There will be a surprise party for Mark tonight. He loves surprise parties, because he loves the surprise—but he'll feel terrible if the surprise is spoiled, and not want to go. He has a reason to go to the party—the surprise—; but if he knew or even believed what that reason was, he would have a reason not to go. It looks like in this case there can be really good reasons for someone without the person being aware of what (...) those reasons are (and in this case, it wouldn't even be a reason to go anymore if he was aware of it). Now presumably this reason isn't motivating Mark to go to the party. But it is a fact that counts in favour of Mark's going to the party even without motivating him to do it. (shrink)
Characteristic mental states including thinking about going on holiday, desiring to eat a peach, feeling sad, and believing that that Australia will win the world cup. Mental states are intentional (about other things) and we have privileged access to them.
QUESTIONS Objects seem to have some properties in themselves (like shape), and some other properties that depend on other things around them (like being alone or accompanied). The distinction between primary and secondary qualities is a special case of this more general contrast: what, according to Locke, is the basis for the distinction? Is there more than one way to understand Locke’s argument: what is the best reading of Locke? What wider signiﬁcance does the distinction between primary and secondary qualities (...) have? (shrink)
Von Mises thought that an adequate account of objective probability required a condition of randomness. For frequentists, some such condition is needed to rule out those sequences where the relative frequencies converge towards definite limiting values, and where it is nevertheless not appropriate to speak of probability … [because such a sequence] obeys an easily recognizable law (von Mises, Probability, Statistics, and Truth). But is a condition of randomness required for an adequate account of probability, given the existence of decisive (...) arguments against frequentism? To put it another way: is it characteristic of the probability role that probability should have a connection to randomness? I will answer this question in the negative. (shrink)
Consider also what I shall call the asymmetry of openness: the obscure contrast we draw between the ‘open future’ and the ‘ﬁxed past.’ We tend to regard the future as a multitude of alternative possibilities, a ‘garden of forking paths’ in Borges’ phrase, whereas we regard the past as a unique, settled, immutable actuality. These descriptions scarcely wear their meaning on their sleeves, yet do seem to capture some genuine and important difference between past and future. What can it be? (...) (Lewis, 1979). (shrink)
Metaphysics, having long since recovered the logical positivist/empiricist objections that were supposed to signal its death, is once again coming under sustained criticism, and from a similar direction. Once it was realised that speculative systematic metaphysics needn’t be abandoned in light of empiricist scruples, metaphysics flourished. But it’s become increasingly clear that, even if the logical empiricists didn’t exactly get their objections right, there is something worrying about the evidential basis for contemporary metaphysics. Not that metaphysicians are unaware of this. (...) There is lots of recent activity in metametaphysics, and much of this research is more or less connected to worries about whether we can have evidence in favour of a metaphysical hypothesis. Roughly: there are alternative views according to which metaphysical disputes variously.. (shrink)
What is metaphysics? I’m not going to offer a definition. But work on ontology, causation, persistence, time, and necessity should surely count. Ladyman (2007) distinguishes ‘naturalistic’ from ‘autonomous’ metaphysics. The former is work on these metaphysical topics guided by best current science; the latter, metaphysics done ‘from the armchair’, or at least, done primarily using arguments and techniques not drawn from the empirical sciences most closely associated with their topic (so perhaps using the tools of logic and formal semantics, not (...) physics). It is clear that much recent analytic metaphysics is autonomous in this sense. It’s not completely autonomous: it must be consistent with truth. So a challenge from physics can arise even if metaphysics is autonomous; this is the form of the challenge to presentism from STR I’ll talk about. But metaphysics is autonomous in the sense that there are reasons to believe metaphysical theses that aren’t parasitic upon reasons to believe any particular scientific hypothesis. (shrink)
Hume begins his discussion of ‘liberty and necessity’ with some philosophical methodology that it is wise to keep in mind—namely, that in philosophical discussions it is of the first importance to get clear on what the terms under discussion mean, if we are to avoid ‘obscure sophistry’ or ‘beat[ing] the air in. . . fruitless contests’ (¶1–2).1 Hume’s hope in this particular instance is that with intelligible definitions, the controversy over the compatibility of free will and determinism will dissipate. Hume, (...) however, straightaway disobeys his own advice, for nowhere does he give a clear definition of ‘necessity’. However, we can easily enough reconstruct one from his remarks at ¶¶4–5. (shrink)
A textbook for an 'advanced introductory' logic class (I used it as a textbook for mathematically capable introductory logic students). The book uses the tableau method, and includes standard results up to a proof of the soundness of predicate logic. Its slightly unusual features include a slightly greater emphasis on decidability than is usual, and more obviously, the presentation of a free logic as standard, alongside a classical alternative. A change of syllabus here means this is no longer under active (...) revision, but I'll leave this archive copy available. (shrink)
and argue that (2) is similarly not true, but a convention: we use talk of pos• sibility to capture claims about consistency, or whatever. (This is merely an example; I don't suppose that (2) appeals to anyone particularly as a neces• sary truth about possibility or consistency.) Again, the kind of thing that is in..
