According to one narrative about the history of the concept of emergence in metaphysics and philosophy of science, when British emergentists initially appealed to emergence in the early twentieth century, they aimed to lay the groundwork for a philosophy of nature that was supposed to constitute a middle course between two antagonistic worldviews: reductive physicalism and non-physicalist dualism. While reductive physicalism aims to establish that all concrete goings-on, ranging from social phenomena to biological and chemical processes, are reducible to fundamental physical states and processes explicated by, and invoked in, an ideal physics, non-physicalist dualism holds that some phenomena resist any kind of physical reducibility, and are radically autonomous vis-à-vis physical goings-on. The emergentist idea is that a more plausible way of making sense of the natural world is through accepting that some phenomena resist physical reduction, but that is not to say that such phenomena “float free” of the physical. Such phenomena are taken to be “emergent”, suggesting that there is an emergence relation between the emergent entities and their so-called physical “emergence bases”.
On the basis of a coherently applied physicalist ontology, I will argue that there is nothing conceptual in logic and mathematics. What we usually call “mathematical concepts”—from the most exotic ones to the most “evident” ones—are just names tagged to various elements of mathematical formalism. In fact they have nothing to do with concepts, as they have nothing to do with the actual things; they can be completely ignored by both philosophy and physics.
Quantum entanglement poses a challenge to the traditional metaphysical view that an extrinsic property of an object is determined by its intrinsic properties. So structural realists might be tempted to cite quantum entanglement as evidence for structural realism. I argue, however, that quantum entanglement undermines structural realism. If we classify two entangled electrons as a single system, we can say that their spin properties are intrinsic properties of the system, and that we can have knowledge about these intrinsic properties. Specifically, we can know that the parts of the system are entangled and spatially separated from each other. In addition, the concept of supervenience neither illuminates quantum entanglement nor helps structural realism.
For the uninitiated, the dense nature of mathematical language can act as an obscuring force. With this essay we aim to bring two classical results of discrete mathematics into the light. To this end we analyze winning strategies in a certain class of solitaire games. The gains are non-standard proofs of the results of K˝onig  and Vizing . For the standard treatment of these results, see . (For a dense and obscure version of the non-standard proofs presented here, see .) First, let’s introduce the games.
It is intuitive to say that persons have infinite value, and recently Rasmussen and Bailey have given some cool arguments for this thesis. But what does it mean to say that humans have infinite value? …
To this end, I maintain that this property is individuated by its phenomenal roles, which can be internal – individuating the property per se – and external – determining further phenomenal or physical properties or states. I then argue that this individuation allows phenomenal roles to be organized in a necessarily asymmetrical net, thereby overcoming the circularity objection to dispositionalism. Finally, I provide reasons to argue that these roles satisfy modal fixity, as posited by Bird, and are not fundamental properties, contra Chalmers’ panpsychism. Thus, bodily pain can be considered a substantial dispositional property entrenched in non-fundamental laws of nature.
It seems plausible that visual experiences of darkness have perceptual, phenomenal content which clearly differentiates them from absences of visual experiences. I argue, relying on psychological results concerning auditory attention, that the analogous claim is true about auditory experiences of silence. More specifically, I propose that experiences of silence present empty spatial directions like ‘right’ or ‘left’, and so have egocentric spatial content. Furthermore, I claim that such content is genuinely auditory and phenomenal in the sense that one can, in principle, recognize that she is experiencing silence. This position is far from obvious as the majority of theories concerning silence perception do not ascribe perceptual, phenomenal content to experiences of silence.
We argue that a particular approach to satisfying the broad predictive ambitions of the sciences demands law confirmation. On this approach we confirm non-nomic generalizations by confirming there are no actually realized ways of causing disconfirming cases. This gives causal generalizations a crucial role in prediction. We then show how rational judgements of relevant causal similarity can be used to confirm that causal generalizations themselves have no actual disconfirmers, providing a distinctive and clearly viable methodology for inductively confirming them. Finally, we argue that for agents in our epistemic position using this methodology to confirm causal generalizations of adequate breadth will commonly demand law confirmation. We make a prima facie assessment of the methodology’s fit with scientific practice and briefly consider the prospects for an associated analysis of laws.
I outline two ways of reading what is at issue in the exclusion problem faced by non-reductive physicalism, the “vertical” versus “horizontal”, and argue that the vertical reading is to be preferred to the horizontal. I discuss the implications: that those who have pursued solutions to the horizontal reading of the problem have taken a wrong turn.
