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)
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)
A plausible principle governing identity is that whether a later individual is identical with an earlier individual cannot ever merely depend on whether there are, at the later time, any better candidates for identity with the earlier individual around. This principle has been a bone of contention amongst philosophers interested in identity for many years. In his latest book Philosophical Explanations Robert Nozick presents what I believe to be the strongest case yet made out for the rejection of this principle. (...) My aim in this paper is to argue, with reference in particular to personal and artefact identity, that Nozick's case can be met and that a theory of identity which entails the correctness of this principle is the equal, indeed the superior, in explanatory power of the theory Nozick develops on the basis of its rejection. (shrink)