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Profile: Cian Dorr (New York University)
  1. Cian Dorr, Comments on 'Ontological Anti-Realism'.
    In 1950, Quine inaugurated a strange new way of talking about philosophy. The hallmark of this approach is a propensity to take ordinary colloquial sentences that all of us utter routinely when we are not thinking about philosophy, or (more often) other sentences that very directly and obviously logically entail such sentences, and treat those sentences (i) as having a clear content, calling for little or no elucidation, and (ii) as proper objects of philosophical controversy. Questions like ‘are there numbers?’ (...)
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  2. Cian Dorr, Propositional Profusion and the Liar.
    Argument that Q∃ expresses more than one proposition: (1) Q∃ expresses the proposition that Q∃ expresses some proposition that isn’t true. ((E)) (2) If Q ∃ expresses only true propositions, then the proposition that Q ∃ expresses some proposition that isn’t true is true. ((1)) (3) If Q∃ expresses only true propositions, then some proposition expressed by Q∃ is not true. (2, T) (4) Some proposition expressed by Q ∃ is not true. ((3)) (5) The proposition that Q ∃ expresses (...)
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  3. Cian Dorr, A Challenge for Halfers.
    Let me regale you with yet another variant of the story of Sleeping Beauty. In this one, the experiment takes place in a room with a skylight, so that Beauty can see what the weather is like outside as soon as she wakes up. The weather can be in any one of n different states on any given day. Beauty regards each of these states as equiprobable; moreover, she takes there to be no correlation between the weather on Monday and (...)
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  4. Cian Dorr, Against Counterfactual Miracles.
    This paper considers how counterfactuals should be evaluated on the assumption that determinism is true. I argue against Lewis's influential view that then the actual laws of nature would have been false if something had happened that never actually happened, and in favour of the competing view that history would have been different all the way back. I argue that we can do adequate justice to our ordinary practice of relying on a wide range of historical truths in evaluating counterfactuals (...)
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  5. Cian Dorr, Finding Ordinary Objects in Some Quantum Worlds.
    cation we have in mind is that of formulating the laws of a classical meration space to the complex numbers. But what is it for such a function chanics of point-particles living in Newtonian absolute space, one espe-.
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  6. Cian Dorr, How to Be a Modal Realist.
    This paper investigates the form a modal realist analysis of possibility and necessity should take. It concludes that according to the best version of modal realism, the notion of a world plays no role in the analysis of modal claims. All contingent claims contain some de re element; the effect of modal operators on these elements is described by a counterpart theory which takes the same form whether the de re reference is to a world or to something else. This (...)
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  7. Cian Dorr, How Vagueness Could Cut Out at Any Order.
    Timothy Williamson has shown that the B axiom for 'definitely' (α → Δ¬Δ¬α) guarantees that if a sentence is second-order vague in a Kripke model, it is nth order vague for every n. More recently, Anna Mahtani has argued that Williamson's epistemicist theory of vagueness does not support the B axiom, and conjectured that if we consider models in which the “radius of accessibility” varies between different points, we will be able to find sentences that are nth-order vague but (n+1)th-order (...)
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  8. Cian Dorr (forthcoming). Transparency and the Context-Sensitivity of Attitude Reports. In Manuel García-Carpintero & Genoveva Martí (eds.), Empty Representations: Reference and Non-existence. Oxford University Press.
    This paper defends the claim that although ‘Superman is Clark Kent and some people who believe that Superman flies do not believe that Clark Kent flies’ is a logically inconsistent sentence, we can still utter this sentence, while speaking literally, without asserting anything false. The key idea is that the context-sensitivity of attitude reports can be, and often is, resolved in different ways within a single sentence.
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  9. Cian Dorr & John Hawthorne (forthcoming). Semantic Plasticity and Speech Reports. Philosophical Review.
    Most of the meanings we express belong to large families of variant meanings, among which it would be implausible to suppose that some are much more apt for being expressed than others. This abundance of candidate meanings creates pressure to think that the proposition attributing any particular meaning to an expression is modally plastic: its truth depends very sensitively on the exact microphysical state of the world. However, such plasticity seems to threaten ordinary counterfactuals whose consequents contain speech reports, since (...)
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  10. Cian Dorr, Jeremy Goodman & John Hawthorne (2014). Knowing Against the Odds. Philosophical Studies 170 (2):277-287.
    We present and discuss a counterexample to the following plausible principle: if you know that a coin is fair, and for all you know it is going to be flipped, then for all you know it will land tails.
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  11. Cian Dorr (2013). Reading Writing the Book of the World. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 87 (3):717-724.
