Let us use the term ‘individual’ for the common objects of everyday perception and thought and reference and also for any things sufficiently like them that those things count as, well, let us say, ‘the same sort of thing for metaphysical purposes.’ I use the word without regard for any philosophical associations it may have (e.g. it may be hard for some philosophers to hear or read the word ‘individual’ without supposing that one of its functions is to stand in opposition to some other word, such as ‘universal’ or ‘attribute’). So: we human beings are individuals, tables and chairs are individuals, pebbles and boulders are individuals, protons and variable stars are individuals, elves and goblins are individuals, gods and demons are individuals, reflections in a mirror and shadows and holes and surfaces are individuals . . . That is to say, the items in this list are individuals provided (i) that they exist, and (ii) that they really are ‘the same sort of thing for metaphysical purposes’ as the common objects of everyday perception and thought and reference. (As to the point of the second qualification, consider the case of protons. Suppose that ‘a proton is a thing – like a rock!,’ a statement I once heard a Nobel laureate in physics make. That statement, if it were taken as a serious contribution to metaphysics, would seem to imply that ‘protons’ are indeed sufficiently like pebbles and boulders to count as the same sort of thing for metaphysical purposes. But it has been said that – owing to the very non-everyday properties ascribed to protons by quantum-field theories like the Standard Model – to take that statement and other such offhand statements by physicists at metaphysical face-value
What is a natural kind? This old yet lasting philosophical question has recently received new competing answers (e.g., Chakravartty, 2007; Magnus, 2014; Khalidi, 2013; Slater, 2015; Ereshef-sky & Reydon, 2015). We show that the main ingredients of an encompassing and coherent account of natural kinds are actually on the table, but in need of the right articulation. It is by adopting a non-reductionist, naturalistic and non-conceptualist approach that, in this paper, we elaborate a new synthesis of all these ingredients. Our resulting proposition is a multiple-compartment theory of natural kinds that defines them in purely ontological terms, clearly distinguishes and relates ontological and epistemological issues —more precisely, two grains of ontological descriptions and two grains of explanatory success of natural kinds—, and which sheds light on why natural kinds play an epistemic role both within science and in everyday life.
After the rise of Darwin’s theory of evolution it seemed that the much-feared ghost of traditional essentialism had disappeared from biology. However, developments of the last century in analytic metaphysics (Kripke, Putnam, Wiggins) appear to have resurrected the Aristotelian monster in various forms. The aim of this paper is to investigate the revival of the essentialist doctrine as applied to biological species, namely the thesis that organisms belong to a particular natural kind in virtue of possessing certain essential properties, and examine to what extent these new biological essentialisms are sustainable. For this purpose, I intend to analyze these proposals in both their forms, relational essentialism (Okasha, LaPorte) and intrinsic essentialism (Devitt), and confront them with their main anti-essentialist criticisms.
The goal of this article is to counter a belief, still widely held in the secondary literature, that Anne Conway espoused a theory of monads. By exploring her views on the divisibility of both bodies and spirits, I argue that monads could not possibly exist in her system. In addition, by offering new evidence about the Latin translation of Conway’s Principles, and the possible authorship of its annotations, I argue that she never even suggested that there could be such things as monads. Alongside this, I explore the theories of monads that did get developed by the philosophers closest to Conway—Henry More, Francis Mercury van Helmont, and Christian Knorr von Rosenroth—thereby further underlining Conway’s originality and philosophical daring.
According to the Psychological-Continuity Account of What Matters, you are justified in having special concern for the well-being of a person at a future time if and only if that person will be psychologically continuous with you as you are now. On some versions of the account, the psychological continuity is required to be temporally ordered, whereas, on other versions, it is allowed to be temporally unordered. In this paper, I argue that the account is implausible if the psychological continuity is allowed to be temporally unordered. I also argue that, if the psychological continuity is required to be temporally ordered, it cannot plausibly be purely psychological (in the sense that the psychological continuity is not required to be caused through spatio-temporal continuity of a brain). The upshot is that no plausible version of the Psychological- Continuity Account of What Matters is purely psychological. So, psychological continuity is not what matters in survival.
We define mereologically invariant composition as the relation between a whole object and its parts when the object retains the same parts during a time interval. We argue that mereologically invariant composition is identity between a whole and its parts taken collectively. Our reason is that parts and wholes are equivalent measurements of a portion of reality at diferent scales in the precise sense employed by measurement theory. The purpose of these scales is the numerical representation of primitive relations between quantities of being. To show this, we prove representation and uniqueness theorems for composition. Thus, mereologically invariant composition is trans-scalar identity.
