Twenty-one paragraphs in this entry begin with a statement of a view about causation. To help organize the entry, the next sentence then classifies the view as 'prevailing, majority, controversial', or 'minority'. The following brief discussions attempt to be clear and fair. Respect for fairness, however, does not prevent the author from referring to his own views. For example, the author classifies "There is no element of genuine a priori reasoning in causal inference" as a majority view. After expounded the (...) central reasons for this majority view, he goes on to criticize these reasons. (shrink)
Everything red is colored, and all squares are polygons. A square is distinguished from other polygons by being four-sided, equilateral, and equiangular. What distinguishes red things from other colored things? This has been understood as a conceptual rather than scientific question. Theories of wavelengths and reflectance and sensory processing are not considered. Given just our ordinary understanding of color, it seems that what differentiates red from other colors is only redness itself. The Cambridge logician W. E. Johnson introduced the terms (...) determinate and determinable to apply to examples such as red and colored. Chapter XI, of Johnson's Logic, Part I (1921), “The Determinate and the Determinable,” is the main text for discussion of this distinction. (shrink)
The following statement (A) is usually abbreviated with symbols: (A) There are items X and Y, each is F, X is not identical to Y, and everything F is identical to X or is identical to Y. (A) is neither necessary nor sufficient for the existence of exactly two distinct things that are F. Some things are neither identical nor distinct. The difference between distinctness and nonidentity makes a difference in asking questions about counting, constitution, and persistence.
Suppose that Susan did not go to the movies. The reconciling project attempts to show that this plus determinism does not imply that Susan could not have gone to the movies. The estranging project attempts to show the opposite. A counterentailment argument is of the form A is consistent with C, and C entails not-B, therefore A does not entail B. An instance of the counterentailment arguments undermines a central argument for the reconciling project. Another instance undermines a central argument (...) for the estranging project. This is one symmetry. In each case, the natural response to the counterentailment argument begs the question. This is another symmetry. (shrink)
Since its publication in 1989, David Sanford's If P Then Q has become one of the most widely respected works in the field of conditionals. This new edition includes three new chapters, thus updating the book to take into account developments in the area over the past fifteen years. Part One gives an historical overview of the history of philosophical treatments of conditionals, from ancient times until the contemporary development of possible worlds. In Part Two, Sanford puts forward his own (...) treatment of conditionals. (shrink)
Two fusions can be in the same place at the same time. So long as a house made of Tinkertoys is intact, the fusion of all its Tinkertoys parts coincides with the fusion of it walls and its roof. If none of the Tinkertoys is destroyed, their fusion persists through the complete disassembly of the house. (So the house is not a fusion of its Tinkertoy parts.) The fusion of the walls and roof does not persist through the complete disassembly (...) because the walls and the roof themselves do not persist. (So the walls and the roof are also not fusions of their Tinkertoy parts.). (shrink)
Although Aranyosi's claim that McTaggart's "set of parts" is a set rather than a fusion is correct, his attempt to restate McTaggart's conception needs revision. Aranyosi argues that "the fusion of cats is identical with the fusion of all cat-parts, 'regardless of whether all cat-parts are parts of cats or not.'" Fusions have unique decompositions into what David Lewis calls "nice parts." Cats are nice parts of cat fusions, as are maximal spatio-temporally connected parts. Part of Aranyosi's argument fails when (...) it deals with cats; part of it fails when it deals with maximal spatio-temporally connected parts. He does not identify one kind of nice part that allows his whole argument to go through. (shrink)
If there are vague numbers, it would be easier to use numbers as semantic values in a treatment of vagueness while avoiding precise cut-off points. When we assign a particular statement a range of values (less than 1 and greater than 0) there is no precise sharp cut-off point that locates the greatest lower bound or the least upper bound of the interval, I should like to say. Is this possible? “Vague Numbers” stands for awareness of the problem. I do (...) not present a serious theory of vague numbers. I sketch some reasons for using a many-value semantics. These reasons refer to my earlier treatments of determinacy and definitions of higher-order borderline cases. I also sketch how definitions of independence use the determinacy operator. The distinction between actually assigned values and values whose assignments are acceptable helps avoid unwanted precise cut-off points. (shrink)
In several works on modality, G. H. von Wright presents tree structures to explain possible worlds. Worlds that might have developed from an earlier world are possible relative to it. Actually possible worlds are possible relative to the world as it actually was at some point. Many logically consistent worlds are not actually possible. Transitions from node to node in a tree structure are probabilistic. Probabilities are often more useful than similarities between worlds in treating counterfactual conditionals.
