The modal properties of the principle of the causal closure of the physical have traditionally been said to prevent anything outside the physical world from affecting the physical universe and vice versa. This idea has been shown to be relative to the definition of the principle (Gamper 2017). A traditional definition prevents the one universe from affecting any other universe, but with a modified definition, e.g. (ibid.), the causal closure of the physical can be consistent with the possibility of one universe affecting the other universe. Gamper (2017) proved this modal property by implementing interfaces between universes. Interfaces are thus possible, but are they realistic? To answer this question, I propose a two-step process where the second step is scientific research. The first step, however, is to fill the gap between the principles or basic assumptions and science with a consistent theoretical framework that accommodates the modal properties of an ontology that matches the basic assumptions.
According to a standard interpretation, Plato’s conception of our moral psychology evolved over the course of his written dialogues. In his earlier dialogues, notably the Protagoras, Meno, and Gorgias, Plato’s Socrates maintains that we always do what we believe is best. Many commentators infer from this that Socrates holds that the psyche is simple, in the sense that there is only one ultimate source of motivation: reason. By contrast, in the Republic, Phaedrus, and Timaeus, Socrates holds that the psyche is complex, or has three distinct and semi-autonomous sources of motivation, which he calls the reasoning, spirited, and appetitive parts. While the rational part determines what is best overall and motivates us to pursue it, the spirited and appetitive parts incline us toward different objectives, such as victory, honor, and esteem, or the satisfaction of our desires for food, drink, and sex.
When we construct a model of something, we must distinguish those features of the model which represent features of that which we model, from those features which are intrinsic to the model and play no representational role. The latter are artifacts of the model. For example, if we use string to make a model of a polygon, the shape of the model represents a feature of the polygon, and the size of the model may or may not represent a feature of the polygon, but the thickness and three-dimensionality of the string is certainly an artifact of the model.
According to Dominic Lopes, expressiveness in pictures should be analyzed solely in terms of “expression looks” of various sorts, namely the look of a figure, a scene and/or a design. But, according to this view, it seems puzzling that expressive pictures should have any emotional effect on their audiences. Yet Lopes explicitly ties his “contour theory” of expression in pictures to empathic responses in spectators. Thus, despite his deflationary account of pictorial expression, he claims that pictures can give us practice in various “empathic skills.” I argue that Lopes’s account of empathic responses to pictures, while interesting and enlightening, nevertheless ignores the most important way in which pictures exercise and enhance our empathic skills, namely, by giving us practice in taking the emotional perspective of another person.
You aren’t supposed to talk about it. Not really. And certainly not in front of the kids. But that isn’t why you don’t remember it. That isn’t why you don’t remember the way it feels. You don’t remember the way it feels because it doesn’t leave a memory trace to begin with. The facts are retained, but the feeling disappears. What I’m alluding to is the pain of childbirth—hush, don’t let my kids read this, but it did hurt! Yet although I can remember that labor pains hurt, I can’t remember what they felt like. Although I can remember that they were too traumatic to sleep through and that while standing under the shower trying to alleviate the agony, I tore down the soap dish bolted into the wall, I can’t conjure up the sensory experience itself. Although my memory of the events leading up to the birth is pellucid—I remember how the nurses were impressed that I wanted to suffer through it unmedicated and how, when it came down to the wire, my obstetrician started humming Blue Moon—my memory of the bodily sensations is nonexistent. Introspection, here, reveals an utter blank. Contrary to the adage about experience being the best teacher, experience’s pedagogy was an utter failure.
Ammonius (ca. 435/445–517/526) taught philosophy at Alexandria,
where his father Hermeias had taught earlier. Known primarily for his
commentaries on Aristotle, which were said to be of greater benefit
than anyone else’s, he was also distinguished in geometry and
astronomy. Himself a pupil of Proclus at Athens, at Alexandria
Ammonius taught most of the important Platonists of the late
5th and early 6th centuries: Asclepius,
Damascius and Simplicius, Eutocius, and Olympiodorus; Elias and David
are considered indirect pupils of his. Damascius, who went on to head
the school at Athens, heard Ammonius lecture, but attached himself
rather to the mentorship of Isidore and followed him to Athens.
