Alyssa Ney

Photo of Alyssa Ney

I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Rochester. I came to the University of Rochester in 2005 after defending my dissertation at Brown University under the direction of Jaegwon Kim. Before that, I studied chemistry, physics, and philosophy at Tulane University.

My areas of research lie in the places where metaphysics intersects the philosophy of physics and the philosophy of mind. I am interested in the metaphysical foundations of quantum mechanics, the status of space-time and causality in fundamental theories, and more generally the prospects for a physical theory of everything. I am beginning work on a book on fundamentality, focusing on what we mean when we say a theory is a fundamental theory and whether there are good reasons for thinking a theory of this kind is achievable.

I teach courses at the graduate and undergraduate level in metaphysics, logic, philosophy of science, and philosophy of mind and cognitive science.

I also organize an interdisciplinary group of faculty and students who regularly meet to discuss topics of mutual interest to physicists and philosophers. We host talks about once a month during the academic year. Please send me an email if you would like to be added to our mailing list.

Books

Cover of Metaphysics textbook

My metaphysics textbook was released in August by Routledge.

It contains chapters on ontology, time, causation, modality, social construction, free will, and the relation between metaphysics and science.

It is available for purchase from Amazon:
Metaphysics: An Introduction

Cover of Wave Function book The Wave Function is a collection of essays on the metaphysics of quantum mechanics I edited with David Albert.

It was released in 2013 by Oxford University Press and is also available at Amazon: The Wave Function: Essays on the Metaphysics of Quantum Mechanics.

Reviews of The Wave Function:

News

This semester, I am teaching a joint undergraduate/graduate survey of metaphysics and leading a reading group on structural realism. My graduate seminar for next semester will be on the topic of fundamentality in science and metaphysics.

I have received a grant from the University of Rochester Humanities Project for a series of workshops aimed at promoting connections between metaphysics and the philosophy of physics. The second workshop in the series, on fundamental quantities and the role of symmetries in guiding fundamental metaphysics, was held September in Rochester.

Last year's workshop was on the emergence of ordinary objects from fundamental physical ontologies lacking a space-time framework.

My paper arguing that we do not have good reason to think that the content of our physical theories are purely "structural" or "relational" is now finished and forthcoming in Torin Alter and Yujin Nagasawa's new Oxford volume on Russellian Monism. The book is due out in the spring.

My paper "Fundamental Physical Ontologies and the Constraint of Empirical Coherence" is now forthcoming in Synthese.

Upcoming Talks

"Finding Ourselves in a Quantum Universe," Phelps Colloquium, University of Rochester, February 12, 2015.

"Microphysical Causation and the Case for Physicalism," Central Division Meeting of the American Philosophical Association, February 18-21, 2015.

"Background Independence as a Constraint on Fundamental Theories," Time in Quantum Gravity Workshop, UC San Diego, March 13-14, 2015.

"A Role for Grounding in the Philosophy of Mind," Conference on Composition and Grounding, Rutgers Newark, April 10-11, 2015.

"Background Independence as a Constraint on Fundamental Theories," Southern Methodist University, April 24, 2015.

"The Failure of Emergence as a Tool for Understanding Phenomenal Consciousness," Toward a Science of Consciousness, Helsinki, June 9-13, 2015.