Andrea Borghini Terzina: C’è qualcuno qui? Prima: Si, salve. Stavo scrivendo, ma non fa niente, venga pure. Terzina: Scrivendo? Ma a chi, se questa è una chat e io sono il primo visitatore oltre a lei, e non sono..
Is it true that some entities are general, while others are particular? Ramsey famously challenged this distinction, and more recently Fraser McBride has revived the challenge. In this paper I argue that there are at least five substantial distinctions among entities, and that the distinction between general and particular entities should be made to correspond to one or more of those substantial distinctions.
È una credenza diffusa che i marchi di origine (DOCG, DOC, DOP, IGT, IGP e PAT, rispettivamente: di origine controllata e garantita; di origine controllata; di origine protetta; indicazione geografica tipica; indicazione geografica protetta; prodotti agroalimentari tradizionali) siano di grande utilità sia per i consumatori che per i produttori: certificando l’origine e il metodo di produzione di un prodotto, essi ne garantiscono una certa qualità di fronte al consumatore. Ma è proprio così? Che cosa giustifica l’introduzione di un marchio di (...) origine? Quanto sostengo qui di seguito è che, sebbene non credo si possa negare che i marchi di origine segnalino anche una certa qualità di un prodotto, forse non sono il modo migliore per farlo. Di fatto, per il consumatore, i marchi non garantiscono niente che vada oltre alla qualità richiesta affinché la certificazione venga rilasciata; ma, al contempo, in quanto forme di protezionismo, favoriscono certi produttori, prevenendo l’utilizzo della denominazione a chi offre un prodotto di qualità analoga o superiore, ma provienente da una zona priva di tradizioni. In altre parole: se vi sono prodotti equiparabili per qualità e gusto ad un dato prodotto di origine, e possibilmente più economicamente vantaggiosi, il consumatore non avrà modo di accorgersene dalla sola nomenclatura. Quindi: i marchi di origine sono (talvolta) un ostacolo all’acquisto e al godimento dei prodotti migliori al miglior prezzo. Talvolta: questo deve essere ben sottolineato, poiché in certi casi (per esempio quello dei PAT) il prodotto certificato dal marchio ha un mercato talmente di nicchia da costituire un tuttuno tra qualità e origine. (Si potrebbe aggiungere che le certificazioni dei marchi non sono sempre ottenute attraverso procedure affidabili. Non insisterò oltre su questo punto, per il quale si rimanda a: Paolo Conti, La leggenda del buon cibo italiano e altri miti alimentari contemporanei, Fazi Editore, 2006; Peter Singer e Jim Mason: The Way We Eat.. (shrink)
– Natural kind realists believe that the world is carved out into kinds of things. Critiques addressed towards natural kind realism aimed at showing the difficulties in discerning a universal spatial structure and behavior common to all the members of an alleged kind. Little or no attention, however, has been given to the temporal structure of a natural kind. After showing (in the first section) that kinds are indeed temporally extended, the second section of the paper argues that there is (...) no non-arbitrary way of tracing the natural temporal structure of a kind. The accrued result poses a novel problem for natural kind theorists, as it clashes with the basic expectancy that if a kind is indeed natural, both its spatial and temporal boundaries should be (at least in principle) discernible. (shrink)
Quasi al termine della seconda guerra mondiale, alcuni ufficiali tedeschi diedero l’ordine di abbattere le storiche torri di San Gimignano; tutto pareva ormai deciso, quando un gruppo di civili riuscì con successo a ritardare l’esecuzione fino all’arrivo delle truppe alleate. Grazie a quei civili, le torri di San Gimignano sono ancora ben visibili a tutti, meta ogni anno di numerosi turisti; ma che cosa dire della possibilità che oggi esistessero soltanto le loro macerie? Esse rientrano in quella classe di cose (...) che chiamerò oggetti possibili, ovvero sono oggetti che avrebbero potuto esistere, ma per un qualche motivo non sono esistiti. Proprio di essi parlerò nelle prossime pagine, cercando di capire quale sia il loro statuto ontologico e in quale modo