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Current Visitors

Marius Backmann

Marius Backmann obtained his PhD in 2011 at the University of Cologne with a thesis on Humean Libertarianism: Outline of a Revisionist Account of the Joint Problem of Free Will, Determinism and Laws of Nature. After a brief stint at the Centre for Science and Research Management in Speyer, he returned to academia in 2013 to take up a postdoc position at Thomas Müller’s project „What is Really Possible?“ at the University of Konstanz. Since November 2015, Marius is funded within his own research project The Metaphysics of Induction  in Konstanz. Apart from his work on ontologically motivated attempts at a justification of induction, my research focuses on philosophy of time, analytic metaphysics, metaphysics of science, laws of nature, and free will.

Dates of visit: 21 July 2017 – 20 July 2019

Email: marius.backmann@uni-konstanz.de 

Research Project

Justice requires egalitarian organizations: The case of financial risks

The way our public institutions regulate economic organizations has an important impact on the distribution of resources. This project focuses on what liberal egalitarian theories of justice require in terms of the regulation of economic organizations in various sectors of the economy. During my PhD at Université catholique de Louvain, I investigated whether public institutions should promote worker cooperatives. In the first year of my postdoctoral research at the University of Toronto, I studied the case of the collaborative economy and investigated whether public institutions should promote specific kinds of collaborative platforms. This year at the LSE, I investigate what justice requires in terms of the regulation of finance organizations, and more specifically in terms of the management of financial risks. 

 

Jacob Bjorheim

Jacob Bjorheim studied Economics and Finance at the University of St Gallen, Switzerland and received his PhD at the LSE on “The Epistemological Value of the Consumption Based Capital Asset Pricing Model”. He is a lecturer at the University of Basel, Switzerland on “Public Sector Investments” focusing on the foreign exchange reserve management practices of central banks, and a Research Fellow at the University of Zurich, Department of Banking and Finance. Prior to his academic work, he was leading the Asset Management division at the Bank for International Settlement (BIS) in Basel.

Dates of visit: 6 October 2017 – 31 August 2019

Email: j.bjorheim@bluewin.ch

Research Project

When Policy Makers believe in Fiction

Today, we are 10 years into what economists call the “Global Financial Crisis” (“GFC”). Despite the severity of the economic and financial market disruptions and the enormous social costs, economic teaching and research have, mostly, defended the continued use of large-scale macroeconomic models, often referred to as Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium models (“DSGE”).My project at the CPNSS explores three topics related to the structure, interpretation and use of DSGE models, i.e. (1) the micro-foundation, (2) the use of mathematics, and (3) the narratives or stories that such models tell. I intend to let the two first topics frame the, more important, third topic. I argue these narratives are fictional in character and question policy decisions made on such basis. The working title of the final paper is “When Policy Makers believe in Fiction”.

 

Tian Yu Cao

Tian Yu Cao received his PhD in history and philosophy of science in 1987, Cambridge, UK. Now teaching in Boston University as professor of philosophy. His research interests are in history and philosophy of fundamental physics, philosophy of science. Tian has published two books: Conceptual developments of 20th century field theories (CUP, 1997, a new edition is forthcoming in 2019), From current algebra to quantum chromodynamics (CUP, 2010), edited a volume: Conceptual foundations of quantum field theories (CUP, 1999). 

Dates of visit: 14 January – 20 June 2019

Email: tycao@bu.edu

Research Project

Conceptual Issues in Gauging Gravity

The major concern of this project is how to conceive a consistent and effective approach to the construction of theories of quantum gravity. The core of the project is to examine the roles spacetime has played in fundamental theories of physics: quantum field theory, general theory of relativity (GTR), gauge theory and quantum gravity. An interesting approach, by appealing to the gauge principle, to address or even to evade the tension between the quantum principle presuming spacetime and GTR’s viewing spacetime as only the coding structure for the information about the patterns and structures of physical degrees of freedom’s dynamic behavior, and thus to develop an alternative approach to GTR in dealing with the relationship between gravity and spacetime, will be critically examined and explored with a focus on the consistency-test about the mathematical structures deployed and the view of spacetime explicitly and/or implicitly taken in this approach (incarnated in the works of gauging the Poincare group, of the loop quantum gravity, of the Cavendish school of GTG (gauge theory of gravity), and of spin foam models). I intend to use the results of this project to support and further elaborate a structuralist-constructivist approach to theory construction and to scientific realism in the general philosophy of science.

 

Catherine Greene

Catherine Greene have an undergraduate degree in Philosophy from LSE. After this she spent the next 15 years working in finance. Catherine returned to the LSE to do a Masters and PhD in the Philosophy of Social Science. Her thesis topic is laws in the social sciences. She also do some consulting for a number of financial firms.

Dates of visit: March 2017 – June 2019

Email: email@catherinegreene.co.uk 

Research Project

The philosophical assumptions of financial theory

I am currently researching a number of topics in the philosophy of finance, including the relationship between asset prices and valuation methodologies, the assumptions of behavioural finance, and the application of physics to finance.

 

Michael Hunter

Michael Hunter is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Philosophy at The University of California, Davis.

Dates of visit: September 2017 – July 2019

Email: mhunter@ucdavis.edu

 

Joshua Kissel

Joshua Kissel completed his BA (2013) at University of Wisconsin-Madison in Philosophy and in History. He is now working on a PhD in philosophy at Northwestern University. While at LSE Josh plants to continue work on his dissertation project in political philosophy. This project focuses on the question of how to conceptualize freedom, and freedom’s relation to the social ideals that should animate individuals and states motivated by the realization of justice. Josh has secondary research interests in effective altruism; especially as it relates to anti-capitalist politics, as well as philosophy of education, and environmental ethics.

