Alyssa Ney, Professor of Philosophy, UC Davis


Office              2283 Social Sciences and Humanities

Email               aney@ucdavis.edu

Office Hours    by appointment 


Research Areas

Philosophy of Physics, Metaphysics, Philosophy of Mind, General Philosophy of Science

Biography


I am a Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Davis, where I have taught since July 2015. I received my MA and Ph.D in Philosophy from Brown University and my BS in Physics and Philosophy from Tulane University. 

My research examines what our best fundamental physical theories can tell us about the world. Much of my work is concerned with clarifying and defending physicalism. I argue that physicalism is best understood as an attitude one takes to approaching issues of fundamental metaphysics, a commitment to endorsing the entailments of our best, current physical theories. Some of my more recent work also explores what is the best empirical case that can be made for physicalism.

I have also been engaged with the interpretation of quantum theories. In a series of articles, I explore and defend the view that quantum entanglement may suggest that the world we inhabit is not fundamentally constituted by a collection of objects in three-dimensional space, but rather a field spread out in a much-higher-dimensional space. It is too early yet to decide whether this picture, originally defended by David Albert and Barry Loewer, is correct as a fundamental metaphysical description of the world. Most importantly, it remains to be seen what this picture will look like when extended to the relativistic domain. But it is clear that quantum theory forces us to substantially revise our fundamental picture of the world and this is an exciting option.

In my work, I also explore how to fit facts about the mind and consciousness into the picture presented to us by our best physical theories. I defend a staunch reductionism about mental phenomena, however argue that this leaves open a number of interesting metaphysical questions. In recent work, I use the metaphysical framework of grounding to formulate a conciliatory version of reductionism.

I am Associate Editor at The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science and Metaphysics Editor at Ergo. I am also a member of the Executive Committee for the Pacific Division of the American Philosophical Association.


News

Please visit the website of the Foundational Questions Institute (FQXi) to see my contribution to their essay competition on the topic "What is "Fundamental"?" This essay won second prize in this competition. There are many excellent essays there worth a read. 

I am currently on sabbatical pursuing my Masters in Physics at UC Davis. This leave is financially supported by an Academic Cross-Training fellowship from the John Templeton Foundation. 

I am currently at work on a few book projects. My book Finding the World in the Wave Function is now in final revisions and soon will be published by Oxford University Press. It develops and defends the wave function realist framework for interpreting quantum theories. The second, The Case for Physics, aims to articulate the sense in which our best physical theories are reasonably taken to be fundamental and how such a claim may be used to underwrite support for the funding of research in physics. Finally, I have started work on a second edition of Metaphysics: An Introduction.

I am past-President of the Society for the Metaphysics of Science. Our Society holds an annual conference and also sponsors sessions at the Central and Pacific Division meetings of the American Philosophical Association. Information about our upcoming meeting in Toronto may be found on the Society's website.


Publications


Books

Articles


Upcoming Talks

  • Metaphysics of Science Workshop, Bristol, June 2019.
  • Foundational Questions Institute, Tuscany, July 2019.
The Wave Function
Metaphysics: An Introduction