We have various everyday measures for identifying the presence of consciousness, such as the capacity for verbal report and the intentional control of behaviour. However, there are many contexts in which these measures are difficult (if not impossible) to apply, and even when they can be applied one might have doubts as to their validity in determining the presence/absence of consciousness. Everyday measures for identifying consciousness are particularly problematic when it comes to ‘challenging cases’—human infants, people with brain damage, non-human animals, and AI systems. There is a pressing need to identify measures of consciousness that can be applied to challenging cases. This paper explores one of the most promising strategies for identifying and validating such measures—the natural kind strategy. The paper is in two broad parts. Part I introduces the natural kind strategy, and contrasts it with other influential approaches in the field. Part II considers a number of objections to the approach, arguing that none succeeds.
Recent years have seen growing interest in modifying interventionist accounts of causal explanation in order to characterise noncausal explanation. However, one surprising element of such accounts is that they have typically jettisoned the core feature of interventionism: interventions. Indeed, the prevailing opinion within the philosophy of science literature suggests that interventions exclusively demarcate causal relationships. This position is so prevalent that, until now, no one has even thought to name it. We call it “intervention puritanism”. In this paper, we mount the first sustained defence of the idea that there are distinctively noncausal explanations which can be characterized in terms of possible interventions; and thus, argue that I-puritanism is false. We call the resultant position “intervention liberalism” (I-liberalism, for short). While many have followed Woodward (Making Things Happen: A Theory of Causal Explanation, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2003) in committing to I-pluralism, we trace support for I-liberalism back to the work of Kim (in: Kim (ed) Supervenience and mind, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1974/1993). Furthermore, we analyse two recent sources of scepticism regarding I-liberalism: debate surrounding mechanistic constitution; and attempts to provide a monistic account of explanation. We show that neither literature provides compelling reasons for adopting I-puritanism. Finally, we present a novel taxonomy of available positions upon the role of possible interventions in explanation: weak causal imperialism; strong causal imperialism; monist intervention puritanism; pluralist intervention puritanism; monist intervention liberalism; and finally, the specific position defended in this paper, pluralist intervention liberalism.
In this essay, I discuss what can be the underlying principle to the philosophy of cognitive science that is useful for us to understand human nature. Reviewing the principles of science as already presented by Noam Chomsky, I expand the discussion by briefly discussing the computational aspect of the human mind, the key I argued, to unify the mental and physical aspects of the human brain/mind. The discussion led to Aristotelian psychology (or epistemology) as the suggestion for a way forward in the understanding of the nature of human mind from the mysteriousness of its nature as understood by the rationalists started by René Descartes.
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 towards different objectives, such as victory, honor, and esteem, or the satisfaction of our desires for food, drink, and sex.
This article examines the question ‘what is humour?’ In section 1, we set out default realist presuppositions about the question. In section 2, we characterize a broadly Moorean approach to answering the question. In section 3, we introduce popular response-dependence assumptions about humour and express puzzlement about their popularity. In section 4, we present extant answers to our question: superiority theory; relief theory; play theory; laughter-dispositional theory; and incongruity theory. We find each wanting, subjecting incongruity theory, in particular, to sustained scrutiny, and offer a novel critique of the approach. In section 5, we introduce precedents for primitivism from metaphysics, epistemology and action theory. In section 6, we present several primitivist theses about humour. In section 7, we conclude with some remarks about the methodological role primitivist theses can play in adjudicating answers to our question.
Separatists about grounding take explanations to be separate from their corresponding grounding-facts. Grounding-facts are supposed to underlie, or back, such explanations. However, the backing relation hasn’t received much attention in the literature. The aim of this paper is to provide an informative definition of backing. First, I examine two prominent proposals: backing as explaining (Kovacs 2017; 2019a) and backing as grounding (see Sjölin Wirling 2020). Finally, I put forward my own proposal. I argue that under plausible assumptions about the role of backing and the nature of explanation, backing should be understood as a form of truthmaking, minimally construed.
Many issues in metaphysics and philosophy of science concern the status, significance, or theoretical role of properties such as charge and mass. This paper is about the surprising differences in metaphysical character between mass and charge properties. It develops a novel, three-fold analysis of color charge, and it shows that the same analysis for electric charge is degenerate. Additionally, the formalism for mass raises a different set of considerations for its metaphysical status. Since mass, color charge, and electric charge have these differences, metaphysicians and philosophers of science must reevaluate the ways in which they are accustomed to appealing to these properties.
A wide range of problems of the relationship between consciousness and matter are discussed. Particular attention is paid to the analysis of the structure and properties of consciousness in the framework of information evolution. The role of specific (non-computational) properties of consciousness in the procedure of classical and quantum measurements is analyzed. In particular, the issue of "cloning" of consciousness (the possibility of copying its properties onto a new material carrier) is discussed in detail. We hope that the generalized principle of complementarity formulated by us will open up new ways for studying the problems of consciousness within the framework of the fundamental physical picture of the world.