Dates of visit: 14 January – 14 June 2019

Email: joshuakissel2014@u.northwestern.edu

Research Project

Freedom as the Absence of (Socially Remediable) Constraint

Two questions animate Josh’s project; “how should we conceive of social freedom?” and “what should we do about it?” Josh defends a non-liberal and non-republican account of freedom to answer the first question. While at the CPNSS Josh will be working on drawing out the insights of this answer for those interested in realizing a freer and more just world. This project requires going beyond theoretical considerations. The task is therefore to help identify what empirical facts are important to investigate if we want to justify our normative endorsement of some set of social ideals (e.g; increased ‘voice’ (democracy), or secure freedom of exit, or an egalitarian ethos").

 

Benedikt Knusel

Benedikt Knüsel is a PhD Student at the Institute for Environmental Decisions and the Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science at ETH Zurich in Switzerland. He has been a student visitor at CPNSS since January 2019. His work is concerned with a comparison of process-based and data-driven models. Specifically, Benedikt investigates how different types of models can be used to obtain a better understanding of the climate system, what the reasons are for the uncertainties of predictions from these modes, and how these questions relate to the epistemic opacity of the models. This work is part of a larger project on epistemological shifts in science in the age of big data, funded under the National Research Program “Big Data” (NRP75) by the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Benedikt obtained a degree in Environmental Sciences with a major in Human-Environment-Systems from ETH Zurich in 2016. He attended the University of Georgia in Athens (USA) as an exchange student in the fall of 2012.

Dates of visit: 7 January – 5 April 2019

Email: benedikt.knusel@usys.ethz.ch

Research Project

Shedding Light on Climate Change with a Black Box

Increasing volumes of climate data open up new opportunities for data-driven modeling approaches, i.e., machine learning. As creating data-driven models requires less system understanding than classical physics-based models, data-driven models are especially promising for the modeling of ill-understood phenomena. Based on a comparison of process-based and data-driven models of phenomena in the climate system, Benedikt Knüsel investigates to what extent data-driven models can provide genuine understanding of a target system. Furthermore, he is interested in the sources and nature of the inferential uncertainties of predictions from data-driven models.

 

Joe Mazor

Joe Mazor received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 2009.  He has since been a postdoctoral fellow at Princeton’s Center for Human Values and at Stanford’s Center for Ethics in Society.  He was an LSE Fellow and a temporary assistant professor in the Department of Philosophy, Logic & Scientific Method. During his time at the CPNSS, he will work on projects related to natural resource property rights, the ethics of severe uncertainty, and the philosophy of welfare economics.

Dates of visit: 4 November 2016 – 30 September 2019

Email: j.m.mazor@lse.ac.uk

Research Project

On the Nature and Significance of Welfare Economics

A key project I will be working on at CPNSS is a book on the philosophy of welfare economics.  The book will develop a comprehensive critique of welfare economics as it is currently practiced.  In advancing this critique, the book has several key goals a) a careful explanation of the different welfare economics frameworks in use today, b) clear connections between contemporary scholarship in political philosophy and contemporary welfare economics, with a focus on the practical consequences of the philosophical debates for the field c) a critique of the welfare economic frameworks aimed at welfare economists, but accessible to anyone who has taken microeconomics at the undergraduate level.

 

Bernet Meijer

Bernet Meijer completed her BA (2016) in Physics and Philosophy at the University of Amsterdam. After studying literature and poetry at the University of British Columbia, she started her master’s degree in Theoretical Physics at the University of Amsterdam. She is now working on her master’s research project on time symmetry. 

Dates of visit: 

September 2018  –  June 2019

Email: bernet.meijer@gmail.com

Research Project

White Holes and Time Symmetry

Einstein's theory of general relativity (GR) is time-symmetric. However, one of the most studied solutions in GR, the solution representing a black hole, has a definite arrow of time. For this time-asymmetric solution we expect a time-reversed counterpart, the `white hole'. Although the reality of white holes is heavily debated, the study of white holes can shed light upon the nature of time. Bernet investigates the arguments for and against the existence of white holes, and their implications on time symmetry.

 

Silvia Milano

Silvia received her PhD from the LSE in 2018, with a thesis on ‘De se beliefs and centred uncertainty’. Silvia’s current research focuses on the epistemology of de se beliefs. She also has research interests in ethics, and between 2014-2018, she worked as research assistant on the project ‘Population and Ethics’ at the FHI, Oxford. Starting from October 2018, she will be a Postdoc Researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute, with a project on the ethics of technology.

Dates of visit: 1 August 2018 – July 2019

Email: s.milano@lse.ac.uk

Research Project

De se beliefs, evidence and alienation

The research project that I will pursue during my visit at the CPNSS is aimed at developing a novel understanding of the nature of de se beliefs, evidence and alienation within Bayesian epistemology. Building on the results of my PhD dissertation, I advocate a shift to de se – or self-locating – propositions as the proper objects of belief.  This has important consequences for the way we understand what evidence is, and how we should model learning and experience within formal system such as the Bayesian framework. Moreover, reflecting on the nature of de se belief and evidence leads me to develop a novel understanding of what I call epistemic alienation.