Phenomenal consciousness has an important role in ethics: it is plausible that it is at least a necessary condition for a distinctive kind of moral status. There is a mismatch between this ethical role and an a posteriori (or “type-B”) materialist solution to the mind-body problem. I argue that, if type-B materialism is correct, then the reference of the concept of phenomenal consciousness is indeterminate between properties that are coextensive in the case of (fully conscious) humans but have radically different extensions in non-human animals. The result is that the moral status of many non-mammalian animals is indeterminate. Some ways of managing this disturbing indeterminacy are evaluated.
Mary Shepherd (1777–1847) was appreciated in her day by those who knew her—geologist Charles Lyell said of her that she was an “unanswerable logician, in whose argument it was impossible to find loophole or flaw”; William Whewell, inventor and exemplar of the term ‘scientist,’ used one of her two treatises in a course at Cambridge; the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge drafted a poem describing her as “a desperate scholar,” which any true philosopher will take as a great compliment. Her work since fell into obscurity, however. Of late, Shepherd’s work has gotten a bit more attention, both as offering certain novel criticisms of the doctrines of Berkeley and Hume (see Atherton 1996 and Rickless 2018) and with an eye to considering certain of her positive views (see Bolton 2010, LoLordo 2019, Boyle 2020, and Landy 2020). This recent activity is all to the good, but Shepherd remains almost criminally underrated.
According to a bodily view of pain, pains are objects which are located in body parts. This bodily view is supported by the locative locutions for pain in English, such as that “I have a pain in my back.” Recently, Liu and Klein (Analysis, 80(2), 262–272, 2020) carry out a cross-linguistic analysis, and they claim that (1) Mandarin has no locative locutions for pain and (2) the absence of locative locutions for pain puts the bodily view at risk. This paper rejects both claims. Regarding the philosophical claim, I argue that a language without locative locutions for pain only poses a limited challenge to the bodily view. Regarding the empirical claim, I identify the possible factors which might have misled Liu and Klein about the locative locutions for pain in Mandarin, and argue that Mandarin has a wide range of locative locutions for pain by conducting a corpus analysis. I conclude that compared to English, Mandarin lends no less, if not more, support to the bodily view of pain.
In this article I shall provide an analysis of some salient concepts of dignity. The text is a development of a work which was initiated in the year 2000 when I was affiliated to an international research programme that was supported by the European Union. This programme was called Dignity and Older Europeans (DOE) (DG Research, Directorate E, Biotechnology, Nutrition, under FP5, the lifequality programme contract QLG6-CT-2001-00888) and it was conducted from Cardiff, Wales, by the nursing researcher Winifred Tadd. In the programme participated representatives from eight European nations: England, Wales, Ireland, France, Spain, Slovakia, Poland and Sweden. The participants were physicians, nurses, sociologists or philosophers.
According to the Counterfactual Comparative Account of harm and benefit, an event is overall harmful (/beneficial) for a subject to the extent that this subject would have been better (/worse) off if it had not occurred. In this paper we present a challenge for the Counterfactual Comparative Account (cca). We argue that if physical processes are chancy in the manner suggested by our best physical theories, then cca faces a dilemma: If it is developed in line with the standard approach to counterfactuals, then it delivers that the value of any event for a subject is indeterminate to the extreme, ranging from terribly harmful to highly beneficial. This problem can only be avoided by developing cca in line with theories of counterfactuals that allow us to ignore a-typical scenarios. Doing this generates a different problem: when the actual world is itself a-typical we will sometimes get the result that the counterfactual nonoccurrence of an actual benefit is itself a benefit. An account of overall harm bearing either of these two implications is deficient. Given the general aspiration to account for deprivational harms and the dominance of the Counterfactual Comparative Account in this respect, theorists of harm and benefit face a deadlock.
Supervenience in metaethics is the notion that there can be no moral difference between two acts, persons or events without some non-moral difference underlying it. If St. Francis is a good man, there could not be a man exactly like St. Francis in non-evaluative respects that is not good. The phenomenon was first systematically discussed by R. M. Hare (1952), who argued that realists about evaluative properties struggle to account for it. As is well established, Hare, and following him, Simon Blackburn, mistakenly took the relevant phenomenon to be weak rather than strong supervenience, and the explanations they offered for it are accordingly outdated. In this paper, I present a non-factualist account of strong supervenience of the evaluative and argue that it fares better than competing realist views in explaining the conceptual nature of the phenomenon, as well as in offering an account of the supervenience of the evaluative in general, rather than more narrowly the moral. While Hare and Blackburn were wrong about the specifics, they were right in that non-factualists can offer a plausible account of the supervenience of the evaluative, that in certain respects is superior to competing realist explanations.
