In everyday life we assume substantial behavioural reliability in others, and on the basis of it we talk of people as acting “in character” and “out of character”. This common assumption seems intuitively well founded. But recent experiments in social psychology have generated philosophical controversy around it. In the context of this debate, John Doris challenges Aristotle’s well known and influential view that people’s behavioural reliability with respect to acting virtuously is underpinned by character traits, understood as settled and integrated (...) dispositions of the agent to have appropriate judgment and appropriate feelings toward what she is called upon to do in a given situation. In this paper I will take John Doris’ challenge at face value, and argue in response that Aristotle’s position is not undermined by it. In fact, rethinking Aristotle’s realism about character and moral virtues in light of Doris’ criticism has important and hitherto unexplored heuristic value for Aristotelian scholars and situationist philosophers alike. (shrink)
In this paper we investigate composition models of incarnation, according to which Christ is a compound of qualitatively and numerically different constituents. We focus on three-part models, according to which Christ is composed of a divine mind, a human mind, and a human body. We consider four possible relational structures that the three components could form. We argue that a ’hierarchy of natures’ model, in which the human mind and body are united to each other in the normal way, and (...) in which they are jointly related to the divine mind by the relation of coaction, is the most metaphysically plausible model. Finally, we consider the problem of how Christ can be a single person even when his components may be considered persons. We argue that an Aristotelian metaphysics, according to which identity is a matter of function, offers a plausible solution: Christ’s components may acquire a radically new identity through being parts of the whole, which enables them to be reidentified as p. (shrink)
Do powers have powers? More urgently, do powers need further powers to do what powers do? Stathis Psillos says they do. He finds this a fatal flaw in the nature of pure powers: pure powers have a regressive nature. Their nature is incoherent to us, and they should not be admitted into the ontology. I argue that pure powers do not need further powers; rather, they do what they do because they are powers. I show that at the heart of (...) Psillos’ regress is a metaphysical division he assumes between a pure power to φ and its directedness towards the manifestation of φ-ing, i.e. between a pure power and its essence. But such an ontological division between an entity and its essence has already been shown by Aristotle to be detrimental, condemning the entity to a regressive nature. I show that Psillos’ regress is but an instance of Aristotle’s regress argument on the relation between an entity and its essence. I compare Aristotle’s, Bradley’s, and Psillos’ regresses, showing that Bradley’s and Psillos’ (different) conclusions from the regress arguments lead to impasses. I then build on Aristotle’s directive against regressive natures, arguing with him that an entity is not other than its nature (being divided from its nature by a relation between them). Rather, an entity is an instantiated nature itself. The Aristotelian position I put forward explains how the oneness of the entity is achieved by its being an instance of a type. Thus, the regress is blocked, and the nature of pure powers is shown to pose no threats of an ontological or epistemological kind, if physics gave us reasons to posit pure powers. (shrink)
In this paper, we examine Abelard’s model of the incarnation and place it within the wider context of his views in metaphysics and logic. In particular, we consider whether Abelard has the resources to solve the major difficulties faced by the so-called "compositional models" of the incarnation, such as his own. These difficulties include: the requirement to account for Christ’s unity as a single person, despite being composed of two concrete particulars; the requirement to allow that Christ is identical with (...) the pre-existent Son, despite the fact that the pre-existent Son is a (proper) part of the incarnate Christ; and finally, the requirement to avoid Nestorianism, i.e., the position that Christ’s proper parts are persons in their own right. We argue that Abelard does have adequate solutions to these problems. In particular, we show that his theories of relations and predication can be put to use in defence of a compositional account of the incarnation. (shrink)
‘Is being one only one? – The Argument for the Uniqueness of Platonic Forms’ Abstract: Each Form is unique in number; no two numerically distinct Forms can share the same nature. Plato argues for this claim in Republic X. I identify the metaphysical principles Plato presupposes in the premises of the argument, by examining the reasoning behind them, and offer a reconstruction of the argument showing the principles in use. I argue that the metaphysical significance of the argument’s conclusion is (...) to establish that if a Form F were not unique, if there were many Forms F, their nature would alter along with their number: a Form cannot recur without change in its constitution. This is why there can be only one Form for each character in the world. (shrink)
What metaphysics can plausibly back up the claim that God became incarnate? In this essay we investigate the main kinds of models of incarnation that have been historically proposed. We highlight the philosophical assumptions in each model, and on this basis offer novel ways of grouping them as metaphysical rather than doctrinal positions. We examine strengths and weaknesses of the models, and argue that ’composition models’ offer the most promising way forward to account for the pivotal Christian belief that, in (...) Christ, true divinity and true humanity meet in a genuine union. (shrink)
‘The Union of Cause and Effect in Aristotle: Physics III 3’, Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, 32, pp. 205-232, May 2007. Abstract: I argue that Aristotle introduced a unique realist account of causation, which has not hitherto been appreciated in the history of philosophy: causal realism without a causal relation. In his account, cause and effect are unified by the ectopic actualization of the agent’s potentiality in the patient. His solution consists in the introduction of a property that belongs to (...) one subject but is realized in another subject on whose state this realization depends. I identify and analyze the multiple ontological dependencies between the causal state of the agent and that of the patient during their causal activity. (shrink)
‘It’s a Colorful World’, American Philosophical Quarterly, 43:1, pp. 71-80, 2006. Abstract: I defend the intuition that the phenomenology of our experience is right in attributing the colors we see to objects; but although colors are properties of objects, they are constitutively dependent on the perceiver’s experiences. I offer a metaphysical account for this primitivist intuition, in response to David Chalmers’ arguments against it, drawing inspiration from Aristotle’s theory of causation.