Roderick Chisholm provides, in different places, two formulations of Brentano's thesis about the relation between the psychological and the intentional: (1) all and only psychological sentences are intentional; (2) no psychological intentional sentence is equivalent to a nonintentional sentence. Chisholm also presents several definitions of intentionality. Some of these allow that a sentence is intentional while its negation is nonintentional, which ruins the prospects of defending the more plausible and interesting thesis (2). A generalization of the notion of logical independence (...) to any number of mutually independent sentences permits a revision of Chisholm's criteria of intentionality that ensures that a sentence is intentional on a criterion exactly when its negation is as well. (shrink)
Naive mereology studies ordinary conceptions of part and whole. Parts, unlike portions, have objective boundaries and many things, such as dances and sermons have temporal parts. In order to deal with Mark Heller's claim that temporal parts "are ontologically no more or less basic than the wholes that they compose," we retell the story of Laplace's Genius, here named "Swifty." Although Swifty processes lots of information very quickly, his conceptual repertoire need not extend beyond fundamental physics. So we attempt to (...) follow Swifty's progress in the acquisition of ordinary concepts such as 'table'. (Puzzles of precision and intrusion appear along the way.) Swifty has to understand what tables are before understanding what temporal portions of tables are. This is one reason for regarding tables as ontologically prior to table portions. intrusion appear along the way.). (shrink)
Hume, in "An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding", holds (1) that all causal reasoning is based on experience and (2) that causal reasoning is based on nothing but experience. (1) does not imply (2), and Hume's good reasons for (1) are not good reasons for (2). This essay accepts (1) and argues against (2). A priori reasoning plays a role in causal inference. Familiar examples from Hume and from classroom examples of sudden disappearances and radical changes do not show otherwise. A (...) priori causal reasoning is closely related to understanding causal mechanisms. One uncovers the intelligibility of a causal process by understanding its mechanism. (shrink)
Naive mereology studies ordinary, common-sense beliefs about part and whole. Some of the speculations in this article on naive mereology do not bear directly on Peter van Inwagen's "Material Beings". The other topics, (1) and (2), both do. (1) Here is an example of Peter Unger's "Problem of the Many". How can a table be a collection of atoms when many collections of atoms have equally strong claims to be that table? Van Inwagen invokes fuzzy sets to solve this problem. (...) I claim that an alternative treatment of vagueness, supervaluations over many-value valuations, provides a better solution. (2) The Special Composition Question asks how parts compose a whole. One who rejects van Inwagen's answer in terms of constituting a life need not provide some alternative answer. Even if all answers to the Special Question fail, there are a multitude of less general composition questions that are not so difficult. (shrink)
Anastylosis is the reconstruction of a monument using the original fragments and filling in the missing parts with an easily distinguishable modern material. This long review of "The Fragmentation of Reason; Preface to a Pragmatic Theory of Cognitive Evaluation" (MIT, 1990) by Stephen P Stich reconstructs, while preserving their original shapes, the conceptions of reason, truth, and rationality that Stich attempts to shatter. The review agrees with Stich's Chapter 3 which is itself highly critical of some philosophical views about evolution (...) and rationality, and it disagrees with each of the other five chapters. Fanciful stories about food accompany and illustrate some of these disagreements. (shrink)
Overall, Max Black's defense of the inductive support of inductive rules succeeds. Circularity is best explained in terms of epistemic conditions of inference. When an inference is circular, another inference token of the same type may, because of a difference of surrounding circumstances, not be circular. Black's inductive arguments in support of inductive rules fit this pattern: a token circular in some circumstances may be noncircular in other circumstances.
