The paper is a detailed reconstruction of Bernard Bolzano’s account of merely possible objects. According to Bolzano, there are some objects which are merely possible. They are neither denizens of space and time nor members of the causal order, but they could have been so. Examples are merely possible persons, mountains etc., objects which are neither actual nor persons or mountains, but which could have been both. Bolzano’s views are contrasted with the theory of Alexius Meinong, and it is shown (...) that they have a modern counterpart in the accounts of merely possible objects that were developed by Bernard Linsky & Ed Zalta, and by Timothy Williamson. (shrink)
The essay is a partial investigation into the semantics of the explanatory connective ‘because’. After three independently plausible assumptions about ‘because’ are presented in some detail, it is shown how their interaction generates a puzzle about ‘because’, once they are combined with a common view on conceptual analysis. Four possible solutions to the puzzle are considered.
ld English manors have their ghosts. And though I would not want to call analytic philosophy a ‘manor’, nor exactly ‘old’, it certainly is of some decent English origin, and it left adolescence a while ago. No wonder then, that it is not exempt from haunting terrors. One particular spectre has been haunting it for decades; it already gave some analytic pioneers the creeps, and we still now and then find people terrified by it: the ghost of old Bradley has (...) not yet found its rest and keeps on threatening people with his notorious regress. The present essay is a lecture in exorcism; much of the fear old Bradley spread, so I will argue, peters out once we dare to look it in the eye. However, this essay is not primarily exegetical, and especially not an attempt in interpreting Bradley. I find Bradley’s writings, to say the least, not particularly accessible. Discussions of isolated passages from his longer treatises will probably be less fruitful than a careful study of the positions within the whole argumentative structure, supplied by the examination of Bradley’s intellectual upcoming. His treatments on relations and properties, in which he develops the famous regress argument, are motivated by a radical goal: a vindication of some form of monism. To reach this goal, he tries to deconstruct the most basic categories of our ordinary conceptual framework. Thus, he holds that.. (shrink)
Many friends of the category of particularised qualities subscribe to the view that particularised qualities have a unique bearer in which they inhere; no such quality then can inhere in two different entities. But it seems that this idea is flawed, for there are apparent counterexamples. An apple’s redness is identical with the redness of its skin, though the apple is distinct from its skin. So it seems that a principle of beareruniqueness has to be modified, maybe by excluding certain (...) unwanted cases. (shrink)
Im folgenden Diskussionsbeitrag werden zunächst starke Spannungen innerhalb von Bolzanos Ausführungen zum Substanzbegriff aufgezeigt. Sodann wird eine kürzlich vorgeschlagene Bolzano-Interpretation besprochen, die geeignet sein soll, besagte Spannungen auszuräumen. Doch der Vorschlag bleibt unbefriedigend; daher wird im Anschluss eine alternative Interpretation ausgeführt und verteidigt.
The article is a critical examination of Joshua Hoffman’s and Gary Rosenkrantz’ approach to the traditional category of individual substance. On several places they offered an analysis of the concept of a substance in terms of some highly sophisticated notion of generic independence. Though ingenious, and even though it might be extensionally adequate, their account cannot provide an informative analysis of the concept in question, because it exhibits a peculiar kind of circularity. It is shown that one cannot establish, on (...) the basis of their analysis, that a given entity is a substance, if one does not already know that it is one in advance. The circularity of their account is examined in detail, and it is explained how it could have arisen. (shrink)
The article is an extended comment on Strawson’s neglected paper ‘Maybes and Might Have Beens’, in which he suggests that both statements about what may be the case and statements about what might have been the case can be understood epistemically. We argue that Strawson is right about the first sort of statements but wrong about the second. Finally, we discuss some of Strawson’s claims which are related to positions of Origin Essentialism.
Philosophers of mathematics commonly distinguish between explanatory and non-explanatory proofs. An important subclass of mathematical proofs are proofs by induction. Are they explanatory? This paper addresses the question, based on general principles about explanation. First, a recent argument for a negative answer is discussed and rebutted. Second, a case is made for a qualified positive take on the issue.