The project of naturalistic metaphysics appears straightforward. Start with one’s best scientific theories and infer one’s metaphysical commitments from what these theories say exist, the sort of ideological frameworks they employ. Yet, as many have noted, naturalism poses challenges for metaphysics as it is typically practiced. In particular, once scientific theories themselves offer verdicts about the sort of things that exist, the properties they have, and the spatiotemporal structures they occupy, what more is there for metaphysicians to contribute than simply repeating what is already known? Even if the work is straightforward, in becoming naturalistic, metaphysics seems to promote its own obsolescence. The goal of this paper is to evaluate one influential response to this concern, one that has been appealing to many contemporary metaphysicians who are naturalists. This is to argue that although it might appear that metaphysics and science are aimed at a common set of questions about the sorts of entities the world contains and what they are like, this appearance is misleading. Metaphysicians rather address a distinctive subject matter, a subject matter more fundamental than that of science.
[Editor's Note: The following new entry by David Vander Laan replaces the
on this topic by the previous authors.] In the philosophy of religion, creation is the action by
which God brings an object into existence, while conservation
is the action by which God maintains the existence of an object over
time. The major monotheisms unambiguously affirm that God both created
the world and conserves it. It is less clear, however, whether
creation and conservation are to be conceived as distinct kinds of
actions. The question has its roots in medieval and early modern
characterizations of divine action, and it has received renewed
attention in recent decades.
Joseph Halpern and Judea Pearl () draw upon structural equation models to develop an attractive analysis of ‘actual cause’. Their analysis is designed for the case of deterministic causation. I show that their account can be naturally extended to provide an elegant treatment of probabilistic causation.
As Feynman (1982) observed, “we always have had a great deal of difficulty in understanding the world view that quantum mechanics represents” (471). Among the perplexing aspects of quantum mechanics is its seeming, on a wide variety of presently live realist interpretations (including but not limited to the so-called ‘orthodox’ interpretation), to violate the classical supposition of ‘value definiteness’, according to which the properties—a.k.a. ‘observables’—of a given particle or system have precise values at all times. Indeed, value indefiniteness lies at the heart of what is supposed to be distinctive about quantum phenomena, as per the following classic cases:
Facts, philosophers like to say, are opposed to theories and to values
(cf. Rundle 1993) and are to be distinguished from things, in
particular from complex objects, complexes and wholes, and from
relations. They are the objects of certain mental states and acts,
they make truth-bearers true and correspond to truths, they are part
of the furniture of the world. We present and discuss some
philosophical and formal accounts of facts.
“Intuitionistic logic” is a term that unfortunately gains
ever greater currency; it conveys a wholly false view on
intuitionistic mathematics. —Freudenthal 1937
Intuitionistic logic is an offshoot of L.E.J. Brouwer’s
intuitionistic mathematics. A widespread misconception has it that
intuitionistic logic is the logic underlying Brouwer’s
intuitionism; instead, the intuitionism underlies the logic, which is
construed as an application of intuitionistic mathematics to language. Intuitionistic mathematics consists in the act of effecting mental
constructions of a certain kind. These are themselves not linguistic
in nature, but when acts of construction and their results are
described in a language, the descriptions may come to exhibit
In this paper we compare two different notions of ‘power’, both of which attempt to provide a realist understanding of quantum mechanics grounded on the potential mode of existence. For this propose we will begin by introducing two different notions of potentiality present already within Aristotelian metaphysics, namely, irrational potentiality and rational potentiality. After discussing the role played by potentiality within classical and quantum mechanics, we will address the notion of causal power which is directly related to irrational potentiality and has been adopted by many interpretations of QM. We will then present the notion of immanent power which relates to rational potentiality and argue that this new concept presents important advantages regarding the possibilities it provides for understanding in a novel manner the theory of quanta. We end our paper with a comparison between both notions of ‘power’, stressing some radical differences between them.
The notion of transworld identity—‘identity across
possible worlds’—is the notion that the same object exists
in more than one possible world (with the actual world treated as one
of the possible worlds). It therefore has its home in a
‘possible-worlds’ framework for analysing, or at least
paraphrasing, statements about what is possible or necessary. The subject of transworld identity has been highly contentious, even
among philosophers who accept the legitimacy of talk of possible
worlds. Opinions range from the view that the notion of an identity
that holds between objects in distinct possible worlds is so
problematic as to be unacceptable, to the view that the notion is
utterly innocuous, and no more problematic than the uncontroversial
claim that individuals could have existed with somewhat different
Last Thursday I gave a talk at Sydney University's philosophy department about Kipper's bombshell, my old account of necessity, and my new account involving counterfactual invariance deciders. I got a lot out of it, and was asked many good questions. …
The expression “continental rationalism” refers to a set
of views more or less shared by a number of philosophers active on the
European continent during the latter two thirds of the seventeenth
century and the beginning of the eighteenth. Rationalism is most often
characterized as an epistemological position. On this view, to be a
rationalist requires at least one of the following: (1) a privileging
of reason and intuition over sensation and experience, (2) regarding
all or most ideas as innate rather than adventitious, (3) an emphasis
on certain rather than merely probable knowledge as the goal of
The paper argues for a metaphysics in the vein of the Canberra plan, namely to single out a minimal, basic set of entities and then to show how everything else is located in that set by being identical with something in that set and how the propositions that describe the basic entities entail all the other true propositions. The paper conceives the Canberra plan for the domain of the natural sciences as a naturalized metaphysics that is not committed to a priori entailment. The proposal is that the minimal set of entities is defined by the following two axioms: (1) There are distance relations that individuate simple objects, namely matter points. (2) The matter points are permanent, with the distances between them changing. Finally, the paper explains how the Canberra plan sets a clear standard for ontological issues that go beyond the natural sciences.
The attempt to model the structure of consciousness in split-brain subjects is on-going. This paper concerns the recently proposed switch model of split-brain consciousness, according to which a split-brain subject possesses only a single stream of consciousness, unified at and across time, that shifts from one hemisphere to the other from moment to moment. The paper argues that while the central explanatory element of the switch model may account for some aspects of split-brain consciousness, the best general picture of split-brain consciousness is still offered by some version of the conscious duality model.
Ontic structural realism (OSR) claims that all there is to the world is structure. But how can this slogan be turned into a worked-out metaphysics? Here I consider one potential answer: a metaphysical framework known as generalism (Dasgupta, 2009, 2016). According to the generalist, the most fundamental description of the world is not given in terms of individuals bearing properties, but rather, general facts about which states of affairs obtain. However, I contend that despite several apparent similarities between the positions, generalism is unable to capture the two main motivations for OSR. I suggest instead that OSR should be construed as a meta-metaphysical position.
Goldman tells us that the "theory theory" and the "simulation theory" are different theories concerning "how ordinary people go about the business of attributing mental states." This phrase is ambiguous in ways that may make a difference, I think, both to the controversy between the theory theorists and the simulation theorists and to the question what imitation might have to do with mind reading.
For a philosopher to speculate about animal cognition is implicitly to engage in theoretical psychology or theoretical neurology at a very high level of abstraction. As with all sciences, research in psychology and neurology need to be guided by speculative hypotheses, in these particular cases, by hypotheses about what kinds of functions, hence structures, it would be sensible to look for. We philosophers may be in a position to help, but we can't expect armchair argument to go very far. In the end, all the questions are rock-bottom empirical.
“Bradley’s Regress” is an umbrella term for a family
of arguments that lie at the heart of the ontological debate
concerning properties and relations. The original arguments were
articulated by the British idealist philosopher F. H. Bradley, who, in
his work Appearance and Reality (1893), outlined three
distinct regress arguments against the relational unity of properties. Bradley argued that a particular thing (a lump of sugar) is nothing
more than a bundle of qualities (whiteness,
sweetness, and hardness) unified into a cohesive
whole via a relation of some sort. But relations, for Bradley, were
Here’s an old-style philosophical problem, addressed by our ancestors: By what miraculous arrangement does it happen that the world is intelligible and knowable? How can we know that our concepts fit nature? Various answers were proposed over the years: a) God made things, people are in God’s image b) souls have access to the Forms c) men are by nature such as to know d) nature is ideas; so mind and nature are the same After Hume’s sharpening of the issue, and lacking confidence in god-arguments, Kant suggested that the correlation was due to our imposing conceptual structures on a given. Thus nature as we experience it will be causally organized, consist of enduring objects, and so forth. Hegel, among others, continues this thought, in a way, by noting that “nature itself” really has no role in a Kantian scheme. Thus Hegel makes the world we experience identical with our consciousness, properly understood, so that the close fit is not surprising since it’s a fit between the true us and us.
