|Institutions||University of Toronto, Scarborough|
Jessica M. Wilson is a professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto, Scarborough. Her research focuses on metaphysics, especially on the metaphysics of science and mind, the epistemologies of skepticism, a priori deliberation, and necessity. Wilson was awarded the Lebowitz Prize for excellence in philosophical thought by Phi Beta Kappa in conjunction with the American Philosophical Association.
Wilson received her baccalaureate summa cum laude in mathematics from the University of California, San Diego in 1987, before starting a doctorate program in philosophy at the University of Colorado, Boulder in 1994, and eventually receiving her doctorate in philosophy from Cornell University in 2001. Wilson accepted an appointment as the William Wilhartz Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Michigan in 2002, before moving to the University of Toronto, Scarborough in 2005. From 2014 to 2016, Wilson held a simultaneous appointment as a Regular Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Eidyn Research Centre at the University of Edinburgh. Wilson has also held visiting positions at the University of Cologne, the University of St. Andrews, the University of Barcelona, Australian National University, and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science.
Wilson's research has focused largely on metaphysics and epistemology, with a focus on the metaphysics of modality, fundamentality, science, and mind, and the epistemologies of skepticism, a priori deliberation, and necessity, as well as physicalism, emergentism, and mental causation.
In the study of physicalism, Wilson first published on the 'proper subset strategy' for avoiding the worry that higher-level and their realizing lower-level properties would causally overdetermine their effects: properties are associated with sets of causal powers, and one property realizes another by the realized property being associated with a set of causal powers that is a proper subset of that associated with the realizing property; Wilson also argues that a nontrivial version of physicalism must be defined to exclude fundamental mental entities.
Wilson's criticism of 'Grounding', understood as a generic relation of metaphysical dependence, problematizes a notion that has recently occupied center stage in metaphysics. Wilson argues that examples of "the 'small-g' grounding relations" such as "token identity, realization, the classical extensional part-whole relation, the set membership relation, the proper subset relation, and the determinable-determinate relation" are "a heterogeneous lot" which "counts against the idea there is a distinctive coarse-grained metaphysical relation that is the unifying element with respect to these relations—for what real unity do they display?"