This paper aims to build a bridge between two areas of philosophical research, the structure of kinds and metaphysical modality. Our central thesis is that kinds typically involve super-explanatory properties, and that these properties lie behind all substantial cases of metaphysical necessity.
Consciousness raises a range of philosophical questions. We can distinguish between the How?, Where?, and What? questions. First, how does consciousness relate to other features of reality? Second, where are conscious phenomena located in reality? And, third, what is the nature of consciousness?
Berkeley’s ‘master argument’ for idealism has been the subject of extensive criticism. Two of his strongest critics, A.N. Prior and J.L. Mackie, argue that due to various logical confusions on the part of Berkeley, the master argument fails to establish his idealist conclusion. Prior (1976) argues that Berkeley’s argument ‘proves too little’ in its conclusion, while Mackie (1964) contends that Berkeley confuses two different kinds of self-refutation in his argument. In this paper, I put forward a defence of the master argument based on intuitionistic logic. I argue that, analysed along these lines, Prior’s and Mackie’s criticisms fail to undermine Berkeley’s argument.
In several recent papers, Daniel Deasy has argued that the presentism-eternalism debate is unclear and should be abandoned. According to Deasy, there is no way of spelling out the predicate ‘is present’ that leads to a satisfactory definition of presentism: on some interpretations, presentism turns out to be compatible with eternalism, on others, it is clearly false or unacceptable for other reasons. The aim of this paper is to show that this line of argument should be resisted: if the predicate ‘is present’ is spelled out in terms of where things are located, the result is a definition of presentism that is neither compatible with eternalism nor clearly false. There is thus no need to abandon the debate between presentists and eternalists.
This is a critical discussion of Paul Humphreys’s fusion view of emergence, focusing on the basal loss feature of his ontology. The discussion yields some general morals for special science ontology. 1. Introduction. In a series of papers (1996, 1997a, 1997b, and 2000), Paul Humphreys presents an original vision of what special science ontology might be. Humphreys’s speculative proposal—call it fusion emergentism— is based on “taking singular interactions [‘fusions’] as the basis of one form of emergentism” (Humphreys 1996, 53). What is most distinctive in fusion emergentism is Humphreys’s property fusion operation, which takes property instances (at the ith level) and generates an emergent property instance (at the i ⫹ 1st level) with novel causal powers. When property instances at the generating ith level are fused, the individual property instances are destroyed and are nonindividuable within the emergent fusion existing at the i ⫹ 1st level. Call this the basal loss feature of fusion emergentism.
Primitives are both important and unavoidable, and which set of primitives we endorse will greatly shape our theories and how those theories provide solutions to the problems that we take to be important. After introducing the notion of a primitive posit, I discuss the different kinds of primitives that we might posit. Following Cowling (2013), I distinguish between ontological and ideological primitives, and, following Benovsky (2013) between functional and content views of primitives. I then propose that these two distinctions cut across each other leading to four types of primitive posits. I then argue that theoretical virtues should be taken to be meta-theoretical ideological primitives. I close with some reflections on the global nature of comparing sets of primitives.
Olympiodorus of Alexandria, presumably a late pupil of Ammonius Hermeiou,
the commentator on Aristotle and teacher of Simplicius and Philoponus,
was one of the last pagans to teach philosophy at the school of
Alexandria in the 6th century. In his lectures, he
interpreted classical philosophical texts, mainly by Plato and
Aristotle; we still possess three of his commentaries on Plato and two
on Aristotle. At times, these seem to be carefully crafted pieces of
pedagogy, but at other times they read more like transcripts drawn up
by one of the students. Although Olympiodorus comes across as a
learned man and guardian of traditional paideia, both
literary and philosophical, his œuvre compares unfavorably, from
a philosophical standpoint, with commentaries written by either
Ammonius or Olympiodorus’ contemporaries such as Simplicius and John
This paper argues that certain types of causal processes central to action theory, deviant causal chains, pose serious problems for several key legal concepts. A deviant causal chain occurs when an agent initiates a causal chain leading to an outcome, but the outcome is brought about through “deviant” means rather than the means intended by the agent. Suppose that an unskilled gunman intends to shoot and kill someone; he shoots and misses his target, but the gunshot startles a group of water buffalo, who trample the victim to death. The gunshot brings about the intended effect, but in a “deviant” way rather than the one planned. What the law makes of these cases, and how the law should handle them, are our puzzles.
