Katrina (Katie) Elliott

CV

I am an assistant professor of philosophy at UCLA, where I teach philosophy of science and metaphysics and work on chance, explanation, and prediction. 
Email:  
kelliott@humnet.ucla.edu

Address:  
The Department of Philosophy
University of California, Los Angeles
Box 951451, Dodd 321
Los Angeles, CA 90095

Research

Articles:  
Explaining (One Aspect of) the Principal Principle without (Much) Metaphysics. Philosophy of Science 83, no. 4 (October 2016): 480-499 

Exploring a New Argument for Synchronic Chance. Philosophers’ Imprint, January 2018, vol. 18, no. 02, pp. 1-18

How to Know that Time Travel is Unlikely without Knowing Why.  Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, forthcoming. 

In progress:

Two Explanatory Questions:
When an event occurs by chance, there are at least two distinct questions that arise: (1) why did the event occur? and (2) why was the event’s chance of occurring equal to n? (where “n” is a particular real number along the unit interval). I argue that many influential discussions of indeterministic explanation confuse these two questions by mistaking plausible answers to question (2) for plausible answers to question (1). As a result, the current literature offers very few credible theories about how best to answer question (1); I suggest that, when an event occurs by chance, it is the chance of that outcome that explains its occurrence.



Chance Explanation:
I explain and defend the view that, when an event occurs by chance, it is the chance of the event that explains its occurrence. In part 1, I defend the view that all chance events (including unlikely ones) have explanations. In part 2, I explain the view that chancy events are explained entirely by their chances of occurring. In part 3, I argue that my view of chance explanation has unique and significant advantages over its competitors and I address objections.



What Are The Chances?:
Many philosophers argue that the chance of an event must be a function of its fundamental physical chance of occurring. According to this line of thought, for example, if the world is fundamentally deterministic then the chance that a quarter lands heads after being flipped is 1 or 0, rather than .5. In “What are the Chances?”, I defend the reality of “macro-chance” (e.g., the .5 chance value of the quarter’s landing heads) by advocating for a non-traditional view of the conditions under which an event has an objective chance of occurring. Roughly, I argue that the probabilities of fundamental physics are importantly different from the probabilities of, say, biology and thermodynamics, but that this difference is not relevant to the question of whether such probabilities are chances. I distinguish my view to others who, like I, defend the reality of macro-chance, and I discuss the implications of my view to more recherché cases (such as those found in statistical mechanics and time travel scenarios).

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Teaching

Undergraduate:
Phil 8: Introduction to Philosophy of Science
Phil 125: Philosophy of Science (Contemporary)    
Phil 184: Topics in Metaphysics 

Graduate:
Objective Chance: Theories and Problems
Scientific Explanation
Time Travel: What’s Possible and What’s Probable
Natural Kinds At Every Level?
Indeterministic Explanation

I am from Kansas.

                                                                I own a dog.