Causation

My primary research focus to date has been on the philosophy of causation and its application. I have worked on counterfactual, contrastive, and interventionist theories of causation, and on issues of causal exclusion in science and in the philosophy of mind. I am also interested in how causation and causal explanation feature elsewhere in philosophy (especially in normative philosophy and epistemology) and beyond (in accident investigation, the assessment of safety systems, and the law). I am interested in how Humean's can capture the concept of emergence in the philosophy of science and philosophy of mind. 

Thesis: 

"Counterfactuals and Counterparts: Defending a Neo-Humean Theory of Causation"

In this thesis I take a novel stance on the modality of events, and show that this can solve a range of problems with counterfactual analyses of causation. I also argue that the methodology of testing metaphysical theories of causation, against the yard-stick of ordinary causal assertions, confuses two related but distinct projects: the analysis of causation, and the analysis of causal explanation. My findings have ramifications for theories in the philosophy of mind, of science, in epistemology, in the law, in ethical and political theories, and theories of human agency.



Published work: 

Forthcoming 
"The Non-Occurrence of Events"
(Philosophy and Phenomenological Research)

"Making a Difference and Making a Contribution"
(American Philosophical Quarterly)

“Transitivity and Proportion in Causation” 
(Synthese
Draft     Official

2017
"Causal Exclusion and the Limits of Proportion" 
(Philosophical Studies)  
Draft    Official

2016 
“Events and their Counterparts" 
(Philosophical Studies
Draft    Official 

2015 
"The Deviance in Deviant Causal Chains" 
(Thought: A Journal of Philosophy
Draft    Official 

In progress: 

“Liberty and Absence Causation”
          (with Ben Colburn and Dudley Knowles - under consideration) 
We argue, with Knowles, that negative conceptions of liberty face a problem with the inherent normativity of absence causal claims. The result is a dilemma: deny that absences can constrain freedom, or accept that there is a normative element in our assessment of liberty.

“On Humean Emergence” 
           (in preparation)
Can the neo-Humean countenance Strong Emergence? On some characterisations, I argue, yes, but on others, no. I argue that fitting with a neo-Humean metyaphysic is, in this case, a theoretical advantage.

Presentations:

(* for peer review) 

"Virtual and Augmented Reality in Science"
         *2017 Visualisation in Science Conference, Glasgow

"The Non-occurrence of Events"
2016 Hamburg Workshop on David Lewis 

"Causal Exclusion and the Limits of Proportionality"
*2016 Society for the Metaphysics of Science Conference, Geneva 

"Making a Difference and Making a Contribution"
2016 Emergence, exclusion and causation workshop, University of Glasgow
*2016 Joint Meeting of the North and South Philosophy Societies (Prize: Best Essay by Untenured Faculty) 

"Causal Talk and Causal Ontology"
2016 Workshop on Language and Ontology, Humbolt-Universität zu Berlin 

"Causation's Two Masters: Science and Sense"
* 2016 Science versus Common Sense? Conference, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam 

“Freedom and The Normativity of Omissions”
2015 Political Obligation, Liberty and the Law: A Conference in Memory of Dudley Knowles 

“Difference Making and Emergence” 
2015 Grounding and Emergence Conference 

“Exclusion and Proportion” 
2015 Glasgow Senior Seminar 

“Transitivity and Deviance: When causes go bad!” 
2015 Glasgow Philosophy Society 

Reply to Heil "Emergence and Panpsychism"
2015 Glasgow Philosophy-Psychology Joint Seminar 

“Transitivity and Proportion in Causation” 
2014 Glasgow-Edinburgh Joint Seminar 

“Causal Contextualism and Event Modality” 
2013 University of Glasgow Postgraduate Seminar 

“Causation, Counterfactuals and Computer Science” 
2013 Computing Sciences Seminar (Glasgow) 

“Counterfactual Causation and the Pragmatics of Fragile Events” 
2013 University of Glasgow Philosophy Society
2013 University of Glasgow Postgraduate Seminar
2012 Australian National University Philosophy Society
2012 Macquarie University Workshop on Causation 

“Fragility and Contrast in Counterfactual Accounts of Causation” 
2012 Australasian Association of Philosophy Conference (Wollongong)
2012 Macquarie University Postgraduate Seminar 

“Worldbound Events”
2011 University of Glasgow Postgraduate Seminar 

“Trumping Trumped”
*2011 Northern Institute of Philosophy Graduate Conference 
2011 University of Glasgow Postgraduate Seminar 

“Pre-emption and Fragility”
2010 University of Glasgow Postgraduate Seminar 

“Teletransportation is Deadly Serious” 
2009 University of Glasgow Postgraduate Seminar 

“Persistent Tension: Tropes and Temporary Intrinsics”
2008 University of Glasgow Postgraduate Seminar