Research


Here's my CV. Below are links to my publications and brief descriptions of selected works in progress. 










PUBLICATIONS
Natural properties, necessary connections, and the problem of induction (Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 2018) 
    The necessitarian solution to the problem of induction involves two claims: first, that necessary connections are justified by an inference to the best explanation; second, that the best theory of necessary connections entails the timeless uniformity of nature. In this paper, I defend the second claim. My arguments are based on considerations from the metaphysics of laws, properties, and fundamentality. 

Two types of quidditism (Australasian Journal of Philosophy 2016)
    I argue that some natural properties are categorical. I do so by distinguishing two ways in which categorical properties can be individuated, and arguing that one of them fares better than the other with respect to extant arguments in the field.

    No, and this is troubling because it suggests that bare dispositions cannot explain observed natural regularities.

Can primitive laws explain?  (Philosophers’ Imprint 2013)
    No, but laws analyzed as relations between universals can.

    I argue that Tooley’s attempt to analyze the necessary connection between governing laws and natural regularities fails.

Intuitions and analytic metaphysics (in Chapman et al, In Defense of Intuitions, Palgrave Macmillan 2013)
    I argue that the same intuitions required to justify beliefs in logic, mathematics, and the natural sciences can support a robust metaphysics when augmented by certain kinds of empirical observations.  


WORKS IN PROGRESS  (email me if you'd like a copy: hildebrand[you know what goes here]dal.ca) 

Race, social policy, and the problem of induction (coauthored with Barrett Emerick)
    We provide a theory of inductive reasoning, show how it functions in social contexts, and apply it to generate a new argument against racial profiling and related policies. Our theory illuminates some important connections between satisfying our epistemic obligations and making moral appraisals of public policies. 

Individuation and explanation: A problem for dispositionalism
    I argue that dispositionalism, the view that natural properties are individuated by their roles in causal/nomological structures, is unable to explain certain kinds of regularities because of the way in which dispositions are individuated. 

Platonic laws of nature
    David Armstrong accepted the following three theses: universals are immanent; laws are relations between universals; and laws explain regularities. I argue that these theses are jointly incompatible. 

Pragmatic rationalism
    Empiricists often make a pragmatic turn. I argue that rationalists can do the same, and I argue that pragmatist interpretations of rationalism have a number of advantages over pragmatist interpretations of empiricism. 

Best systems: Metaphysical or epistemological?
    I distinguish between different ways in which the notion of a best system can be relevant to laws of nature. Some interpretations of best systems are metaphysical, providing a theory of the metaphysical nature of laws; others are epistemological, providing a theory of how scientists should discover the content of laws. Some systematize all particular matters of fact; others systematize only a subset of particular matters of fact, such as those facts constituting our evidence. Neither distinction is entirely new, but together they can be put to good use. First, they help to clarify the epistemology of non-Humean theoretical entities. Second, they help to explain why non-Humean theories enjoy a nice fit with scientific practice. Third, they provide a diagnosis of why there is something of a stalemate between Humeans and non-Humeans..

Naturalness constraints on best systems accounts of laws
    I clarify David Lewis’s naturalness constraint on best systems accounts of laws and show how the clarification undercuts an important objection. 

In defense of the link between fundamental properties and fundamental governing laws
    In "Derivative Properties in Fundamental Laws" (BJPS 2017), Michael Townsen Hicks and Jonathan Schaffer argue that fundamental laws of nature can involve derived, non-fundamental properties. This appears to be incompatible with theories of governing laws like David Armstrong's, since Armstrong takes laws to be relations between universals but denies that there are derived universals (of the relevant sort). Thus, Hicks and Schaffer provide a new objection to governing laws based on scientific practice. In this paper, I distinguish between two different interpretations of fundamental laws and show how this distinction undermines their objection to governing laws. Along the way, I articulate an epistemology for governing laws that is grounded in scientific practice. 

A Dilemma for Divine Laws of Nature
    Some have proposed that God is the best explanation of regularities in nature. I propose a dilemma for this position.  (Presented at the SCP 40th Anniversary Conference.)





Photo: The Quiraing, Isle of Skye