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Profile: Benjamin Smart (University of Birmingham, University of Johannesburg)
  1. Benjamin Smart, A Critique of Humean and Anti-Humean Metaphysics of Cause and Law.
    This book is written by someone who holds that physics and the metaphysics of cause and law broadly strive to achieve a common goal: to undstand what our physical system is constituted by, and both how, and why it evolves in the way that it does. It seems to me that the primary tools of the scientist are empirical evidence, mathematics, and although this is perhaps less appreciated, imagination - these are fundamental to any great scientific breakthrough. For us, the (...)
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  2. Benjamin Smart, A Critique of Humean and Anti-Humean Metaphysics of Cause and Law - Final Version.
    Metaphysicians play an important role in our understanding of the universe. In recent years, physicists have focussed on finding accurate mathematical formalisms of the evolution of our physical system - if a metaphysician can uncover the metaphysical underpinnings of these formalisms; that is, why these formalisms seem to consistently map the universe, then our understanding of the world and the things in it is greatly enhanced. Science, then, plays a very important role in our project, as the best scientific formalisms (...)
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  3. Benjamin Smart, Categorical Properties in Background Independent Substantivalist General Relativity.
    Assuming the increasingly popular background independent substantivalist interpretation of general relativity (GR), in this paper I show that the possibility of spacetime point permutations implies that the locational properties of spacetime points, and structural properties of spacetime are categorical. Categorical properties, however, are often deemed implausible by dispositional monists (Bird 2007; Mumford 2004) due to their quiddistic nature, as their primitive identity entails the unacceptable possibility of properties changing their causal role across possible worlds. The question of whether such properties, (...)
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  4. Benjamin Smart, Individual Essences.
  5. Benjamin T. H. Smart, Inductive Scepticism in a Humean World.
    In this paper I show that David Armstrong is wrong to claim that the regularity theorist must be an inductive sceptic by demonstrating that even those who support worldly ontologies devoid of metaphysical glue (or as Hume might say, necessary connections ‘in the objects’) can justifiably make many inductive inferences. As well as branding the regularity theorist an inductive sceptic, Armstrong also claims that regularity theory (RT) laws have no explanatory value whatsoever. I try to show that Armstrong is also (...)
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  6. Benjamin T. H. Smart & Karim P. Y. Thebault, A Powerful Account of a Lazy World.
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  7. Benjamin T. H. Smart & Karim P. Y. Thebault, Dispositional Essentialism: A Powerful Account of a Lazy World.
    In this paper we discuss the compatibility of Alexander Bird's dispositional essentialism with one of our most fundamental physical principles - the principle of least action. Joel Katzav argues that this principle presupposes the contingency of its holding (that is, it presupposes that the system could have followed paths other than that which minimises action), and that this is ruled out by dispositional essentialism. However, Bird argues that only the logical possibility of paths different to the actual path followed is (...)
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  8. Benjamin Smart (2013). Is the Humean Defeated by Induction? Philosophical Studies 162 (2):319-332.
    Many necessitarians about cause and law (Armstrong 1983; Mumford 2004; Bird 2007) have argued that Humeans are unable to justify their inductive inferences, as Humean laws are nothing but the sum of their instances. In this paper I argue against these necessitarian claims. I show that Armstrong is committed to the explanatory value of Humean laws (in the form of universally quantified statements), and that contra Armstrong, brute regularities often do have genuine explanatory value. I finish with a Humean attempt (...)
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  9. Karim P. Y. Thébault & Benjamin T. H. Smart, On the Metaphysics of Least Action.
    When it comes to predicting the evolution of physical systems, there seem to be two mathematically equivalent, but conceptually distinct kinds of what we might call 'fundamental laws': there are those laws we are most used to talking about -- Newtonian-style laws whereby we can take the state of a system at a time, t, apply the relevant laws of nature, and predict the state of the system at time t+1. These kinds of laws we refer to as 'equations of (...)
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  10. Benjamin Th Smart & Michael J. Talibard (2012). Stephen Mumford and Rani Lill Anjum, Getting Causes From Powers. Reviewed By. Philosophy in Review 32 (5):407-409.
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  11. Benjamin Smart & Stephen Barker (2012). The Ultimate Argument Against Dispositional Monist Accounts of Laws. Analysis 72 (4):714-723.
    Alexander Bird argues that David Armstrong’s necessitarian conception of physical modality and laws of nature generates a vicious regress with respect to necessitation. We show that precisely the same regress afflicts Bird’s dispositional-monist theory, and indeed, related views, such as that of Mumford and Anjum. We argue that dispositional monism is basically Armstrongian necessitarianism modified to allow for a thesis about property identity.
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  12. Benjamin Humphrey Smart (1842/2004). Beginnings of a New School of Metaphysics: A Facsimile Reproduction with an Introduction by Dino Buzzetti ; with Early Reviews of the Book and B.H. Smart's 'a Letter to Dr. Whately'. [REVIEW] Scholars' Fasimiles & Reprints.
  13. Benjamin Humphrey Smart (1842/2004). Beginnings of a New School of Metaphysics: A Facsimile Reproduction with an Introduction by Dino Buzzetti ; with Early Reviews of the Book and B. Scholars' Fasimiles & Reprints.
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