According to Aristotle, the medical art aims at health, which is a virtue of the body, and does so in an unlimited way. Consequently, medicine does not determine the extent to which health should be pursued, and “mental health” falls under medicine only via pros hen predication. Because medicine is inherently oriented to its end, it produces health in accordance with its nature and disease contrary to its nature—even when disease is good for the patient. Aristotle’s politician understands that this inherent orientation can be systematically distorted, and so would see the need for something like the Hippocratic Oath.
Studies on Platonic ‘Theoria motus abstracti’ are often focused on dynamics rather than kinematics, in particular on psychic self-motion. This state of affairs is, of course, far from being a bland academic accident: according to Plato, dynamics is the higher science while kinematics is lower on the ‘scientific’ spectrum . Furthermore, when scholars investigate Platonic abstract kinematics, in front of them there is a very limited set of texts . Among them, one of the most interesting undoubtedly remains a passage of Parmenides in which Plato challenges the puzzle of the ‘instant of change’, namely the famous text about the ‘sudden’ (τὸ ἐξαίφνης).
It might seem, and has seemed to many, that what I think is up to me. I go about life representing the world with thoughts, and my intrinsic state fixes the content of those thoughts—fixes, that is, what they require of the world in order to be true. Call this idea internalism about mental content (henceforth, internalism). Juhani Yli-Vakkuri and John Hawthorne (henceforth, YVH) have written a book that attempts to refute internalism in all its reasonable manifestations. There is much of value in Narrow Content. The central argument, with its protagonist Mirror Man, constitutes a formidable stumbling-block that all future internalists will have to contend with. And the authors have done substantial work to iron out a more precise characterization of the conceptual landscape than existed hitherto. That said, the book is not without frustrations, for reasons both stylistic and substantive. Stylistically, while the authors are admirably clear about defining the views at issue, they’re not always great about explaining why the definitions are as they are, especially in cases where their framework is more complicated than what you might have expected. Substantively (and, I’ll argue, relatedly), the authors largely neglect to address one of the most prominent roles certain philosophers (e.g. Dennett, Stalnaker, and Lewis) have taken content to play, that of explaining and predicting behavior. It’s not clear, so I’ll argue, that the central argument of the book refutes internalists of that kind.
In this post I reflect on the failures of nonsense-policing and ordinary language philosophy, and the fact that notwithstanding these failures, paying critical attention to semantic issues is of central importance in philosophy, and in metaphysics as well as philosophy of language. …
What is possible, according to the empiricist conception, is what our evidence positively allows; and what is necessary is what it compels. These notions, along with logical possibility, are the only defensible notions of possibility and necessity. In so far as nomic and metaphysical possibility are defensible, they fall within empirical possibility. These empirical conceptions are incompatible with traditional possible world semantics. Empirically necessary propositions cannot be defined as those true in all possible worlds. There can be empirical possibilities without empirical necessities. The duality of possibility and necessity can be degenerate and can even be falsified.
Many philosophers think that common sense knowledge survives sophisticated philosophical proofs against it. It’s much more certain that things move that it is that the premises of Zeno’s counterarguments are true. What goes for Zeno’s arguments against motion arguably goes for philosophical arguments against causation, time, tables, human beings, knowledge, and more.
Causation is defined as a relation between facts: C causes E if and only if C and E are nomologically independent facts and C is a necessary part of a nomologically sufficient condition for E. The analysis is applied to problems of overdetermination, preemption, trumping, intransitivity, switching, and double prevention. Preventing and allowing are defined and distinguished from causing. The analysis explains the direction of causation in terms of the logical form of dynamic laws. Even in a universe that is deterministic in both temporal directions, not every fact must have a cause and present facts may have no future causes.
Aristotle (384–322 BC) was born in Macedon, in what is now northern
Greece, but spent most of his adult life in Athens. His life in Athens
divides into two periods, first as a member of Plato’s Academy
(367–347) and later as director of his own school, the Lyceum
(334–323). The intervening years were spent mainly in Assos and Lesbos,
and briefly back in Macedon. His years away from Athens were
predominantly taken up with biological research and writing. Judged on
the basis of their content, Aristotle’s most important psychological
writings probably belong to his second residence in Athens, and so to
his most mature period.
Traditionally, accounts of natural kinds have run the gamut from strongly conventionalist to strongly realist views. Recently, however, there has been a significant shift toward more conventionalist-sounding positions, even (perhaps especially) among philosophers interested in scientific classification. The impetus for this is a trend toward making anthropocentric features of categories, namely, capacities to facilitate human epistemic (and other) interests via inductive inference, central to an account of kinds. I argue that taking these features seriously is both defensible and compatible with conventionalism, but not compatible with a traditional realism about kinds specifically. Moreover, hopes of achieving compatibility by revising and extending kind realism – into what I call ‘hyperrealism’ – face an insuperable dilemma. The news for realists is not all bad, however: though kind realism proves untenable, closely associated realisms underlying the objectivity of kind discourse may be viable nonetheless.
