis 78 (4): 777-780. 2018.
    Reality Making By JagoMarkOxford University Press, 2016, vi + 200 pp.