Double dissociations between perceivable colors and physical properties of colored objects have led many philosophers to endorse relationalist accounts of color. I argue that there are analogous double dissociations between attitudes of belief—the beliefs that people attribute to each other in everyday life— and intrinsic cognitive states of belief—the beliefs that some cognitive scientists posit as cogs in cognitive systems—pitched at every level of psychological explanation. These dissociations provide good reason to refrain from conflating attitudes of belief with intrinsic cognitive states of belief. I suggest that interpretivism provides an attractive account of the former (insofar as they are not conflated with the latter). Like colors, attitudes of belief evolved to be ecological signifiers, not cogs in cognitive systems.
Grounding and explanation are said to be intimately connected. Some even maintain that grounding just is a form of explanation. But grounding and explanation also seem importantly different—on the face of it, the former is ‘worldy’ or ‘objective’ while the latter isn’t. In this paper, we develop and respond to an argument to the effect that there is no way to fruitfully address this tension that retains orthodox views about grounding and explanation but doesn’t undermine a central piece of methodology, namely that explanation is a guide to ground.
Leibniz claims that Berkeley “wrongly or at least pointlessly rejects abstract ideas.” What he fails to realize, however, is that some of his own core views commit him to essentially the same stance. His belief that this is the best (and thus most harmonious) possible world, which itself stems from his Principle of Sufficient Reason, leads him to infer that mind and body must perfectly represent or “express” one another. In the case of abstract thoughts he admits that this can happen only in virtue of thinking some image that, being essentially a mental copy of a brain state, expresses (and is expressed by) that state. But here he faces a problem. In order for a thought to be genuinely abstract, its representational content must differ from that of any mental image, since the latter can represent only something particular. In that case, however, an exact correspondence between the accompanying mental image and the brain state would not suffice to establish a perfect harmony between mind and body. Even on Leibniz’s own principles, then, it appears that Berkeley was right to dismiss abstract ideas.
We develop a theory of necessity operators within a version of higher-order logic that is neutral about how fine-grained reality is. The theory is axiomatized in terms of the primitive of being a necessity, and we show how the central notions in the philosophy of modality can be recovered from it. Various questions are formulated and settled within the framework, including questions about the ordering of necessities under strength, the existence of broadest necessities satisfying various logical conditions, and questions about their logical behaviour. We also wield the framework to probe the conditions under which completely reductive theories of necessities are possible.
Philosophers interested in the theoretical consequences of predictive processing often assume that predictive processing is an inferentialist and representationalist theory of cognition. More specifically, they assume that predictive processing revolves around approximated Bayesian inferences drawn by inverting a generative model. Generative models, in turn, are said to be structural representations: representational vehicles that represent their targets by being structurally similar to them. Here, I challenge this assumption, claiming that, at present, it lacks an adequate justification. I examine the only argument offered to establish that generative models are structural representations, and argue that it does not substantiate the desired conclusion. Having so done, I consider a number of alternative arguments aimed at showing that the relevant structural similarity obtains, and argue that all these arguments are unconvincing for a variety of reasons. I then conclude the paper by briefly highlighting three themes that might be relevant for further investigation on the matter.
The disappearing agent problem is an argument in the metaphysics of agency. Proponents of the agent-causal approach argue that the rival event-causal approach fails to account for the fact that an agent is active. This paper examines an analogy between this disappearing agent problem and the exclusion problem in the metaphysics of mind. I develop the analogy between these two problems and survey existing solutions. I suggest that some solutions that have received significant attention in response to the exclusion problem have seen considerably less attention in response to the disappearing agent problem. For example, one solution to the exclusion problem is to reject the exclusion assumption. Analogously, one solution to the disappearing agent problem could be to deny the claim that the agent-causal approach and the event-causal approach are mutually exclusive. Similarly, proportionality theories of causation, a solution to the exclusion problem, can be transferred to the disappearing agent problem. After establishing the plausibility of the analogy between the two problems, I examine how this latter solution in particular can be transferred from the one problem to the other.
Talk of human nature is a common feature of moral and political
discourse among people on the street and among philosophers, political
scientists and sociologists. This is largely due to the widespread
assumption that true descriptive or explanatory claims making use of
the concept of human nature have, or would have, considerable
normative significance. Some think that human nature excludes the
possibility of certain forms of social organisation—for example,
that it excludes any broadly egalitarian society. Others make the
stronger claim that a true normative ethical theory has to be built on
prior knowledge of human nature.