Epiphenomenalism denies some or all putative cases of mental causation. The view is widely taken to be absurd: if a theory can be shown to entail epiphenomenalism, many see that as a reductio of that theory. Opponents take epiphenomenalism to be absurd because they regard the view as undermining the evident agency we have in action and precluding substantial self-knowledge. In this paper, I defend epiphenomenalism against these objections, and thus against the negative dialectical role that the view plays in philosophy of mind. I argue that nearly in all cases where a theory implies one kind of epiphenomenalism, it is an epiphenomenalism of a non-problematic kind, at least as far as issues about agency and self-knowledge are concerned. There is indeed a problematic version of epiphenomenalism, but that version is not relevant to the debates where its apparent absurdity is invoked.
This paper defends Priorianism, a theory in the philosophy of time which combines three theses: first, that there is a metaphysical distinction between the present time and non-present times; second, that there are temporary propositions, that is, propositions that change in truth-value simpliciter over time; and third, that there is change over time only if there are temporary propositions. Priorianism is accepted by many Presentists, Growing Block Theorists, and Moving Spotlight Theorists. However, it is difficult to defend the view without appealing to premises that those who reject the view find controversial. My aim in this paper is to defend Priorianism in a way that largely avoids appealing to such premises. I do three things: first (Section 1), I describe the component theses of Priorianism and the relations between them. Next (Section 2), I show how Priorians can respond to the argument that the B-theory implies that there are temporary propositions, and therefore satisfies the Priorian condition for there being change over time. Finally (Section 3), I defend the Priorian thesis that there is change over time only if there are temporary propositions against an alternative principle of change defended by Ross Cameron (The Moving Spotlight, 2015).
The paradox of pain refers to the idea that the folk concept of pain is paradoxical, treating pains as simultaneously mental states and bodily states (e.g. Hill 2005, 2017; Borg et al. 2020). By taking a close look at our pain terms, this paper argues that there is no paradox of pain. The air of paradox dissolves once we recognise that pain terms are polysemous and that there are two separate but related concepts of pain rather than one.
Anthony Collins (1676–1729) was a wealthy English free-thinker,
deist and materialist who in his later years became a country squire
and local government official in Essex. Along with John Toland,
Collins was the most significant member of a close knit circle of
radical free thinkers that arose in England in the first three decades
of the eighteenth century. This group included such men as Samuel
Bold, Matthew Tindal, Thomas Woolston and William
Wollaston.[ 1 ]
Collins was a friend of John Locke in Locke’s old age and Locke
was one important formative influence on his philosophical views.
Much of the current debate in philosophy of perception centers on the nature of our perceptual commerce with the world. Recently, the debate has been fueled by the reemergence of naïve realist and relationalist perspectives that reject, on the whole, a mediated access to the objects of perception (e.g. Brewer 2011; Campbell 2002; Fish ; Martin 1997). Call this the “mainstream” debate in philosophy of perception. To a large extent, the mainstream debate has almost exclusively focused on vision, and neglected other sense modalities. This “visuocentrism” is often coupled with the tacit assumption that what is true about vision may be simply transferrable to other sense-modalities as well. (For recent exceptions, see Fulkerson 2013; O’Callaghan ). Taken together, the mainstream interest in the nature of perception and visuo-centrism have led philosophers to neglect an equally important topic of investigation, the structure of perceptual objects, obscuring significant structural differences among the sense-modalities, and the fact that perceptual experiences are frequently multi-modal (e.g. Kubovy and von Valkenburg 2001; O’Callaghan 2012, 2015).
William James expresses a commonplace idea when he writes that: Each of [our] minds keeps its own thoughts to itself…. No thought even comes into direct sight of a thought in another personal consciousness than its own. Absolute insulation… is the law… The breaches between such thoughts are the most absolute breaches in nature. (James 1890, p.226) This idea - that each individual consciousness is absolutely insulated from all others - could be unpacked in a variety of ways, but the strand we wish to focus on here is the denial of what we will call ‘phenomenal sharing’. James says that each mind ‘keeps its own thoughts to itself’: the opposite possibility, that is denied here, would presumably be for one thought to be shared between two minds. As we will discuss, there are a number of contexts where philosophers might feel driven to postulate such a ‘sharing’ of mental particulars, but there are a number of arguments and objections that seem to show it impossible. We believe that none of these arguments are decisive: while we cannot positively establish the possibility or actuality of mental sharing, we hope to show that philosophers who have independent reasons to postulate it in particular cases need not hold back from doing so.
