My source for the doctrine I call Humean Humility is section 1.4.4 of Hume’s Treatise of Human Nature, the section in which he gives his critique of “the modern philosophy.” Hume contends that the world according to the modern philosophy—a world with primary qualities but no secondary qualities—is a world of which we can form no conception. There are echoes of Hume’s premises (if not his conclusion) in two contemporary foci of philosophical attention: Russellian Monism, which agrees with Hume that there would be something defective in a world without anything like the traditional secondaries, but unlike Hume, goes on to attribute such qualities to the world, and Ramseyan Humility, which agrees with Hume that there must be more to any conceivable world than just structure with no underlying intrinsic or nonrelational properties, then goes on to argue that we could never know what these intrinsic properties are. In what follows, I examine all three views, as well as the merits of several possible lines of reply to them, including causal structuralism and dispositional monism.
Before I leave this subject I shall employ the same principles to explain that distinction of reason, which is so much talk’d of, and is so little understood, in the schools. Of this kind is the distinction betwixt figure and the body figur’d; motion and the body mov’d. The difficulty of explaining this distinction arises from the principle above explain’d, that all ideas, which are different, are separable. For it follows from thence, that if the figure be different from the body, their ideas must be separable as well as distinguishable: if they be not different, their ideas can neither be separable nor distinguishable. What then is meant by a distinction of reason, since it implies neither a difference nor separation? (T 188.8.131.52; SBN 24-25) In this paragraph, Hume poses the problem of how to understand the “distinction of reason” that figures in the philosophies of the medievals, Descartes, and the Port Royalists. The problem in a nutshell is that a distinction of reason is supposed to be a distinction in thought between things that are inseparable in reality; yet according to Hume’s own principles, whatever things are distinct are distinguishable, whatever things are distinguishable are separable in thought, and whatever things are separable in thought are separable in reality. It follows that things inseparable in reality should be neither distinguishable in thought nor distinct, period, so a distinction of reason ought on Hume’s principles to be impossible. Yet Hume goes on to try to make room for it in his philosophy, to the consternation of many commentators. I argue that he can indeed make room for it; the key is to recognize that ‘distinction of reason’ is an incomplete symbol.
This paper explores three ways in which physics may involve counterpossible reasoning. The first way arises when evaluating false theories: to say what the world would be like if the theory were true, we need to evaluate counterfactuals with physically impossible antecedents. The second way relates to the role of counterfactuals in characterizing causal structure: to say what causes what in physics, we need to make reference to physically impossible scenarios. The third way is novel: to model metaphysical dependence in physics, we need to consider counterfactual consequences of metaphysical impossibilities. Physics accordingly bears substantial and surprising counterpossible commitments.
Scientists warn us that we are living in an era of human—induced mass extinc— tion of species caused by our social practice of “co—opting resources, fragment— ing habitats, introducing non—native species, spreading pathogens, killing species directly, and changing global climate”.1 Mass extinction is characterised by a dramatic reduction in species during a geologically short interval. This kind of species extinction has happened five times over the last half billion years—referred to as the Big Five. And now we are entering into a sixth, expected to be the most detrimental since the asteroid impact eradicated the dinosaurs 66 million years ago.2 Today, over 26,500 species are threatened with extinction, according to the IUCN Red list.3 Even without the impact of humans, species would die out, but, as an example, the extinction of anthro— pogenic vertebrae is estimated to be up to 100 times higher than what scientists refer to as “the background rate”.4
Assume presentism. Then Aristotle’s definition of change as the actuality of a potentiality seems to have a serious logical problem. For consider a precise statement of that definition:
There is change just in case there is a potentiality P and an actuality A and A is the actuality of P.
Given presentism, quantification has to be over present items. …
Problems about the existence of converses for non-symmetric relations go back to Russell 1903. These resurfaced in Fine 2000 and were recently rehearsed in MacBride 2014. In this paper, I focus one problem that is described in all three works. I show how object theory (Zalta 1983, 1993; Bueno, Menzel, & Zalta 2014, Menzel & Zalta2014) provides a solution to those problems.
