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Profile: Alexander James Bird (Bristol University)
  1. Alexander Bird, Concepts and Definitions of Consciousness.
    in Encyclopedia of Consciousness, ed. William P. Banks, Amsterdam: Elsevier, forthcoming in 2009.
     
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  2. Alexander Bird, Are Natural Kinds Reducible?
    We talk as if there are natural kinds and in particular we quantify over them. We can count the number of elements discovered by Sir Humphrey Davy, or the number of kinds of particle in the standard model. Consequently, it looks at first sight at least, that natural kinds are entities of a sort. In the light of this we may ask certain questions: is the apparent existence of natural kinds real or an illusion? And if real, what sort of (...)
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  3. Alexander Bird, Book Reviews. [REVIEW]
    This book is part of the Fundamentals in Philosophy series, edited by John Shand, offering introductions to core areas of philosophy which are “not mere bland expositions, and as such are original pieces of philosophy in their own right”. Alexander Bird’s book meets this remit admirably. In my review I shall concentrate on the philosophical argument of the work and set aside its merits as a student text though they compare well with rivals currently on offer.
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  4. Alexander Bird, (For Routledge Companion to Epistemology).
    In this article I take a loose, functional approach to defining induction: Inductive forms of reasoning include those prima facie reasonable inference patterns that one finds in science and elsewhere that are not clearly deductive. Inductive inference is often taken to be reasoning from the observed to the unobserved. But that is incorrect, since the premises of inductive inferences may themselves be the results of prior inductions. A broader conception of inductive inference regards any ampliative inference as inductive, where an (...)
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  5. Alexander Bird, Kuhn and Philosophy of Science in the Twentieth Century.
    Thomas Kuhn was undoubtedly the strongest influence on the philosophy of science in the last third of the twentieth century. Yet today, at the beginning of the twenty-first century it is unclear what his legacy really is. In the philosophy of science there is no characteristically Kuhnian school. This could be because we are all Kuhnians now. But it might also be because Kuhn’s thought, although revolutionary in its time, has since been superseded. In a sense both may be true. (...)
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  6. Alexander Bird & Johannes Persson (forthcoming). Synthese Vol 149 No. 3 Metaphysics in Science. Synthese.
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  7. Alexander Bird (2014). Laws and Lawmakers: Science, Metaphysics, and the Laws of Nature. Philosophical Review 123 (1):116-118.
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  8. Alexander Bird (2013). Fred Gifford (Ed.): Philosophy of Medicine. [REVIEW] Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 34 (1):53-57.
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  9. Alexander Bird (2012). 10 Kuhn, Naturalism, and the Social Study of Science. In Vasō Kintē & Theodore Arabatzis (eds.), Kuhn's the Structure of Scientific Revolutions Revisited. Routledge. 205.
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  10. Alexander Bird (2012). La filosofía de la historia de la ciencia de Thomas Kuhn. Discusiones Filosóficas 13 (21):167 - 185.
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  11. Alexander Bird (2012). Monastic Dispositional Essentialism. In Alexander Bird, B. D. Ellis & Howard Sankey (eds.), Properties, Powers, and Structures: Issues in the Metaphysics of Realism. Routledge. 35--41.
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  12. Alexander Bird (2012). Referring to Natural Kind Thingamajigs, and What They Are: A Reply to Needham. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 26 (1):103 - 109.
    Natural kind terms appear to behave like singular terms. If they were genuine singular terms, appearing in true sentences, that would be some reason to believe that there are entities to which the terms refer, the natural kinds. Paul Needham has attacked my arguments that natural kind terms are singular, referring expressions. While conceding the correctness of some of his criticisms, I defend and expand on the underlying view in this paper. I also briefly sketch an account of what natural (...)
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  13. Alexander Bird (2012). The Philosophy of History of Science of Thomas Kuhn. Discusiones Filosóficas 13 (21):167 - 185.
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  14. Alexander Bird (2012). What Can Cognitive Science Tell Us About Scientific Revolutions? Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 27 (3):293-321.
    Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions is notable for the readiness with which it drew on the results of cognitive psychology. These naturalistic elements were not well received and Kuhn did not subsequently develop them in his published work. Nonetheless, in a philosophical climate more receptive to naturalism, we are able to give a more positive evaluation of Kuhn’s proposals. Recently, philosophers such as Nersessian, Nickles, Andersen, Barker, and Chen have used the results of work on case-based reasoning, analogical thinking, dynamic (...)
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  15. Alexander Bird, B. D. Ellis & Howard Sankey (eds.) (2012). Properties, Powers, and Structures: Issues in the Metaphysics of Realism. Routledge.
    While the phrase "metaphysics of science" has been used from time to time, it has only recently begun to denote a specific research area where metaphysics meets philosophy of science—and the sciences themselves. The essays in this volume demonstrate that metaphysics of science is an innovative field of research in its own right. The principal areas covered are: (1) The modal metaphysics of properties: What is the essential nature of natural properties? Are all properties essentially categorical? Are they all essentially (...)
     
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  16. Alexander Bird & James Ladyman (eds.) (2012). Arguing About Science. Routledge.
    Arguing About Science is an outstanding, engaging introduction to the essential topics in philosophy of science, edited by two leading experts in the field. This exciting and innovative anthology contains a selection of classic and contemporary readings that examine a broad range of issues, from classic problems such as scientific reasoning; causation; and scientific realism, to more recent topics such as science and race; forensic science; and the scientific status of medicine. The editors bring together some of the most influential (...)
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  17. Mark Newman, Raffaella Campaner, Maria Carla Galavotti, Open Biomedical Ontologies, Sabina Leonelli, Nathalie Gontier, Natural Kind Thingamajigs, Paul Needham & Alexander Bird (2012). International Studies in the Philosophy of Science. Philosophy of Science 26 (1).
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  18. Alexander Bird (2011). Lange and Laws, Kinds, and Counterfactuals. In Joseph Keim Campbell, Michael O'Rourke & Matthew H. Slater (eds.), Carving Nature at its Joints. MIT Press.
    In this paper I examine and question Marc Lange’s account of laws, and his claim that the law delineating the range of natural kinds of fundamental particle has a lesser grade of necessity that the laws connecting the fundamental properties of those kinds with their derived properties.
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  19. Katherine Hawley & Alexander Bird (2011). What Are Natural Kinds?1. Philosophical Perspectives 25 (1):205-221.
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  20. Alexander Bird (2010). Causation and the Manifestation of Powers. In Anna Marmodoro (ed.), The Metaphysics of Powers: Their Grounding and Their Manifestations. Routledge.
    It is widely agreed that many causal relations can be regarded as dependent upon causal relations that are in some way more basic. For example, knocking down the first domino in a row of one hundred dominoes will be the cause of the hundredth domino falling. But this causal relation exists in virtue of the knocking of the first domino causing the falling of the second domino, and so forth. In such a case, A causes B in virtue of there (...)
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  21. Alexander Bird (2010). Discovering the Essences of Natural Kinds. In Helen Beebee & Nigel Sabbarton-Leary (eds.), The Semantics and Metaphysics of Natural Kinds. Routledge.
     
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  22. Alexander Bird (2010). Eliminative Abduction: Examples From Medicine. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 41 (4):345-352.
    Peter Lipton argues that inference to the best explanation involves the selection of a hypothesis on the basis of its loveliness. I argue that in optimal cases, a form of eliminative induction takes place, which I call ‘Holmesian inference’. I illustrate Holmesian inference by reference to examples from the history of medicine.
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  23. Alexander Bird (2010). Social Knowing: The Social Sense of 'Scientific Knowledge'. Philosophical Perspectives 24 (1):23-56.
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  24. Alexander Bird (2010). The Epistemology of Science—a Bird's-Eye View. Synthese 175 (1):5 - 16.
    In this paper I outline my conception of the epistemology of science, by reference to my published papers, showing how the ideas presented there fit together. In particular I discuss the aim of science, scientific progress, the nature of scientific evidence, the failings of empiricism, inference to the best (or only) explanation, and Kuhnian psychology of discovery. Throughout, I emphasize the significance of the concept of scientific knowledge.