possiamo parlarne usando le espressioni del nostro linguaggio.1 Come vedremo, ci sono varie teorie che spiegano cos’è un oggetto possibile, tra loro anche molto diverse. Compito di ciascuna è quello di motivare e, se necessario, rendere plausibile una scelta filosofica. Quindi, ogni teoria degli oggetti possibili, attribuirà loro un preciso statuto ontologico e provvederà una semantica delle espressioni del linguaggio naturale sulla possibilità. Nelle poche pagine che seguono però, non scenderò nei dettagli di tutte le teorie della possibilità; piuttosto, ne considererò una particolarmente controversa e singolare: quella sostenuta da David K. Lewis. (shrink)
– While preparing my suitcase for Padua, I took care to put my favorite cds in a secured spot since they could have broken along the way. Which (non-mental) fact, if any, could possibly justify my action – i.e. what, if anything, makes it the case that my cds could have broken? The paper explores the nature of possibility. The three theories most widely endorsed thus far – ﬁctionism, actualism, and modal realism – are introduced, with a particular attention to (...) their unpalatable ontological consequences. In order to avoid such consequences, a fourth theory is put forward. The goal of the theory is to explain the nature of possibility on the basis of actual (vs possible) entities while, at the same time, providing a non-circular interpretation of the meaning of our modal talk on the basis of such actual entities. Dispositions are meant to be the ontological ground of the theory. They play the role of possibilia – i.e. the entities on the basis of which we interpret modal assertions. A characterization of the sort of dispositions needed for grounding the theory is given. Finally follow some remarks on the eﬀects of the theory upon the extension of the domain of possibilia. (shrink)
– Concretism is the ontological thesis according to which possibilia (roughly: what renders true our statements about possibility) are concrete entities. The paper first outlines concretism, arguing that its sole founding thesis is that individuals across possibile worlds are individuated by similitude. Among other things, this means that there is no need to postulate that there is no overlap among worlds. The main virtues and vices of concretism are then reviewed, and a novel vice is put forward: a failure in (...) the reduction of modality due to the modal character of intrinsicness. (shrink)
For most early Medieval and Scholastic philosophers working in the Aristotelian tradition, knowledge of any specific subject is knowledge of its causes and principles. Knowledge of individuals was no exception. As Jorge Gracia has written "To know individuality [for early Medieval and Scholastic philosophers] is to be able to determine the causes and principles that are responsible for it."1 The achievement of such ability is also known as the problem of individuation. This paper will be concerned with the solution to (...) the problem suggested by Leibniz’s writings and how it relates to the contemporary metaphysical debate. In the first section I introduce the problem of individuation along with the solution Leibniz proposed during the latter part of his life. The second section analyzes Leibniz’s solution in a contemporary perspective. I argue that, unlike during the Medieval and early Modern periods, today the epistemic side of the problem of individuation plays a major role in the debate. In this light, Leibniz’s proposal that humans cannot grasp what the individuality of an individual consists in seems problematic. I show, however, that Leibniz’s proposal can stand on its feet also nowadays, provided we are willing to give up the pretenses that there is a definitive count of individuals and that re-identifying individuals across time and space is part of the problem of individuation. (shrink)
This quote from Silvio Berlusconi is part of the speech he held on April 18, 1994 during the celebrations for AC Milan’s third consecutive scudetto under his management. Suppose we take this claim seriously: what is the logic at play when soccer is linked to other spheres of life? In particular, in what ways is a team a metaphor for its patrons?
