Jessica Wilson University of Toronto, University of Toronto at Scarborough
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  • Faculty, University of Toronto
  • Faculty, University of Toronto at Scarborough
  • PhD, Cornell University, 2001.

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About me
I have research interests in both the metaphysics of science and general metaphysics. See http://individual.utoronto.ca/jmwilson/research.html for details.
My works
33 items found.
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  1. Stephen Biggs & Jessica M. Wilson, Abductive Two-Dimensionalism: A New Route to the A Priori Identification of Necessary Truths.
    Chalmers and Jackson (2001) offer an epistemic interpretation of the two-dimensional semantic framework advanced by Kaplan (1979, 1989), Stalnaker (1978), and others. Epistemic two-dimensional semantics (E2D) aims to re-forge the link between necessity and a priority seemingly broken by Kripke (1972/1980). On the E2D strategy, a priori knowledge of certain semantic intensions provides a route to a priori knowledge of a wide range of modal truths---nice outcome, if we can get it. E2D faces the serious challenge, however, that we typically (...)
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  2. Jessica M. Wilson (forthcoming). Hume's Dictum and Metaphysical Modality: Lewis's Combinatorialism. In Barry Loewer & Jonathan Schaffer (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to David Lewis. Blackwell.
    Many contemporary philosophers accept Hume's Dictum (HD), according to which there are no metaphysically necessary connections between distinct, intrinsically typed entities. Tacit in Lewis's work is a potential motivation for HD, according to which one should accept HD as presupposed by the best account of the range of metaphysical possibilities---namely, a combinatorial account, applied to spatiotemporal fundamentalia. Here I elucidate and assess this Ludovician motivation for HD. After refining HD and surveying its key, recurrent role in Lewis’s work, I present (...)
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  3. Jessica M. Wilson (forthcoming). Metaphysical Emergence: Weak and Strong. In Tomasz Bigaj Christian Wuthrich (ed.), Metaphysics in Contemporary Physics. Poznan Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities.
    Nearly all accounts of emergence take this to involve both broadly synchronic dependence and (some measure of) ontological and causal autonomy. Beyond this agreement, however, accounts of emergence diverge into a bewildering variety, reflecting that the core notions of dependence and autonomy have multiple, often incompatible interpretations. Here I argue that much of this apparent diversity is superficial. I start by considering a notorious problematic associated with special science entities---namely, the problem of higher-level causation. I then argue that, of the (...)
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  4. Jessica M. Wilson (forthcoming). Three Dogmas of Metaphysical Methodology. In Matthew Haug (ed.), New Essays on Philosophical Methodology. Routledge.
    In what does philosophical progress consist? 'Vertical' progress corresponds to development within a specific paradigm/framework for theorizing (of the sort associated, revolutions aside, with science); 'horizontal' progress corresponds to the identification and cultivation of diverse paradigms (of the sort associated, conservativism aside, with art and pure mathematics). Philosophical progress seems to involve both horizontal and vertical dimensions, in a way that is somewhat puzzling: philosophers work in a number of competing frameworks (like artists or mathematicians), while typically maintaining that only (...)
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  5. Jessica M. Wilson (2014). Hume's Dictum and the Asymmetry of Counterfactual Dependence. In Alastair Wilson (ed.), Chance and Temporal Asymmetry. Oxford University Press. 258-279.
    Why believe Hume's Dictum, according to which there are, roughly speaking, no necessary connections between wholly distinct entities? Schaffer ('Quiddistic Knowledge', 2009) suggests that HD, at least as applied to causal or nomological connections, is motivated as required by the best account of (the truth) of counterfactuals---namely, a similarity-based possible worlds account, where the operative notion of similarity requires 'miracles'---more specifically, worlds where entities of the same type that actually exist enter into different laws. The main cited motivations for such (...)
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  6. Jessica M. Wilson (2014). No Work for a Theory of Grounding. Inquiry:1-45.
    No Work for a Theory of Grounding. . ???aop.label???. doi: 10.1080/0020174X.2014.907542.
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  7. Jessica M. Wilson (2013). A Determinable-Based Account of Metaphysical Indeterminacy. Inquiry 56 (4):359–385.