The problem of intentional inexistence arises because the following (alleged) intuitions are mutually conflicting: it seems that sometimes we think about things that do not exist; it seems that intentionality is a relation between a thinker and what such a thinker thinks about; it seems that relations entail the existence of what they relate. In this paper, I argue for what I call a radical relationist solution. First, I contend that the extant arguments for the view that relations entail the existence of their relata are wanting. In this regard, I defend a kind of pluralism about relations according to which more than one kind of relation involves non-existents. Second, I contend that there are reasons to maintain that all thoughts are relations between thinkers and the things they are about. More accurately, I contend that the radical relationist solution is to be preferred to both the intentional content solution (as developed by Crane) and the adverbial property solution (as developed by Kriegel). Finally, I argue that once the distinction between thinking “X” and thinking about X has been drawn, the radical relationist solution can handle issues like ontological commitment, substitutivity failure, scrutability, and non-specificity.
David Lewis’s “The Paradoxes of Time Travel” (1976) set the stage for most contemporary philosophical discussions of time travel. Lewis’s views on time travel, including what constitutes time travel, the abilities of and constraints on time travelers, and the impossibility of genuinely changing the past, are now considered the default metaphysical interpretations of the topic. The threads of Lewis’s view are unified by eternalism, the view that past, present, and future times exist and are equally real.
Animalism, the thesis that each of us is a human animal, is a prominent materialist account of what we are. Animalism is often motivated by an attractive line of reasoning, the Thinking Animal Argument. And, independently, animalism has been challenged by appeals to a metaphysical puzzle, the problem of the many. In this paper, I draw attention to the relationship between the Thinking Animal Argument and the problem of the many. I further argue that in virtue of this relationship, animalists are left in an unfortunate position: animalists cannot hold onto their most successful argument without undermining animalism itself.
Metametaphysics concerns foundational metaphysics. Questions of foundational metaphysics include: What is the subject matter of metaphysics? What are its aims? What is the methodology of metaphysics? Are metaphysical questions coherent? If so, are they substantive or trivial in nature? Some have claimed that the notion of grounding is useful in addressing such questions. In this chapter, we introduce some core debates about whether – and, if so, how – grounding should play a role in metametaphysics.
In Calosi and Wilson 2018, we argue that on many interpretations of quantum mechanics (QM), there is quantum mechanical indeterminacy (QMI), and that a determinable-based account of metaphysical indeterminacy (MI), as per Wilson 2013 and 2016, properly accommodates the full range of cases of QMI. Here we argue that this approach is superior to other treatments of QMI on offer, both realistic and deflationary, in providing the basis for an intelligible explanation of the interference patterns in the double-slit experiment. We start with a brief overview of the motivations for QMI and for a determinable-based account of MI (§1). We then apply a developed ‘glutty’ implementation of determinable-based QMI to the superposition-based QMI present in the double-slit experiment, and positively compare the associated explanation of double-slit interference with that available on a metaphysical supervaluationist account of QMI (§2). We then present and respond to objections, due to Glick (2017) and Torza (2017), either to QMI (§3) or to our specific account of QMI (§4); in these sections we also positively compare our treatment of double-slit interference to that available on Glick’s deflationary treatment of QMI. We conclude with some dialectical observations (§5).
One of the most influential traditional objections to Adverbialism about perceptual experience is that posed by Frank Jackson’s ‘many property problem’. Perhaps largely because of this objection, few philosophers now defend Adverbialism. We argue, however, that the essence of the many property problem arises for all of the leading metaphysical theories of experience: all leading theories must simply take for granted certain facts about experience, and no theory looks well positioned to explain the facts in a straightforward way. Because of this, the many property problem isn’t on its own a good reason for rejecting Adverbialism; and nor is it a puzzle that will decide amongst the other leading theories.
First, there is global accessibility and broadcast: a minimal global workspace (in the sense of Dehaene 2014) where information from perception, memory and evaluative systems is integrated and broadcast back to these and other systems. Second, there is binding/unification and differentiation: objects (e.g. a blue box) are perceived, not just fragmented features (boxness and blueness). Third, there is selective attention and exclusion: there are mechanisms for making some stimuli more salient than others. Fourth, there is intentionality: the capacity to represent the world and one’s own body. Fifth, there is integration of information over time, not just at a single time. Sixth, there is an evaluative system. Seventh, there is agency and embodiment. Eighth, and finally, there is registration of a self/other distinction.
This Element examines and defends positions on core issues in philosophy of psychiatry from the perspective of analytic philosophy of science. The positions defended assume a naturalistic and realist perspective and are framed against skeptical perspectives (e.g., anti-psychiatry) that contend that mental disorders are determined by social causes rather than biological ones. Philosophical issues addressed include the reality of mental disorders, the problem of defining mental disorder, disease explanations, natural kinds in psychiatry, feedback effects of psychiatric classifications, the projectability of psychiatric classifications, and the validity of psychiatric constructs.