I am an Associate Professor of Philosophy and the Graduate Program Director at Virginia Tech. My research centers on the philosophy of science, the history of philosophy of science, and Kant and Neo-Kantianism. See my CV [docx] or my CV [pdf].
My work to date has centered on problems of methodology and of the approach to problem solving, explanation, and understanding in philosophy and in the sciences, including analyses of the role of experiment, of scientific models, and of applied mathematics in theory building and theory assessment. Future work will aim at marshaling the resources of the philosophy of science to contribute to debates on the place of science with respect to the humanities and on the characteristic methods of science and of philosophy. Problems like climate change can be approached using distinct methods (scientific, artistic, philosophical, moral, political), and a methodological approach investigates the limitations, practical advantages, and epistemological consequences of each.
Several current projects focus on the development of theories of geometry, acoustics, electrodynamics, and optics, and on the influence of histories and interpretations of these theories on the development of history and philosophy of science. Work in progress includes studies of Ernst Mach's account of the development of mechanics in his monograph Die Mechanik in ihrer Entwickelung, and of Henri Poincaré's and David Hilbert's approaches to applied geometry.
At the moment, I'm focusing on a sustained study of the contributions of Hermann von Helmholtz to science and to philosophy. The work centers on Helmholtz's theories of color and of sound and how they are related to his physical theories of optics and acoustics and to his physiological theories of sensation. Helmholtz had a characteristic approach to scientific and philosophical theorizing about secondary qualities, or what came to be known as qualia. His approach unites experimental methodology, functionalist modeling, and physiological research. Thus, while situating Helmholtz in the history of theories of phenomenal experience is worthwhile in its own right, his approach may be of most interest as an alternative or a complement to contemporary theories of qualia, of phenomenal experience, and of scientific methodology.
- Philosophy, Science, and History: A Guide and Reader, New York: Routledge, 2014.
- “Methodology of the Sciences,” in The Oxford Handbook of German Philosophy in the Nineteenth Century, edited Michael Forster and Kristin Gjesdal.
- “Hilbert's Objectivity,” Historia Mathematica 41.2 (2014): 188-203.
- “Experiment and Theory Building,” Synthese 184.3 (2012): 235-246.
- “Reconsidering Experiments,” HOPOS: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science, 1.2 (2011): 209-226.
- “The Paradox of Infinite Given Magnitude,” Kant-Studien 102.3 (2011): 273-289.
- “Anti-Psychologism about Necessity,” History and Philosophy of Logic 32.2 (2011): 139-152.
- “Signs, Toy Models, and the A Priori,” Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 40.3 (2009): 281-289.
- “Hermann von Helmholtz,” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2008.