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Alastair Wilson
University of Birmingham
  1. Metaphysical Causation.Alastair Wilson - 2018 - Noûs 52 (4):723-751.
    There is a systematic and suggestive analogy between grounding and causation. In my view, this analogy is no coincidence. Grounding and causation are alike because grounding is a type of causation: metaphysical causation. In this paper I defend the identification of grounding with metaphysical causation, drawing on the causation literature to explore systematic connections between grounding and metaphysical dependence counterfactuals, and I outline a non-reductive counterfactual theory of grounding along interventionist lines.
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  2.  3
    The Nature of Contingency: Quantum Physics as Modal Realism.Alastair Wilson - 2020 - Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
    This book defends a radical new theory of contingency as a physical phenomenon. Drawing on the many-worlds approach to quantum theory and cutting-edge metaphysics and philosophy of science, it argues that quantum theories are best understood as telling us about the space of genuine possibilities, rather than as telling us solely about actuality. When quantum physics is taken seriously in the way first proposed by Hugh Everett III, it provides the resources for a new systematic metaphysical framework encompassing possibility, necessity, (...)
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  3. Grounding Entails Counterpossible Non‐Triviality.Alastair Wilson - 2016 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 92 (3):716-728.
    This paper outlines a non-reductive counterfactual account of grounding along interventionist lines, and uses the account to argue that taking grounding seriously requires ascribing non-trivial truth-conditions to a range of counterpossible counterfactuals. This result allows for a diagnosis of a route to scepticism about grounding, as deriving at least in part from scepticism about non-trivial counterpossible truth and falsity.
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  4. Objective Probability in Everettian Quantum Mechanics.Alastair Wilson - 2013 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 64 (4):709-737.
    David Wallace has given a decision-theoretic argument for the Born Rule in the context of Everettian quantum mechanics. This approach promises to resolve some long-standing problems with probability in EQM, but it has faced plenty of resistance. One kind of objection charges that the requisite notion of decision-theoretic uncertainty is unavailable in the Everettian picture, so that the argument cannot gain any traction; another kind of objection grants the proof’s applicability and targets the premises. In this article I propose some (...)
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  5. Schaffer on Laws of Nature.Alastair Wilson - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 164 (3):653-667.
    In ‘Quiddistic Knowledge’ (Schaffer in Philos Stud 123:1–32, 2005), Jonathan Schaffer argued influentially against the view that the laws of nature are metaphysically necessary. In this reply I aim to show how a coherent and well-motivated form of necessitarianism can withstand his critique. Modal necessitarianism—the view that the actual laws are the laws of all possible worlds—can do justice to some intuitive motivations for necessitarianism, and it has the resources to respond to all of Schaffer’s objections. It also has certain (...)
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  6. Chance and Context.Toby Handfield & Alastair Wilson - 2014 - In Alastair Wilson (ed.), Chance and Temporal Asymmetry. Oxford University Press.
    The most familiar philosophical conception of objective chance renders determinism incompatible with non-trivial chances. This conception – associated in particular with the work of David Lewis – is not a good fit with our use of the word ‘chance’ and its cognates in ordinary discourse. In this paper we show how a generalized framework for chance can reconcile determinism with non-trivial chances, and provide for a more charitable interpretation of ordinary chance-talk. According to our proposal, variation in an admissible ‘evidence (...)
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  7.  31
    Chance and Temporal Asymmetry.Alastair Wilson (ed.) - 2014 - Oxford University Press.
    This volume presents twelve original essays on the metaphysics of science, with particular focus on the physics of chance and time. Experts in the field subject familiar approaches to searching critiques, and make bold new proposals in a number of key areas. Together, they set the agenda for future work on the subject.
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  8. Macroscopic Ontology in Everettian Quantum Mechanics.Alastair Wilson - 2011 - Philosophical Quarterly 61 (243):363-382.
