McTaggart gave the name “A-series” to “that series of positions which runs from the far past through the near past to the present, and then from the present through the near future to the far future, or conversely”; and the name “B-series” to “[t]he series of positions which runs from earlier to later, or conversely”.1 McTaggart’s rather bland labels have stuck, and been put to further use. The “determinations” (his word), or properties, being past, being present, and being future are (...) generally called the “A-properties”. The relations of being earlier than, being later than, and being simultaneous with, are the “B-relations”. These days, philosophers are said to hold an “A-theory of time” or a “B-theory of time”, depending upon their attitudes to these properties and relations. Some philosophers suppose that there are objective distinctions between what is present and what is past and what is future. In order to tell the full truth about time, they think, one must advert to the A-properties. Naturally enough, such philosophers are called “A-theorists”. Although A-theorists disagree about many details, they agree that the present is distinguished from past and future in a deep and important way. Exactly how to describe this difference is a vexed question, and some philosophers have argued that would-be A-theorists inevitably fail to stake out a coherent position.2 I shall not attempt a full-scale defense of the coherence of the A-. (shrink)
My comments have two parts. I begin by laying out the argument that seems to me to be at the core of Olson’s thinking about human persons; and I suggest a problem with his reasons for accepting one of its premises. The premise is warranted by its platitudinous or commonsensical status; but Olson’s arguments lead him to conclusions that undermine the family of platitudes to which it belongs. Then I’ll raise a question about how Olson should construe the vagueness that (...) would seem to infect the boundaries of human animals. (shrink)
Mark Johnston’s book, Saving God (Princeton University Press, 2010) has two main goals, one negative and the other positive: (1) to eliminate the Old Gods of the major Western monotheisms (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) as candidates for the role of “the Highest One”; (2) to introduce the real Highest One, a panentheistic deity worthy of devotion and capable of extending to us the grace needed to transform us from inwardly-turned sinners to practitioners of agape. In this review, I argue that (...) Johnston’s attack upon traditional forms of monotheism has less force than the criticism of those he calls “undergraduate atheists” (e.g., Hitchens, Harris, Dawkins); and that his candidate for Highest One is not the greatest possible being, and could not play the redemptive role cast for it by Johnston. (shrink)
Property dualism is enjoying a slight resurgence in popularity, these days; substance dualism, not so much. But it is not as easy as one might think to be a property dualist and a substance materialist. The reasons for being a property dualist support the idea that some phenomenal properties (or qualia) are as fundamental as the most basic physical properties; but what material objects could be the bearers of the qualia? If even some qualia require an adverbial construal (if they (...) are modifications of the thing that is conscious because of them, not properties of something else to which the subject of consciousness is related), then the property dualist can be driven to speculative forms of materialism none of which, at this point, looks more likely to be true than the more modest versions of emergent dualism defended by contemporary substance dualists. (shrink)
Mark Johnston’s book, Saving God (Princeton University Press, 2010) has two main goals, one negative and the other positive: (1) to eliminate the Old gods of the major Western monotheisms (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) as candidates for the role of “the Highest One”; (2) to introduce the real Highest One, a panentheistic deity worthy of devotion and capable of extending to us the grace needed to transform us from inwardly-turned sinners to practitioners of agape. In this review, we argue that (...) Johnston’s attack on traditional forms of monotheism has less force than his criticism of the “undergraduate atheists” (e.g., Hitchens, Harris, Dawkins); and that his candidate for Highest One is not the greatest possible being, and could not play the role Johnston casts for it. -/- . (shrink)
Oxford Studies in Metaphysics is the forum for the best new work in this flourishing field. OSM offers a broad view of the subject, featuring not only the traditionally central topics such as existence, identity, modality, time, and causation, but also the rich clusters of metaphysical questions in neighbouring fields, such as philosophy of mind and philosophy of science. Besides independent essays, volumes will often contain a critical essay on a recent book, or a symposium that allows participants to respond (...) to one another's criticisms and questions. Anyone who wants to know what's happening in metaphysics can start here. (shrink)
Oxford Studies in Metaphysics is the forum for the best new work in this flourishing field. Much of the most interesting work in philosophy today is metaphysical in character: this series is a much-needed focus for it. OSM offers a broad view of the subject, featuring not only the traditionally central topics such as existence, identity, modality, time, and causation, but also the rich clusters of metaphysical questions in neighbouring fields, such as philosophy of mind and philosophy of science. Besides (...) independent essays, volumes will often contain a critical essay on a recent book, or a symposium that allows participants to respond to one another's criticisms and questions. This fifth volume is largely focused on the metaphysics of time, with sections on time travel; persistence through time; and time, space, and location. The final section of the volume is devoted to a neglected topic that is starting to attract philosophical attention: the metaphysics of sounds. Anyone who wants to know what's happening in metaphysics can start here. (shrink)
‘Molinism’, in contemporary usage, is the name for a theory about the workings of divine providence. Its defenders include some of the most prominent contemporary Protestant and Catholic philosophical theologians.¹ Molinism is often said to be the only way to steer a middle..