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  25. Lucy Allais, Louise Antony, Elizabeth Barnes, John Bigelow, Alexander Bird, Ross P. Cameron, John Campbell & Roberto Casati (2009). Notes on The. In Robin Le Poidevin (ed.), The Routledge Companion to Metaphysics. Routledge.
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  26. Alexander Bird (2009). … And Then Again, He Might Not Be. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 87 (3):517-521.
    In reply to Michael Bertrand, I clarify my view that the problem of physical evil is not an a priori problem but an a posteriori one.
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  27. Alexander Bird (2009). Essences and Natural Kinds. In Robin Le Poidevin (ed.), The Routledge Companion to Metaphysics. Routledge. 497--506.
    Essentialism as applied to individuals is the claim that for at least some individuals there are properties that those individuals possess essentially. What it is to possess a property essentially is a matter of debate. To possess a property essentially is often taken to be akin to possessing a property necessarily, but stronger, although this is not a feature of Aristotle’s essentialism, according to which essential properties are those thing could not lose without ceasing to exist. Kit Fine (1994) takes (...)
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  28. Alexander Bird (2009). Inductive Knowledge. In D. Pritchard (ed.), Routledge Companion to Epistemology. Routledge.
    The first obstacle that confronts the student of induction is that of defining the subject matter. One initial point is to note that much of the relevant subject matter goes under the description ‘the theory of confirmation’. The distinction is primarily that the study of induction concerns inference, i.e. cases where one takes the conclusion to be established by the evidence, whereas confirmation concerns the weight of evidence, which one may take to be something like the credibility of a hypothesis (...)
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  29. Alexander Bird (2009). Kripke. In Christopher Belshaw & Gary Kemp (eds.), 12 Modern Philosophers. Wiley-Blackwell. 153--72.
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  30. Alexander Bird (2009). Structural Properties Revisited. In Toby Handfield (ed.), Dispositions and Causes. Clarendon Press. 215--41.
    Those who hold that all fundamental sparse properties have dispositional essences face a problem with structural (e.g. geometrical) properties. In this paper I consider a further route for the dispositional monist that is enabled by the requirement that physical theories should be background-free. If this requirement is respected then we can see how spatial displacement can be a causally active relation and hence may be understood dispositionally.
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  31. Emma Tobin & Alexander Bird, Natural Kinds. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  32. Alexander Bird (2008). Causal Exclusion and Evolved Emergent Properties. In Ruth Groff (ed.), Revitalizing Causality: Realism About Causality in Philosophy and Social Science. Routledge. 163--78.
    Emergent properties are intended to be genuine, natural higher level causally efficacious properties irreducible to physical ones. At the same time they are somehow dependent on or 'emergent from' complexes of physical properties, so that the doctrine of emergent properties is not supposed to be returned to dualism. The doctrine faces two challenges: (i) to explain precisely how it is that such properties emerge - what is emergence; (ii) to explain how they sidestep the exclusion problem - how it is (...)
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  33. Alexander Bird (2008). Lowe on a Posteriori Essentialism. Analysis 68 (4):336 - 344.
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  34. Alexander Bird (2008). Review of Alexander Bird, Nature's Metaphysics: Laws and Properties. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2008 (6).
    This is a rewarding book. In terms of area, it has one foot firmly planted in metaphysics and the other just as firmly set in the philosophy of science. Nature's Metaphysics is distinctive for its thorough and detailed defense of fundamental, natural properties as essentially dispositional and for its description of how these dispositional properties are thus suited to sustain the laws of nature as (metaphysically) necessary truths.
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  35. Alexander Bird (2008). Remarks on Our Knowledge of Modal Facts. Norsk Filosofisk Tidsskrift 43:54--60.
    Can we have a posteriori knowledge of modal facts? And if so, is that knowledge fundamentally a posteriori, or does a priori intuition provide the modal component of what is known? Though the latter view seems more straightforward, there are also reasons for taking the first option seriously.
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  36. Alexander Bird (2008). Review of Stephen Mumford, David Armstrong. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2008 (5).
