Michael Townsen Hicks

Welcome to my website.  I'm a philosopher of science; I recently defended a doctoral thesis at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, under the supervision of Barry Loewer.  Now I'm working on the Consolidation of Fine-Tuning Project at the University of Oxford. I'm interested in the metaphysics and epistemology of science and the philosophy of physics.

Photo thanks to Andrew Otto

Photo thanks to Andrew Otto

Here is my CV.

My research is in the philosophy of science. I'm interested in how scientific theories allow us to evaluate what would, could, and might happen. I think it's very puzzling that we care at all about things that could happen but don't, and I'm interested in the ways science and physics connect us to these mere possibilities.

I recently defended a dissertation on laws of nature under the supervision of Barry Loewer developing and defending the regularity theory of natural law. This view has its roots in the writings of David Hume.  According to the regularity theory, laws of nature are merely universal generalizations that are particularly useful for us in discovering and organizing information about our world.  I'm exploring ways in which this view of laws can help us understand probability, explanation, and causation.

Right now I'm working on the Consolidation of Fine-Tuning Project at the University of Oxford, where I'm looking at issues of fine-tuning in cosmology. I'm especially interested in whether it makes sense to think of the laws or constants of nature as being random or unlikely.

Papers:

Making Fit Fit, forthcoming in Philosophy of Science 84(5) (2017). 

Dynamic Humeanism, forthcoming in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science. Draft of 07.15.2016. 

Derivative Properties in Fundamental Laws, with Jonathan Schaffer, The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (2): 411-450 (2017). Penultimate Draft

Humean Laws and Circular Explanation, with Peter van Elswyk, Philosophical Studies 172 (2): 433-443 (2015). Penultimate Draft.

In-Progress Drafts (comments encouraged):

What Everyone Should Say About Symmetries (and how Humeans get to say it), draft of 6.2.17

What Humean Laws (Can't) Explain, draft of 3.28.17

A Democracy of Laws, draft of 3.30.17