This work is the sum result of the effort of an innumerable list of people, only one of which (me) actually wrote the thing. There are too many contributors to mention, but I’ll highlight a few of the most significant, in order of the product of contribution and temporal appearance.
First, my mother Peggy Polczinski who taught me the value of education and the value of humor, and who has been my biggest supporter and cheerleader since the day I was born. In a very literal sense, I would not be here without her, and she deserves top billing. Second, my stepfather Peter Polczinski, who taught me the value of hard work and perseverance, despite my innate aversion to both those virtues. Long days and pleasant nights to both of you. I get by with a little help from my friends.
Philip Kitcher, who has been a tireless, patient, kind, and inspirational advisor during my time at Columbia. Professor Kitcher published five books (and counting!) while I was his graduate student, and was responsible for suggesting the topic of this work to me one rainy December New York morning on the steps of Low Library on the Columbia University campus. Every aspiring thinker should be so lucky as to have a mentor like you, Philip, and your encouragement, prodding, criticism, and advice have been indispensable and unforgettable. It’s a debt and an honor that I will never be able to repay.
Allegra Pincus who has been along for the last and possibly most bumpy part of this project, and who has been a steadfast partner, friend, companion, and supporter. I love you very much, my dear. Thank you for being in my life.
I’ve always been the kind of person who really only produces anything of value when forced into argument with someone else, so all of the various people who have spoken to and debated with me over the years deserve a mention. Chief among these are two individuals: Daniel Estrada and Quee Nelson. Dan and Quee (who would be horrified at being included in the same exclusive set) have both functioned as steadfast critics and interlocutors over the course of years. They’ve both read early drafts of things I’ve written, offered arguments that challenged my assumptions, and stayed up late into the night debating with me. Dan and Quee, the friendship of both of you has been invaluable, and you’ve both functioned as mentors in your own way. I can’t wait to keep working with you both.