Hello - I am a Senior Lecturer in philosophy at Birkbeck College, London, where I have been since 2011. Before that, I taught for six years at the University of Missouri-St Louis. I received my PhD from the London School of Economics, and during my last two years as a student I was a visitor at University of California-San Diego. Before switching to philosophy, I did graduate work in economics, receiving an MSc, and undergraduate work in mathematics and history.
Away from philosophy, I have among other things:
... won money at tournaments in pool, poker, and foosball/table football
... been, in my LSE days, captain of a University Challenge TV quiz team, reaching the grand final of the 1996/7 series
... kissed a mother grey whale in the wild on the lips (it was salty), at Laguna San Ignacio in Mexico
... in 2013 made my first ever hole-in-one in golf, and in 2014 broke 80 for the first and quite possibly the last time
My research is mainly in philosophy of science, and especially the ‘special sciences’ such as biology and economics. I have also written extensively on related themes in metaphysics, especially the notions of causation and causal explanation. These various strands connect when, for instance, analysing the use of statistical techniques to measure causation, the place of causal explanation in evolutionary theory, or the role played by formal theory in economics.
At the moment I am working on several papers that examine the notion of progress in science, particularly in light of the widespread use of highly idealized abstract models. What is the relation between the theoretical development of such models, and progress in terms of better predictions and explanations? Do such models really explain messy real-world phenomena? Is the devotion to them of so many intellectual resources and so much prestige defensible?
Separately from that, I am also continuing to investigate the nature of causation. In particular, I have been running some experiments with an eye to the light they shed on the relation between causal psychology and metaphysical theory, and in particular on how those two can best be combined.
In the past, I have received a National Science Foundation HPS Scholars award (worth $50,000), for the project 'Causation and evolution'. Before that, I received a University of Missouri Research Board award (worth $20,000), for the project 'Measuring causal strength in biology'. And I received an UMSL Research Award worth $7,000 for the project 'Causes in science and philosophy'. Over the years I have also been fortunate enough to receive numerous travel grants.