Among the philosophical disciplines transmitted to the Arabic and
Islamic world from the Greeks, metaphysics was of paramount
importance, as its pivotal role in the overall history of the
transmission of Greek thought into Arabic makes evident. The
beginnings of Arabic philosophy coincide with the production of the
first extensive translation of Aristotle’s Metaphysics,
within the circle of translators associated with the founder of Arabic
philosophy, al-Kindī. The so-called “early” or
“classical” phase of falsafa ends with the
largest commentary on the Metaphysics available in Western
philosophy, by Ibn Rushd (Averroes).
Zero provides a challenge for philosophers of mathematics with realist inclinations. On the one hand it is a bona fide number, yet on the other it is linked to ideas of nothingness and non-being. This paper provides an analysis of the epistemology and metaphysics of zero. We develop several constraints and then argue that a satisfactory account of zero can be obtained by integrating recent work in numerical cognition with a philosophical account of absence perception.
Each thing is fundamental. Not only is no thing any more or less real than any other, but no thing is prior to another in any robust ontological sense. Thus, no thing can explain the very existence of another, nor account for how another is what it is. I reach this surprising conclusion by undermining two important positions in contemporary metaphysics: hylomorphism and hierarchical views employing so-called building relations, such as grounding. The paper has three main parts. First, I observe hylomorphism is alleged by its proponents to solve various philosophical problems. However, I demonstrate, in light of a compelling account of explanation, that these problems are actually demands to explain what cannot be but inexplicable. Second, I show how my argument against hylomorphism illuminates an account of the essence of a thing, thereby providing insight into what it is to exist. This indicates what a thing, in the most general sense, must be and a correlative account of the structure in reality. Third, I argue that this account of structure is incompatible not only with hylomorphism, but also with any hierarchical view of reality. Although hylomorphism and the latter views are quite different, representing distinct philosophical traditions, I maintain they share untenable accounts of structure and fundamentality and so should be rejected on the same grounds.
There exists a common view that for theories related by a ‘duality’, dual models typically may be taken ab initio to represent the same physical state of affairs, i.e. to correspond to the same possible world. We question this view, by drawing a parallel with the distinction between ‘interpretational’ and ‘motivational’ approaches to symmetries.
Objects are central in visual, auditory, and tactual perception. But what counts as a perceptual object? I address this question via a structural unity schema, which specifies how a collection of parts must be arranged to compose an object for perception. On the theory I propose, perceptual objects are composed of parts that participate in causally sustained regularities. I argue that this theory falls out of a compelling account of the function of object perception, and illustrate its applications to multisensory perception. I also argue that the account avoids problems faced by standard views of visual and auditory objects.
Classical logic is characterized by the familiar truth-value semantics, in which an interpretation assigns one of two truth values to any propositional letter in the language (in the propositional case), and a function from a power of the domain to the set of truth values in the predicate case. Truth values of composite sentence are assigned on the basis of the familiar truth functions. This abstract semantics immediately yields an applied semantics in the sense that the truth value of an interpreted sentence is given by the truth value of that sentence in an interpretation in which the propositional variables are given the truth values of the statements that interpret them. So if p is interpreted as the statement “Paris is in France” and q as “London is in Italy” then the truth value of “p ∨ q” is |p ∨ q| where the interpretation | | is given by |p| = T and |q| = F. And since the truth value of |A ∨ B| is defined as
Reductionists say things like: all mental properties are physical properties; all normative properties are natural properties. I argue that the only way to resist reductionism is to deny that causation is difference making (thus making the epistemology of causation a mystery) or to deny that properties are individuated by their causal powers (thus making properties a mystery). That is to say, unless one is happy to deny supervenience, or to trivialize the debate over reductionism. To show this, I argue that if properties are individuated by their causal powers then, surprisingly, properties are individuated by necessary co-exemplification.
