Dr. Finnur Dellsén
I am Postdoctoral Research Fellow on the project When Experts Disagree at University College Dublin’s School of Philosophy. Previously I was previously employed as a part-time lecturer in philosophy at the University of Iceland and as a researcher on a project in philosophy of science funded by The Icelandic Centre for Research’s Non-Fiction Writer’s Fund. Before that, I completed a Ph.D. in philosophy at UNC Chapel Hill in 2014, under the supervision of Marc Lange, and an MA under the supervision of Matt Kotzen. Before coming to UNC Chapel Hill, I earned a B.A. in philosophy (while also studying some math and logic) at the University of Iceland and the University of Gothenburg.
My Ph.D.-dissertation addresssed various challenges to scientific realism from the point of view of formal or probabilistic epistemology. Parts of my dissertation have been published as articles – see “Realism and the Absence of Rivals” (Synthese, 2016) and “Reconstructed Empiricism” (Acta Analytica, 2016). I hope to publish revised version of other parts of my dissertation in the future; in the meantime, I would be happy to provide those who are interested with a copy of my dissertation via email.
My current research focuses on three main topics, all of which lie at the intersection of epistemology and philosophy of science (please visit my personal research page to access published papers on these topics):
- Expert disagreement in science: I am currently working on three projects in this area, concerning (a) whether widespread disagreement in a particular science should support or undermine non-expert’s trust in theories on which there is consensus, (b) whether sustained disagreements in science can be justified by appeal to its socio-epistemic benefits, and (c) the nature of cognitive expertise (especially in science).
- Scientific understanding and its role in scientific progress: I am working on (a) a “non-intellectualist” account of scientific understanding that separates understanding from explanation and knowledge, and (b) an account of scientific progress in terms of such understanding. This work is directly related to two published papers of mine, “Understanding without justification or belief” (Ratio, 2016) and “Scientific Progress: Knowledge versus Understanding” (Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 2016).
- Inference to the best explanation (IBE): I am working on (a) an account of IBE as a heuristic for Bayesian or probabilistic reasoning, and (b) the problem of how unconceived alternatives might undermine IBE (i.e. the “bad lot objection”). This is related to previous work on explanatory rivals, in particular “Explanatory Rivals and the Ultimate Argument” (Theoria, 2015) and “Realism and the Absence of Rivals” (Synthese, 2016).
While my current research is mainly concerned with the above topics, I have various other interests in other areas of philosophy that I work on when the opportunity arises. For example, I am very interested in the relationship between mainstream and formal epistemology (specifically as it relates to the relationship between credences and binary doxastic attitudes such as full beliefs), the nature of epistemic normativity (specifically how it compares and interacts with other types of normativity), and the nature of various kinds of prejudices (e.g. gender and racial prejudices).