Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Philosophy
Home Academic Writing "Mostly Aesthetics" Extra
MIT Department of Linguistics and Philosophy
Philosophy Section Graduate Officer
Email: bskow [at] mit.edu room 32-D930.
I grew up in California, earned a degree in English and Philosophy from Oberlin College, then moved to Australia for an MA at the University of Sydney. My PhD is from NYU. Before coming to MIT I taught at The University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
I work in metaphysics, the philosophy of science, and aesthetics, and write about Mostly Aesthetics on substack.
Some recent work:
On experiencing music from within proposes an account of experiencing "from within" the emotion in a piece of music.
In my first book Objective Becoming I defend the "Block Universe Theory" of time, mainly against the objection that it "leaves out" the passage of time. Along the way I try to show that The Moving Spotlight Theory of Time is in much better shape than people tend to think.
My second book Reasons Why urges philosophers of science to stop asking what is an explanation of the fact that Z? and ask instead what is a reason why Z? I argue that the reasons why something happened are its causes and the "grounds" of its happening.
One premise, which I think is independently important, is that "higher level" reasons aren't automatically also "lower level" reasons: sometimes, A is a reason why (B is a reason why C), but A is not itself a reason why C.
My third book Causation, Explanation, and the Metaphysics of Aspect picks up some threads from the second and spins them together with some ideas about the "metaphysics of aspect." One key idea is that the aspectual distinction between stative and non-stative verbs corresponds to the metaphysical distinction between being and doing. I use these ideas to defend a non-pragmatic theory of background conditions, say what is and isn't true in the idea that dispositions are intrinsic, isolate a species of structural explanation, and argue for the primacy of agent causation.