A generic quantification, like dogs have tails, has a distinctive semantics; it is certainly not synonymous with the universal quantification all dogs have tails. A generic causal claim, like smoking causes cancer, is similarly not synonymous with all smoking causes cancer. Many philosophers of science have taken this difference in meaning to demand radical treatments of causal generics, invoking such exotica as causation between properties or causation at ‘different levels’. A more sober treatment is possible, making use of a..
Given Locke’s views on primary and secondary qualities, it seems he is committed to there being real underlying properties in objects, the arrangement and disposition of which underlies and produces the observed properties of that object. It might be natural to think that these primary qualities provide a general system for classifying objects into classes: that we could delineate the real kinds of objects in nature by looking at what their real primary qualities were. A list of the particular qualities (...) of some object would define that object perfectly precisely; by looking at which properties were shared or divergent between this object and others, we group the object with others in the same kind. These real kinds in nature can play several important theoretical roles. They can support real scientific understanding, including inductive inferences (iof things are of the same real kind, then observed properties of one support the inference to unobserved properties of the other); they can form the basis for our judgements about the powers and capacities of particular objects, based on the what other things of that type can do; and these real kinds can provide the meanings for general terms: the thought being that the meanings of class names are empty without real classes to which they correspond. (shrink)
For Locke, an idea is ‘the immediate object of perception, thought, or understanding’ (§8).1 Perhaps this is something like a concept: he goes on to give examples of white, cold, and round, which look like they have some representational content. What do these ideas represent? Locke defines a quality: ‘the power to produce any idea in our mind, I call quality of the subject wherein that power is’ (§8). The natural thought is that these ideas represent some quality of the (...) object, which quality just is the power that the object has to produce that idea in us. Though the idea is in us, the power or quality is clearly in the object. Sometimes, it is true, we speak loosely and refer to the quality of the object by the same name that we use to refer to the idea in us, and talk of white being in the object, for example. Locke cautions that when we speak like this, we should ‘be understood to mean those qualities in the objects which produce them [the ideas] in us’ (§8). (shrink)
A ‘might’ counterfactual is a sentence of the form ‘If it had been the case that A, it might have been the case that C’. Recently, John Hawthorne has argued that the truth of many ‘might’ counterfactuals precludes the truth of most ‘would’ counterfactuals. I examine the semantics of ‘might’ counterfactuals, with one eye towards defusing this argument, but mostly with the aim of understanding this interesting class of sentences better.
SURVEYS (a) David Lewis, Parts of Classes (Blackwell, Oxford, 1991), §§3.4–3.6 (pp. 72–87) (b) Achille Varzi, ‘Mereology’, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, http:// plato.stanford.edu/entries/mereology/. (c) Michael C. Rea (ed.), Material Constitu- tion (Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, MD, 1997), esp. the introduction. (d) van Cleve and Markosian, ‘Mereology’, Theodore Sider, John Hawthorne, and Dean W. Zimmerman (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Metaphysics (Blackwell, Oxford, 2007), ch. 8, pp. 319–63. (e) Peter M. Simons, Parts: A Study in Ontology (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1987).
Some philosophers have been attracted to the idea that the norm of belief is truth that is, a belief that p is correct i p is true. But this idea is problematic in view of some very common• place re ections on what one should believe about paradoxical sentences like the Truthteller. Interestingly, these re ections don't seem to trouble the rival knowledge norm for belief, and this may provide indirect support for that alternative norm.
In this chapter, I’ll provide an introduction to the mathematics of probability theory.1 The philosophy of probability doesn’t require much mathematical sophistication, at least not to get a good grip on the main problems and views. Nothing in this chapter is particularly complicated, and even the mathematically shy should, with a little effort, find it easy to follow. I do assume familiarity with the basics of an elementary logic course, and some basic facility with the notion of a set.
relevant alternatives: I take it that a process is reliable in the actual world iff, in the actual set of outcomes (i.e. beliefs being formed), the frequency of successes (those beliefs being true) is much greater than the frequency of failures (those beliefs being false). One may wish to run a more sophisticated kind of reliabilism, where one demands that a reliable process also be reliable in counterfactual situations, but one need not, and I won’t here. If perception is a (...) reliable belief forming process, then I can know things on the basis of perception. So let’s say I know p on the basis of perception. To know that I know p involves, first, knowing that I believe p, and second, knowing that I believe p on the basis of a reliable belief forming process, by the definition of knowledge. But can I know either of these things? (shrink)
I sketch a new constraint on chance, which connects chance ascriptions closely with ascriptions of ability, and more specifically with ‘can’-claims. This connection between chance and ability has some claim to be a platitude; moreover, it exposes the debate over deterministic chance to the extensive literature on (in)compatibilism about free will. The upshot is that a prima facie case for the tenability of deterministic chance can be made. But the main thrust of the paper is to draw attention to the (...) connection between the truth conditions of sentences involving ‘can’ and ‘chance’, and argue for the context sensitivity of each term. Awareness of this context sensitivity has consequences for the evaluation of particular philosophical arguments for (in)compatibilism when they are presented in particular contexts. (shrink)
This article explores the connection between objective chance and the randomness of a sequence of outcomes. Discussion is focussed around the claim that something happens by chance iff it is random. This claim is subject to many objections. Attempts to save it by providing alternative theories of chance and randomness, involving indeterminism, unpredictability, and reductionism about chance, are canvassed. The article is largely expository, with particular attention being paid to the details of algorithmic randomness, a topic relatively unfamiliar to philosophers.
