Research

I have a variety of interests in general philosophy of science, including explanation, discovery, and creativity. My current research consists primarily of two related projects.

The first project aims to answer questions about the role and value of creativity in both scientific and non-scientific contexts. I consider questions such as: Can algorithm-driven scientific enterprises be creative? Does creativity play an indispensable role in leading us to truth? Is the creative process involved in hypothesis-generation norm-governed? During the 2019-2020 academic year, this research was supported by an Alvin Plantinga Faculty Fellowship.

The second project is concerned with the scientific power of computer simulations. In particular, I am interested in the ways that simulations explain, confirm, and generate hypotheses. I argue that the uses to which scientists put computer simulations reveal novel explanatory virtues as well as norms of scientific practice in epistemically bleak contexts.


Publications:

"How to Explain How-Possibly" (forthcoming in Philosophers' Imprint)

Explaining how something is possible is a familiar and epistemically important achievement in both science and ordinary life. But a satisfactory general account of how-possibly explanation has not yet been given. A crucial desideratum for a successful account is that it must differentiate a demonstration that something is possible from an explanation of how it is possible. In this paper, I offer an account of how-possibly explanation that fully captures this distinction. I motivate my account using two cases, one from ordinary life and one from ornithology. On my account, a how-possibly explanation is a greater achievement than a mere description of how a state of affairs might possibly obtain. In addition to being a potential explanation of why some state of affairs actually obtains, a how-possibly explanation must involve the relief of an imaginative frustration on the part of its recipient. When a recipient’s imaginative frustration is relieved, she does not just know that the state of affairs in question is possible, but is also able to imagine how it could possibly obtain.


I currently have several papers under review, so I have removed their abstracts from this website. Please feel free to e-mail me for drafts.