While I was never much one for the analytical tradition of philosophy, I have always held a deep respect for epistemology, especially Susan Haack, and her theory of foundherentism. There will always be something endearing about a theorist who is willing to adopt a "third way" to a given problem, even if that third way is no more complicated than adopting the strengths of two competing positions, and mitigating the weakness in an attempt to resolve the issue at hand.
Our best theory of space, time and gravity is the general theory of relativity (GR). It accounts for gravitational phenomena in terms of the curvature of spacetime. In more mathematical presentations of the theory, solutions are standardly represented as n-tuples: (M, gab, φ1, φ2, . . .). The φs are objects that represent the assorted material content of spacetime (such as stars and electromagnetic fields). M and gab together represent spacetime itself. M is a differentiable manifold representing the 4-dimensional continuum of spacetime points. gab is a Lorentzian metric tensor defined on M . It encodes some of spacetime’s key spatiotemporal properties, such as the spacetime distances along paths in M . In particular, spacetime’s curvature can be defined in terms of gab.
The Animalist Says We Are Animals. This Thesis is Commonly Understood as the Universal Generalization That All Human Persons Are Human Animals. This Article Proposes an Alternative: The Thesis is a Generic That Admits of Exceptions. We Defend the Resulting View, Which We Call Generic Animalism , and Show its Aptitude for Diagnosing the Limits of Eight Case-Based Objections to Animalism.
According to the Copernican Principle in cosmology, we should assume that we do not occupy a special or privileged place in the cosmos, such as its exact center. According to the Anthropic Principle, we should be unsurprised to discover that we occupy a cosmological position consistent with the existence of intelligent life. …
When I was a young man, still filled with youthful indignation and unflappable bravado, I crossed an ocean to a land far away where I took up arms on behalf of my countrymen, and helped fight a seemingly never-ending war. This introduction is not the story of that war, but an acknowledgement of failure, of trauma, and the effects each of those phenomena can have on the psyche of a young man. You see, I was a forward observer: I was trained in the art of battlefield destruction; I had, at my beck and call, the most prolific assortment of firepower known to man, and I was happy to use those weapons when and if the situation demanded it. Death and destruction . . . it's funny how quickly we become comfortable with such realities. And for two deployments, those realities are what I specialized in. I was a "King of Battle." But then, about three quarters of the way through my final deployment something happened. A close friend— let's call him "C"—overdosed on heroin while sleeping in his rack, on our forward operating base in between missions, where no real danger loomed besides the now apparent danger we posed to ourselves. The problem was, I knew C had a history of drug use, and what's worse I knew he was using to a greater or lesser extent, and I did nothing to prevent it. "C" died on the 24th of that September, and two weeks later he was buried. I felt like I was buried right along with him, and maybe I should have been. Maybe I still should be for writing this text. After all, by articulating the situation textually, there stands the risk of devaluing the matter at hand. This concern is only compounded by the fact that I'm not confident in my right to invoke such an occurrence when the effects of my failures and losses pale in comparison to the loss experienced by his family. Still, I must press on.
In this paper, we show that it is not a conceptual truth about laws of nature that they are immutable (though we are happy to leave it as an open empirical question whether they do actually change once in a while). In order to do so, we survey three popular accounts of lawhood —(Armstrong-style) necessitarianism, (Bird-style) dispositionalism and (Lewis-style) ‘best system analysis’—and expose the extent, as well as the philosophical cost, of the amendments that should be enforced in order to leave room for the possibility of changing laws.
Povinelli’s Problem is a well-known methodological problem confronting those researching nonhuman primate cognition. In this paper I add a new wrinkle to this problem. The wrinkle concerns introspection, i.e., the ability to detect one’s own mental states. I argue that introspection either creates a new obstacle to solving Povinelli’s Problem, or creates a slightly different, but closely related, problem. I apply these arguments to Robert Lurz and Carla Krachun’s (2011) recent attempt at solving Povinelli’s Problem.
Michael Weiss and I have been carrying on a dialog on nonstandard models of arithmetic, and after a long break we’re continuing, here:
• Michael Weiss and John Baez, Non-standard models of arithmetic (Part 18). …
The number of true sentences is infinite. This is why writing philosophy is hard. As if to prove my point to myself, I'm having some trouble choosing this next sentence. With the exception perhaps of fiction, philosophy is the most topically wide open and diversely structured of writing forms. …