I am an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Virginia Tech. I’m interested in the contents and character of the natural world and how we come to know it. Mostly this amounts to a concern with questions about language and inference in science: How and to what do scientific terms refer? How do we infer successful theories from limited observations of the world?
My current research is focused on building new kinds of algorithms for automated scientific discovery. In other words, a robot scientist. Doing so is way of testing answers to questions about scientific inference: working algorithms provide the most concrete answers possible about how (if not why) various sorts of induction are possible. Doing so is also a way of getting at questions of meaning and reference in scientific theory. If, for instance, it’s possible to build successful discovery algorithms that make no reference to unobservables, that would tend to undermine literal readings of our scientific theories.