Monism about well-being is the view that there is exactly one basic (prudential) good and exactly one basic (prudential) bad. Pluralism about well-being is the view that there is either more than one basic good or more than one basic bad. We can illustrate this distinction by contrasting hedonism and desire satisfactionism, on the one hand, with objective list theories, on the other. Hedonism and desire satisfactionism disagree about what the basic goods and bads are, but they agree about their number: they both say that there is a single basic good and a single basic bad. By contrast, objective list theories—or at least the paradigmatic ones—posit either a plurality of basic goods or a plurality of basic bads. Parfit, for example, considers an objective list theory on which “moral goodness, rational activity, … and the awareness of true beauty” are all basic goods (Parfit 1984: 499).
For Jerry Fodor, Hume’s Treatise of Human Nature is “the foundational document of cognitive science” whose significance transcends mere historical interest: it is a source of theoretical inspiration in cognitive psychology. Here I am going to argue that those reading Hume along Fodor’s lines rely on a problematic, albeit inspiring, construction of Hume’s science of mind. My strategy in this paper is to contrast Fodor’s understanding of the Humean mind (consonant with the widely received view of Hume in both cognitive science and much of Hume scholarship) with an alternative understanding that I propose. I thereby intend to show that the received view of Hume’s science of mind can be fruitfully revised while critically engaging with Fodor’s contemporary appropriation. Consequently, I use this occasion to put forward a rather unorthodox interpretation of Hume’s theory in dialogue with Fodor as my guide.
This paper is a response to a recent paper by Bobier and Omelianchuk in which they argue that the critics of Giubilini and Minerva’s defence of infanticide fail to adequately justify a moral difference at birth. They argue that such arguments would lead to an intuitively less plausible position: that late-term abortions are permissible, thus creating a dilemma for those who seek to argue that birth matters. I argue that the only way to resolve this dilemma, is to bite the naturalist bullet and accept that the intuitively plausible idea that birth constitutes a morally relevant event is simply mistaken and biologically misinformed.
It is often presumed by those who use propositions in their theories that propositions are representational; that is, that propositions represent the world as being some way. This paper makes two claims against this presumption. First, it argues that it does not follow from the fact that propositions play the theoretical roles usually attributed to them that they are representational. This conclusion is reached by rebutting three arguments that can be made in support of the claim that propositions are representational. This paper then advances the further claim that propositions are not representational. It considers several ways to overcome the difficulties traditionally associated with this claim, particularly how to account for falsity.
The dynamics of general relativity is encoded in a set of ten differential equations, the so-called Einstein field equations. It is usually believed that Einstein’s equations represent a physical law describing the coupling of spacetime with material fields. However, just six of these equations actually describe the coupling mechanism: the remaining four represent a set of differential relations known as Bianchi identities. The paper discusses the physical role that the Bianchi identities play in general relativity, and investigates whether these identities –qua part of a physical law– highlight some kind of a posteriori necessity in a Kripkean sense. The inquiry shows that general relativistic physics has an interesting bearing on the debate about the metaphysics of the laws of nature.
The Buddhist philosopher Vasubandhu (4th to 5th
century C.E.) was a great light at the peak of India’s
empire.[ 1 ]
His works display his mastery of Buddhist as well as non-Buddhist
thought of the day, and he made his mark, successively, upon three
Buddhist scholastic traditions that are traditionally considered
distinct: Vaibhāṣika, Sautrāntika, and
Yogācāra.[ 2 ]
His master work of Abhidharma thought, the Commentary on the
Treasury of the Abhidharma
(Abhidharmakośabhāṣya), is to this day the
primary resource for knowledge of “Śrāvaka” or
non-Mahāyāna philosophy among Tibetan and East Asian
schools.[ 3 ]
His concise works on Yogācāra philosophy set a new standard
for that school, which became mainstream Buddhist metaphysics in India
for half a millennium
thereafter.[ 4 ]
Venerated as he is across the Buddhist world, he has always been a
subject of disputation.
