- Kuhnian theory-choice and virtue convergence: facing the base rate fallacy, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Perhaps the strongest argument for scientific realism, the no-miracles-argument, has been said to commit the so-called base rate fallacy. The apparent elusiveness of the base rate of true theories has even been said to undermine the rationality of the entire realism debate. In this paper, I confront this challenge by arguing, on the basis of the Kuhnian picture of theory choice, that a theory is likely to be true if it possesses multiple theoretical virtues and is embraced by numerous scientists, even when the base rate converges to zero.
- A coherentist conception of ad hocness [preprint]
What does it mean for a hypothesis to be ad hoc? One prominent epistemic account of ad hocness has it that ad hoc hypotheses have no independent empirical support. Other, non-epistemic, accounts view ad hoc judgements as aesthetic judgements. Here I critically review both of these views and defend my own account, the Coherentist Conception of Ad hocness by working out its conceptual and descriptive attractions.
Papers under review / work in progress
- Armchair Physics and the Method of Cases (with Pierre Saint-Germier)
In this paper, we seek to strengthen the expertise defense against those philosophers who believe that experimental findings concerning folk judgements in thought experiments can cast doubt on the traditional method of cases. We argue that the analogy underlying the expertise defense is best drawn between judgements in thought experiments in philosophy and judgements in thought experiments in physics: they are relevantly similar. We base our improved expertise defense on an empirical study about judgements in thought experiments in physics.
- Explanatory liberalism via structural necessitation
Some philosophers have argued that scientific models can explain their targets despite distorting them representationally. Yet, departures from explanatory conservatism, viz. the view that demands that the explanantia of good explanations be (approximately) true, have only been half-hearted. In this paper, I argue that we should fully overcome explanatory conservatism in favour of explanatory liberalism according to which truth is inessential to a good explanation—at least when it comes to models. In my account, explanatory models are individuated by my notion of structural necessitation, which, I argue, allows us to avoid a slide to explanatory anarchism.
- The method of historical case studies: a phylogenetic approach (with Raphael Scholl)
The use of historical case studies in philosophical theorizing about science is inherently problematic: single cases are claimed to be representative of large parts of science. On the face of it, such inferences are entirely ungrounded. Nevertheless, it seems that similar inferences are not only possible, but even routine in many parts of the biological sciences: geneticists, for instance, successfully reason from very limited sets of organisms to indefinitely many. In this paper we explore whether the philosophical use of historical case studies could work analogously to the use of model organisms in biology.
Works in progress
- Probing the Expertise Defense