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About me
I am an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Western Australia and (until 2015) a Postdoctoral Fellow in Philosophy at the University of Sydney. My research focus is the metaphysics of time. However, I am also interested in the philosophy of mathematics (particularly the indispensability argument) and the philosophy of science (focusing on timeless theories of quantum gravity).
My works
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  1. Sam Baron (forthcoming). The Explanatory Dispensability of Idealizations. Synthese:1-22.
    Enhanced indispensability arguments seek to establish realism about mathematics based on the explanatory role that mathematics plays in science. Idealizations pose a problem for such arguments. Idealizations, in a similar way to mathematics, boost the explanatory credentials of our best scientific theories. And yet, idealizations are not the sorts of things that are supposed to attract a realist attitude. I argue that the explanatory symmetry between idealizations and mathematics can potentially be broken as follows: although idealizations contribute to the explanatory (...)
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  2. Sam Baron & Kristie Miller (forthcoming). Causation Sans Time. American Philosophical Quarterly.
    Is time necessary for causation? We argue that, given a counterfactual theory of causation, it is not. We defend this claim by considering cases of counterfactual dependence in quantum mechanics. These cases involve laws of nature that govern entanglement. These laws make possible the evaluation of causal counterfactuals between space-like separated entangled particles. There is, for the proponent of a counterfactual theory of causation, a possible world in which causation but not time exists that can be reached by ‘stripping out’ (...)
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  3. Christina Van Dyke & Sam Baron (forthcoming). Animal Interrupted, or Why Accepting Pascal’s Wager Might Be the Last Thing You Ever Do. Southern Journal of Philosophy.
    According to conventionalist accounts of personal identity, persons are constituted in part by practices and attitudes of certain sorts of care. In this paper, we concentrate on the most well-developed and defended version of conventionalism currently on offer (namely, that proposed by David Braddon-Mitchell, Caroline West, and Kristie Miller) and discuss how the conventionalist appears forced either 1) to accept arbitrariness concerning from which perspective to judge one’s survival or 2) to maintain egalitarianism at the cost of making ‘transfiguring’ decisions (...)
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  4. Jamin Asay & Sam Baron (2014). The Hard Road to Presentism. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 95 (1).
    It is a common criticism of presentism – the view according to which only the present exists – that it errs against truthmaker theory. Recent attempts to resolve the truthmaker objection against presentism proceed by restricting truthmaker maximalism (the view that all truths have truthmakers), maintaining that propositions concerning the past are not made true by anything, but are true nonetheless. Support for this view is typically garnered from the case for negative existential propositions, which some philosophers contend are exceptions (...)
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  5. Sam Baron (2014). Mark Colyvan , An Introduction to the Philosophy of Mathematics . Reviewed By. Philosophy in Review 34 (1-2):72-74.
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  6. Sam Baron (2014). The Priority of the Now. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly:0-0.
    This paper motivates and develops a new theory of time: priority presentism. Priority presentism is the view according to which (i) only present entities exist fundamentally and (ii) past and future entities exist, but they are grounded in the present. The articulation of priority presentism is an exercise in applied grounding: it draws on concepts from the recent literature on ontological dependence and applies those concepts in a new way, to the philosophy of time. The result, as I will argue, (...)
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  7. Sam Baron & Christina Dyke (2014). Animal Interrupted, or Why Accepting Pascal's Wager Might Be the Last Thing You Ever Do. Southern Journal of Philosophy 52 (S1):109-133.
    According to conventionalist accounts of personal identity, persons are constituted in part by practices and attitudes of certain sorts of care. In this paper, we concentrate on the most well-developed and defended version of conventionalism currently on offer (namely, that proposed by David Braddon-Mitchell, Caroline West, and Kristie Miller) and discuss how the conventionalist appears forced either (1) to accept arbitrariness concerning from which perspective to judge one's survival or (2) to maintain egalitarianism at the cost of making “transfiguring” decisions (...)
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  8. Sam Baron & Kristie Miller (2014). Causation in a Timeless World. Synthese 191 (12):2867-2886.
    This paper offers a new way to evaluate counterfactual conditionals on the supposition that actually, there is no time. We then parlay this method of evaluation into a way of evaluating causal claims. Our primary aim is to preserve, at a minimum, the assertibility of certain counterfactual and causal claims once time has been excised from reality. This is an important first step in a more general reconstruction project that has two important components. First, recovering our ordinary language claims involving (...)
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  9. Sam Baron, Kristie Miller & James Norton (2014). Groundless Truth. Inquiry 57 (2):175-195.
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  10. Sam Baron (2013). A Truthmaker Indispensability Argument. Synthese 190 (12):2413-2427.
    Recently, nominalists have made a case against the Quine–Putnam indispensability argument for mathematical Platonism by taking issue with Quine’s criterion of ontological commitment. In this paper I propose and defend an indispensability argument founded on an alternative criterion of ontological commitment: that advocated by David Armstrong. By defending such an argument I place the burden back onto the nominalist to defend her favourite criterion of ontological commitment and, furthermore, show that criterion cannot be used to formulate a plausible form of (...)
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  11. Sam Baron (2013). Can Indispensability‐Driven Platonists Be (Serious) Presentists? Theoria 79 (3):153-173.
