University of Missouori
Academic Year 2012-13
Mathematics, Idealization, and Noncausal Explanation: Towards a Unified Account
Collin completed his PhD at the University of Missouri in the spring of 2012. The title of his dissertation was “Optimality Explanations: A New Approach”. The dissertation investigates the use of optimality models to provide explanations in biology and economics. It argues that optimality models provide explanations that are often preferable because they are independent of the causes, causal mechanisms, or causal history of a population. As a result, our accounts of explanation and modeling must expand beyond the causal approach. In addition, Collin’s current philosophical interests include the use of idealization and the different roles played by mathematical models in scientific theorizing. His next project will focus on exploring how these topics can be combined to provide a more unified account of noncausal explanation and idealized modeling across the sciences. His recent publications include: “Optimality Explanations: A Plea for an Alternative Approach” Biology and Philosophy (forthcoming), “Concept Empiricism, Content, and Compositionality”, Philosophical Studies (2011), “Massive Modularity, Content-integration, and Language”, Philosophy of Science (2011), and a coauthored paper titled, “Interdisciplinary Modeling: A Case Study of Evolutionary Economics” Biology and Philosophy (2011). Outside of philosophy, Collin enjoys camping, biking, and playing music. He recently took an extended camping trip through ten national parks.