University of Pittsburgh
Graduate Student

Shahin Kaveh

I work on general philosophy of science from the vantage point of physics. This means that I examine such questions as empirical and theoretical content, explanation and theory choice, explanation of success, and realism/anti-realism in light of the history, practice, and theories of physics. Since my answers to these issues are informed by the idiosyncrasies of physics as a discipline, I am skeptical that such questions could have the same answers in all branches of science. In particular, I am inclined to believe that the appropriate epistemic attitude towards the theoretical entities of physics and the role they play in the success of our theories is likely to be different from the same in, say, biology. I have done work on old quantum theory, inflationary cosmology, and theories of space and time.

I am currently working on a project of understanding mature physical theories as mappings between what I call "tracking parameters", rather than either propositions or models. I believe this approach can provide answers to such questions as what is the content of a physical theory, how we should understand the otherwise bewildering claims that physicists make in their textbooks, and what makes successful theories successful.

I am also deeply interested in Pyrrhonism, Kant (and various frameworks known as "neo-Kantian"), as well as Nietzsche. Outside of the academic context, I do a lot of research on American politics and advocate a policy-driven, rather than ethos-driven, approach to politics.