This volume brings together new work on the logic and ontology of plurality and a range of recent articles exploring novel applications to natural language semantics. The contributions in this volume in particular investigate and extend new perspectives presented by plural logic and non-standard mereology and explore their applications to a range of natural language phenomena. Contributions by P. Aquaviva, A. Arapinis, M. Carrara, P. McKay, F. Moltmann, O. Linnebo, A. Oliver and T. Smiley, T. Scaltsas, P. Simons, and (...) B.-Y. Yi . (shrink)
In Parts of Classes (1991) and Mathematics Is Megethology (1993) David Lewis defends both the innocence of plural quantification and of mereology. However, he himself claims that the innocence of mereology is different from that of plural reference, where reference to some objects does not require the existence of a single entity picking them out as a whole. In the case of plural quantification . Instead, in the mereological case: (Lewis, 1991, p. 87). The aim of the paper is to (...) argue that one—an innocence thesis similar to that of plural reference is defensible. To give a precise account of plural reference, we use the idea of plural choice. We then propose a virtual theory of mereology in which the role of individuals is played by plural choices of atoms. (shrink)
Sometimes mereologists have problems with counting. We often don't want to count the parts of maximally connected objects as full-fledged objects themselves, and we don't want to count discontinuous objects as parts of further, full-fledged objects. But whatever one takes "full-fledged object" to mean, the axioms and theorems of classical, extensional mereology commit us to the existence both of parts and of wholes – all on a par, included in the domain of quantification – and this makes mereology look counterintuitive (...) to various philosophers. In recent years, a proposal has been advanced to solve the tension between mereology and familiar ways of counting objects, under the label of Minimalist View . The Minimalist View may be summarized in the slogan: "Count x as an object iff it does not overlap with any y you have already counted as an object". The motto seems prima facie very promising but, we shall argue, when one looks at it more closely, it is not. On the contrary, the Minimalist View involves an ambiguity that can be solved in quite different directions. We argue that one resolution of the ambiguity makes it incompatible with mereology. This way, the Minimalist View can lend no support to mereology at all. We suggest that the Minimalist View can become compatible with mereology once its ambiguity is solved by interpreting it in what we call an epistemic or conceptual fashion: whereas mereology has full metaphysical import, the Minimalist View may account for our ways of selecting "conceptually salient" entities. But even once it is so disambiguated, it is doubtful that the Minimalist View can help to make mereology more palatable, for it cannot make it any more compatible with commonsensical ways of counting objects. (shrink)
Some forms of analytic reconstructivism take natural language (and common sense at large) to be ontologically opaque: ordinary sentences must be suitably rewritten or paraphrased before questions of ontological commitment may be raised. Other forms of reconstructivism take the commitment of ordinary language at face value, but regard it as metaphysically misleading: common-sense objects exist, but they are not what we normally think they are. This paper is an attempt to clarify and critically assess some common limits of these two (...) reconstructivist strategies. (shrink)
The Knowability Paradox is a logical argument to the effect that, if there are truths not actually known, then there are unknowable truths. Recently, Alexander Paseau and Bernard Linsky have independently suggested a possible way to counter this argument by typing knowledge. In this article, we argue against their proposal that if one abstracts from other possible independent considerations supporting reasons for typing knowledge and considers the motivation for a type-theoretic approach with respect to the Knowability Paradox alone, there is (...) no substantive philosophical motivation to type knowledge, except that of solving the paradox. Every attempt to independently justify the typing of knowledge is doomed to failure. (shrink)
