Adam D. Edwards

Hi. I'm Adam.

I'm a philosophy student and teacher. Right now I'm a graduate student in the philosophy department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an adjunct instructor at Heartland Community College and the Lincoln College Accelerated Bridge to Education (ABE) Program.

My research is motivated by an interest in projects in philosophy of science and metaphysics that involve causal graphical models. These projects include defending a view of scientific explanation where causal models play a significant role, developing an empiricist-minded modal epistemology, and giving a causal modeling analysis of dynamic systems.

My dissertation is on intervention in causal modeling contexts.

I also have research interests in the potential of data mining and machine learning to contribute to philosophical inquiry and in experimental philosophy.

Before grad school I worked with Dr. Sriraam Natarajan and the Statistical-Relational AI Team (StRAIT) at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center on data mining and machine learning solutions to medical problems. While I was there we developed a pipeline algorithm that delivered high quality predictions of the onset of Alzheimer's disease using patient fMRI scans. Before that I did my undergraduate work at Wake Forest University in physics and philosophy.

Other than teaching and doing philosophy, I enjoy backpacking, board games, making coffee in increasingly complicated ways, and playing with my dog, Rose. 🌹

My ORCID is ORCID iD icon


Teaching Projects

Currently Teaching

In 2018, I am teaching courses in applied ethics, ethics, introduction to philosophy, and informal logic.

I am also responsible for pedagogical instruction and course development for the department of philosophy at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for the upcoming academic year (informally, the "Super TA"). This position involves training first-year graduate students on pedagogical strategies, classroom management techniques and technologies, and best-practices for assessment, communication, and problem-solving. I am also working to develop a course plan for the department's Advanced Composition curriculum.

Teaching Portfolio

A comprehensive picture of my development as a teacher can be found at the link above. I've tried to provide an overall picture of my approach to teaching: strategies, resources, and results. If you have questions about any of the materials presented here, feel free to contact me at


Research Projects

My primary interests are in epistemology, philosophy of science and philosophy of information. I also have spent time working on issues in machine learning, digital humanities, creativity and philosophy of physics. My dissertation is on the role that interventions play in the causal modeling framework for scientific explanations, causal inferences, and modal semantics.

Works in Progress

  • How to Account for Counterfactuals While Respecting the Laws

In this paper I argue that in a deterministic world Lewis-style "small miracles" make the evaluation of counterlegals impossible.

  • Ontological Levels and Abstract Objects

In this paper I make a case for taking the existence of abstract objects more seriously and argue that the 'levels' metaphor for discussing objecthood and fundamentality misleads us from a proper understanding of abstract objects.

  • Toulmin and the D-N Model of Explanation

In this paper I explore the work by Stephen Toulmin as it relates to the Deductive-Nomological model of explanation and develop a Toulmin-style isomorph to that model.

Network Analyses

In addition to working on explanation and the foundations of graphical models I enjoy learning the tools and techniques of scientists who work with those models. To that end I've been working on some projects that use the data produced by professional philosophy to get a network-level view of the field. See below for the results of this work.

Past Work

Before graduate school I worked with the Statistical Relational AI Team at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center to develop an AI pipeline for Alzheimer's diagnosis using statistical relational learning and expert knowledge. This work was presented at the 2012 Internation Conference on Machine Learning and Applications (ICMLA) [.pdf] and later published in the International Journal of Machine Learning and Cybernetics (IJMLC) [.pdf].


Curriculum Vitae

Areas of Specialization

  • Philosophy of Science
  • Epistemology

Areas of Competence

  • Metaphysics
  • Philosophy of Technology
  • Philosophy of Physics

Current Positions Held

  • Adjunct Instructor. Lincoln College, Accelerated Bridge to Education Program. Normal, IL.
  • Adjunct Instructor. Fine Arts & Humanities Department, Heartland Community College. Normal, IL.
  • Chair of Pedagogical Instruction. Department of Philosophy, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Urbana, IL.
  • Research Assistant. Psychology of Philosophy Laboratory. Department of Philosophy, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Urbana, IL.


  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Urbana, IL.
    • PhD, philosophy, 2018 (anticipated)
    • M.A., philosophy, 2017
  • Wake Forest University. Winston-Salem, NC.
    • B.A., philosophy, 2011
    • B.A., physics, 2011

Research Experience


S. Natarajan, S. Joshi, B. Saha, A. Edwards, T. Khot, E. Moody, K. Kersting, C. Whitlow, J. Maldjian. "Relational Learning helps in Three-way Classifcation of Alzheimer Patients from Structural Magnetic Resonance Images of the Brain." IJMLC 2013 [pdf]

S. Natarajan, S. Joshi, B. Saha, A. Edwards, T. Khot, E. Moody, K. Kersting, C. Whitlow, J. Maldjian. "A Machine Learning Pipeline for Three-Way Classifcation of Alzheimer Patients from Structural Magnetic Resonance Images of the Brain." ICMLA 2012: 203-208 [pdf]

Peer-Reviewed Conference Presentations

"Modality for Moderate Empiricists", with Jonathan Livengood,

  • Illinois Philosophical Association, November 2015
  • SIUC Philosophical Collaborations Conference, March 2015

