Jeff Sanford Russell
My research focuses on issues at the intersection of metaphysics, philosophy of physics, and philosophical logic. I am also interested in formal epistemology, philosophy of language, philosophy of mathematics, and philosophy of religion.
- Frege's Foundations of Arithmetic (syllabus / week 2 handout / week 4 exercises)
- Introduction to Logic (notes to be posted eventually)
- Advice for writing philosophy papers
My research interests generally fall at the intersection of metaphysics, philosophy of physics, and philosophical logic—especially issues connected to possibility, space, and time.
One of my tasks in my dissertation is develop a version of David Lewis's counterpart theory that stands up to the objections raised by Allen Hazen, Michael Fara and Timothy Williamson, and Delia Graff Fara, that modal language that uses an actuality operator cannot be understood in terms of counterparts.
A closely related Lewisian doctrine is "cheap haecceitism". Lewis holds that a single possible world can provide more than one way things could be. But what are possible worlds good for if they come apart from ways things could be? We can make sense of this if we go in for a metaphysical understanding of what the world is. The world does not include everything that is the case—only the genuine facts. Understood this way, cheap haecceitism amounts to a kind of metaphysical anti-haecceitism: it says there aren't any genuine facts about individuals over and above their qualitative roles.
Counterpart theory and cheap haecceitism have been applied in the philosophy of physics, to fend off Leibniz's "shift" argument against the reality of space and time. I don't think this defense succeeds; and in fact I think a version of Leibniz's argument is sound.
I am also working on applying ideas from category theory to develop precise "structuralist" metaphysical theories. In the case at hand, I deny the existence of particular regions of space, time, or space-time, but I am committed to something like space-time structural roles. The trick is to make this idea precise.
Lately I've also been exploring some issues in formal epistemology.
Here are a few of my articles. More coming soon.
- The Structure of Gunk: Adventures in the Ontology of Space (Oxford Studies in Metaphysics, 2008)
- Actuality for Counterpart Theorists (Forthcoming in Mind)
- Possible Worlds and the Objective World (Forthcoming in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research)