    This paper is a response to Theodore Sider's book, Writing the Book of the World. It raises some puzzles about Sider's favoured methodology for finding out about naturalness (or 'structure').
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  12. Cian Dorr & John Hawthorne (2013). Embedding Epistemic Modals. Mind 122 (488):867-914.
    Seth Yalcin has pointed out some puzzling facts about the behaviour of epistemic modals in certain embedded contexts. For example, conditionals that begin ‘If it is raining and it might not be raining, … ’ sound unacceptable, unlike conditionals that begin ‘If it is raining and I don’t know it, … ’. These facts pose a prima facie problem for an orthodox treatment of epistemic modals as expressing propositions about the knowledge of some contextually specified individual or group. This paper (...)
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  13. Cian Dorr & John Hawthorne (2013). Naturalness. In Karen Bennett & Dean Zimmerman (eds.), Oxford Studies in Metaphysics, vol. 8. Oxford University Press. 1.
    Lewis's notion of a "natural" property has proved divisive: some have taken to the notion with enthusiasm, while others have been sceptical. However, it is far from obvious what the enthusiasts and the sceptics are disagreeing about. This paper attempts to articulate what is at stake in this debate.
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  14. Frank Arntenius & Cian Dorr (2012). Calculus as Geometry. In Frank Arntzenius (ed.), Space, Time and Stuff. Oxford University Press.
    We attempt to extend the nominalistic project initiated in Hartry Field's Science Without Numbers to modern physical theories based in differential geometry.
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  15. Cian Dorr (2012). De Re A Priori Knowledge. Mind 120 (480):939-991.
    Suppose a sentence of the following form is true in a certain context: ‘Necessarily, whenever one believes that the F is uniquely F if anything is, and x is the F, one believes that x is uniquely F if anything is’. I argue that almost always, in such a case, the sentences that result when both occurrences of ‘believes’ are replaced with ‘has justification to believe’, ‘knows’, or ‘knows a priori’ will also be true in the same context. I also (...)
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  16. Cian Dorr (2011). Physical Geometry and Fundamental Metaphysics. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 111 (1pt1):135-159.
    I explore some ways in which one might base an account of the fundamental metaphysics of geometry on the mathematical theory of Linear Structures recently developed by Tim Maudlin (2010). Having considered some of the challenges facing this approach, Idevelop an alternative approach, according to which the fundamental ontology includes concrete entities structurally isomorphic to functions from space-time points to real numbers.
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  17. Cian Dorr (2010). Of Numbers and Electrons. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 110 (2pt2):133-181.
    According to a tradition stemming from Quine and Putnam, we have the same broadly inductive reason for believing in numbers as we have for believing in electrons: certain theories that entail that there are numbers are better, qua explanations of our evidence, than any theories that do not. This paper investigates how modal theories of the form ‘Possibly, the concrete world is just as it in fact is and T’ and ‘Necessarily, if standard mathematics is true and the concrete world (...)
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  18. Cian Dorr (2010). Review of James Ladyman and Don Ross, Every Thing Must Go: Metaphysics Naturalized. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2010 (6).
    Ladyman, Ross and their collaborators (Spurrett is a co-author of two chapters, Collier of one) begin their book with a ferocious attack on "analytic metaphysics", as it is currently practiced. Their opening blast claims that contemporary analytic metaphysics 'contributes nothing to human knowledge': its practitioners are 'wasting their talents', and the whole enterprise, although 'engaged in by some extremely intelligent and morally serious people, fails to qualify as part of the enlightened pursuit of objective truth, and should be discontinued' (vii). (...)
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  19. Cian Dorr (2010). The Eternal Coin: A Puzzle About Self-Locating Conditional Credence. Philosophical Perspectives 24 (1):189-205.
    The Eternal Coin is a fair coin has existed forever, and will exist forever, in a region causally isolated from you. It is tossed every day. How confident should you be that the Coin lands heads today, conditional on (i) the hypothesis that it has landed Heads on every past day, or (ii) the hypothesis that it will land Heads on every future day? I argue for the extremely counterintuitive claim that the correct answer to both questions is 1.
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  20. Cian Dorr (2009). Iterating Definiteness. In Sebastiano Moruzzi & Richard Dietz (eds.), Cuts and Clouds. Vaguenesss, its Nature and its Logic. Oxford University Press.
    The conclusion of this chapter is that higher-order vagueness is universal: no sentence whatsoever is definitely true, definitely definitely true, definitely definitely definitely true, and so on ad infinitum. The argument, of which there are several versions, turns on the existence of Sorites sequences of possible worlds connecting the actual world to possible worlds where a given sentence is used in such a way that its meaning is very different. The chapter attempts to be neutral between competing accounts of the (...)