    Many phenomena appear to be indeterminate, including material macro-object boundaries, predicates or properties admitting of borderline cases, and certain open future claims. Here I provide an account of indeterminacy in metaphysical, rather than semantic or epistemic, terms. Previous such accounts have been "meta-level" accounts, taking metaphysical indeterminacy (MI) to involve its being indeterminate which of various determinate states of affairs obtain. On my alternative, "object-level" account, MI involves its being determinate (or just plain true) that an indeterminate (less than maximally (...)
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  8. Jessica M. Wilson (2013). Nonlinearity and Metaphysical Emergence. In Stephen Mumford & Matthew Tugby (eds.), Metaphysics and Science.
    The nonlinearity of a composite system, whereby certain of its features (including powers and behaviors) cannot be seen as linear or other broadly additive combinations of features of the system's composing entities, has been frequently seen as a mark of metaphysical emergence, coupling the dependence of a composite system on an underlying system of composing entities with the composite system's ontological autonomy from its underlying system. But why think that nonlinearity is a mark of emergence, and moreover, of metaphysical rather (...)
     
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  9. Adam Murray & Jessica M. Wilson (2012). Relativized Metaphysical Modality. In Karen Bennett & Dean Zimmerman (eds.), Oxford Studies in Metaphysics. Oxford University Press. 189.
    It is commonly supposed that metaphysical modal claims are to be evaluated with respect to a single domain of possible worlds: a claim is metaphysically necessary just in case it is true in every possible world, and metaphysically possible just in case it is true in some possible world. We argue that the standard understanding is incorrect; rather, whether a given claim is metaphysically necessary or possible is relative to which world is indicatively actual. We motivate our view by attention (...)
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  10. Jessica M. Wilson (2012). Fundamental Determinables. Philosophers' Imprint 12 (4).
    Contemporary philosophers commonly suppose that any fundamental entities there may be are maximally determinate. More generally, they commonly suppose that, whether or not there are fundamental entities, any determinable entities there may be are grounded in, hence less fundamental than, more determinate entities. So, for example, Armstrong takes the physical objects constituting the presumed fundamental base to be “determinate in all respects” (1961, 59), and Lewis takes the properties characterizing things “completely and without redundancy” to be “highly specific” (1986, 60). (...)
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  11. Jessica M. Wilson (2012). The Regress Argument Against Cartesian Skepticism. Analysis 72 (4):668-673.
    I argue that Cartesian skepticism about the external world leads to a vicious regress of skeptical attitudes, the only principled and unproblematic response to which requires refraining from taking the very first skeptical step.
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  12. Jessica M. Wilson (2011). Much Ado About 'Something': Critical Notice of Chalmers, Manley, Wasserman, Metametaphysics. [REVIEW] Analysis 71:172-188.
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  13. Jessica M. Wilson (2011). Non-Reductive Realization and the Powers-Based Subset Strategy. The Monist (Issue on Powers) 94 (1):121-154.
    I argue that an adequate account of non-reductive realization must guarantee satisfaction of a certain condition on the token causal powers associated with (instances of) realized and realizing entities---namely, what I call the 'Subset Condition on Causal Powers' (first introduced in Wilson 1999). In terms of states, the condition requires that the token powers had by a realized state on a given occasion be a proper subset of the token powers had by the state that realizes it on that occasion. (...)
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  14. Jessica M. Wilson (2010). From Constitutional Necessities to Causal Necessities. In Helen Beebee & Nigel Sabbarton-Leary (eds.), The Semantics and Metaphysics of Natural Kinds. Routledge.
    Humeans and non-Humeans reasonably agree that there may be necessary connections between entities that are identical or merely partly distinct—between, e.g., sets and their individual members, fusions and their individual parts, instances of determinates and determinables, members of certain natural kinds and certain of their intrinsic properties, and (especially among physicalists) certain physical and mental states. Humeans maintain, however, that as per “Hume’s Dictum”, there are no necessary connections between entities that are wholly distinct;1 and in particular, no necessary causal (...)