    In this article I consider what it would take to combine a certain kind of mathematical Platonism with serious presentism. I argue that a Platonist moved to accept the existence of mathematical objects on the basis of an indispensability argument faces a significant challenge if she wishes to accept presentism. This is because, on the one hand, the indispensability argument can be reformulated as a new argument for the existence of past entities and, on the other hand, if one accepts (...)
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  12. Sam Baron (2013). Chris Pincock , Mathematics and Scientific Representation . Reviewed By. Philosophy in Review 33 (1):63-66.
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  13. Sam Baron (2013). Mathematics and Scientific Representation, by Christopher Pincock. Mind 122 (488):1167-1171.
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  14. Sam Baron (2013). Optimisation and Mathematical Explanation: Doing the Lévy Walk. Synthese (3):1-21.
    The indispensability argument seeks to establish the existence of mathematical objects. The success of the indispensability argument turns on finding cases of genuine extra-mathematical explanation (the explanation of physical facts by mathematical facts). In this paper, I identify a new case of extra-mathematical explanation, involving the search patterns of fully-aquatic marine predators. I go on to use this case to predict the prevalence of extra-mathematical explanation in science.
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  15. Sam Baron (2013). Presentism, Truth and Supervenience. Ratio 26 (1):3-18.
    Truthmaker theory is commonly thought to pose a challenge for presentism. Presentism seems to lack the ontological and ideological resources required to adequately underwrite the truth of propositions concerning the past. That is because if presentism is true, then the past does not exist. According to the standard response to this challenge, the truth of propositions concerning the past supervenes on surrogate entities that ‘stand proxy’ for past things. I argue that in order for the standard response to the truthmaker (...)
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  16. Sam Baron (2013). Talking About the Past. Erkenntnis 78 (3):547-560.
    In this paper I consider the aboutness objection against standard truth-preserving presentism (STP). According to STP: (1) past-directed propositions (propositions that seem to be about the past) like , are sometimes true (2) truth supervenes on being and (3) the truth of past-directed propositions does not supervene on how things were, in the past. According to the aboutness objection (3) is implausible, given (1) and (2): for any proposition, P, P ought to be true in virtue of what P is (...)
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  17. Sam Baron (2013). Tensed Supervenience: A No‐Go for Presentism. Southern Journal of Philosophy 51 (3):383-401.
    Recent attempts to resolve the truthmaker objection to presentism employ a fundamentally tensed account of the relationship between truth and being. On this view, the truth of a proposition concerning the past supervenes on how things are, in the present, along with how things were, in the past. This tensed approach to truthmaking arises in response to pressure placed on presentists to abandon the standard response to the truthmaker objection, whereby one invokes presently existing entities as the supervenience base for (...)
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  18. Sam Baron, Richard Coltheart, Raamy Majeed & Kristie Miller (2013). What is a Negative Property? Philosophy 88 (01):33-54.
    This paper seeks to differentiate negative properties from positive properties, with the aim of providing the groundwork for further discussion about whether there is anything that corresponds to either of these notions. We differentiate negative and positive properties in terms of their functional role, before drawing out the metaphysical implications of proceeding in this fashion. We show that if the difference between negative and positive properties tabled here is correct, then negative properties are metaphysically contentious entities, entities that many philosophers (...)
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  19. Sam Baron, Richard Copley-Coltheart, Raamy Majeed & Kristie Miller (2013). What is a Negative Property? Philosophy 88 (1):33-54.
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  20. Jamin Asay & Sam Baron (2012). Unstable Truthmaking. Thought 1 (3):230-238.
    Recent discussion of the problem of negative existentials for truthmaker theory suggests a modest solution to the problem: fully general negative truths like do not require truthmakers, whereas partially general negative truths like do. This modest solution provides a third alternative to the two standard solutions to the problem of negative existentials: the endorsement of truthmaker gaps, and the appeal to contentious ontological posits. We argue that this modest, middle-ground position is inconsistent with certain plausible general principles for truthmaking. The (...)
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  21. Sam Baron (2012). Presentism and Causation Revisited. Philosophical Papers 41 (1):1-21.
    One of the major difficulties facing presentism is the problem of causation. In this paper, I propose a new solution to that problem, one that is compatible with intrinsic, fundamental causal relations. Accommodating relations of this kind is important because (i) according to David Lewis (2004), such relations are needed to account for causation in our world and worlds relevantly similar to our own, (ii) there is no other strategy currently available that successfully reconciles presentism with relations of this kind (...)
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  22. Sam Baron (2011). Hard Truths by Elijah Milligrim. [REVIEW] Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89 (1):187-188.
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  23. Sam Baron, Peter Evans & Kristie Miller (2010). From Timeless Physical Theory to Timelessness. Humana.Mente 13:35-59.
    This paper addresses the extent to which both Julian Barbour‘s Machian formulation of general relativity and his interpretation of canonical quantum gravity can be called timeless. We differentiate two types of timelessness in Barbour‘s (1994a, 1994b and 1999c). We argue that Barbour‘s metaphysical contention that ours is a timeless world is crucially lacking an account of the essential features of time—an account of what features our world would need to have if it were to count as being one in which (...)
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