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::: center home >> people >> postdoctoral fellows >> fernandes

Alison Fernandes
Columbia University
Academic Year 2016-17
The Human Side of Science

My work investigates the importance of scientific relations for our practical and theoretical lives. The aim is to use agential standards to pick out objective relations and explain their temporal features. In my PhD dissertation (Columbia University, 2016), I argued that we should make sense of causation by thinking about its relevance for deliberation. According to the ‘Deliberative Account’, causal relations correspond to the evidential relations we need when we decide on one thing in order to achieve another. This account explains why causation matters to us—causal relations are needed for good decision-making. By relating causation to fundamental laws, the account reconciles causation with the picture of the world presented by fundamental physics. And by relating causation to physical asymmetries, the account explains why causes come prior in time to their effects. In current work, I also consider the relations between deliberation, evidence and causation in the context of time travel.

At the Center, I’ll explore three further contexts in which agential standards may help make sense of scientific relations: unificationism about laws and explanation, how we rule out theories whose truth would undermine their evidential bases (including ‘Boltzmann brain’ scenarios), and how objective chances guide reasoning. I’m also an editor and contributor to Science Visions, the Philosophy of Science Association Women’s Caucus blog.

I’m also an editor and contributor to Science Visions, the Philosophy of Science Association’s Women's Caucus blog.


  • ‘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.


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