A major division among ontologists has always been the one between those who believe that all entities are particular, and those who believe that at least some entities are universal. I find myself with the latter, and in this paper I offer part of the reasons why this is so. More precisely, I offer a reason why we ought to reject tropism, due to the failure of this view to account for the similarities we experience among entities. In the paper, (...) two tentative accounts are considered and rejected: one postulating the existence of a relation of primitive resemblance; the other denying the existence of any similarity. (shrink)
There seems to be a minimal core that every theory wishing to accommodate the intuition that the future is open must contain: a denial of physical determinism (i.e. the thesis that what future states the universe will be in is implied by what states it has been in), and a denial of strong fatalism (i.e. the thesis that, at every time, what will subsequently be the case is metaphysically necessary).1 Those two requirements are often associated with the idea of an (...) objective temporal flow and the non-reality of the future. However, at least certain ways to frame the “openness” intuition do not rely on any of these. Branching Time Theory (BTT) is one such: it is compatible with the denial that time flow is objective and it is couched in a language with a (prima facie) commitment to an eternalist ontology. BTT, though, urges us to resist certain intuitions about the determinacy of future claims, which arguably do not lead either to physical determinism or to fatalism. Against BTT, supporters of the Thin Red Line Theory (TRL) argue that their position avoids determinism and fatalism, while also representing the fact that there is a future which is “special” because it is the one that will be the case. But starting with Belnap and Green 1994, some have objected to the tenability of TRL, mainly on metaphysical grounds. In particular, those argue that “positing a thin red line amounts to giving up objective indeterminism,”2 and that “has unacceptable consequences, ranging from a mistreatment of actuality to an inability to talk coherently about what would have happened had what is going to happen not taken place.”3 In this paper, we wish to reframe the.. (shrink)
While philosophers tend to consider a single type of causal history, biologists distinguish between two kinds of causal history: evolutionary history and developmental history. This essay studies the peculiarity of development as a criterion for the individuation of biological traits and its relation to form, function, and evolution. By focusing on examples involving serial homologies and genetic reprogramming, we argue that morphology (form) and function, even when supplemented with evolutionary history, are sometimes insufficient to individuate traits. Developmental mechanisms bring in (...) a novel aspect to the business of classification—identity of process-type—according to which entities are type-identical across individuals and natural kinds in virtue of the fact that they form and develop through similar processes. These considerations bear important metaphysical implications and have potential applications in several areas of philosophy. (shrink)
Good chefs know the importance of maintaining sharp knives in the kitchen. What’s their secret? A well-worn Taoist allegory offers some advice. The king asks about his butcher’s impressive knifework. “Ordinary butchers,” he replied “hack their way through the animal. Thus their knife always needs sharpening. My father taught me the Taoist way. I merely lay the knife by the natural openings and let it find its own way through. Thus it never needs sharpening” (Kahn 1995, vii; see also Watson (...) 2003, 46). Plato famously employed this image as an analogy for the reality of his Forms (Phaedrus, 265e). Just like an animal, the world comes pre-divided for us. Ideally, our best theories will be those which “carve nature at its joints”. While Plato employed the “carving” metaphor to convey his views about the reality of his celebrated Forms, its most common contemporary use involves the success of science -- particularly, its success in identifying distinct kinds of things. Scientists often report discovering new kinds of things -- a new species of mammal or novel kind of fundamental particle, for example -- or uncovering more information about already familiar kinds. Moreover, we often notice considerable overlap in different approaches to classification. As Ernst Mayr put it: No naturalist would question the reality of the species he may find in his garden, whether it is a catbird, chickadee, robin, or starling. And the same is true for trees or flowering plants. Species at a given locality are almost invariably separated from each other by a distinct gap. Nothing convinced me so fully of the reality of species as the observation . . . that the Stone Age natives in the mountains of New Guinea recognize as species exactly the same entities of nature as a western scientist. (Mayr 1987, 146) Such agreement is certainly suggestive. It suggests that taxonomies are discoveries rather than mere inventions. Couple this with their utility in scientific inference and explanation and we have compelling reason for accepting the objective, independent reality of many different natural kinds of things.. (shrink)