Some of the most eminent and enduring philosophical questions concern matters of priority: what is prior to what? What 'grounds' what? Is, for instance, matter prior to mind? Recently, a vivid debate has arisen about how such questions have to be understood. Can the relevant notion or notions of priority be spelled out? And how do they relate to other metaphysical notions, such as modality, truth-making or essence? This volume of new essays, by leading figures in contemporary metaphysics, is the (...) first to address and investigate the metaphysical idea that certain facts are grounded in other facts. An introduction introduces and surveys the debate, examining its history as well as its central systematic aspects. The volume will be of wide interest to students and scholars of metaphysics. (shrink)
I develop a new argument for an expressivist account of epistemic modals, which starts from a puzzle about epistemic modals which Seth Yalcin recently presented. I reject Yalcin's own solution to the puzzle, and give a better explanation based on expressivism concerning epistemic modals. I also address two alleged problems for expressivism: do embeddings of epistemic modals pose a serious threat to expressivism, and how can expressivism account for disagreements about statements containing epistemic modals?
The paper discusses whether there are strictly inexpressible properties. Three main points are argued for: (i) Two different senses of ‘predicate t expresses property p ’ should be distinguished. (ii) The property of being a predicate that does not apply to itself is inexpressible in one of the senses of ‘express’, but not in the other. (iii) Since the said property is related to Grelling’s Antinomy, it is further argued that the antinomy does not imply the non-existence of that property.
Gaskin's book The Unity of the Proposition is very rich in material. I will focus only on its central thesis: Gaskin holds that Bradley's regress (more precisely, one particular version of it) is not only innocent, but in fact philosophically significant because it plays a crucial role in solving what Gaskin calls the problem of the unity of the proposition . In what follows, I first explain what that problem is meant to be ( section 1 ), then I present (...) and criticise Gaskin's proposal about how Bradley's regress bears on the problem ( section 2 ), and finally I sketch an alternative approach to the problem ( section 3 ). (shrink)
Fictional realism, i.e., the view that because fictions exist, fictional characters exist as well, has recently been accused of leading to inconsistency generated by phenomena of indeterminacy and inconsistency in fiction. We examine in detail four arguments against fictional realism, and present a version of fictional realism which can withstand those arguments.
The paper has two main objectives: first, it presents a new argument against the so-called Anscombe Thesis (if χ φ-s by ψ-ing, then χ's φ-ing = χ's ψ-ing). Second, it develops a proposal about the syntax and semantics of the 'by'-locution.
Are all canonical property designators (i.e. nominalizations of predicative phrases) rigid? Dan López de Sa recently criticized the arguments I gave for an affirmative answer to that question. The current article rebuts López de Sa's objections.
The Conjunction Principle says, roughly, that if the truth of a conjunction can be brought about, then the truth of each conjunct can be brought about. The current essay argues that this principle is not valid. After a clarification of the principle, it is shown how a proper understanding of the involved notions falsify the principle. As a corollary, a recent attack on van Inwagen’s Consequence Argument will be rebutted, because it relies on the invalid conjunction principle.
It is shown that the standard definitions of truth-functionality, though useful for their purposes, ignore some aspects of the usual informal characterisations of truth-functionality. An alternative definition is given that results in a stronger notion which pays attention to those aspects.
: The paper is a detailed reconstruction of Bernard Bolzano's account of merely possible objects, which is a part of his ontology that has been widely ignored in the literature so far. According to Bolzano, there are some objects which are merely possible. While they are neither denizens of space and time nor members of the causal order, they could have been so. Thus, on Bolzano's view there are, for example, merely possible persons, i.e., objects which are neither actual nor (...) persons but which could have been both. In course of the development of Bolzano's views, they are contrasted with the better known theory of his compatriot Alexius Meinong, and it is shown that they have a modern counterpart in the accounts of merely possible objects that were developed by Bernard Linsky and Ed Zalta, and by Timothy Williamson. (shrink)
The main contribution of this paper is a novel account of ontological dependence. While dependence is often explained in terms of modality and existence, there are relations of dependence that slip through the mesh of such an account. Starting from an idea proposed by Jonathan Lowe, the article develops an account of ontological dependence based on a notion of explanation; on its basis, certain relations of dependence can be established that cannot be accounted by the modal-existential account. Dependence is only (...) one of two main topics of this paper, for it is approached via a discussion of the category of substance. On a traditional view, substances can be characterised as independent entities. Before the background of a modal-existential account of dependence, this idea appears problematic. The proposed notion of explanatory dependence is shown to vindicate the traditional approach to substance. (shrink)
The paper deals with the semantics and ontology of ordinary discourse about properties. The main focus lies on the following thesis: A simple predication of the form ‘a is F’ is synonymous with the corresponding explicit property-attribution ‘a has F-ness’. An argument against this Synonymy Thesis is put forth which is based on the thesis that simple predications and property-attributions differ in their conditions of understanding. In defending the argument, the paper accounts for the way in which we come to (...) adopt the conceptual framework of properties. (shrink)
The article scrutinises the semantics of canonical property designators of the forms ‘the property of being F’ and ‘F-ness’. First it is argued that, as their form suggests, the former are definite definitions, albeit of a special sort. Secondly, the prima facie plausible classification of the latter as proper names (which is often met in philosophical writings) is rejected. The semantics of such terms is developed and it is shown how its proper understanding yields important consequences about the concepts expressed (...) by these terms. (shrink)
For philosophers interested in ontological issues, the writings of the important figures of Austrian philosophy in the nineteenth and early twentieth century contain many buried treasures to rediscover. Bernard Bolzano, Franz Brentano, Alexius Meinong, and Edmund Husserl, to name just four grand names of that period, were highly aware of the importance of a feasible ontology for many of the philosophical questions they addressed throughout their works.
