Metaphysics and Epistemology Group (Tuesday - Week 4, HT23)

epistemology reading group

Methodological naturalism is a plausible approach to the metaphysics of science: we should use the methods of science when giving accounts of what science says there is. Adopting naturalism, however, turns out to have surprising results. It suggests that agency a should play a role even when doing the metaphysics of relatively fundamental physics. Considerations of agency are required to answer certain explanatory demands placed on metaphysical theories, including explaining why we reason using the posits of fundamental physical theories and the role such entities play. On naturalistic grounds, answering such demands is as important as explaining how we come to have knowledge of or intuitions about such posits. While the focus of the talk will be on methodology, I’ll suggest how a functionalist approach has consequences for particular debates in the metaphysics of science: favouring attempts to explain the temporal orientation of relations such as causation in broadly statistical-mechanical terms and disfavouring Humean attempts to reduce modal relations to the non-modal.

Metaphysics and Epistemology Group Convenors: Nick Hughes, Nick Jones and Alex Kaiserman