•  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
  •  914
    Tensed Truthmaker Theory
    Erkenntnis 80 (5): 923-944. 2015.
    Presentism faces a serious challenge from truthmaker theory. Standard solutions to the truthmaker objection against presentism proceed in one of two ways. Easy road presentists invoke new entities to satisfy the requirements of truthmaker theory. Hard road presentists, by contrast, flatly refuse to give in to truthmaker demands. Recently, a third way has been proposed. This response seeks to address the truthmaking problem by tensing our truthmaker principles. These views, though intuitive, are …Read more
  •  783
    Tensed Supervenience: A No‐Go for Presentism
    Southern Journal of Philosophy 51 (3): 383-401. 2013.
    Recent attempts to resolve the truthmaker objection to presentism employ a fundamentally tensed account of the relationship between truth and being. On this view, the truth of a proposition concerning the past supervenes on how things are, in the present, along with how things were, in the past. This tensed approach to truthmaking arises in response to pressure placed on presentists to abandon the standard response to the truthmaker objection, whereby one invokes presently existing entities as t…Read more
  •  679
    Why is there female under-representation among philosophy majors? Evidence of a pre-university effect
    with Tom Doherty and Kristie Miller
    Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 2. 2015.
    Why does female under- representation emerge during undergraduate education? At the University of Sydney, we surveyed students before and after their first philosophy course. We failed to find any evidence that this course disproportionately discouraged female students from continuing in philosophy relative to male students. Instead, we found evidence of an interaction effect between gender and existing attitudes about philosophy coming into tertiary education that appears at least partially res…Read more
  •  529
    Our Concept of Time
    In B. Mölder, V. Arstila & P. Ohrstrom (eds.), Philosophy and Psychology of Time, Springer. pp. 29-52. 2015.
    In this chapter we argue that our concept of time is a functional concept. We argue that our concept of time is such that time is whatever it is that plays the time role, and we spell out what we take the time role to consist in. We evaluate this proposal against a number of other analyses of our concept of time, and argue that it better explains various features of our dispositions as speakers and our practices as agents
  •  493
    The anglophone philosophy profession has a well-known problem with gender equity. A sig-nificant aspect of the problem is the fact that there are simply so many more male philoso-phers than female philosophers among students and faculty alike. The problem is at its stark-est at the faculty level, where only 22% - 24% of philosophers are female in the United States (Van Camp 2014), the United Kingdom (Beebee & Saul 2011) and Australia (Goddard 2008).<1> While this is a result of the percentage of…Read more
  •  482
    Deflating Deflationary Truthmaking
    with Jamin Asay
    Philosophical Quarterly 70 (278): 1-21. 2020.
    In this paper we confront a challenge to truthmaker theory that is analogous to the objections raised by deflationists against substantive theories of truth. Several critics of truthmaker theory espouse a ‘deflationary’ attitude about truthmaking, though it has not been clearly presented as such. Our goal is to articulate and then object to the underlying rationale behind deflationary truthmaking. We begin by developing the analogy between deflationary truth and deflationary truthmaking, and the…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
  •  395
    Animal Interrupted, or Why Accepting Pascal's Wager Might Be the Last Thing You Ever Do
    with Christina Dyke
    Southern Journal of Philosophy 52 (S1): 109-133. 2014.
    According to conventionalist accounts of personal identity, persons are constituted in part by practices and attitudes of certain sorts of care. In this paper, we concentrate on the most well-developed and defended version of conventionalism currently on offer (namely, that proposed by David Braddon-Mitchell, Caroline West, and Kristie Miller) and discuss how the conventionalist appears forced either (1) to accept arbitrariness concerning from which perspective to judge one's survival or (2) to …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
  •  352
    Groundless Truth
    Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 57 (2): 175-195. 2014.
    We defend two claims: (1) if one is attracted to a strong non-maximalist view about truthmaking, then it is natural to construe this as the view that there exist fundamental truths; (2) despite considerable aversion to fundamental truths, there is as yet no viable independent argument against them. That is, there is no argument against the existence of fundamental truths that is independent of any more specific arguments against the ontology accepted by the strong non-maximalist. Thus there is n…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
  •  266
    Time Enough for Explanation
    Journal of Philosophy 113 (2): 61-88. 2016.
