Research Highlight

Professor Reuben Stern


Who is/are your favorite philosopher(s)? Why?

Can I answer by naming my colleague, Ben Eva? Or my wife, Shanna Slank? They're my favorite people to do philosophy with. But if they're ineligible, then probably David Lewis. I don't agree with him about much, but I love reading his work. I'm especially fond of the papers that are included in his Philosophical Papers, Volume II.

How would you describe your research program?

Much of my work focuses on the relationship between correlation and causation, and its relevance to a number of traditional philosophical problems in which causal matters rear their head. But I also work a lot on topics that arise independently in Bayesian epistemology and decision theory.

What issues or questions in philosophy are you most excited by?

I tend to gravitate toward philosophical problems that concern norms of ordinary human reasoning.

What project/paper/collaboration/etc. are you proudest of so far?

Since no particular project or paper stands out above the rest, I'll use this chance to highlight a deep cut. In "Causal Concepts and Temporal Ordering," the official story is that I argue for the power of the assumption that causes temporally precede their effects from within the interventionist approach to causal modeling. But in the process, I come pretty close to developing a fully reductive probabilistic account of causal relevance that does better than any other on offer, and likewise develop some insights about causal inference that should be of interest to anyone working in the field -- even if they have no interest in the assumption that causes temporally precede their effects. 

Reuben Stern in a tie-dye shirt against a brick wall background.

What are you currently working on?

I'm currently working on a couple papers about the epistemology of moral and legal responsibility, as well as a paper about the epistemology of skill.

What next? Any ideas for projects in the pipeline?

I plan to revisit themes from my foundational work in causal inference in order to develop some novel insights into the nature of the asymmetry of causation.

What's the holy grail, pipe dream project? 

One grand ambition is to provide the first full-scale philosophical investigation of the methodology of sports analytics. My current work on the epistemology of skill is a first step in this direction.

Check out Professor Stern's personal website here!

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