"Defining Success for Ourselves",

  • UNC-Charlotte Student Conference, March 2013


On Caley Howland’s “The Problem Implicit Bias Poses for Epistemic Justification”

  • UIUC Graduate Conference Apr 2016

On Tyrus Fisher’s “Counterlegal Dependence and Causation’s Arrows”

  • APA Central Meeting Feb 2015

On Josef Kay’s “Scientific Representation, Deflationism, and the Semantic View”

  • UIUC Graduate Conference Mar 2014

On Raff Donelson’s “Against Brewer’s Critique of Desire”

  • UIUC Graduate Conference Mar 2013

Teaching Experience

As Primary Instructor

Applied Ethics

Introduction to Philosophy


Informal Logic

Philosophy and Technology

Illinois Lyceum Philosophy Program

As Teaching Assistant


Introduction to Philosophy

Introduction to Philosophy

Informal Logic and Reasoning

Quantitative Logic and Reasoning


two sections

five sections

two sections

three sections

one section

two sections


two sections

two sections

three sections

four sections

four sections


Spring 2018 (2)

Spring 2017 (1), Fall 2017 (2), Spring 2018 (2)

Spring 2017 (1), Spring 2018 (1)

Fall 2016 (1), Spring 2018 (1)

Summer 2016

Summer 2014 (1), 2015 (1)


Spring 2016

Spring 2013

Fall 2013 (1), Fall 2015 (2)

Fall 2013 (2), Spring 2015 (2)

Fall 2012 (2), Fall 2014 (2)

Teaching Training

Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning (CITL) Professional Portfolio Seminar Series, Fall 2014 - Spring 2015

CWS Graduate Student Writing Across the Curriculum Seminar, Spring 2015

CITL Course Design Program, Fall 2014

Workshops Led

CITL Design Your Online Course, "Using Synchronous Communication Tools", November 2017

CITL Graduate Academy for College Teaching, Microteaching workshop facilitation, August 2014, January 2015, August 2016

CITL Graduate Academy for College Teaching, "Engaging Students Beyond the Classroom", August 2015, August 2016

CITL Graduate Academy for College Teaching, "Lesson Planning, Questioning Strategies, & Microteaching Preparation", August 2014, August 2015

Grants & Awards

University of Illinois Department of Philosophy Smalley Grant Fellowship, Spring 2017 ($10,000)

University of Illinois Office of Public Engagement 2014 Grant, awarded for the Illinois Lyceum project ($4000)

Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning (CITL) Teacher Scholar Certificate, Spring 2015

Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning (CITL) Graduate Teaching Certificate, Spring 2014

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Merit Fellowship, Spring 2014 (one semester fully funded)

List of Teachers Ranked Excellent by their Students, Fall 2016, Summer 2016, Spring 2016, Fall 2015, Spring 2015, Fall 2014, Fall 2013 (PHIL102 & PHIL101), Spring 2013 (PHIL100), Fall 2012 (PHIL103)

Professional Development

Professional Service

Department of Philosophy Website Committee. Member, 2014-2016

College Teaching Effectiveness Network. Member, 2014-present

UIUC Graduate Philosophy Organization.

  • Secretary, 2017-2018
  • President, 2016-2017
  • Treasurer, 2013-2015
  • Faculty Liaison, 2013-2014

UIUC Graduate Conference Organizing Committee.

  • Chair, 2013-2015
  • Member, 2012-present

UIUC Graduate Employee's Organization.

  • Chair, Communications Committee, 2013-2015
  • Steward's Council Member, 2012-present

Midwest Experimental and Theoretical Association (META) Committee. 2012-2013

Professional Memberships

Philosophy of Psychology Laboratory at Illinois (PoP Lab).

Statistical Relational Artifcial Intelligence Team (StRAIT). 2011-2012


  • Year 6

Causation in Fundamental Physics (Christopher Weaver)

  • Year 5

Experimental Philosophy (Jonathan Livengood)

  • Year 4

Time in Philosophy of Physics (Christopher Weaver), Evidence and Accuracy (Jennifer Carr), Debunking Arguments (Dan Korman)

  • Year 3

Modal Logic (Jonathan Livengood), Scientific Understanding (Jonathan Waskan), Network Analysis (Jana Diesner), Philosophy of Social Science (Jonathan Livengood), Logic & Recursion Theory (Balazs Gyneis)

  • Year 2

Bernard Williams (David Sussman), Scientific Modeling (Jonathan Waskan), Philosophy of Mathematics* (Andrew Arana), Representing & Organizing Information Resources (David Dubin), Metaphysics in Physics (Jonathan Livengood), Hellenic Philosophy (Kirk Sanders)

  • Year 1

Philosophy of Cognitive Science (Jonathan Waskan), Responsibility and the Law (Michael Moore), History of Bayesianism (Jonathan Livengood), Formal Semantics (Peter Lasersohn), Causation (Jonathan Livengood), Epistemology (Dan Korman), Evolutionary Neuroscience (Justin Rhodes)

*: Course was taken as an audit.

Last Update: December 2017