I develop a definition of mereological endurantism which overcomes objections that have been proposed in the literature and thereby avoids the charge of obscurity put forward by Sider against the view.
According to the identity version of spacetime supersubstantivalism, material objects are numerically identical to spacetime regions. While the view has been commended for its parsimony and concordance with physics, it has not properly been assessed in light of the metaphysics of properties. The present essay fills this void by discerning several subspecies of identity supersubstantivalism, corresponding to various property ontologies. Finding them all wanting, the essay develops and defends a novel brand of supersubstantivalism based on the trope ontology. On this view, here dubbed ‘supertropestantivalism’, regions are pluralities of geometrically and topologically alike tropes, some of which bundle together as material objects. The resulting picture is not itself an identity version of supersubstantivalism, but it retains the originally attractive features of the identity version while avoiding the shortcomings of competing ontologies.
In this paper I argue that even the most radical metaphysics of powers (such as that adopted by Mumford & Anjum, Cartwright, or Groff) are compatible with eternalism. I first offer a taxonomy of powers ontologies, and attempt to characterise the difference between moderate and radical powers ontologies – the latter are characterised by an emphasis on production and dynamicity. I consider an argument by C. Friebe to the effect that the productive character of powers is inconsistent with Eternalism and find it wanting. I then elucidate the notion of dynamicity that radical powers theorists employ by making apparent their link with an ontology of irreducible processes. Finally, I respond to an argument by Donatella Donati to the effect that eternalism entails a reductive account of change which is inconsistent with process ontologies, and show that the the two are compatible. I conclude that we have no reason to think that radical powers metaphysics (and, a fortiori, every powers ontology) are not compatible with eternalism.
It is widely thought that Augustine thinks perception is, in some distinctive sense, an active process and that he takes conscious awareness to be constitutive of perception. I argue that conscious awareness is not straightforwardly constitutive of perception and that Augustine is best understood as an indirect realist. I then clarify Augustine’s views concerning the nature and role of diachronically unified conscious awareness and mental representation in perception, the nature of the soul’s intentio, and the precise sense(s) in which perception is an active process.
According to some philosophers, there is an ontological distinction between dispositionality and categoricality/qualitativity. Property dualists (Ellis 2001; Molnar 2003; McKitrick 2018) think that the distinction, ontologically conceived, grounds irreducible and ineliminable differences between two kinds of natural property which both exist in the world. In contrast to dualists, property monists hold that only one kind of property actually exists. In particular, categorical monists (Mackie 1977; Armstrong 1997) defend the view that no property (at least no fundamental property) is dispositional, whereas dispositional monists (Mumford 2004; Bird 2007) claim that all properties (at least, all fundamental properties) are dispositional.
This paper proposes a new reductive theory of modality called the moodless theory of modality. This theory, and not modal realism, is the closest modal analogue of the tenseless theory of time. So if the tenseless theory is true, and the temporality–modality analogy is good, it is the moodless theory that follows. I also argue that the moodless theory considered on its own is better than modal realism: arguments often thought decisive against modal realism are weak against it.
There is a long-standing conflict in philosophy between two pictures of perceptual experience. On one picture, traditionally associated with Kant, perceptual experience, at least in adult humans, involves the operation of conceptual as well as sensory capacities. The experience you have when you see a yellow daffodil essentially involves your being aware of it as yellow, and as a daffodil. A subject lacking the concepts of yellow and daffodil would see the same object you do, in that it would affect their sense-organs as it does yours, but would have a different perceptual experience. On the other picture, more closely aligned with empiricism, perceptual experience is the product of our sensory capacities only.