Roger Swyneshed, in his treatise on insolubles (logical paradoxes), dating from the early 1330s, drew three notorious corollaries of his solution. The third states that there is a contradictory pair of propositions both of which are false. This appears to contradict the Rule of Contradictory Pairs, which requires that in every such pair, one must be true and the other false. Looking back at Aristotle’s treatise De Interpretatione, we find that Aristotle himself, immediately after defining the notion of a contradictory pair, gave counterexamples to the rule. Thus Swyneshed’s solution to the logical paradoxes is not contrary to Aristotle’s teaching, as many of Swyneshed’s contemporaries claimed. Dialetheism, the contemporary claim that some propositions are both true and false, is wedded to the Rule, and in consequence divorces denial from the assertion of the contradictory negation.
Carrie Figdor, Pieces of Mind: The Proper Domain of Psychological Predicates (OUP, 2018)Anthropocentric tradition holds that the (somewhat idealized) human case is the standard for what counts as a real instance of a psychological capacity. …
Spinoza and the Problem of Other Substances Spinoza defines a substance as “what is in itself and is conceived through itself” (E1d3). It is the basic metaphysical building block of the universe; that which is existentially and conceptually independent.
Posted on Tuesday, 08 May 2018
A might counterfactual is a statement of the form 'if so-and-so were
the case then such-and-such might be the case'. I used to think that
there are different kinds of might counterfactuals: that sometimes
the 'might' takes scope over the entire conditional, and other times
it does not. …
Why should this be of any more than esoteric interest? The principle, which sometimes gets called plural rigidity is put to work to important and controversial metaphysical ends. Crucially, Williamson deploys it in arguing both for necessitism (the doctrine that ontology is modally invariant) and for a property-based interpretation of second-order quantification (since he thinks the modal behaviour of plurals rules out a Boolos style plural interpretation) (Williamson (2013)) (Williamson (2010)) (Boolos (1998c)). Linnebo develops a foundational programme for set-theory in a modal plural logic strengthened by the addition of statements equivalent to the principle, and whilst he himself proposes a non-standard interpretation of the modalities, its acceptablity with respect to metaphysical modality would provide a fall-back position for someone sympathetic to the approach (Linnebo (2013)).
Discussion of new axioms for set theory has often focussed on conceptions of maximality, and how these might relate to the iterative conception of set. This paper provides critical appraisal of how certain maximality axioms behave on different conceptions of ontology concerning the iterative conception. In particular, we argue that forms of multiversism (the view that any universe of a certain kind can be extended) and actualism (the view that there are universes that cannot be extended in particular ways) face complementary problems. The latter view is unable to use maximality axioms that make use of extensions, where the former has to contend with the existence of extensions violating maximality axioms. An analysis of two kinds of multiversism, a Zermelian form and Skolemite form, leads to the conclusion that the kind of maximality captured by an axiom differs substantially according to background ontology.
Recent philosophy has paid increasing attention to the nature of the relationship between the philosophy of science and metaphysics. In The Structure of the World: Metaphysics and Representation, Steven French offers many insights into this relationship (primarily) in the context of fundamental physics, and claims that a specific, structuralist conception of the ontology of the world exemplifies an optimal understanding of it. In this paper I contend that his messages regarding how best to think about the relationship are mixed, and in tension with one another. The tension is resolvable but at a cost: a weakening of the argument for French’s structuralist ontology. I elaborate this claim in a specific case: his assertion of the superiority of a structuralist account of de re modality in terms of realism about laws and symmetries (conceived ontologically) over an account in terms of realism about dispositional properties. I suggest that these two accounts stem from different stances regarding how to theorize about scientific ontology, each of which is motivated by important aspects of physics.
