Sometimes one defends a thesis which turns out to be false. This is an occupational hazard; it is something every philosopher who makes substantive claims will end up doing. Much worse is to defend a position in a dispute which turns out to be merely verbal. Then one has not just taken the wrong side in a debate, but has wasted one’s time by engaging in a debate which turns out not to have been worth having in the first place. This is also, unfortunately, an occupational hazard. What I want to explore in this paper is the question of whether certain sorts of debates in which many philosophers of perception (including myself) have engaged turn out to be, on closer inspection, just verbal disputes.
The ancient Chinese philosopher Zhuangzi (4th c. BCE) often contradicted himself, or at least made statements whose superficial readings stood in tension with each other. This self-contradiction, I contend, is not sloppy, nor does it necessarily reflect different authorship of different parts of the text or different stages in the development of Zhuangzi's thought. …
Aquinas, Ockham, and Burdan all claim that a person can be numerically identical over time, despite changes in size, shape, and color. How can we reconcile this with the Indiscernibility of Identicals, the principle that numerical identity implies indiscernibility across time? Almost all contemporary metaphysicians regard the Indiscernibility of Identicals as axiomatic. But I will argue that Aquinas, Ockham, and Burdan would reject it, perhaps in favor of a principle restricted to indiscernibility at a time.
This paper argues for the individuation of cognitive abilities within cognitive sciences based on the same phylogenetic framework that underlies the individuation of parts and traits at multiple levels of biological organization in comparative biology. When our scientific interests directly involve cross-species comparisons, this is the operative framework. When they do not, the units we are interested in, as explananda or explanantia, presuppose this comparative framework.
According to orthodoxy, our best physical theories strongly support Eternalism over Presentism. Our goal is to argue against this consensus, by arguing that a certain overlooked aspect of our best physical theories strongly supports Presentism over Eternalism.
I've been teaching Classical Rhetoric this semester, and I have become convinced of something I have long believed. Not just convinced, but really discovered that for anyone who studies this stuff, it seems to be an obvious truth (so obvious in the literature, I almost decided not to write this post). …
The position of logic vis-à-vis the sciences has always been somewhat peculiar. Until the nineteenth century, logic was taken to belong to philosophy, which would indicate that it is not really a science. However, from its inception (in the work of Aristotle) it was considered as more of a tool of philosophy than as its component, and as at this time the sciences were not yet clearly differentiated from philosophy, perhaps the tool of the sciences too. Moreover, in the nineteenth and twentieth century, logic spilled over from philosophy and colonized a part of mathematics. Hence nowadays many people would say that of course logic is a science, because it is a sub-discipline of mathematics (or theoretical computer science or something of the kind).
In a recent paper, Kerry McKenzie identifies theory change in science as a source for doubts about the value of engaging in metaphysics of science before a final theory is at hand. According to McKenzie, the basic problem is that naturalized metaphysics lacks a concept of progress. More specifically, naturalized metaphysics lacks a concept of progress as approximation that can easily be taken to correspond to the scientific sources of naturalized metaphysical inquiry. In this paper, we criticise the proposed concept of progress as approximation as too narrow a concept, notably, even in science, and propose an alternative notion of scientific progress that metaphysical investigations can and do latch on to, namely progress understood as exploring and constraining theory space. First, we motivate this notion of progress via an examination of progress in particle physics and propose that it can be applied to metaphysics as well. Second, we argue that this notion of progress leads to a convincing reply to McKenzie’s argument. Third, we discuss how this notion of progress relates to the program of naturalized metaphysics and argue that it speaks in favor of a more lenient version of naturalistically-inclined metaphysics, namely inductive metaphysics.
Spinoza claims that the mind and body are one and the same. But he also claims that the mind thinks and does not move, whereas the body moves and does not think. How can we reconcile these claims? As a way of sharpening the challenge, let’s restate it as a puzzle involving Spinoza’s favorite philosophical character: Peter. Spinoza seems committed to both of the following claims: 1a. Peter’s body moves and does not think, whereas Peter’s mind thinks and does not move. 1b. Peter’s body and Peter’s mind are numerically identical. But these claims are mutually inconsistent with the Indiscernibility of Identicals, a principle that many regard as an obvious truth (Sider 2001, p. 4), and perhaps even a logical truth (e.g., Tarski 1994, p. 50). 1c. If x and y are numerically identical, x instantiates a property if and only if y instantiates that property.