The paper presents a novel version of universalism—the thesis according to which there are only universals, no individuals—which is cashed out in terms of an adverbial analysis of predication. According to the theory, every spatiotemporal occurrence of a universal U can be expressed by a sentence which asserts the existence of U adverbially modified by the spatiotemporal region at which it exists. After some preliminary remarks on the interpretation of natural language, a formal semantics for the theory is first provided, (...) along with an intended interpretation of its key metaphysical imports. Follow some commentaries on the spatiotemporal manifold and determinable properties. (shrink)
The interpretation of Lewis?s doctrine of natural properties is difficult and controversial, especially when it comes to the bearers of natural properties. According to the prevailing reading ? the minimalist view ? perfectly natural properties pertain to the micro-physical realm and are instantiated by entities without proper parts or point-like. This paper argues that there are reasons internal to a broadly Lewisian kind of metaphysics to think that the minimalist view is fundamentally flawed and that a liberal view, according to (...) which natural properties are instantiated at several or even at all levels of reality, should be preferred. Our argument proceeds by reviewing those core principles of Lewis?s metaphysics that are most likely to constrain the size of the bearers of natural properties: the principle of Humean supervenience, the principle of recombination in modal realism, the hypothesis of gunk, and the thesis of composition as identity. (shrink)
– The paper defends a naturalistic version of modal actualism according to which what is metaphysically possible is determined by dispositions found in the actual world. We argue that there is just one world—this one—and that all genuine possibilities are anchored by the dispositions exemplified in this world. This is the case regardless of whether or not those dispositions are manifested. As long as the possibility is one that would obtain were the relevant disposition manifested, it is a genuine possibility. (...) Furthermore, by starting from actual dispositional properties and branching out, we are able to include possibilities that are quite far removed from any state of affairs that happens to obtain, while still providing a natural and actual grounding of possibility. Stressing the importance of ontological considerations in any theory of possibility, it is argued that the account of possibility in terms of dispositional properties provides a more palatable ontology than those of its competitors. Coming at it from the other direction, the dispositional account of possibility also provides motivation for taking an ontology of dispositions more seriously. As well as the relevant dispositional notions required to lay out the view, the paper discusses the dispositional realism needed as the basis for the account of possibility. (shrink)
Il problema di fondo da cui la discussione sui mondi possibili scaturisce è quello di fornire una teoria circa l’interpretazione delle espressioni modali. È quindi da un’analisi di queste espressioni che partiremo per la nostra discussione sui mondi possibili. Nel linguaggio naturale il discorso modale è segnalato da una molteplicità di espressioni come avverbi, modi verbali ed operatori enunciativi: 'potere', 'dovere', 'avere la capacità', 'avere l’opportunità', 'possibilmente', 'doverosamente', et coetera. In seguito ad una semplificazione non priva di conseguenze, si è (...) generalmente ritenuto che le espressioni paradigmatiche del discorso modale (a cui tutte le altre potessero essere in qualche modo ridotte) fossero. (shrink)
Most event-referring expressions are vague it is utterly difficult, if not impossible, to specify the exact spatiotemporal location of an event from the words that we use to refer to it. We argue that in spite of certain prima facie obstacles, such vagueness can be given a purely semantic (broadly supervaluational) account.
The paper shows – contra what has been argued by Trenton Merricks – that counterpart theory, when conjoined with composition as identity, does not entail mereological essentialism. What Merrick’s argument overlooks is that contingent identity is but one of the effects of grounding identity across possible worlds on similarity.
– Dispositional Realism is the view according to which some denizens of reality – i.e., dispositions – are properties, that may exist in the natural world and have an irreducible modal character. Among Dispositional Realists, Charlie Martin, Ullin Place and George Molnar most notably argued that the modal character of dispositions should be understood in terms of their intentionality. Other Dispositional Realists, most notably Stephen <span class='Hi'>Mumford</span>, challenged this understanding of the modal character of dispositions. In this paper, I defend (...) a fresh version of the intentional understanding of dispositions. I start by distinguishing two questions about properties, respectively addressing their identity conditions and their individuation conditions. I, then, define categorical and dispositional properties in terms of their qualitative character, and examine their identity and individuation conditions. I conclude that the attribution of intentions is a conceptual tool: it was introduced in order to help specifying the conditions of individuation of a disposition; however, such attribution does not affect the identity of a disposition. (shrink)