• Philosophers of science often assume that logically equivalent theories are theoretically equivalent. I argue that two theses, anti-exceptionalism about logic (which says, roughly, that logic is not a priori, that it is revisable, and that it is not special or set apart from other human inquiry) and logical realism (which says, roughly, that differences in logic reflect genuine metaphysical differences in the world), make trouble for both this commitment and the closely related commitment to the…Read more
  • The Problem of Molecular Structure Just Is The Measurement Problem
    The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science. forthcoming.
    Whether or not quantum physics can account for molecular structure is a matter of considerable controversy. Three of the problems raised in this regard are the problems of molecular structure. We argue that these problems are just special cases of the measurement problem of quantum mechanics: insofar as the measurement problem is solved, the problems of molecular structure are resolved as well. In addition, we explore one consequence of our argument: that claims about the reduction or emergence …Read more
  • Several philosophers have recently tried to define natural kinds in epistemic terms only. Given the persistent problems with finding a successful metaphysical theory, these philosophers argue that we would do better to describe natural kinds solely in terms of their epistemic usefulness, such as their role in supporting inductive inferences. In this paper, I argue against these epistemology-only theories of natural kinds and in favor of, at least partly, metaphysical theories. I do so in three s…Read more
  • Salience and Metaphysical Explanation
    Synthese 1-22. forthcoming.
    Metaphysical explanations, unlike many other kinds of explanation, are standardly thought to be insensitive to our epistemic situation and so are not evaluable by cognitive values such as salience. I consider a case study that challenges this view. Some properties are distributed over an extension. For example, the property of being polka-dotted red on white, when instantiated, is distributed over a surface. Similar properties have been put to work in a variety of explanatory tasks in recent met…Read more
  • A common feature of all standard theories of the laws of nature is that they are "absolutist": They take laws to be either all metaphysically necessary or all contingent. Science, however, gives us reason to think that there are laws of both kinds, suggesting that standard theories should make way for "non-absolutist" alternatives: theories which accommodate laws of both modal statuses. In this paper, we set out three explanatory challenges for any candidate non-absolutist theory and discuss the…Read more
  • The strong emergence of molecular structure
    Vanessa A. Seifert
    European Journal for Philosophy of Science 10 (3): 1-25. 2020.
    One of the most plausible and widely discussed examples of strong emergence is molecular structure. The only detailed account of it, which has been very influential, is due to Robin Hendry and is formulated in terms of downward causation. This paper explains Hendry’s account of the strong emergence of molecular structure and argues that it is coherent only if one assumes a diachronic reflexive notion of downward causation. However, in the context of this notion of downward causation, the strong …Read more
  • Quantity Tropes and Internal Relations
    Markku Keinänen, Antti Keskinen, and Jani Hakkarainen
    Erkenntnis 84 (3): 519-534. 2019.
    In this article, we present a new conception of internal relations between quantity tropes falling under determinates and determinables. We begin by providing a novel characterization of the necessary relations between these tropes as basic internal relations. The core ideas here are that the existence of the relata is sufficient for their being internally related, and that their being related does not require the existence of any specific entities distinct from the relata. We argue that quantit…Read more
  • In a recent paper, Tuomas Tahko has argued for a hybrid view of the laws of nature, according to which some physical laws are metaphysically necessary, while others are metaphysically contingent. In this paper, we show that his criterion for distinguishing between these two kinds of laws — which crucially relies on the essences of natural kinds — is on its own unsatisfactory. We then propose an alternative way of drawing the metaphysically necessary/contingent distinction for laws of physics bas…Read more
  • Non‐Humean theories of natural necessity
    Philosophy Compass 15 (5): 1-1. 2020.
    Non‐Humean theories of natural necessity invoke modally‐laden primitives to explain why nature exhibits lawlike regularities. However, they vary in the primitives they posit and in their subsequent accounts of laws of nature and related phenomena (including natural properties, natural kinds, causation, counterfactuals, and the like). This article provides a taxonomy of non‐Humean theories, discusses influential arguments for and against them, and describes some ways in which differences in goals…Read more
  • In his theory of categories, Aristotle introduces a distinction between two types of universals, i.e., kinds and attributes. While attributes determine how their subjects are, kinds determine what something is: kinds represent unified ways of being which account for the existence and identity of particular objects. Since its introduction into the philosophical discussion, the concept of a kind has attracted criticism. The most important objection argues that no separate category of kinds is need…Read more
  • Why Truthmaking Is Not a Case of Grounding
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 101 (3): 567-590. 2020.
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, EarlyView.
