Each of us finds himself not just already in the world, but already in a particular world: a particular moment in history, a particular culture, a particular family, a particular language. Our beliefs, values and concepts are radically shaped by these contingent facts about where we find ourselves in the space of possibility. What are we to make of this? Are revelations of the genealogical contingency of our beliefs, concepts and values cause for anxiety about their status?
I am currently at work on a monograph, The Contingent World: Genealogy, Epistemology, Politics, about what I call ‘genealogical anxiety’: the worry that revelations of contingency undermine the veracity or legitimacy of our beliefs, values and concepts.
Predicting the Future in Greco-Roman Antiquity
My research centres around the intersection of philosophical notions of prediction with real-world practice in the Greco-Roman and early Christian worlds. My first book focuses on the 3rd century Christian philosopher and exegete Origen of Alexandria, and his approach to prophecy, allegory, and the structure of scripture.
Currently, I am working on the philosophical links between scientific prediction and religious prediction in the ancient Greek world. My aim is to show how similar approaches to thinking about knowledge and time underpin Greek understandings of astronomical, astrological, medical, and religious prediction.
The Physics of Climate
The focus of my work is on developing a fundamental understanding of the different components of the Earth’s climate system using a combination of observational data, mathematical theory, and numerical simulations.
My recent work concerns the large-scale evolution of Arctic sea ice, which is effected by processes acting on multiple length and time scales. Specifically, I have been studying how sea-ice growth is affected by the underlying ocean through its heat flux.
One of the principal goals of my research is to develop simple but observationally consistent mathematical models of climatic processes for incorporation into the General Circulation Models, to more accurately predict changes in the climate and its impact on life on Earth.
Economics of Information
My current research is about information in consumer markets. Information is transmitted between consumers and firms by advertising, consumer search, word-of-mouth between consumers, data brokers who sell information about consumers to firms, and by many other channels. Consumers get good or bad deals from sellers depending on (a) how much they know about the offerings of different firms and, conversely, (b) how much firms know about consumer preferences. The internet has been transforming both (a) and (b), allowing consumers to discover and evaluate products with greater ease and enabling firms to personalise prices and target their advertising. I try to formulate theoretical models of information flows, which aim to uncover which kinds of information help consumers and which kinds help firms (or both).