According to the resemblance account of ’what it’s like’ and similar constructions, a sentence such as ‘there is something it’s like to have a toothache’ means ‘there is something having a toothache resembles’. This account has proved controversial in the literature; some writers endorse it, many reject it. We show that this conflict is illusory. Drawing on the semantics of intensional transitive verbs, we show that there are two versions of the resemblance account, depending on whether ‘resembles’ is construed notionally or relationally. While well-known criticisms of the resemblance account undermine its relational version, they do not touch its notional version. On the contrary, the notional version is equivalent to various accounts usually interpreted as rivals to resemblance. We end by noting that this resolution of the controversy (a) explains why ‘like’, which is a comparative, appears in a construction that concerns the properties of events, and (b) removes any pressure to suppose that ‘like’ is ambiguous between a comparative and a non-comparative sense.
According to (what I will call) an inner awareness theory of consciousness, you are in a (phenomenally) conscious state only if you are aware, in some sense, of your being in the state. This theory is widely held, but what arguments are there for holding it? In this paper, I gather together in a systematic way the main arguments for holding the theory and suggest that none of them is persuasive. I end the paper by asking what our attitude to the theory should be if there is no existing argument for it. §1. You are watching a man on a unicycle. Will he fall? Will he balance the flaming torch on his nose? Will the torch burn his moustache? At least for the moment, your attention is completely occupied with him and what he is doing. By contrast, your attention is not occupied with you and what you are doing. At least for the moment, your watching and seeing the man, your own body, and even your own existence, are things to which you are—at least for the moment—completely and happily oblivious. It is reasonable to assume that in this sort of full absorption case (as we might call it) you are having a conscious experience of some kind. For one thing, not only are you watching the man, there is something it is like for you to watch the man, and that claim is usually taken as sufficient for saying that you are having a conscious experience. Moreover, you are aware of the man and what he is doing—and, again, awareness of this sort is usually assumed to involve consciousness.
The identity theory of truth was influential in the formative years of
modern analytic philosophy, and has come to prominence again recently. Broadly speaking, it sees itself as a reaction against correspondence
theories of truth, which maintain that truth-bearers are made
true by facts. The identity theory maintains, against this, that
at least some truth-bearers are not made true by, but are
identical with, facts. The theory is normally applied not at
the level of declarative sentences, but to what such sentences
express. It is these items—or, again, some of them—that
are held to be identical with facts.
According to the realist about philosophy, the goal of philosophy is to come to know the truth about philosophical questions; according to what Helen Beebee calls equilibrism, by contrast, the goal is rather to place one’s commitments in a coherent system. In this paper, I present a critique of equilibrism in the form Beebee defends it, paying particular attention to her suggestion that various meta-philosophical remarks made by David Lewis may be recruited to defend equilibrism. At the end of the paper, I point out that a realist about philosophy may also be a pluralist about philosophical culture, thus undermining one main motivation for equilibrism.
This is not the five minute argument version for Randall; it’s rather the full half hour version for Alice and Adam. Let’s abbreviate this proposition to ‘SCU’. That was Alice Vidrine’s suggestion. It’s pronounced scum or screw or perhaps skew. SCU crops up naturally in the analysis of NF from a category theoretic perspective. Consider the (conjectural) category of small sets and small maps, where ‘small’ means ‘strongly cantorian’, and a small map is a map whose every fibre is strongly cantorian. For this gadget to be a category we need a composition of small maps to be small and this is equivalent to SCU.
This chapter traces the historical and conceptual development of the idea of the continuum and the allied concept of real number. Particular attention is paid to the idea of infinitesimal, which played a key role in the development of the calculus during the 17th and 18th centuries, and which has undergone a revival in the later 20th century.