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  15. Jessica M. Wilson (2010). Non-Reductive Physicalism and Degrees of Freedom. British Journal for Philosophy of Science 61 (2):279-311.
    Some claim that Non-reductive Physicalism (NRP) is an unstable position, on grounds that NRP either collapses into reductive physicalism (contra Non-reduction ), or expands into emergentism of a robust or ‘strong’ variety (contra Physicalism ). I argue that this claim is unfounded, by attention to the notion of a degree of freedom—roughly, an independent parameter needed to characterize an entity as being in a state functionally relevant to its law-governed properties and behavior. I start by distinguishing three relations that may (...)
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  16. Jessica M. Wilson (2010). The Mind in Nature, by C. B. Martin. [REVIEW] Mind 119 (474):503-511.
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  17. Jessica M. Wilson (2010). The Causal Argument Against Component Forces. Dialectica 63 (4):525-554.
    Do component forces exist in conjoined circumstances? Cartwright (1980) says no; Creary (1981) says yes. I'm inclined towards Cartwright's side in this matter, but find several problems with her argumentation. My primary aim here is to present a better, distinctly causal, argument against component forces: very roughly, I argue that the joint posit of component and resultant forces in conjoined circumstances gives rise to a threat of causal overdetermination, avoidance of which best proceeds via eliminativism about component forces. A secondary (...)
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  18. Jessica M. Wilson (2010). What is Hume's Dictum, and Why Believe It? Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 80 (3):595 - 637.
    Hume's Dictum (HD) says, roughly and typically, that there are no metaphysically necessary connections between distinct, intrinsically typed, entities. HD plays an influential role in metaphysical debate, both in constructing theories and in assessing them. One should ask of such an influential thesis: why believe it? Proponents do not accept Hume's arguments for his dictum, nor do they provide their own; however, some have suggested either that HD is analytic or that it is synthetic a priori (that is: motivated by (...)
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  19. Jessica M. Wilson (2009). Determination, Realization and Mental Causation. Philosophical Studies 145 (1):149 - 169.
    How can mental properties bring about physical effects, as they seem to do, given that the physical realizers of the mental goings-on are already sufficient to cause these effects? This question gives rise to the problem of mental causation (MC) and its associated threats of causal overdetermination, mental causal exclusion, and mental causal irrelevance. Some (e.g., Cynthia and Graham Macdonald, and Stephen Yablo) have suggested that understanding mental-physical realization in terms of the determinable/determinate relation (henceforth, 'determination') provides the key to (...)
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  20. Jessica M. Wilson (2009). Resemblance-Based Resources for Reductive Singularism. The Monist 92 (1):153-190.
    Hume argued that experience could not justify commonly held beliefs in singular causal effcacy, according to which individual or singular causes produce their effects or make their effects happen. Hume's discussion has been influential, as motivating the view that Causal reductionism (denying that causal efficacy is an irreducible feature of natural reality) requires Causal generalism (according to which causal relations are metaphysically constituted by patterns of events). Here I argue that causal reductionists---indeed, Hume himself---have previously unappreciated resources for making sense (...)
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  21. Jessica Wilson (2007). Newtonian Forces. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 58 (2):173 - 205.
    Newtonian forces are pushes and pulls, possessing magnitude and direction, that are exerted (in the first instance) by objects, and which cause (in particular) motions. I defend Newtonian forces against the four best reasons for denying or doubting their existence. A running theme in my defense of forces will be the suggestion that Newtonian Mechanics is a special science, and as such has certain prima facie ontological rights and privileges, that may be maintained against various challenges.
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  22. Jessica M. Wilson (2006). Causality. In Jessica Pfeifer & Sahotra Sarkar (eds.), The Philosophy of Science: An Encyclopedia. Routledge. 90--100.
    Arguably no concept is more fundamental to science than that of causality, for investigations into cases of existence, persistence, and change in the natural world are largely investigations into the causes of these phenomena. Yet the metaphysics and epistemology of causality remain unclear. For example, the ontological categories of the causal relata have been taken to be objects (Hume 1739), events (Davidson 1967), properties (Armstrong 1978), processes (Salmon 1984), variables (Hitchcock 1993), and facts (Mellor 1995). (For convenience, causes and effects (...)