In a series of thought-provoking and original essays, eighteen leading philosophers engage in head-to-head debates of nine of the most cutting edge topics in contemporary metaphysics. Explores the fundamental questions in contemporary metaphysics in a series of eighteen original essays - 16 of which are newly commissioned for this volume Features an introductory essay by the editors on the nature of metaphysics to prepare the reader for ongoing discussions Offers readers the unique opportunity to observe leading philosophers engage in head-to-head (...) debate on cutting-edge metaphysical topics Provides valuable insights into the flourishing field of contemporary metaphysics. (shrink)
This extensively revised and expanded edition of van Inwagen and Zimmerman’s popular collection of readings in metaphysics now features twenty-two additional selections, new sections on existence and reality, and an updated editorial commentary. Collects classic and contemporary readings in metaphysics Answers some of the most puzzling questions about our world and our place in it Covers an unparalleled range of topics Now includes a new section on existence and reality, expanded discussions on many classic issues, and an updated editorial commentary.
The nature of persons is a perennial topic of debate in philosophy, currently enjoying something of a revival. In this volume for the first time metaphysical debates about the nature of human persons are brought together with related debates in philosophy of religion and theology. Fifteen specially written essays explore idealist, dualist, and materialist views of persons, discuss specifically Christian conceptions of the value of embodiment, and address four central topics in philosophical theology: incarnation, resurrection, original sin, and the trinity.
Oxford Studies in Metaphysics is the forum for the best new work in this flourishing field. Much of the most interesting work in philosophy today is metaphysical in character: this new series is a much-needed focus for it. OSM offers a broad view of the subject, featuring not only the traditionally central topics such as existence, identity, modality, time, and causation, but also the rich clusters of metaphysical questions in neighbouring fields, such as philosophy of mind and philosophy of science. (...) Besides independent essays, volumes will often contain a critical essay on a recent book, or a symposium that allows participants to respond to one another's criticisms and questions. Anyone who wants to know what's happening in metaphysics can start here. -/- Volume Two begins with a major paper on consciousness by Ned Block. Block examines 'Max Black's Objection to Mind-Body Identity', an argument for a dualism of physical and phenomenal properties, closely related to Jackson's 'knowledge argument'. His extensive exploration of this family of arguments for property dualism includes considerable discussion of John Perry and Stephen White; their responses to Block's paper complete the section on the metaphysics of consciousness. -/- Three papers consider the thesis that the future is, in some sense, 'open'. Eli Hirsch elaborates a view according to which contingent statements about the future can be indeterminate in truth-value, while preserving 'straight logic', including a principle of bivalence. Peter Forrest defends a sort of 'growing block' theory of the passage of time, emphasizing the way such a metaphysics, combined with a truth-maker principle, can provide an analysis of natural necessity. Trenton Merricks presents a trenchant and original criticism of the 'growing block' theory of time. -/- The volume continues with a group of papers on problems of ontology. Thomas Hofweber's paper, defending nominalism from the objection that there are 'inexpressible' properties and propositions, won the first annual Oxford Studies in Metaphysics Younger Scholar Prize. The papers by Phillip Bricker and Michael Loux examine a couple of deep divides within ontology. John Hawthorne's paper raises some extremely puzzling questions about the nature of persons, given the ontology needed for Timothy Williamson's theory of vagueness. Hawthorne uses these problems to motivate an alternative style of epistemicism. -/- The final three papers take up several issues in the metaphysics of traditional theism. Michael Bergmann and Jeffrey Brower raise objections to combining a Platonic conception of universals with the doctrine of divine aseity; while Brian Leftow defends a non-Platonic theory of universals - a kind of divine-concept nominalism. Hud Hudson suggests that contemplation of the possibility of higher dimensions opens up new avenues in theodicy. (shrink)
