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Research

You can find preprints online here at PhilPapers.

I am working on a project focused on causation and complexity, developing a metaphysical account of causation that encompasses both process-oriented and counterfactual-oriented accounts of causation. Elements of the project include papers in progress on event individuation and (re)description, counterfactual robustness and its implications for higher versus lower level causation, and use of mathematical techniques from thermodynamics to track causal relata; there is also a short piece arguing for a new species of necessity. If you are interested in this work, please contact me (to maintain anonymity for works under submission I prefer not to make these publicly available). 

Recent work includes:

§ (forthcoming) "A field guide to mechanisms: Parts I and II", Philosophy Compass.

§ (forthcoming) "Mental Causation" Springer Handbook for Neuroethics.

§ (forthcoming) "When to expect violations of causal faithfulness and why it matters" Philosophy of Science Supplement PSA 2012.

§ (2013) "The development of the 'specious present' and James' views on temporal experience" in Subjective time: the philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience of temporality, edited by Lloyd and Arstila, MIT Press.

§ (forthcoming) "Mental Causation" in Springer Handbook of Neuroethics, section-edited by Piccinini.

§ (2012) "The Representation of Time in Agency" in Blackwell Companion to the Philosophy of Time, edited by Bardon and Dyke.

§ (2012) "Mechanisms: what are they evidence for in evidence-based medicine?" Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice, special issue on philosophy of medicine.

§  (2011) “The Case for Regularity in Mechanistic Causal Explanation” Synthese Special Issue: Neuroscience and its Mechanisms, Online First access.

§  (2011) “Mechanisms, Laws, and Regularities” Philosophy of Science 78(2): 325-331.

§  with Rick Grush (2009) “A Brief History of Time Consciousness: Historical Precursors to James and Husserl,” Journal of the History of Philosophy, 47 (2): 277-307. (journal version not available online)


Some highlights:

The chapter "The Representation of Time in Agency" concerns the close interrelationships between time, representation, and agency, from an interdisciplinary perspective. The first part offers a broad overview of angles from which the issue in the title is often addressed. The second half of this paper, however, lays out the framework for a new project in philosophy, one that I am hoping gets some uptake. I point out shortcomings in Husserl's phenomenology of time consciousness with regards to the prospects for generalizing it to include agency, and note that these shortcomings are inherited by projects in neurophenomenology. I propose a parallel project that begins with Michael Thompson's naive action theory instead of Husserl's account, and proceeds from there to developing a neuroscientific explanation.

The "Mental Causation" is not merely an overview of the state of discussion on this topic, although it does offer a helpful way to categorize the wide multitude of responses to the causal exclusion problem in terms of their broad argumentative strategies. It also offers some arguments as to how we ought to be approaching the issue of mental causation from the perspective of causation in general, rather than as a sui generis kind of causal relation.

The field guide to mechanisms identifies five distinct senses of the term 'mechanism' that are used in contemporary discussion of mechanisms in philosophy of science and related fields (I don't address the use of this term in other historical periods, such as the early modern period). I highlight the key characteristics of each species of mechanism, where it is likely to be found, and offer some ways to distinguish each species of mechanism from other closely related ones. I diagnose a number of debates concerning mechanisms as involving distinct senses of mechanism.
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