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  21. Cian Dorr (2008). There Are No Abstract Objects. In Theodore Sider, John Hawthorne & Dean W. Zimmerman (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Metaphysics. Blackwell.
    I explicate and defend the claim that, fundamentally speaking, there are no numbers, sets, properties or relations. The clarification consists in some remarks on the relevant sense of ‘fundamentally speaking’ and the contrasting sense of ‘superficially speaking’. The defence consists in an attempt to rebut two arguments for the existence of such entities. The first is a version of the indispensability argument, which purports to show that certain mathematical entities are required for good scientific explanations. The second is a speculative (...)
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  22. Cian Dorr (2005). Propositions and Counterpart Theory. Analysis 65 (3):210–218.
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  23. Cian Dorr (2005). Resemblance Nominalism and Counterparts [Critical Review of Rodríguez-Pereyra (2002). Mind 114:457-461.
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  24. Cian Dorr (2005). Review of Gonzalo Rodriguez-Pereyra, Resemblance Nominalism. [REVIEW] Mind 114:457-61.
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  25. Cian Dorr (2005). What We Disagree About When We Disagree About Ontology. In Mark Eli Kalderon (ed.), Fictionalism in Metaphysics. Oxford University Press. 234--86.
    In this paper I attempt two things. First, I argue that one can coherently imagine different communities using languages structurally similar to English, but in which the meanings of the quantifiers vary, so that the answers to ontological questions, such as ‘Under what circumstances do some things compose something?’, are different. Second, I argue that nevertheless, one can make sense of the idea that of the various possible assignments of meanings to the quantifiers, one is especially fundamental, so that there (...)
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  26. Cian Dorr (2004). Non-Symmetric Relations. Oxford Studies in Metaphysics 1:155-92.
    Presupposing that most predicates do not correspond directly to genuine relations, I argue that all genuine relations are symmetric. My main argument depends on the premise that there are no brute necessities, interpreted so as to require logical and metaphysical necessity to coincide for sentences composed entirely of logical vocabulary and primitive predicates. Given this premise, any set of purportedly primitive predicates by which one might hope to express the facts about non-symmetric relations order their relata will generate an objectionable (...)
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  27. Cian Dorr (2003). Merricks on the Existence of Human Organisms. [REVIEW] Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 67 (3):711–718.
    BB Whenever a baseball causes an event, the baseball’s constituent atoms also cause that event, and the baseball is causally irrelevant to whether those atoms cause that event.
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  28. Cian Dorr (2003). Vagueness Without Ignorance. Philosophical Perspectives 17 (1):83–113.
    I motivate and briefly sketch a linguistic theory of vagueness, on which the notion of indeterminacy is understood in terms of the conventions of language: a sentence is indeterminate iff the conventions of language either forbid asserting it and forbid asserting its negation, under the circumstances, or permit asserting either. I then consider an objection that purports to show that if this theory (or, as far as I can see, any other theory of vagueness that deserved the label "linguistic" were (...)
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  29. Cian Dorr (2002). Non-Cognitivism and Wishful Thinking. Noûs 36 (1):97–103.
    Even if non-cognitivists about some subject-matter can meet Geach’s challenge to explain how there can be valid implications involving sentences which express non-cognitive attitudes, they face a further problem. I argue that a non-cognitivist cannot explain how, given a valid argument whose conclusion expresses a belief and at least one of whose premises expresses a non-cognitive attitude, it could be reasonable to infer the conclusion from the premises.
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  30. Cian Dorr (2002). Sleeping Beauty: In Defence of Elga. Analysis 62 (4):292–296.
    Argues for the "thirder" solution to the Sleeping Beauty puzzle. The argument turns on an analogy with a variant case, in which a coin-toss on Monday night determines whether one's memories of Monday are permanently erased, or merely suspended in such a way that they will return some time after one wakes up on Tuesday.
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  31. Cian Dorr & Gideon Rosen (2002). Composition as a Fiction. In Richard Gale (ed.), The Blackwell Companion to Metaphysics. Blackwell. 151--174.
    Region R Question: How many objects — entities, things — are contained in R? Ignore the empty space. Our question might better be put, 'How many material objects does R contain?' Let's stipulate that A, B and C are metaphysical atoms: absolutely simple entities with no parts whatsoever besides themselves. So you don't have to worry about counting a particle's top half and bottom half as different objects. Perhaps they are 'point-particles', with no length, width or breadth. Perhaps they are (...)
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