Nominalism in formal ontology is still the thesis that the only acceptable domain of quantification is the first-order domain of particulars. Nominalists may assert that second-order well-formed formulas can be fully and completely interpreted within the first-order domain, thereby avoiding any ontological commitment to second-order entities, by means of an appropriate semantics called “substitutional”. In this paper I argue that the success of this strategy depends on the ability of Nominalists to maintain that identity, and equivalence relations more in general, is first-order and invariant. Firstly, I explain why Nominalists are formally bound to this first-order concept of identity. Secondly, I show that the resources needed to justify identity, a certain conception of identity invariance, are out of the nominalist’s reach.
A central tension shaping metaethical inquiry is that normativity appears to be subjective yet real, where it’s difficult to reconcile these aspects. On the one hand, normativity pertains to our actions and attitudes. On the other, normativity appears to be real in a way that precludes it from being a mere figment of those actions and attitudes. In this paper, I argue that normativity is indeed both subjective and real. I do so by way of treating it as a special sort of artifact, where artifacts are mind-dependent yet nevertheless can carve at the joints of reality. In particular, I argue that the properties of being a reason and being valuable for are grounded in attitudes yet are still absolutely structural.
The following bare-bones story introduces the idea of a cumulative hierarchy of pure sets: ‘Sets are arranged in stages. Every set is found at some stage. At any stage S: for any sets found before S, we find a set whose members are exactly those sets.We find nothing else at S’. Surprisingly, this story already guarantees that the sets are arranged in well-ordered levels, and suffices for quasi-categoricity. I show this by presenting Level Theory, a simplification of set theories due to Scott, Montague, Derrick, and Potter.
I define two metaphysical positions that anti-physicalists can take in response to Jonathan Schaffer’s ground functionalism. Ground functionalism is a version of physicalism where explanatory gaps are everywhere. If ground functionalism is true, arguments against physicalism based on the explanatory gap between the physical and experiential facts fail. In response, first, I argue that some anti-physicalists are already safe from Schaffer’s challenge. These anti-physicalists reject an underlying assumption of ground functionalism: the assumption that macrophysical entities are something over and above the fundamental entities. I call their position “lightweight anti-physicalism.” Second, I go on to argue that even if anti-physicalists accept Schaffer’s underlying assumption, they can still argue that the consciousness explanatory gap is especially mysterious and thus requires a special explanation. I call the resulting position “heavyweight anti-physicalism.” In both cases, the consciousness explanatory gap is a good way to argue against physicalism.
I think we ought to make [the following assumption about fundamentality]—what I call “purity”: fundamental truths involve only fundamental notions. When God was creating the world, she was not required to think in terms of nonfundamental notions like city, smile, or candy….Suppose someone claimed that even though cityhood is a nonfundamental notion, in order to tell the complete story of the world there is no way to avoid bringing in the notion of a city—certain facts involving cityhood are rock-bottom. This is the sort of view that purity says we should reject.
“Al-Fârâbî’s metaphysics”, as
understood here, means not just his views, and arguments for those
views, on a series of metaphysical topics, but his project of
reconstructing and reviving metaphysics as a science. This is part of
his larger project of reconstructing and reviving “the sciences
of the ancients”: his scientific project in metaphysics is
inseparable from his interpretation and assimilation of
Aristotle’s Metaphysics. We start with some motivation
for Fârâbî’s larger project of reconstructing
“the sciences of the ancients”, then turn to what he says
about metaphysics as one such science and about Aristotle’s
Metaphysics, and then to details of his reconstruction of
metaphysics as a science, both in his account of maximally universal
concepts such as being and unity, and in his account of God as the
first cause of existence.
I argue that high level causal relationships are often more fundamental than low level causal relationships. My argument is based on some general principles governing when one causal relationship will metaphysically ground another—a phenomenon I term derivative causation. These principles are in turn based partly on our intuitive judgments concerning derivative causation in a series of representative examples, and partly on some powerful theoretical considerations in their favour. I show how these principles entail that low level causation can derive from high level causation, and in particular that neural causation can derive from mental causation. I then draw out several important consequences of this result. Most immediate among these are the implications the result has for aspirations to reduce high level causation to its low level counterpart. But the result also bears on the possibility of downward causation, the relationship between counterfactuals and causation, and the idea—familiar from both the literature on the exclusion problem and the literature on proportionality constraints on causation—that causal relationships at different levels compete for their existence.