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  37. Alexander Bird (2008). Scientific Progress as Accumulation of Knowledge: A Reply to Rowbottom. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 39 (2):279-281.
    I defend my view that scientific progress is constituted by the accumulation of knowledge against a challenge from Rowbottom in favour of the semantic view that it is only truth that is relevant to progress.
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  38. Alexander Bird (2008). The Epistemological Argument Against Lewis's Regularity View of Laws. Philosophical Studies 138 (1):73–89.
    I argue for the claim that if Lewis’s regularity theory of laws were true, we could not know any positive law statement to be true. Premise 1: According to that theory, for any law statement true of the actual world, there is always a nearby world where the law statement is false (a world that differs with respect to one matter of particular fact). Premise 2: One cannot know a proposition to be true if it is false in a nearby (...)
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  39. Alexander Bird (2008). The Historical Turn in the Philosophy of Science. In Stathis Psillos & Martin Curd (eds.), Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of Science. Routledge. 67--77.
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  40. Alexander Bird, Thomas Kuhn. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is one of the most cited academic books of all time. His contribution to the philosophy science marked not only a break with several key positivist doctrines but also inaugurated a new style of philosophy of science that brought it much closer to the history of science. His account of the development of science held that science enjoys periods of stable growth punctuated by revisionary revolutions, to which he added the controversial ‘incommensurability thesis’, that theories (...)
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  41. Alexander Bird & Emma Tobin (2008). Natural Kinds. In Edward N. Zalta (ed.), Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  42. Toby Handfield & Alexander Bird (2008). Dispositions, Rules, and Finks. Philosophical Studies 140 (2):285 - 298.
    This paper discusses the prospects of a dispositional solution to the Kripke–Wittgenstein rule-following puzzle. Recent attempts to employ dispositional approaches to this puzzle have appealed to the ideas of finks and antidotes—interfering dispositions and conditions—to explain why the rule-following disposition is not always manifested. We argue that this approach fails: agents cannot be supposed to have straightforward dispositions to follow a rule which are in some fashion masked by other, contrary dispositions of the agent, because in all cases, at least (...)
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  43. Alexander Bird (2007). A Posteriori Knowledge of Natural Kind Essences. Philosophical Topics 35 (1-2):293-312.
    I defend this claim that some natural essences can be known (only) a pos- teriori against two philosophers who accept essentialism but who hold that essences are known a priori: Joseph LaPorte, who argues from the use of kind terms in science, and E. J. Lowe, who argues from general metaphysical and epistemological principles.
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  44. Alexander Bird (2007). Incommensurability Naturalized. In L'ena Soler, Howard Sankey & Paul Hoyningen-Huene (eds.), Rethinking Scientific Change and Theory Comparison. Spinger. 21--39.
    In this paper I argue that we can understand incommensurability in a naturalistic, psychological manner. Cognitive habits can be acquired and so differ between individuals. Drawing on psychological work concerning analogical thinking and thinking with schemata, I argue that incommensurability arises between individuals with different cognitive habits and between groups with different shared cognitive habits.
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  45. Alexander Bird (2007). Inference to the Only Explanation. [REVIEW] Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 74 (2):424–432.
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research (forthcoming).
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  46. Alexander Bird (2007). Justified Judging. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 74 (1):81–110.
    When is a belief or judgment justified? One might be forgiven for thinking the search for single answer to this question to be hopeless. The concept of justification is required to fulfil several tasks: to evaluate beliefs epistemically, to fill in the gap between truth and knowledge, to describe the virtuous organization of one’s beliefs, to describe the relationship between evidence and theory (and thus relate to confirmation and probabilification). While some of these may be held to overlap, the prospects (...)
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  47. Alexander Bird (2007). Nature's Metaphysics: Laws and Properties. Oxford University Press.
    Professional philosophers and advanced students working in metaphysics and the philosophy of science will find this book both provocative and stimulating.
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  48. Alexander Bird (2007). Scientific and Theological Realism. In A. Moore & M. Scott (eds.), Realism and Religion. Ashgate. 61-81.
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