In ‘Location and Perdurance’ (2010), I argued that there are no compelling mereological or sortal grounds requiring the perdurantist to distinguish the molecule Abel from the atom Abel in Gilmore’s original case (2007). The remaining issue Gilmore originally raised concerned the ‘mass history’ of Adam and Abel, the distribution of ‘their’ mass over spacetime. My response to this issue was to admit that mass histories needed to be relativised to a way of partitioning the location of Adam/Abel, but that did (...) not amount to relativising any fundamental natural intrinsic properties—the latter are all had unrelativised, and (so most perdurantists would say). (shrink)
Recently, Cody Gilmore has deployed an ingenious case involving backwards time travel to highlight an apparent conflict between the theory that objects persist by perduring, and the thesis that wholly coincident objects are impossible. However, careful attention to the concepts of location and parthood that Gilmore’s cases involve shows that the perdurantist faces no genuine objection from these cases, and that the perdurantist has a number of plausible and dialectically appropriate ways to avoid the supposed conflict.
Dispositional essentialists are typically committed to two claims: that properties are individuated by their causal role (‘causal structuralism’), and that natural necessity is to be explained by appeal to these causal roles (‘dispositional actualism’). I argue that these two claims cannot be simultaneously maintained; and that the correct response is to deny dispositional actualism. Causal structuralism remains an attractive position, but doesn’t in fact provide much support for dispositional essentialism.
Gödel argued that intuition has an important role to play in mathematical epistemology, and despite the infamy of his own position, this opinion still has much to recommend it. Intuitions and folk platitudes play a central role in philosophical enquiry too, and have recently been elevated to a central position in one project for understanding philosophical methodology: the so-called ‘Canberra Plan’. This philosophical role for intuitions suggests an analogous epistemology for some fundamental parts of mathematics, which casts a number of (...) themes in recent philosophy of mathematics (concerning a priority and fictionalism, for example) in revealing new light. (shrink)
Russell famously argued that causation should be dispensed with. He gave two explicit arguments for this conclusion, both of which can be defused if we loosen the ties between causation and determinism. I show that we can deﬁne a concept of causation which meets Russell’s conditions but does not reduce to triviality. Unfortunately, a further serious problem is implicit beneath the details of Russell’s arguments, which I call the causal exclusion problem. Meeting this problem involves deploying a minimalist pragmatic account (...) of the nature and function of modal language. Russell’s scruples about causation can be accommodated, even as we partially legitimise the pervasive causal explanations in folk and scientiﬁc practice. (shrink)
Utterances within the context of telling fictional tales that appear to be assertions are nevertheless not to be taken at face value. The present paper attempts to explain exactly what such 'pseudo-assertions' are, and how they behave. Many pseudo-assertions can take on multiple roles, both within fictions and in what I call 'participatory criticism' of a fiction, especially when they occur discourse-initially. This fact, taken together with problems for replacement accounts of pseudo-assertion based on the implicit prefixing of an 'in (...) the fiction' operator, suggest that pseudo-assertion is best understood as a kind of make-believe. This proposal is elaborated and defended, and some applications to fictionalism are tentatively explored. (shrink)
Recently a suggestion has been made that standard textbook representations of hypersurfaces of simultaneity for the travelling twin in the twin 'paradox' are incorrect. This suggestion is false: the standard textbooks are in agreement with a proper understanding of the relativity of simultaneity.
The concept of randomness has been unjustly neglected in recent philosophical literature, and when philosophers have thought about it, they have usually acquiesced in views about the concept that are fundamentally flawed. After indicating the ways in which these accounts are flawed, I propose that randomness is to be understood as a special case of the epistemic concept of the unpredictability of a process. This proposal arguably captures the intuitive desiderata for the concept of randomness; at least it should suggest (...) that the commonly accepted accounts cannot be the whole story and more philosophical attention needs to be paid. (shrink)
I argue that any broadly dispositional analysis of probability will either fail to give an adequate explication of probability, or else will fail to provide an explication that can be gainfully employed elsewhere (for instance, in empirical science or in the regulation of credence). The diversity and number of arguments suggests that there is little prospect of any successful analysis along these lines.