Why philosophy of science matters to science

Michela Massimi’s Wilkins-Bernal-Medawar Medal Lecture, Royal Society (2017). In an era where science is increasingly specialised, what is the value of interdisciplinary research? I argue that research across disciplinary boundaries plays a pivotal role in scientific inquiry, and it has a threefold value: it is exploratory; it is unifying; and it offers critical engagement. Philosophy […]

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Perspectival Modeling

The goal of this article is to address the problem of inconsistent models, and the challenge it poses for perspectivism. I analyse the argument, draw attention to some hidden premises behind it, and deflate them. Then I introduce the notion of perspectival models as a distinctive class of modeling practices, whose primary function is exploratory. […]

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A Perspectivalist Better Best System Account of Lawhood

On David Lewis’s influential view, modal facts supervene on the mosaic of non-modal facts about sparse natural properties. I defend a Lewisian account of laws that abandons this supervenience claim in order to avoid the objections of subjectivity and lack of necessity that bedeviled Lewis’s original view. On my view, it is not the Humean […]

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Three problems about multi-scale modelling in cosmology

The debate in cosmology concerning LambdaCDM and MOND depends crucially on their respective ability of modelling across scales, and dealing with some of the specific problems that arise along the way. The main upshot of this article is to present three main problems facing multi-scale modelling in contemporary cosmology. The LambdaCDM model, which is the […]

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Epistemic Justification and Methodological Luck in Inflationary Cosmology

I present a recent historical case from cosmology — the story of inflationary cosmology — and on its basis argue that solving explanatory problems is a reliable method for making progress in science. In particular, I claim that the success of inflationary theory at solving its predecessor’s explanatory problems justified the theory epistemically, even in […]

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Perspectivism

Among the many varieties of realism in contemporary philosophy of science, perspectivism – or better, perspectival realism – is one of the latest attempts at a middle ground in between scientific realism and antirealism.1 What kind of middle ground can perspectival realism possibly deliver which has not already been explored by structural realism, semi-realism, entity […]

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Simplified Models: a New Perspective on Models as Mediators

We introduce a novel point of view on the “models as mediators” frame- work in order to emphasize certain important epistemological questions about models in science which have so far been little investigated. To illustrate how this perspective can help answer these kinds of questions, we explore the use of simplified models in high energy […]

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Philosophy and the Chemical Revolution after Kant

This chapter addresses some key ideas of Schelling’s philosophy of nature with two main goals in mind. First, it clarifies how in Schelling’s hands, some key aspects of Kant’s philosophy of nature were transformed into a radically new philosophy of nature. Second, the chapter sheds light on some under appreciated aspects of Schelling’s philosophy of […]

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Laws of nature, natural properties, and the robustly best system

This paper addresses a famous objection against David Lewis’ Best System Analysis (BSA) of laws of nature. The objection—anticipated and discussed by Lewis (1994)—focuses on the standards of simplicity and strength being (in part) a matter of psychology. Lewis’ answer to the objection relies on his metaphysics of natural properties and its ability to single […]

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The implementation, interpretation and justification of likelihoods in cosmology

I discuss the formal implementation, interpretation, and justification of likelihood attributions in cosmology. I show that likelihood arguments in cosmology suffer from significant conceptual and formal problems that undermine their applicability in this context. Download Open Access PDF doi: 10.1016/j.shpsb.2017.05.002 Link to Edinburgh Research Explorer [research repository]: McCoy, C.D. (2017) The implementation, interpretation and justification of […]

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Three tales of scientific success

Success-to-truth inferences have been the realist stronghold for long time. Scientific success is the parameter by which realists claim to discern approximately true theories from false ones. But scientific success needs be probed a bit deeper. In this paper, I tell three tales of scientific success, by considering in turn success from nowhere, success from […]

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Bringing Real Realism back home: a perspectival slant

In this essay, I suggest bringing real realism closer home, namely back to its Kantian roots. The very same roots that make real realism a ‘homely’ kind of realism, against any Grand Metaphysical Conclusions about the world, its causal necessities, and natural kinds. I suggest reinterpreting a key aspect of real realism—i.e., the notion of […]

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Four Kinds of Perspectival Truth

In this paper, I assess recent claims in philosophy of science about scientific perspectivism being compatible with realism. I clarify the rationale for scientific perspectivism and the problems and challenges that perspectivism faces in delivering a form of realism. In particular, I concentrate my attention on truth, and on ways in which truth can be […]

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