In a series of publications, L. A. Paul has defended a version of the bundle theory according to which material objects are nothing but mereological sums of ‘their’ properties. This ‘mereological’ bundle theory improves in important ways on earlier bundle theories, but here I present a new argument against it. The argument is roughly this: 1) Material objects occupy space; 2) even if properties have spatial characteristics, they do not quite occupy space; 3) on no plausible construal of mereological composition does a mereological sum of non-space-occupying entities occupy space; therefore, 4) material objects are not mereological sums of properties.
The core doctrine of supersubstantivalism is that material objects are identical to their spacetime locations. One powerful consideration for the view is the argument from harmony − supersubstantivalism, it is claimed, is in a position to offer an elegant explanation of a number of platitudes concerning objects and their locations. However, I will argue that identifying material objects with their locations does not provide a satisfying explanation of harmony. What the supersubstantivalist needs is not a theory about the identity of objects, but another theory about the identity of some relations. This paper proposes such a theory and shows that with it in place, the argument from harmony can be repaired.
This paper presents a puzzle about the logic of real definition. In particular, I demonstrate that five principles concerning definition (that it is coextensional and irreflexive, that it applies to its cases, that it permits expansion and that it is itself defined) are incompatible. I then explore the advantages and disadvantages of each principle—one of which must be rejected to restore consistency.
Despite the contentiousness of the "dead white men" who populate the various canons of academia, it would not be unreasonable to argue that Friedrich Nietzsche—because of the sheer fecundity of his works as an influence on philosophy and the world at large—is somewhat, if not entirely above reproach. And while Thus Spoke Zarathustra, On the Genealogy of Morals, and Beyond Good and Evil are frequently (although not universally) lauded as some of his most important texts, it is the profound candor of Ecce Homo, Nietzsche's autobiography, that distinguishes it from the rest of his oeuvre and discloses, in no uncertain terms, a topic of vital importance that has remained a central concern of the cultural zeitgeist especially as a reaction to various events of the 21st century: trauma. Trauma [τρα μα ῦ ], a Grecian term that traditionally refers to "a wound," underpins much of Nietzsche's writing, and is present in observations of his own lived experience, those of notable décadents such as Socrates and Wagner, and even his discussions of ethics and morality. Nietzsche's willingness to engage with his trauma—what he might refer as a Dionysian affirmation of being—is precisely what allows him to stand head and shoulders above other thinkers in terms of unadulterated authenticity. The relationship between trauma and authenticity is, if nothing else, a well-documented if not understated occurrence both in texts of antiquity as well as contemporary scholarship, therefore understanding trauma as a precondition for the authentic individuation of ek-sisting beings is a concern of uncommon consequence. In order to understand trauma in this regard, it becomes necessary to examine it 1 see Evangelos Tsirmpas, "5 Essential Texts by Friedrich Nietzsche You Should Read," Culture Trip, March 29, 2018, https://theculturetrip.com/europe/germany/articles/the-best-books-byfriedrich-nietzsche-you-should-read/.
Cognitive Propositions, Truth Functions, and the Tractatus It has been 141 years since, first Frege, but then Russell and Wittgenstein, put the metaphysics and epistemology of propositions at the center of philosophy of language, logic, mathematics, and mind. Whereas Frege gave us the first great system for understanding language and thought, his metaphysics and epistemology of propositions was unrealistically other-worldly. The same was true of the early Russell who, by 1912, had become dissatisfied with his inability to explain the intentionality of the abstract structures he had heretofore called “propositions” – which were at best artificial models of what we really assert, believe, and know. It was then that he was struck with the idea that what unites the elements of assertion, belief, and hypothesis, and gives them representational content are the minds of agents, without which neither truth nor falsity can be understood. Although this led him to the dead end that was his multiple relation theory of judgement, Wittgenstein was more successful in putting a human face on representational thought. The tractarian picture theory of propositions we use sentences to express was grounded in the use of linguistic and other artifacts to represent items in the world as being one way or another. Despite remaining submerged for nearly a century, this seminal idea has now been put in cognitive form and developed by several leading philosophers.