    The present paper advances an analogy between cases of extra-mathematical explanation and cases of what might be termed ‘extra-logical explanation’: the explanation of a physical fact by a logical fact. A particular case of extra-logical explanation is identified that arises in the philosophical literature on time travel. This instance of extra-logical explanation is subsequently shown to be of a piece with cases of extra-mathematical explanation. Using this analogy, we argue extra-mathematical …Read more
  •  253
    Why Is There Female Under-Representation among Philosophy Majors?
    Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 2. 2015.
    The anglophone philosophy profession has a well-known problem with gender equity. A sig-nificant aspect of the problem is the fact that there are simply so many more male philoso-phers than female philosophers among students and faculty alike. The problem is at its stark-est at the faculty level, where only 22% - 24% of philosophers are female in the United States (Van Camp 2014), the United Kingdom (Beebee & Saul 2011) and Australia (Goddard 2008).<1> While this is a result of the percentage of…Read more
  •  247
    Causation Sans Time
    American Philosophical Quarterly 52 (1): 27-40. 2015.
    Is time necessary for causation? We argue that, given a counterfactual theory of causation, it is not. We defend this claim by considering cases of counterfactual dependence in quantum mechanics. These cases involve laws of nature that govern entanglement. These laws make possible the evaluation of causal counterfactuals between space-like separated entangled particles. There is, for the proponent of a counterfactual theory of causation, a possible world in which causation but not time exists th…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
  •  245
    Monism: The Islands of Plurality
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 93 (3): 583-606. 2016.
    Priority monism (hereafter, ‘monism’) is the view that there exists one fundamental entity—the world—and that all other objects that exist (a set of objects typically taken to include tables, chairs, and the whole menagerie of everyday items) are merely derivative. Jonathan Schaffer has defended monism in its current guise, across a range of papers. Each paper looks to add something to the monistic picture of the world. In this paper we argue that monism—as Schaffer describes it—is false. To do …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
  •  240
    A Truthmaker Indispensability Argument
    Synthese 190 (12): 2413-2427. 2013.
    Recently, nominalists have made a case against the Quine–Putnam indispensability argument for mathematical Platonism by taking issue with Quine’s criterion of ontological commitment. In this paper I propose and defend an indispensability argument founded on an alternative criterion of ontological commitment: that advocated by David Armstrong. By defending such an argument I place the burden back onto the nominalist to defend her favourite criterion of ontological commitment and, furthermore, sho…Read more
  •  236
    The Priority of the Now
    Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 0-0. 2014.
    This paper motivates and develops a new theory of time: priority presentism. Priority presentism is the view according to which (i) only present entities exist fundamentally and (ii) past and future entities exist, but they are grounded in the present. The articulation of priority presentism is an exercise in applied grounding: it draws on concepts from the recent literature on ontological dependence and applies those concepts in a new way, to the philosophy of time. The result, as I will argue,…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
  •  229
    Why is there female under-representation among philosophy majors? We survey the hypotheses that have been proposed so far, grouping similar hypotheses together. We then propose a chronological taxonomy that distinguishes hypotheses according to the stage in undergraduates’ careers at which the hypotheses predict an increase in female under-representation. We then survey the empirical evidence for and against various hypotheses. We end by suggesting future avenues for research.
  •  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
  •  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
  •  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
  •  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
  •  187
    Back to the Unchanging Past
    Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 98 (1): 129-147. 2017.
    The standard philosophical view of time travel has it that time travelers cannot change the past. It has been argued by some that the standard view is false, and that this can be shown using a two-dimensional model of time. I defend the standard view against this attack. I show, first, that the addition of a second temporal dimension does not provide a model of changing the past and, second, that neither does the addition of n temporal dimensions for any n &gt; 1.
  •  185
    Causation in a timeless world
    Synthese 191 (12): 2867-2886. 2014.
    This paper offers a new way to evaluate counterfactual conditionals on the supposition that actually, there is no time. We then parlay this method of evaluation into a way of evaluating causal claims. Our primary aim is to preserve, at a minimum, the assertibility of certain counterfactual and causal claims once time has been excised from reality. This is an important first step in a more general reconstruction project that has two important components. First, recovering our ordinary language cl…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
  •  180
    How Mathematics Can Make a Difference
    Philosophers' Imprint 17. 2017.
    Standard approaches to counterfactuals in the philosophy of explanation are geared toward causal explanation. We show how to extend the counterfactual theory of explanation to non-causal cases, involving extra-mathematical explanation: the explanation of physical facts by mathematical facts. Using a structural equation framework, we model impossible perturbations to mathematics and the resulting differences made to physical explananda in two important cases of extra-mathematical explanation. We …Read more