    Simon Saunders and David Wallace have proposed an attractive semantics for interpreting linguistic communities embedded in an Everettian multiverse. It provides a charitable interpretation of our ordinary talk about the future, and allows us to retain a principle of bivalence for propositions and to retain the law of excluded middle in the logic of propositions about the future. But difficulties arise when it comes to providing an appropriate account of the metaphysics of macroscopic objects and events. I evaluate various metaphysical (...)
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  9.  66
    Super-Humeanism: Insufficiently Naturalistic and Insufficiently Explanatory: Michael Esfeld and Dirk-André Deckert: A Minimalist Ontology of the Natural World. New York: Routledge, 2017, 182pp, US$140.00 HB.Alastair Wilson - 2018 - Metascience 27 (3):427-431.
    There is much to admire in this book. As a rigorous and systematic physics-oriented presentation of an austere empiricist fundamental metaphysics, it has no real rivals. The clarity with which the overall vision is presented will provide a valuable stalking-horse for those who would defend less austere approaches in the future. Esfeld and Deckert never shy away from the radical consequences of their approach, or try to disguise its revisionary nature. I also found several points of agreement with Esfeld and (...)
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  10. Everettian Quantum Mechanics Without Branching Time.Alastair Wilson - 2012 - Synthese 188 (1):67-84.
    In this paper I assess the prospects for combining contemporary Everettian quantum mechanics (EQM) with branching-time semantics in the tradition of Kripke, Prior, Thomason and Belnap. I begin by outlining the salient features of ‘decoherence-based’ EQM, and of the ‘consistent histories’ formalism that is particularly apt for conceptual discussions in EQM. This formalism permits of both ‘branching worlds’ and ‘parallel worlds’ interpretations; the metaphysics of EQM is in this sense underdetermined by the physics. A prominent argument due to Lewis (On (...)
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  11. Disagreement, Equal Weight and Commutativity.Alastair Wilson - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 149 (3):321 - 326.
    How should we respond to cases of disagreement where two epistemic agents have the same evidence but come to different conclusions? Adam Elga has provided a Bayesian framework for addressing this question. In this paper, I shall highlight two unfortunate consequences of this framework, which Elga does not anticipate. Both problems derive from a failure of commutativity between application of the equal weight view and updating in the light of other evidence.
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  12. Everettian Confirmation and Sleeping Beauty.Alastair Wilson - 2013 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science (3):axt018.
    Darren Bradley has recently appealed to observation selection effects to argue that conditionalization presents no special problem for Everettian quantum mechanics, and to defend the ‘halfer’ answer to the puzzle of Sleeping Beauty. I assess Bradley’s arguments and conclude that while he is right about confirmation in Everettian quantum mechanics, he is wrong about Sleeping Beauty. This result is doubly good news for Everettians: they can endorse Bayesian confirmation theory without qualification, but they are not thereby compelled to adopt the (...)
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  13. Disposition‐Manifestations and Reference‐Frames.Alastair Wilson - 2009 - Dialectica 63 (4):591-601.
    Dispositions can combine as vector sums. Recent authors on dispositions, such as George Molnar and Stephen Mumford, have responded to this feature of dispositions by introducing a distinction between effects and contributions to effects, and by identifying disposition-manifestations with the latter. But some have been sceptical of the reality or knowability of component vectors; Jennifer McKitrick (forthcoming) presses these concerns against the conception of manifestations as contributions to effects. In this paper, I aim to respond to McKitrick's arguments and to (...)
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  14.  29
    Everettian Confirmation and Sleeping Beauty.Alastair Wilson - 2014 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 65 (3):573-598.
    Darren Bradley has recently appealed to observation selection effects to argue that conditionalization presents no special problem for Everettian quantum mechanics, and to defend the ‘halfer’ answer to the puzzle of Sleeping Beauty. I assess Bradley’s arguments and conclude that while he is right about confirmation in Everettian quantum mechanics, he is wrong about Sleeping Beauty. This result is doubly good news for Everettians: they can endorse Bayesian confirmation theory without qualification, but they are not thereby compelled to adopt the (...)
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  15.  67
    The Quantum Doomsday Argument.Alastair Wilson - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (2).
