Introduction -- Individuation, reference, and sortal terms -- Two styles of predication, dispositional and occurrent -- Ontological categories and categorial predication -- What is a criterion of identity? -- Identity conditions and their grounds -- Identity, vagueness, and modality -- Necessity, essence, and possible worlds -- The truth about counterfactuals -- Conditionals and conditional probability.
Recently, Terry Horgan and Matjaž Potrč have defended the thesis of ‘existence monism’, according to which the whole cosmos is the only concrete object. Their arguments appeal largely to considerations concerning vagueness. Crucially, they claim that ontological vagueness is impossible, and one key assumption in their defence of this claim is that vagueness always involves ‘sorites-susceptibility’. I aim to challenge both the claim and this assumption. As a consequence, I seek to undermine their defence of existence monism and support a (...) common-sense pluralist ontology of ‘ordinary objects’ as being fully consistent with a thoroughgoing metaphysical realism. (shrink)
Introduction , Sophie Gibb 1. Mental Causation , John Heil 2. Physical Realization without Preemption , Sydney Shoemaker 3. Mental Causation in the Physical World , Peter Menzies 4. Mental Causation: Ontology and Patterns of Variation , Paul Noordhof 5. Causation is Macroscopic but not Irreducible , David Papineau 6. Substance Causation, Powers, and Human Agency , E. J. Lowe 7. Agent Causation in a Neo-Aristotelian Metaphysics , Jonathan D. Jacobs and Timothy O’Connor 8. Mental Causation and Double Prevention , (...) Sophie Gibb 9. The Identity Theory as a Solution to the Exclusion Problem , David Robb 10. Continuant Causation, Fundamentality, and Freedom , Peter Simons 11. There is no Exclusion Problem , Steinvor Tholl Arnadottir and Tim Crane. (shrink)
The Routledge Guidebook to Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding introduces the major themes of Locke's great book and serves as a companion to this key work, examining: The context of Locke's work and the background to his writing ...
Stephen Mumford and Rani Lill Anjum have recently attacked causal necessitarianism – the doctrine that causes necessitate their effects – on the grounds that causation does not survive what they describe as the test of antecedent strengthening. This article shows that there are credible conditional logics which do not sanction this test, thereby providing an escape route for proponents of causal necessitarianism from Mumford and Anjum's argument.
There is currently intense interest in the question of the source of our presumed knowledge of truths concerning what is, or is not, metaphysically possible or necessary. Some philosophers locate this source in our capacities to conceive or imagine various actual or non-actual states of affairs, but this approach is open to certain familiar and seemingly powerful objections. A different and ostensibly more promising approach has been developed by Timothy Williamson, according to which our capacity for modal knowledge is just (...) an extension, or by-product, of our general capacity to acquire knowledge of true counterfactual conditionals — a capacity that we deploy ubiquitously in everyday life. Williamson’s account crucially involves a thesis to the effect that modal truths can be explained in terms of counterfactual truths. In this paper, I query Williamson’s account on a number of points, including this thesis. My positive proposal, which owes a debt to the work of Kit Fine on modality and essence, appeals instead to our capacity to grasp essences, understood in a neo-Aristotelian fashion, according to which essences are expressed by ‘real definitions’. (shrink)
‘Water is H2O’ is one of the most frequently cited sentences in analytic philosophy, thanks to the seminal work of Saul Kripke and Hilary Putnam in the 1970s on the semantics of natural kind terms. Both of these philosophers owe an intellectual debt to the empiricist metaphysics of John Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding, while disagreeing profoundly with Locke about the reality of natural kinds. Locke employs an intriguing example involving water to support his view that kinds (or ‘species’), such (...) as water and gold, are the workmanship of the human mind. This is the point of his story about a winter visitor to England from Jamaica, who is astonished to find that the water in his basin has turned solid overnight, and proceeds to call it ‘hardened water’. Locke criticizes this judgement, maintaining that it is more consonant with common sense to regard water and ice as different kinds of substance. Putnam, by implication, disagrees. Deploying his imaginary example of Twin Earth—a distant planet where a watery-looking substance, XYZ, rather than H2O, fills the oceans and rivers—he maintains that common sense supports the judgement that XYZ and H2O, despite their superficial similarity, are not the same kind of substance, precisely because their molecular compositions are different. Here it will be argued that both views are mistaken, but that, in this dispute, Locke has more right on his side than his modern opponents do. (shrink)