P.T. Geach has maintained (see, e.g., Geach (1967/1968)) that identity (as well as dissimilarity) is always relative to a general term. According to him, the notion of absolute identity has to be abandoned and replaced by a multiplicity of relative identity relations for which Leibniz's Law - which says that if two objects are identical they have the same properties - does not hold. For Geach relative identity is at least as good as Frege's cardinality thesis which he takes to (...) be strictly connected with relative identity - according to which an ascription of cardinality is always relative to a concept which specifies what, in any particular case, counts as a unit. The idea that there is a close connection between relative identity and Frege's cardinality thesis has been issued again quite recently by Alston and Bennett in (1984). In their opinion, Frege's cardinality thesis is not only similar to relative identity - as Geach maintains - but it implies it. Moreover, they agree with Geach in claiming that a commitment to Frege's cardinality thesis forces a parallel commitment to relative identity. Against Geach, Alston and Bennett we will claim that (Tl): "Frege's cardinality thesis is similar to relative identity" is false and that therefore (T2) "Frege's cardinality thesis implies relative identity" is false as well. (shrink)
Aim of the paper is to revise Boolos’ reinterpretation of second-order monadic logic in terms of plural quantification (, ) and expand it to full second order logic. Introducing the idealization of plural acts of choice, performed by a suitable team of agents, we will develop a notion of plural reference . Plural quantification will be then explained in terms of plural reference. As an application, we will sketch a structuralist reconstruction of second-order arithmetic based on the axiom of infinite (...) à la Dedekind, as the unique non-logical axiom. We will also sketch a virtual interpretation of the classical continuum involving no other infinite than a countable plurality of individuals. (shrink)
In “Mathematics is megethology,” Lewis reconstructs set theory using mereology and plural quantification (MPQ). In his recontruction he assumes from the beginning that there is an infinite plurality of atoms, whose size is equivalent to that of the set theoretical universe. Since this assumption is far beyond the basic axioms of mereology, it might seem that MPQ do not play any role in order to guarantee the existence of a large infinity of objects. However, we intend to demonstrate that mereology (...) and plural quantification are, in some ways, particularly relevant to a certain conception of the infinite. More precisely, though the principles of mereology and plural quantification do not guarantee the existence of an infinite number of objects, nevertheless, once the existence of any infinite object is admitted, they are able to assure the existence of an uncountable infinity of objects. So, if—as Lewis maintains—MPQ were parts of logic, the implausible consequence would follow that, given a countable infinity of individuals, logic would be able to guarantee an uncountable infinity of objects. (shrink)
The general question (G) How do we categorize artifacts? can be subject to three different readings: an ontological, an epistemic and a semantic one. According to the ontological reading, asking (G) is equivalent to asking in virtue of what properties, if any, a certain artifact is an instance of some artifact kind: (O) What is it for an artifact a to belong to kind K? According to the epistemic reading, when we ask (G) we are investigating what properties of the (...) object we exploit in order to decide whether a certain artifact belongs to a certain kind. (G) thus becomes: (E) How can we know that artifact a belongs to kind K? Finally, (G) can also be read as a question concerning the semantics of artifact kind terms. The semantic reading of (G) is: (S) What kind of reference do artifact kind terms have, if any? In this editorial we expand on the different answers to (O), (E) and (S) that are given in the selected literature on the topic. The result should give us an overall picture of the possible answers to (G). (shrink)
In this paper we consider the emerging position in metaphysics that artifact functions characterize real kinds of artifacts. We analyze how it can circumvent an objection by David Wiggins (Sameness and substance renewed, 2001, 87) and then argue that this position, in comparison to expert judgments, amounts to an interesting fine-grained metaphysics: taking artifact functions as (part of the) essences of artifacts leads to distinctions between principles of activity of artifacts that experts in technology have not yet made. We show, (...) moreover, that our argument holds not only in the artifactual realm but also in biology: taking biological functions as (part of the) essences of organs leads to distinctions between principles of activity of organs that biological experts have not yet made. We run our argument on the basis of analyses of artifact and biological functions as developed in philosophy of technology and of biology, thus importing results obtained outside of metaphysics into the debate on ontological realism. In return, our argument shows that a position in metaphysics provides experts reason for trying to detect differences between principles of activities of artifacts and organs that have not been detected so far. (shrink)
