I am a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Center of Excellence in Philosophy of the Social Sciences (TINT) at the University of Helsinki. My research is at the intersection of philosophy of science, philosophy of biology (especially ecology) and philosophy of the social sciences, and addresses conceptual and methodological issues in scientific practice.
I am currently working on two related projects: the first addresses epistemological issues concerning the ways in which scientists in these disciplines are able to make inferences about the world from their models and experiments. My dissertation work focused on the notion of 'target systems', the parts of the world that scientific models represent, and their role in scientific practice. I will now turn to applying my notion of target systems to scientific experiments, with the aim of resolving the debate concerning the relative epistemic merits of experiments versus models.
The second project addresses two problems which disproportionately affect scientific investigations in disciplines that deal with complex systems (such as Ecology, Economics and Climate Science), namely the danger of overgeneralization and the difficulty of making precise and accurate predictions. Scientists in these fields often face a disturbing dilemma, namely the pressure to provide increasingly precise predictions and the devastating criticism for producing predictions that are inaccurate. One of the ways in which scientists try to overcome this dilemma is by constructing increasingly general frameworks. I argue that these endeavours are doomed to fail, because there is a tradeoff between generality and predictive power in the systems studied by scientists in these disciplines. I propose an alternative framework for overcoming the dilemma, based on a more inclusive notion of prediction and a new method for evaluating predictions.
I am also interested in the actual scientific practice of Ecology. I am currently in charge of a project on the overwintering of Rocky Mountain butterflies Parnassius smintheus, in collaboration with scientists at Western and at the University of Cincinnati.
Before joining TINT, I held the position of Postdoctoral Fellow in Philosophy of Science at the Rotman Institute of Philosophy at Western University. Prior to that, I completed my PhD in Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania.