I argue that Emilie du Châtelet’s metaphysics of corporeal substance in the 1740s was a species of realism. This result challenges the ruling consensus, which takes her to have been decisively influenced by Leibniz, an idealist. In addition, I argue that du Châtelet’s ontology of body is a mixture of realism and idealism, likewise non-Leibnizian. This too questions the scholarly consensus; and opens the way for a long due and careful reassessment of her overall doctrine. I suggest that her view is best understood as dualism, a two-substance metaphysics that puts du Châtelet relatively close to Christian Wolff.
In his paper, ‘Regarding the ‘Hole Argument”, Weatherall suggests that models of general relativity related by a hole diffeomorphism must be regarded as being physically equivalent. At a later stage in the paper, however, he also argues that there is a sense in which two such models may be regarded as being empirically distinct—a fortiori physically distinct. We attempt to delineate the logic behind these two prima facie contradictory claims. We argue that the latter sense rests upon a misunderstanding of the import of shift arguments in the foundations of spacetime theories.
Jonathan Greig (LMU Munich) posted the picture above to Twitter the other day, crediting Laura Castelli with finding it. It’s from a 14th Century illuminated manuscript by Thomas Le Myésier, Breviculum ex artibus Raimundi Lulli electum, and depicts Aristotle, Averroes, and Ramon Llull leading an army charging the Tower of Falsehood. …
A counterpossible conditional is a counterfactual with an impossible antecedent. Common sense delivers the view that some such conditionals are true, and some are false. In recent publications, Timothy Williamson has defended the view that all are true. In this paper we defend the common sense view against Williamson’s objections.
When deciding how ‘death’ should be defined, it is helpful to consider cases in which vital functions are restored to an organism long after those vital functions have ceased. Here I consider whether such restoration cases can be used to refute termination theses. Focusing largely on the termination thesis applied to human animals (the view that when human animals die they cease to exist), I develop a line of argument from the possibility of human restoration to the conclusion that in many actual cases, human animals continue to exist after they die. The line of reasoning developed here can be extended to show that other organisms survive death in many actual cases. This line of reasoning improves on other arguments that have been offered against termination theses. And if my argument regarding human animals surviving death is successful, then assuming that human persons are animals, we can also conclude that human persons in many actual cases continue to exist after death.
In this paper I want to consider the implications of materialism about the human mind for a scientific understanding of consciousness. I shall argue that, while science can tell us many exciting things about human consciousness, it won’t be able to pinpoint any specific material property that constitutes seeing something red, say, or being in pain, or indeed that constitutes being conscious (that is, feeling like something rather than nothing). Not that this means there are definite facts about consciousness about which science must permanently remain silent. Rather the difficulty lies with our concepts of conscious properties, which are vague in certain crucial respects.
This paper responds to a new objection, due to Ben Bramble, against attitudinal theories of sensory pleasure and pain: the objection from unconscious pleasures and pains. According to the objection, attitudinal theories are unable to accommodate the fact that sometimes we experience pleasures and pains of which we are, at the time, unaware. In response, I distinguish two kinds of unawareness and argue that the subjects in the examples that support the objection are unaware of their sensations in only a weak sense, and this weak sort of unawareness of a sensation does not preclude its being an object of one’s attitudes.
In this paper, I will argue that metaphysicians ought to utilize quantum theories of gravity (QG) as incubators for a future metaphysics. In §2, I will argue why this ought to be done. In §3, I will present case studies from the history of science where physical theories have challenged both the dogmatic and speculative metaphysician. In §4, I will present two theories of QG and demonstrate the challenge they pose to certain aspects of our current metaphysics; in particular, how they challenge our understanding of the abstract-concrete distinction. The central goal of this paper is to encourage metaphysicians to look to physical theories, especially those involving cosmology such as string theory and loop quantum gravity, when doing metaphysics.
Is the Christian doctrine of the Trinity consistent with a very strong version of the thesis of divine simplicity? Yes, so long as the simple divine nature is a relational nature, a nature that could be characterized in terms of such relations as knowing and loving. This divine nature functions simultaneously as agent, patient, and action: as knower, known and knowledge, and lover, beloved, and love. We can then distinguish three really distinct aspects of the one simple reality: God-qua-knower-simpliciter, God-qua-known-simpliciter, and God-quaknower-cum-known, which can be identified with Father, Son, and Spirit, respectively. However, it would be a mistake to suppose that God-qua-knower knows but is not known, or that God-qua-known is known but does not know, since it is essential that each of the three Persons both knows and is known (loves, and is beloved). Instead, we must attach the qualifications also to the action and not just to the agent or patient. So, the Father (God-qua-knower) knows-qua-knower, and similarly the Spirit loves-qua-knower-and-known. I will draw on work on qua-objects by Kit Fine and Nicholas Asher and on my own account of relational facts to elucidate this model more fully.
This paper aims to vindicate the thesis that cognitive computational properties are abstract objects implemented in physical systems. I avail of the equivalence relations countenanced in Homotopy Type Theory, in order to specify an abstraction principle for intensional, computational properties. The homotopic abstraction principle for intensional mental functions provides an epistemic conduit into our knowledge of cognitive algorithms as abstract objects. I examine, then, how intensional functions in Epistemic Modal Algebra are deployed as core models in the philosophy of mind, Bayesian perceptual psychology, the program of natural language semantics in linguistics, and in quantum information theory, and I argue that this provides abductive support for the truth of homotopic abstraction. Epistemic modality can thus be shown to be both a compelling and a materially adequate candidate for the fundamental structure of mental representational states, comprising a fragment of the Language of Thought.
This paper aims to provide a mathematically tractable background against which to model both modal cognitivism and modal expressivism. I argue that epistemic modal algebras comprise a materially adequate fragment of the language of thought, and endeavor to show how such algebras provide the resources necessary to resolve Russell’s paradox of propositions. I demonstrate, then, how modal expressivism can be regimented by modal coalgebraic automata, to which the above epistemic modal algebras are dually isomorphic. I examine, in particular, the virtues unique to the modal expressivist approach here proffered in the setting of the foundations of mathematics, by contrast to competing approaches based upon both the inferentialist approach to concept-individuation and the codification of speech acts via intensional semantics.
This essay endeavors to define the concept of indefinite extensibility in the setting of category theory. I argue that the generative property of indefinite extensibility in the category-theoretic setting is identifiable with the Kripke functors of modal coalgebraic automata, where the automata model Grothendieck Universes and the functors are further inter-definable with the elementary embeddings of large cardinal axioms. The Kripke functors definable in Grothendieck universes are argued to account for the ontological expansion effected by the elementary embeddings in the category of sets. By characterizing the modal profile of Ω-logical validity, and thus the generic invariance of mathematical truth, modal coalgebraic automata are further capable of capturing the notion of definiteness, in order to yield a non-circular definition of indefinite extensibility.
This essay aims to redress the contention that epistemic possibility cannot be a guide to the principles of modal metaphysics. I argue that the interaction between the multi-dimensional intensional framework and intensional plural quantification enables epistemic possibilities to target the haecceitistic properties of individuals. I outline the elements of plural logic, and I specify, then, a multi-dimensional intensional formula encoding the relation between the epistemic possibility of haecceity comprehension and its metaphysical possibility. I conclude by addressing objections from the indeterminacy of ontological principles relative to the space of epistemic possibilities, and from the consistency of epistemic modal space.
This paper aims to contribute to the analysis of the nature of mathematical modality, and to the applications of the latter to unrestricted quantification and absolute decidability. Rather than countenancing the interpretational type of mathematical modality as a primitive, I argue that the interpretational type of mathematical modality is a species of epistemic modality. I argue, then, that the framework of multi-dimensional intensional semantics ought to be applied to the mathematical setting. The framework permits of a formally precise account of the priority and relation between epistemic mathematical modality and metaphysical mathematical modality. The discrepancy between the modal systems governing the parameters in the multi-dimensional intensional setting provides an explanation of the difference between the metaphysical possibility of absolute decidability and our knowledge thereof. I demonstrate, finally, how the duality axioms of the epistemic logic for the semantics can be availed of, in order to defuse the paradox of knowability.
In Q2, article 3 of the first part of the Summa Theologica, Aquinas argues that we can in fact demonstrate God’s existence, using only our natural reason (without resort to faith). His main argument in favor of this conclusion is an appeal to the authority of St. Paul’s letter to the Romans 1:20. Aquinas considers three objections to his position: 1. The existence of God is an article of faith, revealed by the Scriptures, not a matter of rational proof. 2. We cannot know God’s essence or nature (as Aquinas himself concedes). How can we prove the existence of an utterly unknown thing? 3. Since we cannot see God directly in this life (as, again, Aquinas would concede), we can know God only on the basis of His effects (i.e., creation). However, creation is finite, and God is infinite, and we cannot infer an infinite cause from a finite effect.
Aristotle's theory of nature offered a number of advantages from a Christian point of view. It allowed for a profound difference between human beings and other material entities based on a distinction between rationality and sub-rationality, which fit nicely with the Biblical conception of humans as the unique bearers of the divine image in the physical world. At the same time, Aristotelianism conceived of human desires and aspirations as continuous with the striving of all natural entities to their essence-determined ends, providing an objective and scientific basis for objective norms in ethics, aesthetics, and politics. The Scientific Revolution of the last three hundred years, while clearly enabling an amazing degree of progress in our understanding of the physical basis of the world (both at the very small and very large ends of the scale), occasioned the unnecessary loss of many metaphysical insights of Aristotle and the Aristotelian tradition, insights which remain essential to the understanding of middle-sized objects-- like human beings. The quantum revolution of the last one hundred years has gradually transformed the imaginative landscape of natural science, creating new opportunities for the recovery of those same Aristotelian themes. (191)
In a series of at least ten books and articles over the last twenty-two years, Timothy O’Connor and his collaborators have developed one of the most rigorous, subtle, and influential accounts of the relation between mind and body, which for present purposes we can call ‘emergent individualism’. My own work has been shaped and enriched by this body of work. Consequently, the critique I offer here is a decidedly friendly, intended to advance our understanding of the mind while building on the contributions of O’Connor and his co-authors (Wong, Churchill, Theiner, and Jacobs).
Ideas are among the most important items in Descartes’
philosophy. They serve to unify his ontology and epistemology. As he
says in a letter to Guillaume Gibieuf (1583–1650), dated 19
January 1642, “I am certain that I can have no knowledge of what
is outside me except by means of the ideas I have within
me.”[ 1 ]
Descartes never published anything that specifically worked out a
theory of ideas. Even so, he said enough in published and unpublished
work, as well as in correspondence, that allows for a basic
reconstruction of a theory. This entry will focus principally on the
theory of ideas and how it relates to Descartes’ ontology,
though in Section 6 of this entry, which includes discussion of simple
natures and Descartes’ concepts of clarity and distinctness,
certain components of his epistemology are briefly considered.
One way to look at the difference between the deaths of humans and brute animals is to say that the death of a human typically deprives the human of goods of rational life that the brute animal is not deprived of. …
According to the “B-theory” of time, the present is not objectively privileged. All moments are on a par; ‘present’ is just an indexical term referring to the time at which it is uttered (compare ‘here’); reality is a four-dimensional “block universe”, in which past, present, and future entities and facts are co-equal. The various “A-theories”, on the other hand, privilege the present, each in its own way. According to presentism, only present entities and facts are real. According to the growing block theory, only past and present entities and facts are real. According to the moving spotlight theory, past and future entities and facts are real, but present entities and facts have a further, irreducible quality of presentness—the “spotlight”.
Over at PhilPercs, J. Edward Hackett is documenting his reading of Whitehead's Process and Reality for the first time. Hackett is a Jamesian scholar, so a lot has to do on the overlap between Whiteheadian process philosophy, and Jamesian pragmatism and radical empiricism. …
This paper is about a question that many readers will think has already been settled: are there different sizes of infinity? That is, are there infinite sets of different sizes? This is one of the most natural questions that one can ask about the infinite. But it is of course generally taken to be settled by mathematical results, such as Cantor’s theorem, to the effect that there are infinite sets without bijections between them. An answer to our question is entailed by these results (which I of course do not dispute), given the following almost universally accepted principle relating size to the existence of functions.
Why does Mary learn something when she leaves the room? One answer, endorsed by some physicalists as well as most dualists, is as follows. Mary learns something because phenomenal knowledge requires direct acquaintance with phenomenal properties. For this reason, there is an epistemic gap between the physical and the phenomenal: phenomenal facts cannot be deduced from physical facts. This is the acquaintance response to the Knowledge Argument. The physicalist and dualist versions of the acquaintance response diverge as to whether this epistemic gap reveals an ontological gap between the physical and the phenomenal.
August W. Schlegel (Sept. 5, 1767, Hanover – May 12, 1845, Bonn)
was a German essayist, critic, translator, philosopher, and poet. Although the philosophical dimension and profundity of his writings
remain underrated, he is considered to be one of the founders of the
German Romantic Movement—which he conceived of as a European
movement—as well as one of the most prominent disseminators of
its philosophical foundational ideas, not only in Germany but also
abroad and, most notably, in Britain. Schlegel had an outstanding knowledge of art, history, literature,
architecture, anthropology, and foreign languages, which made him a
decisive figure in the early development of comparative literature
The connection between whole and part is intimate: not only can we share the same space, but I’m incapable of leaving my parts behind; settle the nonmereological facts and you thereby settle what is a part of what; wholes don’t seem to be an additional ontological commitment over their parts. Composition as identity promises to explain this intimacy. But it threatens to make the connection too intimate, for surely the parts could have made a different whole and the whole have had different parts. In this paper I attempt to offer an account of parthood that is intimate enough but not too intimate: the parts generate the whole, but they are not themselves the whole.
It has recently been argued that indeterminacy and indeterminism make most ordinary counterfactuals false. I argue that a plausible way to avoid such counterfactual skepticism is to postulate the existence of primitive modal facts that serve as truth-makers for counterfactual claims. Moreover, I defend a new theory of ‘might’ counterfactuals, and develop assertability and knowledge criteria to suit such unobservable ‘counterfacts’.
The determination of “who is a J” within a society is treated as an aggregation of the views of the members of the society regarding this question. Methods, similar to those used in Social Choice theory are applied to axiomatize three criteria for determining who is a J: 1) a J is whoever defines oneself to be a J. 2) a J is whoever a “dictator” determines is a J. 3) a J is whoever an “oligarchy” of individuals agrees is a J.
Standard physicalism about consciousness faces a well-known problem. We cannot understand how soggy grey matter should necessitate technicolor phenomenology. In fact, we can easily conceive of “Zombie cases” and “altered qualia cases” where the facts about consciousness vary independently of the physical facts. Call this the conceivability problem. This suggests dualism. But dualism about consciousness has its own well-known problem: it is a decidedly uneconomical view of the world. Call this the complexity problem.
The principle of plenitude for possible structures (PPS) that I endorsed tells us what structures are instantiated at possible worlds, but not what structures give the entire structure of a possible world, not what world-structures there are. A possible structure may be a substructure of a world-structure, instantiated by only a subdomain of the domain of inhabitants of a possible world; or it may be a reduct of a world-structure, involving only some of the natural properties or relations instantiated at a possible world; or it may be a substructure of a reduct of a world-structure. A possible structure needn’t be a world-structure all by itself. For this reason, (PPS) does not provide a complete account of plenitude of worlds when combined with a principle of plenitude for recombinations and a principle of plenitude for world-contents (such as those in “Principles of Plenitude”). For all that (PPS) says, there could be but one (very large!) world-structure, with every world corresponding to some arrangement of possibilia within that one structure. In particular, (PPS) will not allow the derivation of various plausible principles of plenitude for world-structures. For example, (PPS) does not tell us whether substructures of world-structures are themselves world-structures, and thus fails to support a principle of solitude according to which any (connected) possible individual can exist all by itself. In this postscript, I first canvas the reasons I had for formulating a principle of plenitude for structures that was noncommittal as to the structure of entire worlds. I then develop a stronger principle that can serve as a principle of plenitude for world-structures in a complete account of plenitude of worlds. The principle I give is strong enough to entail an appropriate version of the principle of solitude, but not so strong as to entail the existence of gunky worlds. Gunk, I am inclined to believe, is impossible.
Depiction or pictorial representation was studied less intensively by
philosophers than linguistic meaning until the 1960s. The traditional
doctrine that pictures represent objects by copying their appearance
had been challenged by art theorists since the first quarter of the
twentieth century, when what were thought of as illusionistic styles
of painting lost favour, due to the growing prestige of so-called
“primitive” artistic styles, and the fauvist and cubist
experiments of artists at that time. But it took several decades
before philosophers became interested in these debates. When they did
so, it was largely due to the impact of two books: Ernst
Gombrich’s Art and Illusion (1960), and Nelson
Goodman’s Languages of Art (1968).