•  175
    Counterfactuals are context-sensitive. However, we argue that various debates and doctrines in metaphysics and the philosophy of science are premised on ignoring the full extent of counterfactual context-sensitivity. Our focus is on the prominent "miracle" versus "no-miracle" debate about counterfactuals under the assumption that our laws of nature are deterministic. But we also discuss doctrines that employ counterfactuals in theories of rational decision, as well as doctrines that explain what…Read more
  •  1321
    How to Be a Spacetime Substantivalist
    Journal of Philosophy 119 (5): 233-278. 2022.
    The consensus among spacetime substantivalists is to respond to Leibniz's classic shift arguments, and their contemporary incarnation in the form of the hole argument, by pruning the allegedly problematic metaphysical possibilities that generate these arguments. Some substantivalists do so by directly appealing to a modal doctrine akin to anti-haecceitism. Other substantivalists do so by appealing to an underlying hyperintensional doctrine that implies some such modal doctrine. My first aim in t…Read more
  •  1796
    Lawful Persistence
    Philosophical Perspectives 36 (1): 5-30. 2022.
    The central aim of this paper is to use a particular view about how the laws of nature govern the evolution of our universe in order to develop and evaluate the two main competing options in the metaphysics of persistence, namely endurantism and perdurantism. We begin by motivating the view that our laws of nature dictate not only qualitative facts about the future, but also which objects will instantiate which qualitative properties. We then show that both traditional doctrines in the metaphysi…Read more
  •  970
    What Theoretical Equivalence Could Not Be
    Philosophical Studies 178 (12): 4119-4149. 2021.
    Formal criteria of theoretical equivalence are mathematical mappings between specific sorts of mathematical objects, notably including those objects used in mathematical physics. Proponents of formal criteria claim that results involving these criteria have implications that extend beyond pure mathematics. For instance, they claim that formal criteria bear on the project of using our best mathematical physics as a guide to what the world is like, and also have deflationary implications for vario…Read more
  •  1667
    A puzzle about rates of change
    Philosophical Studies 177 (10): 3155-3169. 2020.
    Most of our best scientific descriptions of the world employ rates of change of some continuous quantity with respect to some other continuous quantity. For instance, in classical physics we arrive at a particle’s velocity by taking the time-derivative of its position, and we arrive at a particle’s acceleration by taking the time-derivative of its velocity. Because rates of change are defined in terms of other continuous quantities, most think that facts about some rate of change obtain in virtu…Read more
  •  1196
    Holes in Spacetime: Some Neglected Essentials
    Journal of Philosophy 116 (7): 353-389. 2019.
    The hole argument purports to show that all spacetime theories of a certain form are indeterministic, including the General Theory of Relativity. The argument has given rise to an industry of searching for a metaphysics of spacetime that delivers the right modal implications to rescue determinism. In this paper, I first argue that certain prominent extant replies to the hole argument—namely, those that appeal to an essentialist doctrine about spacetime—fail to deliver the requisite modal implica…Read more
  •  1184
    Background Independence: Lessons for Further Decades of Dispute
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 65 41-54. 2019.
    Background independence begins life as an informal property that a physical theory might have, often glossed as 'doesn't posit a fixed spacetime background'. Interest in trying to offer a precise account of background independence has been sparked by the pronouncements of several theorists working on quantum gravity that background independence embodies in some sense an essential discovery of the General Theory of Relativity, and a feature we should strive to carry forward to future physical the…Read more
  •  2670
    This paper first argues that we can bring out a tension between the following three popular doctrines: (i) the canonical reduction of metaphysical modality to essence, due to Fine, (ii) contingentism, which says that possibly something could have failed to be something, and (iii) the doctrine that metaphysical modality obeys the modal logic S5. After presenting two such arguments (one from the theorems of S4 and another from the theorems of B), I turn to exploring various conclusions we might dr…Read more