  • We put forward a new, ‘coherentist’ account of quantum entanglement, according to which entangled systems are characterized by symmetric relations of ontological dependence among the component particles. We compare this coherentist viewpoint with the two most popular alternatives currently on offer—structuralism and holism—and argue that it is essentially different from, and preferable to, both. In the course of this article, we point out how coherentism might be extended beyond the case of enta…Read more
  • Indefinitely Descending Ground
    In Ricki Bliss & Graham Priest (eds.), Reality and its Structure, Oxford University Press. forthcoming.
    In this paper I argue against grounding being necessarily well-founded, and provide some reasons to think it's actually not well-founded.
  • Inheritance arguments for fundamentality
    In Ricki Leigh Bliss & Graham Priest (eds.), Reality and its Structure, Oxford University Press. pp. 182-198. 2018.
    Discussion of a metaphysical sense of 'inheritance' and cognate notions relevant to fundamentality.
  • According to microessentialism, it is necessary to resort to microstructure in order to adequately characterise chemical substances such as water. But the thesis has never been properly supported by argument. Kripke and Putnam, who originally proposed the thesis, suggest that a so-called stereotypical characterisation is not possible, whereas one in terms of microstructure is. However, the sketchy outlines given of stereotypical descriptions hardly support the impossibility claim. On the other h…Read more
  • What Work the Fundamental?
    Erkenntnis 84 (2): 359-379. 2019.
    Although it is very often taken for granted that there is something fundamental, the literature appears to have developed with little to no careful consideration of what exactly it is that the fundamentalia are supposed to do. If we are to have a good reason to believe that there is something fundamental, we need not only to know what exactly it is that the fundamentalia are invoked for, but why it is that nothing else is available for the task to hand. A good argument in defense of fundamentali…Read more
  • Biochemical Kinds
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (2): 531-551. 2016.
    Chemical kinds are generally treated as having timelessly fixed identities. Biological kinds are generally treated as evolved and/or evolving entities. So what kind of kind is a biochemical kind? This article defends the thesis that biochemical molecules are clustered chemical kinds, some of which—namely, evolutionarily conserved units—are also biological kinds. On this thesis, a number of difficulties that have recently occupied philosophers concerned with proteins and kinds are shown to be eit…Read more
  • Messy Chemical Kinds
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (3): 719-743. 2018.
    Following Kripke and Putnam, the received view of chemical kinds has been a microstructuralist one. To be a microstructuralist about chemical kinds is to think that membership in said kinds is conferred by microstructural properties. Recently, the received microstructuralist view has been elaborated and defended, but it has also been attacked on the basis of complexities, both chemical and ontological. Here, I look at which complexities really challenge the microstructuralist view; at how the vi…Read more
  • Following logical realism where it leads
    Michaela McSweeney
    Philosophical Studies 176 (1): 117-139. 2019.
    Logical realism is the view that there is logical structure in the world. I argue that, if logical realism is true, then we are deeply ignorant of that logical structure: either we can’t know which of our logical concepts accurately capture it, or none of our logical concepts accurately capture it at all. I don’t suggest abandoning logical realism, but instead discuss how realists should adjust their methodology in the face of this ignorance.
  • Fundamentality without Foundations
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 93 (3): 607-626. 2016.
    A commonly held view is that a central aim of metaphysics is to give a fundamental account of reality which refers only to the fundamental entities. But a puzzle arises. It is at least a working hypothesis for those pursuing the aim that, first, there must be fundamental entities. But, second, it also seems possible that the world has no foundation, with each entity depending on others. These two claims are inconsistent with the widely held third claim that the fundamental just is the foundation…Read more
  • Putting Modal Metaphysics First
    Synthese (Suppl 8): 1-20. 2018.
    I propose that we approach the epistemology of modality by putting modal metaphysics first and, specifically, by investigating the metaphysics of essence. Following a prominent Neo-Aristotelian view, I hold that metaphysical necessity depends on the nature of things, namely their essences. I further clarify that essences are core properties having distinctive superexplanatory powers. In the case of natural kinds, which is my focus in the paper, superexplanatoriness is due to the fact that the es…Read more
  • Each Thing Is Fundamental: Against Hylomorphism and Hierarchical Structure
    American Philosophical Quarterly 56 (3): 289-301. 2019.
    Each thing is fundamental. Not only is no thing any more or less real than any other, but no thing is prior to another in any robust ontological sense. Thus, no thing can explain the very existence of another, nor account for how another is what it is. I reach this surprising conclusion by undermining two important positions in contemporary metaphysics: hylomorphism and hierarchical views employing so-called building relations, such as grounding. The paper has three main parts. First, I observe …Read more