This comment on Steven Boer's “Object-Dependent Thoughts” develops two examples: (1) a counterexample to the "axiom of the seamlessness of truth," namely, that there are no propositions, one true and one false, such that knowing the true one requires believing the false one; (2) a story about the first sighting of Neptune, by John Galle on September 23, 1846, that illustrates how one can understand Galle's remark "That is the planet whose position Leverrier calculated" without believing that there is something (...) to which Galle refers. (shrink)
This article answers John Biro's "Knowability, Believability, and Begging the Question: a Reply to Sanford" in "Metaphilosophy" 15 (1984). Biro and I agree that of two argument instances with the same form and content, one but not the other can beg the question, depending on other factors. These factors include actual beliefs, or so I maintain (against Biro) with the help of some analysed examples. Brief selections from Archbishop Whatley and J S Mill suggest that they also regard reference to (...) actual beliefs as essential to explaining begging the question. (shrink)
I defend my attempt to explain causal priority by means of one-way causal conditionship by answering an argument by J. A. Cover about Charles'' law. Then I attempt to say what makes a philosophical analysis a counterfactual analysis, so I can understand Cover''s claim that my account is at its base a counterfactual one. Finally I examine Cover''s discussion of my contention that necessary for in the circumstances is nontransitive.
In "Causes and "If P, Even If X, still Q," Philosophy 57 (July 1982), Ted Honderich cites my "The Direction of Causation and the Direction of Conditionship," journal of Philosophy 73 (April 22, 1976) as an example of an account of causal priority that lacks the proper character. After emending Honderich's description of the proper character, I argue that my attempt to account for one-way causation in terms of one-way causal conditionship does not totally lack it. Rather than emphasize the (...) singularity of an effect, as Honderich does, I emphasize the multiplicity of independent factors in a causal circumstance. (shrink)
I revise J L Mackie's first account of casual direction by replacing his notion of "fixity" by a newly defined notion of "sufficing" that is designed to accommodate indeterminism. Keeping Mackie's distinction between casual order and casual direction, I then consider another revision that replaces "fixity" with "one-way conditionship". In response to the charge that all such accounts of casual priority beg the question by making an unjustified appeal to temporal priority, i maintain that one-way conditionship explains rather that assumes (...) objective temporal dependence as well as objective casual dependence. (shrink)
Sam signaled a turn by extending his arm out the window. Difficulties in explaining the asymmetry of the by-relation in such examples by reference to acceptable and unacceptable counterfactual conditionals are explored by Hugh McCann in "The Trouble with Level-Generation" ("Mind", October 1982). I refine and defend the following alternative account of one-way dependence of y on x: not only is x necessary for y, but something else, independent from x, is also necessary for y; but there is nothing independent (...) from y such that it and y are each necessary for x. (shrink)
Wittgenstein remarks in the "Tractatus" that the eye is not in the visual field. I question the claim of Michael Dummett and P T Geach that reflection on this remark helps one conceive of an observer perceiving objects in space without having any location in that space. The literal meaning of "point of view" is illustrated by the visual field. Reflection on the fact that the point of view is not itself normally an object of sight is no help in (...) conceiving perception from no point of view. (shrink)
The central text of this article is Thomas Reid’s response to Berkeley’s argument for distinguishing tangible from visual shape. Reid is right to hold that shape words do not have different visual and tangible meanings. We might also perceive shape, moreover, with senses other than touch and sight. As Reid also suggests, the visual perception of shape does not require perception of hue or brightness. Contrary to treatments of the Molyneux problem by H. P. Grice and Judith Jarvis Thomson, I (...) argue that breakdowns of a certain kind between tangible and visible shape are conceivable. (shrink)
Examples of sensory illusion show the failure of the attempt of traditional sense-datum theory to account for something's phenomenally appearing to be F by postulating the existence of a sense-datum that is actually F. the Muller-Lyer Illusion cannot be explained by postulating two sensibly presented lines that actually have the lengths the physical lines appear to have. Illusions due to color contrast cannot be explained by postulating sense-data that actually have the colors the physical samples appear to have.
