Published and In Press
If you would like a copy of one of these papers for research or educational purposes, please let me know as I have a large number of eprints for some articles that I am allowed to distribute free of charge and very few friends who consider an eprint of one of my articles to be an acceptable birthday present.
(1) Baron, S., Dougherty, T. & Miller, K. (in press) "Why is there female under-representation among philosophy majors? Evidence of a pre-university effect" Ergo. Preprint available here.
Why does female under-representation emerge during undergraduate education? At the University of Sydney, we surveyed students before and after their first philosophy course. We failed to find any evidence that this course disproportionately discouraged female students from continuing in philosophy relative to male students. Instead, we found evidence of an interaction effect between gender and existing attitudes about philosophy coming into tertiary education that appears at least partially responsible for this poor retention. At the first lecture, disproportionately few female students intended to major. Further, at the first lecture, female students were less interested in philosophy, were less self-confident about philosophy, and were less able to imagine themselves as philosophers. Similarly, female students predicted they would feel more uncomfortable in philosophy classes than male students did. Further study with a control is warranted to determine whether this interaction effect is peculiar to philosophy, or whether it is indicative of a more general gendered trend amongst first year undergraduate students.
(2) Dougherty, T., Baron, S. & Miller, K. (in press) "Why Do Female Students Leave Philosophy? The Story from Sydney" Hypatia. Preprint available here. Published version available here.
(3) Baron, S. (in press) "Back to the Unchanging Past" Pacific Philosophical Quarterly. Preprint available here.
(4) Baron, S. & Miller, K. (in press) "What is Temporal Error Theory?" in Philosophical Studies. Preprint available here. Published version available here.
Much current debate in the metaphysics of time is between A-theorists and B-theorists. Central to this debate is the assumption that time exists and that the task of metaphysics is to catalogue time’s features. Relatively little consideration has been given to an error theory about time. Since there is very little extant work on temporal error theory the goal of this paper is simply to lay the groundwork to allow future discussion of the relative merits of such a view. The paper thus develops a conceptual framework from within which to evaluate claims about the actual existence, or not, of temporality as that notion appears in folk discourses about time, and from there to examine claims about the counterfactual existence, or not, of temporality so conceived. We subsequently apply this framework to three extant positions drawn from physics and metaphysics that deny the existence of time. We show that only one of these positions is a folk temporal error theory; that is, a view that denies the existence of time as that notion is operative in our everyday thought and talk.
(5) Baron, S. (in press) "Tensed Truthmaker Theory" in Erkenntnis. Preprint available here. Published version available here.
(6) Baron, S. (in press) ''Et Tu, Brute?'' in The Palgrave Handbook of Philosophical Methods, Chris Daly (ed.). Preprint available here.
Here’s a thing you can do in metaphysics when you’re in a bind: invoke a primitive. You might, for instance, invoke new primitives to get your theory out of strife, or you might take some feature of a theory as primitive to avoid giving an analysis, perhaps because no such analysis has thus far succeeded. Clearly, there are circumstances in which the invocation of primitives is a legitimate move to make. Everyone is allowed to invoke some primitives in the context of theory building, and everyone is, within reason, entitled to spread their primitivity where they like. Sometimes, however, the appeal to primitives goes wrong. It is a cheat. I provide a basis for this charge of cheating; arguing that the use of primitives can violate the methodological norms that guide metaphysics as a going concern.
(7) Baron, S. (in press) "A Bump on the Road to Presentism" in American Philosophical Quarterly. Preprint here.
(8) Baron, S. (in press) "The Explanatory Dispensability of Idealizations" in Synthese. Preprint available here. Online first here.
(9) Baron, S. & Miller, K. (in press) "Causation in a Timeless World" in Synthese. Preprint available here. Online first here.
(10) Baron, S. & Miller, K. (in press) "Causation sans Time" in American Philosophical Quarterly. Preprint available here. Published version available here.
Is time necessary for causation? We argue that, given a counterfactual theory of causation, it is not. We defend this claim by considering cases of counterfactual dependence in quantum mechanics. These cases involve laws of nature that govern entanglement. These laws make possible the evaluation of causal counterfactuals between space-like separated entangled particles. There is, for the proponent of a counterfactual theory of causation, a possible world in which causation but not time exists that can be reached by ‘stripping out’ time from the actual world, leaving (some) quantum mechanical laws intact.
(11) Baron, S. (in press) "The Priority of the Now" in Pacific Philosophical Quarterly. Preprint available here. Online first here.
(12) Asay, J. & Baron, S. (in press) "The Hard Road to Presentism" in Pacific Philosophical Quarterly.Preprtint available here. Published version available here.
(13) Baron, S. (in press) "Optimisation and Mathematical Explanation: Doing the Levy Walk" in Synthese. Available here.
The indispensability argument seeks to establish the existence of mathematical objects. The success of the indispensability argument turns on finding cases of genuine extra-mathematical explanation (the explanation of physical facts by mathematical facts). In this paper, I identify a new case of extra-mathematical explanation, involving the search patterns of fully-aquatic marine predators. I go on to use this case to predict the prevalence of extra-mathematical explanation in science.