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  23. Jessica M. Wilson (2006). Forces. In Borchert (ed.), Philosophy of Science. MacMillan.
  24. Jessica M. Wilson (2006). On Characterizing the Physical. Philosophical Studies 131 (1):61-99.
    How should physical entities be characterized? Physicalists, who have most to do with the notion, usually characterize the physical by reference to two components: 1. The physical entities are the entities treated by fundamental physics with the proviso that 2. Physical entities are not fundamentally mental (that is, do not individually possess or bestow mentality) Here I explore the extent to which the appeals to fundamental physics and to the NFM (“no fundamental mentality”) constraint are appropriate for characterizing the physical, (...)
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  25. Jessica M. Wilson (2006). Review of Gonzalo Rodriguez-Pereyra's Resemblance Nominalism: A Solution to the Problem of Universals. [REVIEW] Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 72 (1):241--6.
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  26. Jessica M. Wilson (2005). Supervenience-Based Formulations of Physicalism. Noûs 39 (3):426-459.
    The physicalist thesis that all entities are nothing over and above physical entities is often interpreted as appealing to a supervenience-based account of "nothing over and aboveness”, where, schematically, the A-entities are nothing over and above the B-entities if the A-entities supervene on the B-entities. The main approaches to filling in this schema correspond to different ways of characterizing the modal strength, the supervenience base, or the supervenience connection at issue. I consider each approach in turn, and argue that the (...)
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  27. Jessica M. Wilson (2003). Naturalist Metaphysics. Michigan Philosophy News.
  28. Jessica M. Wilson (2002). Causal Powers, Forces, and Superdupervenience. Grazer Philosophische Studien 63 (1):53-77.
    Horgan (1993) proposed that "superdupervenience" - supervenience preserving physicalistic acceptability - is a matter of robust explanation. I argued against him (1999) that (as nearly all physicalist and emergentist accounts reflect) superdupervenience is a matter of Condition on Causal Powers (CCP): every causal power bestowed by the supervenient property is identical with a causal power bestowed by its base property. Here I show that CCP is, as it stands, unsatisfactory,for on the usual understandings of causal power bestowal, it is trivially (...)
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  29. Jessica M. Wilson (2002). Review of John Perry's Knowledge, Possibility, and Consciousness. [REVIEW] Philosophical Review 111:598-601.
    Perry, in this lucid, deep, and entertaining book (based on his 1999 Jean Nicod lectures), supposes that type-identity physicalism is antecedently plausible, and that rejecting this thesis requires good reason (this is.
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  30. Jessica M. Wilson (2001). Physicalism, Emergentism, and Fundamental Forces. Dissertation, Cornell University
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  31. Jessica M. Wilson (2000). Could Experience Disconfirm the Propositions of Arithmetic? Canadian Journal of Philosophy 30 (1):55--84.
    Alberto Casullo ("Necessity, Certainty, and the A Priori", Canadian Journal of Philosophy 18, 1988) argues that arithmetical propositions could be disconfirmed by appeal to an invented scenario, wherein our standard counting procedures indicate that 2 + 2 != 4. Our best response to such a scenario would be, Casullo suggests, to accept the results of the counting procedures, and give up standard arithmetic. While Casullo's scenario avoids arguments against previous "disconfirming" scenarios, it founders on the assumption, common to scenario and (...)
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  32. Jessica M. Wilson (1999). How Superduper Does a Physicalist Supervenience Need to Be? Philosophical Quarterly 50 (194):33-52.
    Note: this is the first published presentation and defense of the 'proper subset strategy' for making sense of non-reductive physicalism or the associated notion of realization; this is sometimes, inaccurately, called "Shoemaker's subset strategy"; if people could either call it the 'subset strategy' or better yet, add my name to the mix I would appreciate it. Horgan claims that physicalism requires "superdupervenience" -- supervenience plus robust ontological explanation of the supervenient in terms of the base properties. I argue that Horgan's (...)
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  33. Donal McKillop, J. Goddard & J. Wilson, The Growth of US Credit Unions.
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