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 what physics tells us about the nature of fundamental reality and whether it is capable of eventually providing an exhaustive account of what there is and why things happen the way they do.

As an optimist about the potential explanatory power of physics, much of my early work was concerned with articulating and defending a substantive and promising version of physicalism. Much of my more recent work concerns the philosophy of quantum theory. I am interested in what entanglement tells us about the kind of world we inhabit, most especially, whether it should motivate us to revise our views about space and space-time, forcing us to recognize many more dimensions than ordinary appearances would suggest.

I am also fascinated by the problem of fitting phenomenal consciousness into the world described by physics and the natural sciences and regularly teach seminars on the topic.

Books

Cover of Metaphysics textbook

My metaphysics textbook was released last month 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 will be teaching a joint undergraduate/graduate survey of metaphysics and leading a reading group on structuralism.

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 in the series, on fundamental quantities and the role of symmetries in guiding fundamental metaphysics, will be held this September in Rochester.

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

This year, I will again be organizing a series of talks on the intersection of philosophy and physics, supported by the University of Rochester's Humanities Project, Philosophy Department, and Physics Department. In addition to a slate of local speakers, we will be hosting Professor Wayne Myrvold in October.

Upcoming Talks

"Configuration Space in a Relativistic Setting," PERSP Conference, Barcelona, September 8.

"Microphysical Causation and the Case for Physicalism," Celebration of Jaegwon Kim, Brown University, September 26-27.

"Finding Ourselves in a Quantum Universe," McMurray Lecture, Monroe Community College, October 17.

"Microphysical Causation and the Case for Physicalism," Marist College, November 21.

"Finding Ourselves in a Quantum Universe," Phelps Colloquium, University of Rochester, February 5, 2015.

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

Title TBD, 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.

Title TBD, Toward a Science of Consciousness, Helsinki, June 9-13, 2015.