The article is primarily concerned with the notion of a truth-maker. An explication for this notion is offered, which relates it to other notions of making something such-and-such. In particular, it is shown that the notion of a truth-maker is a close relative of a concept employed by van Inwagen in the formulation of his "Consequence Argument." This circumstance helps understanding the general mechanisms of the concepts involved. Thus, a schematic explication of a whole battery of related notions is offered. (...) It is based on an explanatory notion, introduced by the sentential connector "because", whose function is examined in some detail. Finally, on the basis of the explication proposed, an argument is developed to the effect that the objects usually regarded as truth-makers are not apt to play this role. (shrink)
The main question of this paper is how to understand the notion of a truth-maker. In section 1, I show that the identification of truth-making with necessitation cannot capture the pretheoretic understanding of notions such as ‘x makes something true’. In section 2, I examine Barry Smith’s reaction to this problem: he defines truth-making as the combination of necessitation and projection. I focus on the formal part of Smith’s account, which is shown to yield undesired results. However, in section 3, (...) I present an alternative account of projection, which fares better and can fruitfully be employed to circumvent the problems raised in section 1. Unfortunately, the account still has to face some troublemakers, as I show in the final section. I conclude, therefore, with a pessimistic view on the project of defining truth-making via necessitation and projection. (shrink)
The article discusses an idea of how to extend the notion of rigidity to predicates, namely the idea that predicates stand in a certain systematic semantic relation to properties, such that this relation may hold rigidly or nonrigidly. The relation (which I call signification) can be characterised by recourse to canonical property designators which are derived from predicates (or general terms) by means of nominalization: a predicate signifies that property which the derived property designator designates. Whether signification divides into rigid (...) and non-rigid cases will then depend uponwhether canonical property designators divide into rigid and non-rigid ones. But, I shall argue, they do not, and so the only notion of rigidity gained this way is trivial. To show this, I first focus on the kind of canonical property designators which could be thought to be nonrigid, canonical designators such as having the colour of ripe tomatoes which themselves contain non-rigid property designators. An argument to the effect that such complex canonical designators are non-rigid is rebutted, five arguments to the effect that they are rigid are formulated, and finally an explanation of their rigidity based on the general nature of canonical property designators is presented. (shrink)
In my paper I am concerned with Peter van Inwagen's Consequence Argument. I focus on its probably best known version. In this form it crucially employs the notion of rendering a proposition false, anotion that has never been made sufficiently clear. The main aim of my paper is to shed light on thisnotion. The explications offered so far in thedebate all are based on modal concepts. Iargue that for sufficient results a ``stronger'', hyper-intensional concept is needed, namely the concept expressed (...) by the word ``because''. I show that my analysis is superior to the prior ones. On the basis of this analysis I further explain why van Inwagen''s argument fails. (shrink)
In this paper I try to explicate the idiom '(An agent) x is able to render (the proposition) p false', which plays a crucial role in van Inwagen's Consequence Argument and which has been extensively discussed in the literature on it. However, the explications offered so far fail to meet some intuitive desiderata which an analysis of the notion should fulfil, as for example the desiderata that (i) nobody can render necessary falsehoods false and that (ii) nobody can render historical (...) falsities false. I propose a novel analysis which deviates from the foregoing in employing an explanatory notion, the connector 'because'. (shrink)
The compositional structure of language might have led one to expect that a proper analysis of simple conditionals would have been adequate to determine the analysis of iterated conditionals. But McGee has presented an interesting group of examples that shows that this is not so for indicative conditionals. The examples are particularly arresting since they appear to show that modus ponens does not hold as a generally valid rule of inference for conditionals in natural language.