Nicholas Rescher, in The Limits of Science (1984), argued that: «perfected science is a mirage; complete knowledge a chimera» . He reached the above conclusion from a logical argument known as Fitch’s Paradox of Knowability. The argument, starting from the assumption that every truth is knowable, proves that every truth is also actually known and, given that some true propositions are not actually known, it concludes, by modus tollens, that there are unknowable truths. Prima facie, this argument seems to seriously (...) narrow our epistemic possibilities and to constitute a limit for knowledge (included scientific knowledge). Rescher’s above quoted conclusion follows the same sort of reasoning. Recently, Bernard Linsky exploited a possible way to block the argument employing a type-distinction of knowledge. If the Knowability paradox is blocked, then Rescher’s conclusion cannot be drawn. After an introduction to the paradox, we suggest, in our paper, a possible way of justifying a type-solution for it in the scientific field. A noteworthy point is that the effectiveness of this solution depends on the degree of reductionism adopted in science: the given solution is available only if we do not adopt a complete reductionism in science so that there is just one kind of scientific knowledge and, consequently, of scientific justification. Otherwise Rescher's argument still works. (shrink)
The goal of the paper is to analyse some specific features of a very central concept for top-level ontologies for information systems: i.e. the concept of artefact. Specifically, we analyse the relation to be a copy of that is strongly linked to the notion of artefact and—as we will demonstrate—could be useful to distinguish artefacts from objects of other kinds. Firstly, we outline some intuitive and commonsensical reasons for the need of a clarification of the notion of artefact in ontologies (...) for information systems, and we analyse some characterisations of the notion given by two top-level ontologies (Cyc and Wordnet). Secondly, we introduce and critically analyse Tzouvaras’ notion of copy. Thirdly, we try to complete an analysis of copy by distinguishing three kinds of copies: replicas (Tzouvaras’ notion of copy), rigid copies, and functional copies. With the help of these three notions we outline a first and preliminary distinction between artefacts, objects of art and natural objects. (shrink)
In our paper, we propose a relativisticand metaphysically neutral identity criterionfor biological entities. We start from thecriterion of genidentity proposed by K. Lewinand H. Reichenbach. Then we enrich it to renderit more philosophical powerful and so capableof dealing with the real transformations thatoccur in the extremely variegated biologicalworld.
The topic of this paper is the notion of technical (as opposed to biological) malfunction. It is shown how to form the property being a malfunctioning F from the property F and the property modifier malfunctioning (a mapping taking a property to a property). We present two interpretations of malfunctioning. Both interpretations agree that a malfunctioning F lacks the dispositional property of functioning as an F. However, its subsective interpretation entails that malfunctioning Fs are Fs, whereas its privative interpretation entails (...) that malfunctioning Fs are not Fs. We chart various of their respective logical consequences and discuss some of the philosophical implications of both interpretations. (shrink)
Relativists maintain that identity is always relative to a general term (RI). According to them, the notion of absolute identity has to be abandoned and replaced by a multiplicity of relative identity relations for which Leibniz’s Law does not hold. For relativists RI is at least as good as the Fregean cardinality thesis (FC), which contends that an ascription of cardinality is always relative to a concept specifying what, in any specific case, counts as a unit. The same train of (...) thought on cardinality and identity is apparent among those – Artifactualists – who take relative identity sentences for artifacts as the norm. The aim of this paper is (i) to criticize the thesis (T1) thatfrom FC it is possible to derive RI, and (ii) to explain why Artifactualists mistakenly believe that RI can be derived from FC. The misunderstanding derives from their assumption that the concept of artifact – like the concept of object – is not a sortal concept. (shrink)