The paper has two parts: First, I describe a relatively popular thesis in the philosophy of propositional attitudes, worthy of the name “taking tense seriously”; and I distinguish it from a family of views in the metaphysics of time, namely, the A-theories (or what are sometimes called “tensed theories of time”). Once the distinction is in focus, a skeptical worry arises. Some A-theorists maintain that the difference between past, present, and future, is to be drawn in terms of what exists: (...) growing-block theorists eschew ontological commitment to future entities; presentists, to future and past entities. Others think of themselves as A-theorists but exclude no past or future things from their ontology. The metaphysical skeptic suspects that their attempt to articulate an “eternalist” version of the A-theory collapses into merely “taking tense seriously” — a thesis that does not imply the A-theory. The second half of the paper is the search for a stable eternalist A-theory. It includes discussion of temporary intrinsics, temporal parts, and truth. (shrink)
The Oxford Handbook of Metaphysics offers the most authoritative and compelling guide to this diverse and fertile field of philosophy. Twenty-four of the world's most distinguished specialists provide brand-new essays about 'what there is': what kinds of things there are, and what relations hold among entities falling under various categories. They give the latest word on such topics as identity, modality, time, causation, persons and minds, freedom, and vagueness. The Handbook's unrivaled breadth and depth make it the definitive reference work (...) for students and academics across the philosophical spectrum. (shrink)
Chapter Four of Richard Gale’s On the Nature and Existence of God constitutes an ambitious 80-page monograph on the “free will defense” (FWD). Much of Gale’s argument is aimed at Plantinga’s FWD, but the scope of his criticism extends, finally, to all versions. Gale’s main contentions are that: (i) no version of the FWD can get off the ground without the substantive, true conditionals often called “counterfactuals of human freedom” by contemporary Molinists; (ii) the best theory of these conditionals (Gale’s (...) “minimalism”) implies that the Molinists’ conditionals are true (so traditional omniscience requires that God know them, as the Molinists allege that he does); (iii) but Molinism would make God a puppet-master, and incapable of creating free persons after all. Gale concludes that proponents of the FWD must accept that there are contingent truths God does not know. I argue that Gale’s objections to non-Molinist versions of FWD are easily rebutted; but that his criticisms of Molinism have considerably more bite. (shrink)
No one has done more than John Martin Fischer and Mark Ravizza toadvance our understanding of the important dispute in the theoryof responsibility between structuralists and historicists.This makes it all the more important to take the measure of Responsibility and Control, their mostrecent contribution to the historicist side of the discussion. In this paper I examine some novelfeatures of their most recent version of responsiblity-historicism,especially their new notions of ``moderate reasons-responsiveness'''' and ``ownership-of-agency.'''' Fischer and Ravizza intend these newelements to solve (...) two problems untouched by earlier versions of theirtheory: the ``problem of strange preference patterns'''' and the ``reasons-responsivenessproblem of induction.'''' I argue that they cannot solve these problemswithin the theoretical strictures they place upon themselves, namely aminimalist meta-ethics of value and practical reason, and attentiononly to certain formal features of preference-acquisition. I concludethat historicist compatibilists cannot hope to meet the challenge ofstructuralist compatibilism, from the one side, and of incompatibilism,from the other, unless they take on the full task of accounting for thedifference between the child''s acquisition (via education) of autonomoussubstantive preferences and values and her acquisition (viaindoctrination) of heteronomous ones. (shrink)
Many theists reject the notion that God’s eternity consists in his timelessness — i.e., in his lacking temporal extension and failing to possess properties at any times. Some of these “divine temporalists” hold that, for philosophical reasons, it is impossible to accept both the timelessness of God and the view that God knows what happens at different times and brings about events in time. 1 Many reject divine timelessness as a dubious import from Platonism with no biblical or theological warrant.2 (...) And some question the very intelligibility of the doctrine. (shrink)