In this paper, my focus will be on some central aspects of Jenefer Robinson’s influential work ‘Deeper than Reason’, more specifically on the role our emotional responses play in art appreciation and the value attributed to the ensuing emotional experience. Whereas Robinson argues (1) that bodily responses, and our awareness of these bodily changes, can provide us with information relevant to the appreciation of artworks, and (2) that in some cases affective empathy is necessary to artistic understanding, I want to raise two concerns about whether this position holds for artworks conveying self-conscious emotions. Such emotions are of particular interest in this context since, in the first place, self-conscious emotions can, in fact, be experienced without moving us physiologically in a full-fledged sense. These higher cognitive emotions, also known as non-primary or intellectual emotions—including guilt, shame, embarrassment, pride, or nostalgia—are not automatically triggered but require self-evaluation. And, unlike the basic emotions, they are also believed to lack stereotypical expressive or behavioural features. Second, self-conscious emotions are unavailable to affective empathy since they are known for involving self-directed cognition. As we will see, it is this tight connection to the self— where the ‘self’ is both the subject and the particular object of the emotion—which makes it difficult to take the emotional perspective of another person.
Social metaphysics is a source of important philosophical and moral insight. Furthermore, much social metaphysics appears to be substantive. However, some have recently argued that standard views of metaphysics cannot accommodate substantive social metaphysics. In this paper I offer a new diagnosis of this problem and defend a new solution, showing that this problem is an illuminating lens through which to examine the nature and boundaries of metaphysics. This case instantiates a broad, common pattern generated by attempts to align distinctions between realism and anti-realism, mind-independence and mind-dependence, and legitimate and non-legitimate inquiry. I show that the best response is to abandon the association between substantive metaphysics and mind-independence, and I sketch a new definition of substantivity, given in terms of explanatory power, that makes room for substantive social metaphysics while also offering an attractive basis for general metaphysics.
A common objection to the very idea of conceptual engineering is the topic continuity problem: whenever one tries to “reengineer” a concept, one only shifts attention away from one concept to another. Put differently, there is no such thing as conceptual revision: there’s only conceptual replacement. Here, I show that topic continuity is compatible with conceptual replacement. Whether the topic is preserved in an act of conceptual replacement simply depends on what is being replaced (a conceptual tool or a conceptual role) and what the topic under discussion is. Thus, the topic continuity problem only arises from a failure to specify these two things.
Dispositionalism is the view that all modal truths are grounded in the potentialities of actual entities. ‘It is possible that the vase breaks’ is true because the vase instantiates an irreducibly dispositional property: fragility. The canonical version of the theory is due to Vetter (2015) , and consists of the
The problem discussed in this paper arises from the observation that in the course of inter-subjective communication "understanding" seems to be entrusted to the implementation of a real process, not only affective but also cognitive, of processing information contained in the perceived behavior. In a previous study (Greco, 1979) we proposed to consider this process of "reconstruction" of meaning as analogous to the process of "construction" used for oneself. Here we will deal with this process of construction or awareness using theoretical models offered by experimental research.
One of the main criticisms of the theory of collections of indiscernible objects is that once we quantify over one of them, we are quantifying over all of them since they cannot be discerned from one another. In this way, we would call the collapse of quantifiers: ‘There exists one x such as P ’ would entail ‘All x are P ’. In this paper we argue that there are situations (quantum theory is the sample case) where we do refer to a certain quantum entity, saying that it has a certain property, even without committing all other indistinguishable entities with the considered property. Mathematically, within the realm of the theory of quasi-sets Q, we can give sense to this claim. We show that the above-mentioned ‘collapse of quantifiers’ depends on the interpretation of the quantifiers and on the mathematical background where they are ranging. In this way, we hope to strengthen the idea that quantification over indiscernibles, in particular in the quantum domain, does not conform with quantification in the standard sense of classical logic. Keywords: quantification, quantum logic, indiscernibility, identity, in- discernible objects.