Aim of the paper is to present a new logic of technical malfunction. The need for this logic is motivated by a simple-sounding philosophical question: Is a malfunctioning corkscrew, which fails to uncork bottles, nonetheless a corkscrew? Or in general terms, is a malfunctioning F, which fails to do what Fs do, nonetheless an F? We argue that ‘malfunctioning’ denotes the modifier Malfunctioning rather than a property, and that the answer depends on whether Malfunctioning is subsective or privative. If subsective, (...) a malfunctioning F is an F; if privative, a malfunctioning F is not an F. An intensional logic is required to raise and answer the question, because modifiers operate directly on properties and not on sets or individuals. This new logic provides the formal tools to reason about technical malfunction by means of a logical analysis of the sentence “a is a malfunctioning F”. (shrink)
The efforts of the European Commission to create a European Research Area in the field of biotechnology are accompanied by a growing demand for an ethical discourse. Cultural differences between the European Union's member states create a vital need to improve bioethical information structures in Europe so as to foster European bioethics discourses and to cope with ethical pluralism. Responding to the need for an increased European contribution to the international discussion on ethics in medicine and biotechnology, some of Europe's (...) leading bioethics institutions have joined forces to establish the international network EURETHNET . 18 partners from nine European countries agreed to develop an information network and knowledge base in the field of ethics in medicine and biotechnology. This short communication displays the aims, scope and realisation of the network. (shrink)
: This paper deals with Claudia Card's important contributions to a theory of evil that steps out from traditional models of thinking about this problem (theodicies, metaphysical theories, etc.). Instead, our author seeks to explore important elements from other theorists (such as Kant and Nietzsche) in order to build up her ideas of what she calls the "atrocity paradigm." This critical essay focuses mainly in the spaces where Card's conclusions need to rethink the limits and constraints of her theory.
This paper deals with Claudia Card's important contributions to a theory of evil that steps out from traditional models of thinking about this problem (theodicies, metaphysical theories, etc.). Instead, our author seeks to explore important elements from other theorists (such as Kant and Nietzsche) in order to build up her ideas of what she calls the "atrocity paradigm." This critical essay focuses mainly in the spaces where Card's conclusions need to rethink the limits and constraints of her theory.
In The Atrocity Paradigm, Claudia Card suggests we forgiveness as a potentially valuable exercise of a victim's moral powers. Yet Card never makes explicit just what 'moral powers' are, or how to understand their grounding or scope. I draw out unacknowledged implications of her framework: namely, that others than the primary victim may forgive, and -- conversely -- that some victims may find themselves morally dis-empowered. Furthermore, talk of "moral powers" allows us to appropriately acknowledge the value of refusals (...) to forgive and the issue of "forgivable" evils, in ways that talk of forgiveness as a duty or virtue cannot. (shrink)
The context of international health research involving human subjects, and this should appear obvious, is the human community. As such, basic questions of how human beings should be treated by other human beings, particularly in situations of unequal power – e.g., in the form of control, choice, or opportunity – lay at the foundations of related ethical discourse when ethics are discussed at all. I trace a narrative that follows upon a recent revision process of international guidelines for biomedical research (...) involving human subjects. I focus in particular upon the issue of a standard of care. In the second section, I draw upon philosophers John Rawls, Claudia Card, and Allen Buchanan to discuss concerns regarding the 'least advantaged members of society' in the context of global inequality. The paper includes reflections upon pedagogy in courses focused upon international health research involving human subjects. (shrink)
This paper draws on Claudia Card’s discussions of moral luck to consider the complicated moral life of people—described as pessimists—who accept the heavy knowledge of the predictability of the bad moral luck of oppression. The potential threat to ethics posed by this knowledge can be overcome by the pessimist whose resistance to oppression, even in the absence of hope, expresses a sense of still having a ‘‘claim’’ on flourishing despite its unattainability under oppression.
: I briefly reprise a few themes of my bookMoral Understandingsin order to address some questions about responsibility and justification. I argue for a thoroughly situated and naturalized view of moral justification that warns us not to take moral universalism too easily at face value. I also argue for the significance of reports of experience, among other kinds of empirical evidence, in testing the habitability of moral forms of life.