(14) Baron, S. (in press) "Can Indispensability-Driven Platonists be (Serious) Presentists?" in Theoria 80(2): 153–173. Preprint here. Available here.
(15) Baron, S., Miller K. & Norton, J. (2014) "Groundless Truth" in Inquiry 57(2): 175–195. Available here.
(16) Baron, S. & Van Dyke, C. (2014) Animal Interrupted, or why accepting Pascal's Wager Might be the Last Thing you Ever Do. Southern Journal of Philosophy 52: 109–133. Available here.
(17) Baron, S. & Miller, K. (2013) “Characterising Eternalism” in New Papers on the Present, Torrengo, G., Miller, K. & Ciuini, R. (eds.), Philosophia Verlag.
(18) Baron, S. (2013) "Tensed Supervenience: a No-Go for Presentism" in Southern Journal of Philosophy 51(3): 383–401. Penultimate version available here. Available here.
This paper takes aim at recent attempts to solve the truthmaker objection to presentism, whereby claims about the past supervene for their truth on how things were. I argue that tensed supervenience views of this kind are implausible because such views require cross-time relations, which are anathema to presentism.
(19) Baron, S. (2013) “A Truthmaker Indispensability Argument” in Synthese 190(12), 2413–2427. Available here.
I argue that one cannot avoid the indispensability argument by simply ejecting Quine's criterion of ontological commitment, because there is another criterion that will do the job: an Armstrongian truthmaker criterion of ontological commitment.
(20) Asay, J. & Baron, S. (2013) "Unstable Truthmaking" in Thought, 1(3), 230–238. Available here.
Recent discussion of the problem of negative existentials for truthmaker theory suggests a modest solution to the problem: fully general negative truths like <there are no unicorns> do not require truthmakers, whereas partially general negative truths like <there are no unicorns in the Sydney Opera House> do. We argue that this modest, middle-ground position is inconsistent with certain plausible general principles for truthmaking. Along the way, we explore some previously unaddressed questions for non-maximalist truthmaker theory.
(21) Baron, S. (2013) "Talking About the Past" in Erkenntnis, 78(3), 547–560. Available here.
I consider the aboutness objection against standard truth-preserving presentism (STP). According to STP: (i) past-directed propositions (propositions that seem to be about the past) like <Caesar crossed the Rubicon>, are sometimes true (ii) truth supervenes on being and (iii) the truth of past-directed propositions does not supervene on how things were, in the past. According to the aboutness objection (iii) is implausible, given (i) and (ii): for any proposition, P, P ought to be true in virtue of what P is about, and so it is upon the past that the truth of past-directed propositions ought to supervene. Although an objection along these lines has been offered previously, I press the objection in two ways. First, by providing needed support for the view that propositions ought to be true in virtue of what they are about and, second, by arguing that the two responses available to the proponent of STP fail to be compelling.
(22) Baron, S. (2013) “Presentism, Truth and Supervenience” in Ratio, 26(1), 3–18. Available here.
In "Presentism, Truth and Supervenience" I attempt to show that a certain class of responses to the truthmaker objection to presentism (namely those that use something other than past things as the truthmakers for claims about the past) fail by their own lights
(23) Baron, S., Coltheart, R., Majeed, R. & Miller K. (2013) "What is a Negative Property?" in Philosophy 88(1), pp. 55–79. Available here.
The debate about negative properties is underway. However, comparatively little attention has been paid to the difference between negative and positive properties. We attempt to make sense of the distinction between negative and positive properties in terms of causation by omission and argue that negative properties are metaphysically contentious posits.
(24) Baron, S. (2012) “Presentism and Causation Revisited” in Philosophical Papers 41(1), pp. 1–21 Available here.
(25) Baron, S., Evans, P. & Miller, K. (2010) “From Timeless Physical Theory to Timelessness” in Humana Mente 13, pp. 32–60. Available here.
I currently have a couple of papers that are pretty close to done. Abstracts are below. Drafts also.
(1) Time Enough for Explanation w/ Mark Colyvan
The present paper advances an analogy between cases of extra-mathematical explanation (mathematical explanations of physical facts) and cases of what might be termed `extra-logical explanation': the explanation of a physical fact by a logical fact. A particular case of extra-logical explanation is identified that arises in the philosophical literature on time travel. This instance of extra-logical explanation is subsequently shown to be of a piece with cases of extra-mathematical explanation. Using this analogy, we argue extra-mathematical explanation is part of a broader class of non-causal explanation. This has important implications for extra-mathematical explanation, for time travel and for theories of explanation more generally. Draft available here.
(2) Metaphysics as Fairness.
What are the rules of the metaphysical game? And how are the rules, whatever they are, to be justified? Above all, the rules should be fair. They should be rules that we metaphysicians would all accept, and thus should be justifiable to all rational persons engaged in metaphysical inquiry. Borrowing from Rawls’s conception of justice as fairness, I develop a model for determining and justifying the rules of metaphysics as a going concern. Draft available here.