- Publications -
"Properly Extensive Quantities" Proceedings of the Philosophy of Science Association 2014 Biennial Meeting. Forthcoming in Philosophy of Science Vol. 82, No. 5 December, 2015. (Abstract)
This paper introduces and motivates the notion of a “properly extensive” quantity by means of a puzzle about the reliability of certain canonical length measurements. An account of these measurements’ success, I argue, requires a modally robust connection between quantitative structure and mereology which is not mediated by the dynamics and is stronger than the constraints imposed by “mere additivity”.
I outline what it means to say that length is not just extensive but properly so, and then briefly sketch an application of proper extensiveness to the project of providing a reductive ground for metric quantitative structure.
"What the Humean Should Say About Entanglement" (with Harjit Bhogal) in Noûs (2017) (Abstract)
Tim Maudlin has influentially argued that Humeanism about laws of nature stands in conflict with quantum mechanics. Specifically Humeanism implies the principle Separability: the complete physical state of a world is determined by the intrinsic physical state of each space-time point. Maudlin argues Separability is violated by the entangled states posited by QM.
We argue that Maudlin only establishes that a stronger principle, which we call Strong Separability, is in tension with QM. Separability is not in tension with QM. Moreover, while the Humean requires Separability to capture the core tenets of her view, there's no Humean-specific motivation for accepting Strong Separability.
We go on to give a Humean account of entangled states which satisfies Separability. The core idea is that certain quantum states depend upon the Humean mosaic in much the same way as the laws do. In fact, we offer a variant of the Best System account on which the systemization procedure that generates the laws also serves to ground these states.
We show how this account works by applying it to the example of Bohmian Mechanics. The 3N-dimensional configuration space, the world particle in it and the wave function on it are part of the best system of the Humean mosaic, which consists of N particles moving in 3-dimensional space. We argue that this account is superior to the Humean account of Bohmian Mechanics defended by Loewer and Albert, which takes the 3N-dimensional space, and its inhabitants, as fundamental.
"How to Be a Substantivalist Without Getting Shifty About It" in Philosophical Issues (Abstract)
According to substantivalism, spacetime points and regions are real entities whose existence is not dependent on matter. I motivate and defend a version of substantivalism which takes the totality of spacetime as fundamental, and show how this position avoids certain problem cases, and better conforms to how we think about space in physics.
The argument for the view stems from the failure of ordinary substantivalism to distinguish between Static Leibniz Shifted possibilities – i.e. world-descriptions which agree about the relative motions & spatial distances between material bodies, but differ in that these bodies are located elsewhere in space (e.g. shifted 3 meters in some direction).
I maintain that there are good reasons for the substantivalist to worry about static shifts, and that failing to distinguish between these shifts puts the view at risk of allowing for other, more aberrant, possibilities. However, these reasons are not, as some have argued, that the substantivalist is committed to problematic (actual) physical structure. Specifically, I reject the claims of Dasgupta (forthcoming) that static shifts commit us to in principle undetectable physical structure, the way Dynamic Leibniz Shifts – i.e. world-descriptions that agree about relative motion & the distances between material objects, but disagree about the absolute velocity of the universe – do for Newtonian absolute space.
Static shifts are objectionable because of what they indicate about the modal profile of spacetime and its inhabitants, not because there's something objectionable about the substantivalist's commitment to positions in spacetime. While the problem is modal, the solution cannot be solely a matter of revising the substantivalist's modal claims. Rather, the substantivalist must change the fundamental ontology of spacetime and its constituents in a way that gives rise to the right modal facts. Static shifts are analogous to dynamic shifts insofar as they both motivate a change in fundamental ontology (a move from Newtonian space and time to a spacetime theory), even though they do not force the substantivalist to do away with positions in spacetime (while dynamic shifts do force the Newtonian to eliminate the distinction between absolute rest and motion).
The second part of the talk articulates a substantivalist position whose fundamental ontology and grounding structure avoids static shifts. According to this view, which I call “Spacetime Globalism”, the unique fundamental spatiotemporal entity is the totality of spacetime. Points and regions are derivative entities on this view. Their existence is grounded in the existence and fundamental nature of the total spacetime. Spacetime has certain distributional properties (like “being a 4-D Euclidean space”) fundamentally, and it is in virtue of these fundamental properties that its parts (its sub-regions) exist and stand in the relations they do. The total spacetime, thus, plays a role analogous to the cosmos in Jonathan Schaffer's Priority Monism.
Spacetime globalism has significant advantages over other substantivalist responses to the static shifts, which rely on appeals to the essences of spacetime points, or abandon realism in favor of a structuralist or bundle theoretic account of spacetime.
- Papers -
"Additivity and Dynamics" (Draft available upon request)
"Mereology and Metricality" (Draft available upon request)
"Motivating a Dynamic Account of Quantity" (Draft available upon request)
- Works in Progress -
"The Choreography Problem for Dynamic Accounts of Quantity"
"There's Nothing in the Rulebook that Says a Dog Can't Play Basketball
or, Two Ways the Laws of Nature Might Govern"
"Constitutive Properties and Epistemic Accessibility: What Artworks Hide from Us"
"Are Interactive Artworks Repeatable?"