In the forties, a group of critics known as the “New Critics,” became influential in American academics. The New Critics includes such figures as John Crowe Ransome and Cleanth Brooks. They were distinguished from their predecessors by taking the literary work as a text to be studied apart from its relations to the world and human edification. In particular, the referential aspects of literary works exterior to the text were relegated to secondary considerations, at best. So, for instance, in discussing a Donne poem, New Critics would be little interested in whether Donne’s description of love was accurate of seventeenth-century English life-styles, but very interested in the ways features of the poem function together. They were especially interested in how the poem itself instantiated the theme of the poem. Such self-referentiality was not new in criticism. Perhaps most famously, Pope’s Essay on Criticism partially consists of lines like, “A needless Alexandrine ends the song,/ That, like a wounded snake, drags its slow length along.” Implicit in the notion of taking the poem itself as an art-object is the opening of questions about the reference of a literary art object. Since the interest was in the text as such, the New Critics rediscovered that interpretations that treated the text as self-referential were illuminating. The interest in the text itself led to explorations of the possibility that the figures and structural features of the literary works constituted systems of thought, much like theories. The examination of various sizes of literary production from individual poems to life-works produced something plausibly like such literary-world-systems in various author’s works. New Critical investigations were particularly interested in the traditional aesthetic value of unity, and a constant theme in their analyses is showing how the various features of the art-object as such exhibit hidden unities in the diversity of elements that constitutes a text.
David Lewis describes his “modal realism” as a philosopher’s paradise. The present essay applies this paradise in ways that Lewis himself did not pursue. This essay begins to develop one idea: A modal realist account of necessary entities and possible worlds solves a significant theological problem, the problem of evil. Lewis’ modal realism, appropriately adjusted, enables a persuasive solution to the theological problem of evil. It furthermore satisfies the spirit of Leibniz’ thesis that the universe is the best possible world. A central problem of Western monotheism is how an omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good and loving God is compatible with the evil aspects of the actual world. Modal realism explains the existence of very imperfect worlds as not only compatible with such a God, but required by the existence of such a God.
This paper presents Plato's metaphysics as a response to regress arguments. These regress arguments should be thought of as on a par with problems of how to adapt scientific theories to accommodate and explain recalcitrant data. In this case, the recalcitrant data are apparent plurality in the world and a variety of intuitive truisms such as the apparent distinction between a thing and its features. The theory that must somehow be adjusted to accommodate or explain away these data consists of the equally intuitive truisms required as premises by Parmenides and by the arguments I will label "Heracleitean." In order for an argument to pose a problem for Plato, it is by no means necessary that the texts that pose the problem explicitly state the relevant arguments or even that the relevant arguments be what their author "had in mind" in some sense. Plato responds to Heraclitus as Plato (and Plato's contemporaries) understand Heraclitus, and this will likely not be exactly how Heraclitus understood himself. In the case of Heraclitus, I would feel very dubious about ascribing Cratylus' or Plato's interpretations to his understanding of himself. In the case of Parmenides, I have more confidence that the principles and arguments I ascribe to him are legitimately his.
Davidson’s brilliant account of adverbial modification quantified over events. Here is a sketch of the problem it solved. “John buttered the toast with a knife at midnight” clearly entails “John buttered the toast with something,” “John did something with a knife,” and a variety of other things. If the prepositional clauses are treated as arguments of a single buttering-predicate, there would be two choices: a) An all-purpose buttering predicate would have to have every possible variety of prepositional phrase, so that “John buttered the bread” would actually use the same six-place predicate as in “John buttered the bread with butter, with a knife, in the closet, after midnight” but with three of the places existentially quantified. The inference from “John buttered the bread with fresh butter, with a knife, in the closet, after midnight” to “John buttered the bread,” would then be existential generalization, from B(John, bread, butter, knife, closet, midnight) to ExEyEzEw(John, bread,x,y,z,w).
The epistemology of modality has focused almost exclusively on knowledge of metaphysical modality. However, other kinds of so-called objective modality (in the sense of Williamson 2016b) such as nomic, practical, and ‘easy’ possibility can also appear epistemologically puzzling, and they are important topics in their own right. Thus the neglect of the epistemology of other objective modalities may look strange and even parochial. At worst, it may look similar to an approach to the epistemology of mathematics that only deals with knowledge of the theorems of some weak mathematical theory, such as Robinson arithmetic.
Callard (2007) argues that it is metaphysically possible that a mathematical object, although abstract, causally affects the brain. I raise the following objections. First, a successful defence of mathematical realism requires not merely the metaphysical possibility but rather the actuality that a mathematical object affects the brain. Second, mathematical realists need to confront a set of three pertinent issues: why a mathematical object does not affect other concrete objects and other mathematical objects, what counts as a mathematical object, and how we can have knowledge about an unchanging object.
“The problem of universals” in general is a historically
variable bundle of several closely related, yet in different
conceptual frameworks rather differently articulated metaphysical,
logical, and epistemological questions, ultimately all connected to
the issue of how universal cognition of singular things is possible. How do we know, for example, that the Pythagorean theorem holds
universally, for all possible right triangles? Indeed, how can we have any awareness of a potential infinity of all
possible right triangles, given that we could only see a finite number
of actual ones?