Coincidence (e.g., of a statue and the piece of bronze which constitutes it) comes in two varieties – permanent and temporary. Moderate monism (about coincidence) is the position that permanent coincidence, but not temporary coincidence, entails identity. Extreme monism (also known as the stage theory) is the position that even temporary coincidence entails identity. Pluralists are opponents of monism tout court. The intuitively obvious, commonsensical position (= my own position) is moderate monism. It is therefore important to see if it (...) can be sustained. (shrink)
The response to Kripke’s modal argument I wish to propose appeals to the distinction between indicative descriptions, i.e., descriptions formed using indicative verb forms, and what I shall call subjunctive descriptions, descriptions formed using non-indicative verb forms used in subjunctive conditionals. The contrast is between ‘the person who is richer than anyone else in the world’ and ‘the person who would have been richer than anyone else in the world’. The response to Kripke’s modal argument is that indicative descriptions are (...) always rigid designators and so do not contrast with proper names. (shrink)
How is the debate between presentism and eternalism to be characterized? It is usual to suggest that this debate about time is analogous to the debate between the actualist and the possibilist about modality. I think that this suggestion is right. In what follows I pursue the analogy more strictly than is usual and offer a characterization of what is at the core of the dispute between presentists and eternalists that may be immune to worries often raised about the substantiality (...) of the debate. I suggest that the debate be characterized in Lewisean terms and define positions I call *Lewisean* eternalism and anti-*Lewisean*' presentism (analogous to Lewisean possibilism and anti-Lewisean actualism). I explain some advantages of the proposal and discuss some objections. I conclude that pursuing the analogy strictly offers the prospect of giving clear sense to a controversy which otherwise seems to many deeply obscure. (shrink)
Can the world itself be vague, so that rather than vagueness be a deficiency in our mode of describing the world, it is a necessary feature of any true description of it? Gareth Evans famously poses this question in his paper ‘Can There Be Vague Objects’ (Analysis 38(4):208, 1978). In his recent paper ‘Indeterminacy and Vagueness: Logic and Metaphysics’, Peter van Inwagen (2009) elaborates the account of vagueness and, in particular, in the case of sentences, consequent indeterminacy in truth value, (...) to which this conception of ‘worldly’ vagueness is opposed, calling it the ‘sensible’ theory of indeterminacy and rejecting it. In what follows, I defend the sensible theory van Inwagen rejects. I first explain more fully what it involves and, as importantly, what it does not. (shrink)
According to genuine modal realism, some things (including numbers and properties) lack distinct counterparts in different worlds. So how can they possess any of their properties contingently? Egan (2004) argues that to explain such accidental property possession, the genuine modal realist must depart from Lewis and identify properties with functions, rather than with sets of possibilia. We disagree. The genuine modal realist already has the resources to handle Egan's proposed counterexamples. As we show, she does not need to amend her (...) analysis of possibility statements, or her theory of what properties are. (shrink)
Debate between Humean contingentists and anti-Humean necessitarians in the philosophy of science is ongoing. One of the most important contemporary anti-Humeans is Alexander Bird. Bird calls the particular version of Humeanism he is opposed to 'categoricalism'. In his paper (2005) and in Chapter 4 of his book (2007) Bird argues against categoricalism about properties and laws. His arguments against categoricalism about properties are intended to support the necessitarian position he calls dispositional monism. His arguments against categoricalism about laws are intended (...) to refute the contingent regularity view of laws (even in its sophisticated Lewisean version) and the nomic necessitation view of Armstrong (which involves a contingent necessitation relation). The general position Bird defends is that properties are necessarily related to the dispositions they bestow on their bearers and laws are necessary truths. I consider two of Bird's arguments against categoricalism about properties, and one of his arguments against the regularity view of laws. Maybe other arguments against categoricalism are persuasive. These, I submit, are not. (shrink)
The aim of the paper is to discuss some recent variants of familiar puzzles concerning the relations of parts to wholes put forward by Trenton Merricks and Eric Olson. The argument is put forward that so long as the familiar distinction between 'loose and popular' and 'strict and philosophical' senses of identity claims is accepted the paradoxical conclusions at which Merricks and Olson arrive can be resisted. It is not denied that accepting the distinction between 'loose and popular' and 'strict (...) and philosophical' senses of identity claims is itself a departure from common-sense, but it is argued that it is the smallest such departure available to us. (shrink)
David Hume (1711-1776) is one of the greatest figures in the history of British philosophy. Of all Hume's writings, the most profound is undoubtedly Treatise of Human Nature . The first book of the Treatise , in which he outlines the epistemology and metaphysics underpinning his system, is universally acknowledged to be his greatest intellectual achievement. Hume on Knowledge provides for the first time ever a map to Book I and sets out principal ideas and arguments in a clear and (...) readable way. Any reader coming to the Treatise for the first time will be able to easily understand the importance and intricacies inherent to Hume's thought. (shrink)
The paper defends Gareth Evan's argument against vague identity "de re" from a criticism that quantum mechanics provides actual counter-examples to its validity. A more general version of Evans's argument is stated in which identity involving properties are not essential and it is claimed that the scientific facts as so far known are consistent with the Evansian thesis that indeterminacy in truth-value must always be due to semantic indecision.
The paper defends Gareth Evans's argument against vague identity. It appeals to a principle I name the principle of the diversity of the definitely dissimilar to defend the thesis that vague identity statements owe their indeterminacy to vagueness in language.
What is the self? And how does it relate to the body? In the second edition of Personal Identity, Harold Noonan presents the major historical theories of personal identity, particularly those of Locke, Leibniz, Butler, Reid and Hume. Noonan goes on to give a careful analysis of what the problem of personal identity is, and its place in the context of more general puzzles about identity. He then moves on to consider the main issues and arguments which are the subject (...) of current debate, including the work of Bernard Williams and Derek Parfit, and makes new and challenging interpretations of them. This new edition contains additional material assessing the biological approach which has become increasingly popular in recent years, and extends the treatment of indeterminate identity to take account of the epistemic view of vagueness. This book covers the problem of personal identity from its origin in Locke's work to the most recent debates in the philosophical literature, and will be invaluablereading for any student of the topic. (shrink)