    If the most familiar overlapping interpretation of Everettian quantum mechanics is correct, then each of us is constantly splitting into multiple people. This consequence gives rise to the quantum doomsday argument, which threatens to draw crippling epistemic consequences from EQM. However, a diverging interpretation of EQM undermines the quantum doomsday argument completely. This appears to tell in favour of the diverging interpretation. But it is surprising that a metaphysical question that is apparently underdetermined by the physics should be settled by (...)
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  16. Introduction: Chance and Temporal Asymmetry.Alastair Wilson - 2014 - In Chance and Temporal Asymmetry. Oxford University Press.
     
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  17. Letter From the Editors.Ben Bradley, Kevan Edwards, Nicholas Jones, Nin Kirkham, Anne Schwenkenbecher & Alastair Wilson - 2020 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 7 (1).
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  18.  14
    Key Informants’ Perspectives on Teacher Learning in Scotland.Aileen Kennedy, Donald Christie, Christine Fraser, Lesley Reid, Stephen McKinney, Mary Welsh, Alastair Wilson & Morwenna Griffiths - 2008 - British Journal of Educational Studies 56 (4):400-419.
  19.  5
    Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of Physics.Eleanor Knox & Alastair Wilson (eds.) - forthcoming - London, UK: Routledge.
    The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Physics is a comprehensive and authoritative guide to the state of the art in the philosophy of physics. It contains 54 self-contained chapters written by leading philosophers of physics at both senior and junior levels, making it the most thorough and detailed volume of its type on the market – nearly every major perspective in the field is represented. -/- The Companion’s 54 chapters are organized into 12 sections. The first seven sections cover all (...)
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  20.  77
    Demystifying the Multiverse: David Wallace: The Emergent Multiverse: Quantum Theory According to the Everett Interpretation. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012, Xvi+530pp, £40.00 HB. [REVIEW]Alastair Wilson - 2013 - Metascience 22 (3):583-586.
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    MICHAEL G. TITELBAUM Quitting Certainties: A Bayesian Framework Modeling Degrees of Belief. [REVIEW]Alastair Wilson - 2014 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 65 (4):887-891.
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  22.  32
    Mind, Meaning, and Reality: Essays in Philosophy, by Mellor, D. H.: Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012, Pp. Xiv + 231, £26. [REVIEW]Alastair Wilson - 2013 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 91 (3):626-627.
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  23. Modal Metaphysics and the Everett Interpretation (BA Thesis).Alastair Wilson - 2005 - Dissertation, Oxford
    Recent work on probability in the Everett interpretation of quantum mechanics yields a decision-theoretic derivation of David Lewis’ Principal Principle, and hence a general metaphysical theory of probability; part 1 is a discussion of this remarkable result. I defend the claim that the ‘subjective uncertainty’ principle is required for the derivation to succeed, arguing that it amounts to a theoretical identification of chance. In part 2, I generalize this account, and suggest that the Everett interpretation, in combination with a plausible (...)
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  24. Modality: Metaphysics, Logic and Epistemology. [REVIEW]Alastair Wilson - 2011 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89 (4):755 - 756.
  25.  92
    Making Things Up, by Karen Bennett. [REVIEW]Alastair Wilson - 2019 - Mind 128 (510):588-600.
    Making Things Up, by Karen Bennett. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017. Pp. xi + 260.
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  26.  39
    Skow on the Passage of Time.Alastair Wilson - 2018 - Analysis 78 (1):117-128.
  27. The Human Story Behind Everettian Quantum Mechanics: Peter Byrne: The Many Worlds of Hugh Everett III: Multiple Universes, Mutual Assured Destruction, and the Meltdown of a Nuclear Family. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 456pp, £25.00 HB. [REVIEW]Alastair Wilson - 2012 - Metascience 21 (1):143-146.
    The human story behind Everettian quantum mechanics Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-4 DOI 10.1007/s11016-010-9510-4 Authors Alastair Wilson, University College, Oxford, OX1 4BH UK Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
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