Lynne Rudder Baker and many others think that paradigmatic instances of one object constituting another — a piece of marble constituting a statue, or an aggregate of particles constituting a living body — involve two distinct (i.e., not numerically identical) objects in the same place at the same time.1 Some who say this believe in the doctrine of temporal parts2; but others, like Baker, reject this doctrine.3 Such philosophers, whom one might call “coincidentalists”, cannot say that these objects manage to (...) share space in virtue of sharing a temporal part confined to just that place and time. But what can or should coincidentalists say about the nature of constitution? (shrink)
I have argued that contemporary humeans face a trilemma: either (i) give up temporal parts, (ii) deny the humean supervenience of causal relations, or (iii) deny the possibility of there being a difference between rotating and nonrotating homogeneous spheres. Mark Scala ("Homogeneous Simples", Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Vol. 64, 2002) describes an interesting class of seemingly possible objects, spinning and stationary simples; and argues their possibility undermines my argument. I argue that it does not. And I conclude with a more (...) general assessment of the status of objections to humeanism from the possibility of homogeneous objects in motion. (shrink)
In "Freedom and Resentment," P. F. Strawson argues that the "profound opposition" between the objective and reactive stances is quite compatible with our rationally retaining the latter as important elements in a recognizably human life. Unless he can establish this, he has no hope of establishing his version of compatibilism in the free will debate. But, because objectivity is associated so intimately with the rationally conducted explanation of action, it is not clear how the opposition of these stances is compatible (...) with the rationality of the reactive attitudes. More to the point, it is not clear how an intellectual activity like shifting from the reactive to the objective stance can dispel reactive attitudes without thereby also rationally disqualifying them. I solve this puzzle by drawing on the idea that one cognitive component of emotions is the rationally optional "shift of attention," a feature which in turn helps to explain a lot about the role reactive emotions can play in the fixation of belief. (shrink)
It is not easy to be a materialist and yet believe that there is a way for human beings to survive death. Peter van Inwagen identifies the central obstacle the materialist faces: Namely, the need to posit appropriate “immanent-causal” connections between my body as it is at death and some living body elsewhere or elsewhen. I offer a proposal, consistent with van Inwagen’s own materialist metaphysics, for making materialism compatible with the possibility of survival.
The ‘friends of temporal parts’ and their opponents disagree about how things persist through time. The former, who hold what is sometimes called a ‘4D’ theory of persistence, typically claim that all objects that last for any period of time are spread out through time in the same way that spatially extended objects are spread out through space — a different part for each region that the object fills. David Lewis calls this manner of persisting ‘perdurance’. The opposing, ‘3D’ theory (...) has it that at least some objects do not persist in this manner; they ‘endure’ through time by ‘being wholly present at more than one time’.1 A related dispute pits ‘presentists’ against ‘non-presentists’. Presentists hold that the only things that really exist are those that exist now, at the present moment; and nonpresentists believe in something like a ‘block-universe’ in which non-simultaneous objects and events nevertheless co-exist (in a tenseless or non-temporal sense). Of late, the relations between these four positions have come under considerable scrutiny.2 As Ned Markosian has pointed out, it would be surprising if commitment to a perdurance or endurance theory of persistence automatically foreclosed one’s options in the presentism—non-presentism debate. But, says Markosian, that is just what the standard formulations of the perdurance and endurance theories imply.3 David Lewis has set the terms of the debate; in his usage, someone who thinks that all persisting objects endure would be said to hold the following. (shrink)
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