In this paper, it is argued that metaphysics, conceived as an inquiry into the ultimate nature of mind-independent reality, is a rationally indispensable intellectual discipline, with the a priori science of formal ontology at its heart. It is maintained that formal ontology, properly understood, is not a mere exercise in conceptual analysis, because its primary objective is a normative one, being nothing less than the attempt to grasp adequately the essences of things, both actual and possible, with a view to (...) understanding as far as we can the fundamental structure of reality as a whole. Accordingly, it is urged, the deliverances of formal ontology have a modal and epistemic status akin to those of other a priori sciences, such as mathematics and logic, rather than constituting rivals to the claims of the empirical sciences, such as physics. (shrink)
Auf Kants berühmte Frage "Wie ist Metaphysik möglich?" wird eine bejahende Antwort gegeben - eine, die Metaphysik als eine selbständige und unentbehrliche Disziplin darstellt, deren Aufgabe es ist, das Reich der wirklichen Möglichkeiten zu erforschen. Die Begriffe der "wirklichen" oder "metaphysischen" Möglichkeit und Notwendigkeit werden verteidigt und von den Begriffen verschiedener anderer Arten von Modalität unterschieden, z.B. physischer, logischer und begrifflicher Möglichkeit oder Notwendigkeit. Es wird dargelegt, daß die Gegner der Metaphysik, von den Relativisten bis zu denen, welche die Metaphysik (...) den empirischen Wissenschaften, der Erkenntnislehre oder der Sprachphilosophie unterordnen möchten, inkohärente Auffassungen annehmen. (shrink)
Jan Heylen and Leon Horsten object to my proposed analysis of ordinary-language conditionals by appealing to certain putative counter-examples. In this reply, I explain how, by ignoring my reading of the indicative/subjunctive distinction, their objection misses its target. I also criticize their underlying methodology.
A personal view is presented of how metaphysics and ontology stand at the beginning of the twenty-first century, in the light of developments during the twentieth. It is argued that realist metaphysics, with serious ontology at its heart, has a promising future, provided that its adherents devote some time and effort to countering the influences of both its critics and its false friends.
In his paper ‘‘Bad luck once again’’ Neil Levy attacks our proof of the consistency of libertarianism by reiterating a time-worn compatibilist complaint.1 This is, that what is not determined must be due to chance. If A has a choice of X or Y, neither X nor Y being causally determined, then if A chooses X it can only be by chance, never for a reason. The only ‘‘reason’’ that could explain the choice of X over Y would have to (...) be a causally suﬃcient reason, which would rule out A’s having a genuine choice in the ﬁrst place. Either X is causally necessitated or X is realized by sheer luck. But that these are the only alternatives is untrue. The exercise of deliberative reason opens the way between the Scylla of causal necessitation and the Charybdis of chance, as we shall try to make clear. The central core of Levy’s argument is that any attempt to give a reasons-based explanation of a contrastive fact must fail. A contrastive fact is a fact of the kind ‘‘Jane decides to vacation in Hawaii rather than Colorado,’’ or ‘‘Jane assigns a greater weight to surﬁng that to white-water rafting.’’ In the last three paragraphs of his paper Levy argues that Jane’s assigning more weight to surﬁng than to rafting cannot be a reasons-based assignment, because, as he puts it, ‘‘the reasons that would explain the weighting are the weighted reasons themselves.’’ Similarly, prior to making her Hawaii⁄ Colorado decision, Jane has.. (shrink)
It has long been debated whether objects are ‘sortally’ individuated. This paper begins by clarifying some of the key terms in play—in particular, ‘sortal’, ‘individuation’, and ‘object’. The term ‘individuation’ is taken to have both a cognitive and a metaphysical sense, in the former denoting the singling out of an object in thought and in the latter a determination relation between entities. ‘Sortalism’ is defined as the doctrine that only as falling under some specific sortal concept can an object be (...) successfully singled out in thought. It is argued that such a view is too strong, but that a weaker one, ‘categorialism’, can be defended, this implying that a thinker cannot successfully single out an object in thought without having at least an implicit grasp of the criterion of identity that the object satisfies. (shrink)