Fred Dretske holds that if one knows something, one need not eliminate every alternative to it but only the relevant alternatives. Besides defending this view in "The Pragmatic Dimension of Knowledge" ("Phil. Stud.", 40, 363-378, n 81), he makes some tentative suggestions about determining when an alternative is relevant. I discuss these suggestions and conclude that there are problems yet to be solved. I do not conclude that there are insoluble problems or that Dretske's approach is on the wrong track. (...) It is, I believe, on the right track. (shrink)
This piece continues the story line of “Where Am I?” by Dan Dennett. I am inclined to locate myself at the location of my point of view. In my fantasy stories, points of view can be far away from a brain inside a flesh-and-blood body. Points of view can also move discontinuously from one location to another.
Unger claims that we can block sorites arguments for the conclusion that there are no ordinary things only by invoking some kind of miracle, but no such miracle is needed if we reject the principle that every statement has a truth value. Wheeler's argument for the nonexistence of ordinary things depends on the assumptions that if ordinary things exist, they comprise real kinds, and that if ordinary predicates really apply to things, the predicates refer to real properties. If we accept (...) Wheeler's criteria for the reality of kinds and properties, we have no good reason to accept these assumptions. (shrink)
Hume's arguments for the contention that causal necessity precludes logical necessity depend on the questionable principle that a cause must precede its effect. Hobbes' definition of entire cause, although it fails to account for causal priority, is not refuted by Hume. The objections of Myles Brand and Marshall Swain (Philosophical Studies, 1976) to my counterexample against Hume (Philosophical Studies, 1975) are ineffective. Their other objections to my criticisms of their argument against defining causation in terms of necessary and sufficient conditions (...) (Synthese, 1970) are also mostly ineffective. (shrink)
The cardinality of incompatible possibilities whose actuality requires at least N seconds exceeds the cardinality of disjoint intervals at least N seconds long. Therefore, not all logical possibilities can be actual in the long run, even if the long run is infinite.
According to John A Barker, whether an argument begs the question is purely a matter of logical form (Dialogue, 1976). According to me, it is also a matter of epistemic conditions; some arguments which beg the question in some contexts need not beg the question in every context (Analysis, 1972). I point out difficulties in Barker's treatment and defend my own views against some of his criticisms. In the concluding section, "Alleged difficulties with disjunctive syllogism," I defend the validity of (...) disjunctive syllogism against the views of Alan Ross Anderson and Nuel D Belnap, Jr., ask pointed questions about the notion of intensional disjunction, and suggest how my treatment of begging the question can be extended to deal with the so-called paradoxes of strict implication. (shrink)
A semantics of vagueness should reject the principle that every statement has a truth-value yet retain the classical tautologies. A many-value, non-truth-functional semantics and a semantics of super-valuations each have this result. According to the super-valuation approach, 'if a man with n hairs on his head is bald, then a man with n plus one hairs on his head is also bald' is false because it comes out false no matter how the vague predicate 'is bald' is appropriately made precise. (...) But why should a sentence in which components actually remain imprecise be regarded as actually false just because it would be false if its components were precise? On one of the alternative treatments of quantification allowed by the many-value approach, the sentence in question is assigned an intermediate value closer to 'false' than to 'true'. Despite the elegance of the super-valuation approach, there are reasons to prefer the many-value approach. (shrink)