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THE ROLE OF HISTORICAL SCIENCE IN METHODOLOGICAL ACTUALISM
Philosophy of Science, Forthcoming
Much of the most reliable information about the nature of climate change comes from investigations into the deep past. However, most philosophical accounts of historical science imply that historical reconstructions exploit our knowledge of the world’s causal structure rather than contribute to it. I challenge these accounts by examining an important distinction in geology between uniformitarianism and actualism. I argue that actualism (the preferred methodology of geologists) often requires the use of historical reconstructions to determine whether processes that are presumed to be stable may drastically alter over large time periods. As a result, historical science helps uncover the causal structure of natural processes.
DETACHMENT ISSUES: A DILEMMA FOR BEALL'S CONTRADICTORY CHRISTOLOGY
Journal of Analytic Theology, Forthcoming
I argue that Jc Beall's "Contradictory Christology" faces a problematic dilemma: Beall must either allow detachment, which results in true heresies, or deny detachment, in which case many traditional theological inferences are impossible.
CREATIVITY IN CREATION
Runner-Up: Marc Sanders Prize in Philosophy of Religion
The world actualization model of creation depicts God’s creative choice as the selection of one complete state of affairs from many possibilities. While this model dominates current discussions of creation in philosophy of religion, I argue it implies God is a maker rather than a creator. I develop this distinction with the help of Margaret Boden’s work on intellectual creativity, and then explore various ways of relaxing the tension between the world actualization model and divine creativity. Finally, I sketch an account of divine creativity and show how it might reshape various debates in the philosophy of religion.
A VALUABLE APPROACH TO COMPLEXITY: INTEREST-DRIVEN MODEL CHOICE IN PALEOCLIMATOLOGY
Circulating, co-author Monica A. Morrison
This paper develops a novel way that values play a role in climate science through a discussion of paleo-reconstructions of the mass-extinction event at the Permian Triassic Boundary (PTB). The PTB extinction is of growing interest to current scientists because it is thought to be caused by a significant increase in CO2 levels which triggered a warming event. However, there is no “best” approach to modeling conditions at the PTB. Scientist must choose between complex models that represent numerous small-scale processes for a short period, or low-resolution, simplified models that reconstruct a few particular large-scale processes for longer periods. Which approach scientists choose is connected to information they deem most valuable for understanding a rapidly changing climate. Although these modeling choices are driven by subjective values, they ultimately contribute to the objectivity of climate science by generating a diversity approaches needed to understand complex phenomena such as climate change.
SENSE AND REFERENCE OF A BELIEVER
American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly, Winter 2018
Pierre Duhem’s philosophy of science was criticized by several of his contemporaries for being surreptitiously influenced by his Catholic faith. In his essay “Physics of a Believer,” Duhem defends himself against this appraisal. In this paper, I detail Duhem’s argument and reconstruct his view concerning the relationship between theoretical science and religious belief. Ultimately, Duhem claims that the propositions of physical theory cannot contradict the propositions of religious belief because they do not share a domain of reference. To clarify why Duhem holds this view, I present a case study: the discovery of entropy. By examining how the term “entropy” was introduced into thermo-dynamic theory, a story with which Duhem was intimately familiar, much of the apparent conflict in Duhem’s philosophy of science is resolved.
THE POSTURE OF FAITH
Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion, 2017
While faith is often described as a cognitive state, many philosophers argue that faith includes a noncognitive factor and is not merely a species of belief. In this paper, I develop a novel model of this affective component based on recent work in clinical psychology concerning the relationship between posture and approach motivation. I further argue that this model accurately represents many crucial features of faith: faith can motivate us to act against our desires, faith is both voluntary and passive, faith makes us vulnerable, faith is an activity, and faith can intensify belief.