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Alison Fernandes

Title | Organization: 
Job Candidate | Ph.D. in Philosophy
Areas of Specialization: 

Philosophy of Science, Metaphysics, Philosophy of Physics

Areas of Competence: 

Epistemology, History of Philosophy (German Idealism), Ethics

Research: 

My dissertation, A Deliberative Account of Causation: How the Evidence of Deliberating Agents Accounts for Causation and its Temporal Direction, investigated the relation between causation and deliberation. The aim was to determine how causation fits into a physical picture of the world by examining its relevance for deliberating agents. I argued that, based on an epistemic characterisation of deliberation, causal relations correspond to the evidential relations agents use when they decide on one thing in order to achieve another. Tamsin’s taking her umbrella, for example, is a cause of her staying dry if and only if her deciding to take her umbrella is grounds for thinking she’ll stay dry. The account explains why causation matters: knowing about causal structure helps us make decisions that are evidence of outcomes we seek. The account also relates causation to laws and physical asymmetries and so maintains the objectivity of causation and explains why causes come before their effects.

The approach demonstrates a broad strategy for doing scientifically informed philosophy: use agential standards to pick out objective relations and explain their temporal features. In future work, I’ll use this approach to develop an account of objective chance. In current work, I explore the relations between deliberation, evidence and causation in the context of backwards time travel. This work engages with contemporary physics, as well as broad philosophical questions concerning practical deliberation, freedom, and justification. It also draws from the history of philosophy, particularly the work of the German Idealist Fichte.

Website: alisonfernandes.net

Articles / Publications: 

‘Varieties of Epistemic Freedom’, forthcoming, Australasian Journal of Philosophy.

‘Time, Flies, and Why We Can’t Control the Past’, forthcoming, in Barry Loewer, Eric Winsberg and Brad Weslake (eds.) Time’s Arrows and the Probability Structure of the World, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.