UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies


Everett, Jonathan

Contact: jonathan.everett.09 (at) ucl.ac.uk

I am currently in the third year of my PhD, which is on the topic of Kantian approaches in the philosophy of science. Before starting my doctoral research I received an undergraduate masters degree in physics and philosophy and an MA in the philosophy of physics. I have worked as a philosophy tutor at the University of Leeds (where I was also involved as a transcriber in the Tyndall correspondence project) and as a post-graduate teaching assistant in science and technology studies at UCL.

My PhD is on the Kantian conception of constitutivity in space-time theories and how this has changed through both the nineteenth century understanding of geometry and mechanics and the relativistic revolution. I pay particular attention to the question of whether the equivalence principle should be considered as constitutive of general relativity.

My main research interests are:

  • Kant's philosophy
  • Early logical positivism (especially Reichenbach)
  • Philosophy of science (particularly relating to explanation in the sciences)
  • Philosophy of physics
  • Philosophy of biology

Recent and forthcoming presentations:

Synthetic History

I gave this talk at the integrated HPS workshop at Cambridge. In the talk I discussed some of the methodological problems that we face in trying to attribute to scientists, with a focus on Einstein, any overwhelming philosophical motivation.

Newton and Kant: Forces in the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science

This talk was presented at the International Kant and Herschel Workshop "The Harmony of the Sphere" on May 20th 2011. In my paper I argued that Kant's Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science should not be read as being solely influenced by Newtonian physics: instead there is an important role being played by Kant's desire to rehabilitate some of his pre-Critical views with his Critical project.

Elevating an empirical fact to the status of a principle: Friedman and the equivalence principle

I delivered this paper at the British Society for the Philosophy of Science's annual conference at the University of Sussex on 8th July 2011. This paper examines Friedman's claim that, in using the equivalence principle as a foundation for general relativity, Einstein treated it as conventional in Poincaré's sense.

The constitutive a priori and the distinction between mathematical and physical possibility

This talk was presented at Bristol University on 19th August at a conference on Conventional Principles in Science. I examine Friedman's argument that the equivalence principle is constitutive of general relativity, and question in particular the role that the rotating frame thought experiment plays in his argument.

Evolutionary Theory and Thermodynamics: The role of statistics

I delivered this paper at the University of Athens for EPSA 2011 meeting. I begin by developing an account of explanation in thermodynamics that is statistical and non-causal, but which requires assigning properties to an "ensemble" (i.e. all possible microstates of a system). I suggest that if explanation is to be statistical in evolutionary theory—as Walsh, Lewens and Ariew have argued that it is—then ensembles of organisms must play a central explanatory role in the the theory.

The role of the rotating frame thought experiment in the genesis of general relativity

This talk will be delivered at the 4th Integrated History and Philosophy of Science meeting in Athens, 15-18 March 2012.