It is a persistent trope in period dramas that the most garishly extravagant character — the matriarch with all the feathers — is most concerned to trumpet their conservative virtues. And so too in metaphysics! Fairchild (2019) advertised the humility of material plenitude, arguing that despite the profligate ontology of coincident objects it entails, the best version of plenitude is one that takes no stand on a range of nearby questions about modality and coincidence. Roughly, the thought is that plenitude says only that there are coincident objects corresponding to every consistent pattern of essential and accidental properties. Plenitude says — or should say — nothing about which patterns those might be, and so should be compatible with any reasonable hypothesis about which combinations of properties it is possible for something to have. I argued in the earlier paper that a particular formulation of the target view (Global Plenitude) has exactly that virtue. But like the many-feathered matriarch, Global Plenitude turns out not to be very humble at all. Most vividly, Global Plenitude is incompatible with an exceptionally compelling hypothesis about coincidence: that there are some things which coincide, but might not have. Scandal ensues.
● Logical monism: ‘[T]he view that there is only one correct logic or, alternatively…only one genuine consequence relation, only one right answer to the question on whether and why a given argument is valid, only one collection of valid inferences (or of logical truths), or only one right way of reasoning [Estrada-González 2011, 111].’
Cross-posted here.A true sentence like ‘John is here in this room’, and its Twin Earth counterpart, express different propositions, since they are about distinct people. And that means that propositions sometimes constitutively involve particular external things that they are about.What, in light of this, should we say about how, if at all, what propositions there are—what claims exist—varies across possible worlds?One side of this issue is: could propositions like the ones expressed by a normal true use of ‘John is here in this room’ have failed to exist? …
According to the so-called ‘proportionality principle’, causes should be proportional to their effects: they should be both enough and not too much for the occurrence of their effects. This principle is the subject of an ongoing debate. On the one hand, many maintain that it is required to address the problem of causal exclusion and take it to capture a crucial aspect of causation. On the other hand, many object that it renders accounts of causation implausibly restrictive and often reject the principle wholesale. I argue that there is exaggeration on both sides. While one half of the principle is overly demanding, the other half is unobjectionable. And while the unobjectionable half does not block exclusion arguments on its own, it provides a nuanced picture of higher-level causation, fits with recent developments in philosophy of causation, and motivates adjustments to standard difference-making accounts of causation. I conclude that at least half of the proportionality principle is worth taking seriously.
Why does Aristotle insist that the natural scientist should give teleological explanations? One obvious reason is that he believes that ends (tele) are causes (aitiai), and explanations (apodeixeis) cite causes; a putative explanation that failed to cite the final causes of the phenomena it purports to explain would, consequently, be a bad explanation. However, besides the fact that ends are causally operative in nature, there can also be reasons, from the point of view of demands on explanation, for holding that teleological explanations of natural phenomena are indispensable. These specifically “epistemological” reasons have to do with the role those teleological explanations play in facilitating our understanding of natural phenomena. As I read it, Aristotle is appealing to such reasons in a passage in PA I.1, a chapter devoted to discussing various methodological questions that arise about any inquiry into nature. There he is arguing, given certain reasonable assumptions about explanation and understanding, for giving final cause explanations and against giving explanations in terms of “necessity” alone, as he describes the attempts of many of his predecessors.
In some situations, we attribute intentional mental states to a person despite their inability to articulate the contents in question: these are implicit mental states. Attributions of implicit mental states raise certain philosophical challenges related to rationality, concept possession, and privileged access. In the philosophical literature, there are two distinct strategies for addressing these challenges, depending on whether the content attributions are personal-level or subpersonal-level. This paper explores the difference between personal-level and subpersonal-level approaches to implicit mental state attribution and investigates the relationship between the two approaches. It concludes by highlighting the methodological and metaphilosophical commitments which can result in different perspectives on the relative priority of personal-level and subpersonal-level theories.
In Metaphysics Book I Aristotle reconstructs the early history of his subject. Scholars have often seen Parmenides as entirely opposed to earlier materialistic philosophy. While Aristotle certainly acknowledges important differences between the two camps, what is more striking is the degree of continuity that he sees between Parmenides and the material monists. My main aim here is to try to explain the coupling of Parmenides and the material monists, the better to understand what he takes to be distinctive and problematic with Parmenides’ monism.
