My research focuses on policy decision-making about highly uncertain sciences. I have done a lot of work with one case study: insurance against damage from hurricanes in the North Atlantic. I am also interested in formal epistemology more broadly, and in the philosophy of scientific models.

My blog contains a section of research-related posts. You can find more formal examples of my work below.

Publications

  • Making confident decisions with model ensembles, forthcoming in Philosophy of Science. Co-authors: Richard Bradley and Roman Frigg [preprint]

We apply the “confidence” approach developed by Hill and Bradley to the case of hurricane models, demonstrating a method that can be generalised to decision-making with ensembles of structurally different models

Work in progress

  • Formal epistemology as modelling (submitted)

I have developed an analysis of formal philosophy (i.e., using mathematics) as instances of modelling. I argue that they should be analysed and understood in terms of prominent approaches to scientific models in the philosophy of science literature, such as the DEKI account of representation. I discuss how normativity can be incorporated into a theory of modelling.

  • Expert deference as a belief revision schema (draft)

I criticise two approaches to expert testimony: supra-Bayesianism and deference as a constraint on priors (DC). I develop an alternative model of expert deference: deference as a belief revision schema. Inspired by Richard Jeffrey’s strategy for model uncertain belief revision, I show how deference can be considered as an exogenous constraint on a posterior belief state in a way that does not require any particular priors. I argue that this approach resolves or partially mitigates the problems I raised for the two, more standard, approaches. 

  • A two-stage model for awareness growth (early stage)

I am developing an account of rational awareness growth. It is a two-stage model: (1) The agent becomes aware of new possibilities and determines how they relate to previously known possibilities. (2) The agent forms attitudes to the new possibilities, constrained by their prior belief state. The second stage is a refinement of the family of views known as “reverse Bayesianism” and is a direct descendant of Richard Bradley’s proposal in his book Decision theory with a human face.

  • Scoring rules, expert disagreement and values (draft available)

I examine the problem of expert disagreement, and whether opinion pooling is a viable method for policymakers to resolve such disagreement. I argue that there is significant utility to such methods, but that they require technical and value judgements in the selection of a scoring rule. Policymakers should develop these technical skills, and the discussion on opinion pooling should reflect that it is not a purely epistemic procedure. 

  • Against aggregation

I argue against the aggregation of model outputs using a weighted average, looking at the case of hurricane model

 

Physics research

My Master’s research was in particle physics.