Distinctions in fundamentality between different levels of description are central to the viability of contemporary decoherence-based Everettian quantum mechanics (EQM). This approach to quantum theory characteristically combines a determinate fundamental reality (one universal wavefunction) with an indeterminate emergent reality (multiple decoherent worlds). In this chapter I explore how the Everettian appeal to fundamentality and emergence can be understood within existing metaphysical frameworks, identify grounding and concept fundamentality as promising theoretical tools, and use them to characterize a system of explanatory levels (with associated laws of nature) for EQM. This Everettian level structure encompasses and extends the ‘classical’ levels structure. The ‘classical’ levels of physics, chemistry, biology, etc. are recovered, but they are emergent in character and potentially variable across Everett worlds. EQM invokes an additional fundamental level, not present in the classical levels picture, and a novel potential role for self-location in interlevel metaphysics. When given a modal realist interpretation, EQM also makes trouble for supervenience-based approaches to levels.
This paper introduces the Cummins Functions Approach to neural representations (CFA), which aims to capture the notion of representation that is relevant to contemporary neuroscientific practice. CFA shares the common view that 'to be a representation of X' amounts to 'having the function of tracking X', but maintains that the relevant notion of function is defined by Robert Cummins's account. Thus, CFA offers a notion of neural representation that is dependent on explanatory context. I argue that CFA can account for the normativity of neural representations, and defend its dependence on explanations.
Recent literature on Spinoza has emphasized his commitment to universal intelligibility, understood as the claim that there are no brute facts. We draw attention to an important but overlooked element of Spinoza’s commitment to intelligibility, and thereby question its most prominent interpretation, on which this commitment results in the priority of conceptual relations. We argue that such readings are both incomplete in their account of Spinozistic intelligibility and mistaken in their identification of the most fundamental relation. We argue that Spinoza is one of the first moderns to address the problem of conditions of intelligibility, and show that, in his metaphysics, expressive relations are best understood as relations of dependence for intelligibility: what a thing ‘expresses’ is its condition of intelligibility, that which determines how, through what concepts, it can be conceived.
The many definitions of sophistry at the beginning of Plato’s Sophist have puzzled scholars just as much as they puzzled the dialogue’s main speakers: the Visitor from Elea and Theaetetus. The aim of this paper is to give an account of that puzzlement. This puzzlement, it is argued, stems not from a logical or epis temological problem, but from the metaphysical problem that, given the multi plicity of accounts, the interlocutors do not know what the sophist essentially is. It transpires that, in order to properly account for this puzzle, one must jettison the traditional view of Plato’s method of division, on which divisions must be exclusive and mark out relations of essential predication. It is then shown on independent grounds that, although Platonic division in the Sophist must express predication relations and be transitive, it need not be dichotomous, exclusive, or express relations of essential predication. Once the requirements of exclusivity and essential predication are dropped, it is possible to make sense of the reasons that the Visitor from Elea and Theaetetus are puzzled. Moreover, with this in hand, it is possible to see Plato making an important methodological point in the dialogue: division on its own without any norms does not necessarily lead to the discovery of essences.
Many philosophers of science are ontologically committed to a lush rainforest of special science entities (Ross (2000)), but are often reticent about the criteria that determine which entities count as real. On the other hand, the metaphysics literature is much more forthcoming about such criteria, but often links ontological commitment to irreducibility. We argue that the irreducibility criteria are in tension with scientific realism: for example, they would exclude viruses, which are plausibly theoretically reducible and yet play a sufficiently important role in scientific accounts of the world that they should be included in our ontology. In this paper, we show how the inhabitants of the rainforest can be inoculated against the eliminative threat of reduction: by demonstrating that they are emergent. According to our account, emergence involves a screening off condition as well as novelty. We go on to demonstrate that this account of emergence, which is compatible with theoretical reducibility, satisfies common intuitions concerning what should and shouldn’t count as real: viruses are emergent, as are trouts and turkeys, but philosophically gerrymandered objects like trout-turkeys do not qualify.
The important ‘no-envy’ fairness criterion has typically been attributed to Foley (1967) and sometimes to Tinbergen (1946, 1953). We reveal that Jan Tinbergen introduced ‘no-envy’ as a fairness criterion in his article “Mathematiese Psychologie” published in 1930 in the Dutch journal Mens en Maatschappij and translated as “Mathematical Psychology” in 2021 in the Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics. Our article accompanies the translation: we introduce Tinbergen’s 1930 formulation of the ‘no-envy’ criterion, compare it to other formulations, and comment on its significance for the fairness literature in philosophy and economics.
Countabilism: Necessarily, every infinite collection (set or plurality) is countable. Typically, discussions of size and infinity are confined to the philosophy of mathematics. However, Countabilism is best understood as a metaphysical claim concerning ontology and modality. Even the staunchest nominalist, who denies the existence of all abstract objects and treats the whole of mathematics as a useful fiction, is welcome to endorse Countabilism. Countabilism applies just as much to tables, planets, spacetime points, and propositions, as it applies to mathematical abstracta.