In this paper, I develop a methodological challenge for ethical nonnaturalism. The challenge is methodological because it concerns the way many nonnaturalists argue for their views. I suggest that there is an overlooked problem for a central and prevalent positive argument for nonnaturalism, the argument from ethical phenomenology. This problem, I intend to show, ultimately renders nonnaturalism indefensible—at least in so far the view is solely based on this argument.
Meyer and Mortensen’s Alien Intruder Theorem includes the extraordinary observation that the rationals can be extended to a model of the relevant arithmetic R , thereby serving as integers themselves. Although the mysteriousness of this observation is acknowledged, little is done to explain why such rationals-as-integers exist or how they operate. In this paper, we show that Meyer and Mortensen’s models can be identified with a class of ultraproducts of finite models of R , providing insights into some of the more mysterious phenomena of the rational models.
We present a hierarchy of symmetry conditions within the context of general relativity. The weakest condition captures a sense in which space-time is free of symmetry “holes” of a certain type. All standard models of general relativity satisfy the condition but we show that violations can occur if the Hausdorff assumption is dropped. On the other extreme, the strongest condition of the hierarchy is satisfied whenever a model is completely devoid of symmetries. In these “Heraclitus spacetimes,” no pair of distinct points can be mapped (even locally) into one another. We prove that such spacetimes exist. We also show a sense in which Heraclitus spacetimes are completely determined by their local properties. We close with a brief comment on the prospect of using the symmetries of a spacetime as a guide to how much “structure” it possesses.
Zeno seems to have been the inventor of the genre of paradoxes as we know it in the Western tradition, even if he did not use the term ‘paradoxes’ for it. And he seems to have come up with numerous individual paradoxes: according to Proclus in his commentary on the Parmenides, there were 40 logoi, which Elias reports are supplemented by five arguments against motion; the Suida claims that there were four books by Zeno. While according to these sources, Zeno’s oeuvre seems to have been considerable, only some of these paradoxes have been preserved in our times. They can be divided into three series, the paradoxes of topos, the paradoxes of plurality, the paradoxes of motion, and, in addition, there is the single paradox of the falling millet seed.
The technical term ‘real essence’ is introduced into the
philosophical lexicon by the English philosopher John Locke
(1632–1704) in his An Essay Concerning Human
Understanding[ 1 ]
(hereafter “Essay”) that was first published in
London, in December of 1689. In order to understand a great many of
Locke’s arguments in Books III and IV of the Essay, it
is important to understand what a real essence is. Thus, the purpose
of this entry is to explain the various interpretations of ‘real
essence’ that are in the current literature. Another reason why
this matters is that the concept of ‘real essence’ (or
variations of it) has been at the center of much of the philosophical
debate over natural kind realism since the time of Locke, so some of
this entry can serve as an historical introduction to that debate as
The bibliography appearing below collects the publications in which Meyer’s investigations into relevant arithmetic saw print. Each bibliographic item is accompanied by a short description of the text or other remarks. We include papers on relevant arithmetic coauthored by Meyer, but omit both Meyer’s work on relevant logic and the work published independently by his collaborators.
In Bohmian mechanics, it is assumed that the physical state that determines the mental state of an observer is not the wave function but the configuration of the Bohmian particles. In this paper, I argue that the Bohmian particles are like shadows and puppets, and the Bohmian observers have no conscious minds and they are zombies when assuming that quantum entanglement plays no role in generating the conscious mind. It remains to be seen if Bohmian brains can make minds by rejecting this common assumption in neuroscience and philosophy of mind.
This expository paper presents a general framework for representing levels and inter-level relations. The framework is intended to capture both epistemic and ontological notions of levels and to clarify the sense in which levels of explanation might or might not be related to a levelled ontology. The framework also allows us to study and compare different kinds of inter-level relations, especially supervenience and reduction but also grounding and mereological constitution. This, in turn, enables us to explore questions such as whether supervenience implies explanatory reducibility and whether there can be irreducible higher-level explanations or even “emergent” higher-level properties.