Descartes believed the extended world did not terminate in a boundary: but why? After elucidating Descartes’s position in §1, suggesting his conception of the indefinite extension of the universe should be understood as actual but syncategorematic, we turn in §2 to his argument: any postulation of an outermost surface for the world will be self-defeating, because merely contemplating such a boundary will lead us to recognise the existence of further extension beyond it. In §3, we identify the fundamental assumption underlying this argument by comparing Descartes’s and Malebranche’s respective conceptions of the ontological status of modes of extension.
Theories of quantum gravity generically presuppose or predict that the reality underlying relativistic spacetimes they are describing is significantly non-spatiotemporal. On pain of empirical incoherence, approaches to quantum gravity must establish how relativistic spacetime emerges from their non-spatiotemporal structures. We argue that in order to secure this emergence, it is sufficient to establish that only those features of relativistic spacetimes functionally relevant in producing empirical evidence must be recovered. In order to complete this task, an account must be given of how the more fundamental structures instantiate these functional roles. We illustrate the general idea in the context of causal set theory and loop quantum gravity, two prominent approaches to quantum gravity.
Psychophysical supervenience requires that the mental properties of a system cannot change without the change of its physical properties. In this paper, I argue that the Everett interpretation of quantum mechanics or Everett’s theory seems to violate the principle of psychophysical supervenience. In order to be consistent with our experience, the theory assumes psychophysical supervenience in each world, including our world. However, this permits the possibility that under certain unitary time evolution which does not lead to world branching, the wave function of each world changes and correspondingly the mental states of the observers in the world also change, while the wave function of the total worlds does not change, which violates the principle of psychophysical supervenience for all worlds. It seems that one must go beyond Everett’s theory such as denying multiplicity in order to avoid the failure of psychophysical supervenience.
Some see concrete foundationalism as providing the central task for sparse ontology, that of identifying which concreta ground other concreta but aren’t themselves grounded by concreta. There is, however, potentially much more to sparse ontology. The thesis of abstract foundationalism, if true, provides an additional task: identifying which abstracta ground other abstracta but aren’t themselves grounded by abstracta. We focus on two abstract foundationalist theses—abstract atomism and abstract monism—that correspond to the concrete foundationalist theses of priority atomism and priority monism. We show that a consequence of an attractive package of views is that abstract reality has a particular mereological structure, one capable of underwriting both theses. We argue that, of abstract foundationalist theses formulated in mereological terms, abstract atomism is the most plausible.
My goal in this paper is to examine two central aspects of Kant’s theory of cognition (Erkenntnis) in the context of the account offered by Eric Watkins and Marcus Willaschek. I first focus on what it is for an object to be “given” to the mind and how such “givenness” (allegedly) underwrites both mental representation and reference. I then consider Watkins and Willaschek’s interpretation of Kant’s claim that we cannot cognize things-in-themselves, and conclude by sketching an alternative (and less empiricistic) account of that claim.
The term “natural religion” is sometimes taken to refer
to a pantheistic doctrine according to which nature itself is
divine. “Natural theology”, by contrast, originally
referred to (and still sometimes refers
to)[ 1 ]
the project of arguing for the existence of God on the basis of
observed natural facts. In contemporary philosophy, however, both “natural
religion” and “natural theology” typically refer to
the project of using the cognitive faculties that are
“natural” to human beings—reason, sense-perception,
introspection—to investigate religious or theological
Adam Smith, in his very instructive examination of the ancient systems of Physics and Metaphysics, is too much inclined to criticise Plato and Aristotle as if they were the earliest theorisers, and as if they had no predecessors. …
There is, I think, a gap between what many students learn in their first course in formal logic, and what they are expected to know for their second. While courses in mathematical logic with metalogical components often cast only the barest glance at mathematical induction or even the very idea of reasoning from definitions, a first course may also leave these untreated, and fail explicitly to lay down the definitions upon which the second course is based. The aim of this text is to integrate material from these courses and, in particular, to make serious mathematical logic accessible to students I teach. The first parts introduce classical symbolic logic as appropriate for beginning students; the last parts build to Godel’s adequacy and incompleteness results. A distinctive feature of the last section is a complete development of Godel’s second incompleteness theorem.