Galen Strawson (2006) thinks it is ‘obviously’ false that ‘the terms of physics can fully capture the nature or essence of experience’ (p. 4). He also describes this view as ‘crazy’ (p. 7). I think that he has been carried away by first impressions. It is certainly true that ‘physicSalism’, as he dubs this view, is strongly counterintuitive. But at the same time there are compelling arguments in its favour. I think that these arguments are sound and that the contrary intuitions are misbegotten.
“We are animals.” That’s what animalists say—that’s their slogan. But what animalists mean by their slogan varies. Many animalists are adamant that what they mean—and, indeed, what the true animalist thesis is—is that we are identical to animals (human animals, to be precise). But others say that’s not enough. They say that the animalist thesis has to be something more—perhaps that we are essentially or most fundamentally human animals. This paper argues that, depending on how we understand it, animalism is either false or uninteresting. If animalism is just the claim that we are identical to animals, then it is uninteresting. For it doesn’t provide an answer to the question it’s meant to address. On the other hand, if animalism entails a stronger claim, such as that we are essentially animals, then animalism is false. Either way, we should set animalism aside.
Prior!s puzzle is a puzzle about the substitution of certain putatively synonymous or coreferential expressions in sentences. Prior!s puzzle is important, because a satisfactory solution to it should constitute a crucial part of an adequate semantic theory for both proposition-embedding expressions and attitudinal verbs. I argue that two recent solutions to this puzzle are unsatisfactory. They either focus on the meaning of attitudinal verbs or content nouns. I propose a solution relying on a recent analysis of that-clauses in linguistics. Our solution is superior, as it not only avoids the problems faced by previous solutions, but it also brings developments in linguistics in line to solve an old puzzle in philosophy.
I provide a case-by-case definition of essential truths based on the notions of metaphysical necessity and ontological dependence. Relying on suggestions in the literature, I adopt a definition of the latter notion in terms of the notion of ground. The resulting account is adequate in the sense that it is not subject to Kit Fine’s famous counterexamples to the purely modal account of essence. In addition, it provides us with a novel conception of truths pertaining to the essence of objects, which might help to dispel doubts on the legitimacy of the notion of essence itself.
This paper explores a distinction across causal relationships that has yet to receive attention in the philosophical literature, namely, whether causal relationships are reversible or irreversible. We provide an analysis of this distinction and show how it has important implications for causal inference and modeling. This work also clarifies how various familiar puzzles involving preemption and over-determination play out differently depending on whether the causation involved is reversible.
A standard dualist theory of perception goes like this:
You sense stuff physically, the data goes to the brain, the brain processes the data, and out of the processed data produces qualia. There is a lot of discussion of the “causal closure” of the physical. …
Several approaches to quantum gravity (QG) signal the loss of spacetime at some level. According to spacetime functionalism, spacetime is functionally realised by a more fundamental structure. According to one version of spacetime functionalism, the spacetime role is specified by Ramsifying general relativity (GR). In some approaches to QG, however, there does not appear to be anything that exactly realises the functional role defined by a Ramsey sentence for GR. The spacetime role is approximately realised. It is open to the spacetime functionalist to adopt a ‘near enough is good enough’ attitude to functional realisation, and maintain that spacetime is functionally realised nonetheless. In this paper I present a challenge for such an ‘approximate’ spacetime functionalism. The challenge, in brief, is to provide an account of how ‘close’ is close enough for approximate realisation to occur. I canvass a range of options for spelling out a similarity relation of the relevant kind, and argue that none are successful. In light of the challenge, I recommend giving up on the functional realisation of spacetime. I argue, however, that even if spacetime as a whole is not functionally realised, some of the functions of spacetime may still be performed.
This paper aims to bridge philosophical and psychological research on causation, counterfactual thought, and the problem of backtracking. Counterfactual approaches to causation such as that by Lewis have ruled out backtracking, while on prominent models of causal inference interventionist counterfactuals do not backtrack. However, on various formal models, certain backtracking counterfactuals end up being true, and psychological evidence shows that people do sometimes backtrack when answering counterfactual questions in causal contexts. On the basis of psychological research, I argue that while ordinarily both kinds of counterfactuals may be employed, non-backtracking counterfactuals are more easily used in causal inference because they are consistent with temporal order information embedded in the mental simulation heuristic, and they match reasoners’ experience of causation. While this approach is incompatible with the ambitions of counterfactual theories that seek to establish the non-backtracking interpretation as the only legitimate one, it can provide support for perspectival views on causation and open further inquiry on the functions of causal and counterfactual thought in the context of causal models.