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Profile: Jonathan Schaffer (Rutgers University)
  1. David Rose & Jonathan Schaffer, Folk Mereology Is Teleological.
    When do the folk think that mereological composition occurs? Many metaphysicians have wanted a view of composition that fits with folk intuitions, and yet there has been little agreement about what the folk intuit. We aim to put the tools of experimental philosophy to constructive use. Our studies suggest that folk mereology is teleological: people tend to intuit that composition occurs when the result serves a purpose. We thus conclude that metaphysicians should dismiss folk intuitions, as tied into a benighted (...)
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  2. Barry Loewer & Jonathan Schaffer (eds.) (forthcoming). David Lewis. Wiley.
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  3. Barry Loewer & Jonathan Schaffer (eds.) (forthcoming). The Blackwell Companion to David Lewis. Blackwell.
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  4. Jonathan Schaffer (forthcoming). Contrastive Knowledge: Reply to Baumann. In Stefan Tolksdorf (ed.), The Concept of Knowledge. Walter de Gruyter.
    Baumann (2008a) raises three main concerns for epistemic contrastivism. These lead him to a more complicated re-conception of knowledge, involving varying numbers of argument places for varying sorts of arguments. I will argue that these complications are unneeded. The more elegant and uniform contrastive treatment can resolve all of Baumann’s concerns, in a straightforward way.
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  5. Jonathan Schaffer (forthcoming). Disconnection and Responsibility: On Moore's Causation and Responsibility. Legal Theory.
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  6. Jonathan Schaffer (forthcoming). What Not to Multiply Without Necessity. Australasian Journal of Philosophy:1-21.
    The Razor commands us not to multiply entities without necessity. I argue for an alternative principle—The Laser—which commands us not to multiply fundamental entities without necessity.
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  7. Jonathan Schaffer & Barry Loewer (eds.) (forthcoming). A Companion to David Lewis.
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  8. Jonathan Schaffer (2014). Writing the Book of the World. [REVIEW] Philosophical Review 123 (1):125-129.
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  9. Wesley Buckwalter & Jonathan Schaffer (2013). Knowledge, Stakes, and Mistakes. Noûs 47 (1).
    According to a prominent claim in recent epistemology, people are less likely to ascribe knowledge to a high stakes subject for whom the practical consequences of error are severe, than to a low stakes subject for whom the practical consequences of error are slight. We offer an opinionated "state of the art" on experimental research about the role of stakes in knowledge judgments. We draw on a first wave of empirical studies--due to Feltz & Zarpentine (2010), May et al (2010), (...)
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  10. David Rose & Jonathan Schaffer (2013). Knowledge Entails Dispositional Belief. Philosophical Studies 166 (1):19-50.
    Knowledge is widely thought to entail belief. But Radford has claimed to offer a counterexample: the case of the unconfident examinee. And Myers-Schulz and Schwitzgebel have claimed empirical vindication of Radford. We argue, in defense of orthodoxy, that the unconfident examinee does indeed have belief, in the epistemically relevant sense of dispositional belief. We buttress this with empirical results showing that when the dispositional conception of belief is specifically elicited, people’s intuitions then conform with the view that knowledge entails (dispositional) (...)
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  11. Jonathan Schaffer (2013). Metaphysical Semantics Meets Multiple Realizability. Analysis 73 (4):736-751.
    Metaphysical semantics is supposed to connect the nonfundamental to the fundamental in a distinctively “linguistic” way, explaining how nonfundamental truths can be grounded in fundamental facts , and so inducing a radically eliminative vision of the nonfundamental as mere talk. I wonder how the story goes when a single nonfundamental truth can be grounded in many different fundamental facts. For instance, the truth that Moore has hands can presumably be grounded in many different distributions of fields, arrangements of particles, vibrations (...)
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  12. Jonathan Schaffer (2013). The Action of the Whole. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 87 (1):67-87.
    I discuss an argument for the monistic idea that the cosmos is the one and only fundamental thing, drawing on the idea that the cosmos is the one and only thing that evolves by the fundamental laws.
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  13. Jonathan Schaffer & Zoltan Gendler Szabo (2013). Epistemic Comparativism: A Contextualist Semantics for Knowledge Ascriptions. Philosophical Studies (2):1-53.
    Knowledge ascriptions seem context sensitive. Yet it is widely thought that epistemic contextualism does not have a plausible semantic implementation. We aim to overcome this concern by articulating and defending an explicit contextualist semantics for ‘know,’ which integrates a fairly orthodox contextualist conception of knowledge as the elimination of the relevant alternatives, with a fairly orthodox “Amherst” semantics for A-quantification over a contextually variable domain of situations. Whatever problems epistemic contextualism might face, lack of an orthodox semantic implementation is not (...)
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  14. Jonathan Schaffer (2012). Causal Contextualisms. In Martijn Blaauw (ed.), Contrastivism in Philosophy: New Perspectives. Routledge.
    Causal claims are context sensitive. According to the old orthodoxy (Mackie 1974, Lewis 1986, inter alia), the context sensitivity of causal claims is all due to conversational pragmatics. According to the new contextualists (Hitchcock 1996, Woodward 2003, Maslen 2004, Menzies 2004, Schaffer 2005, and Hall ms), at least some of the context sensitivity of causal claims is semantic in nature. I want to discuss the prospects for causal contextualism, by asking why causal claims are context sensitive, what they are sensitive (...)
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  15. Jonathan Schaffer (2012). Disconnection and Responsibility. Legal Theory 18 (Special Issue 04):399-435.
    Michael Moore’s Causation and Responsibility offers an integrated conception of the law, morality, and metaphysics, centered on the notion of causation, grounded in a detailed knowledge of case law, and supported on every point by cogent argument. This is outstanding work. It is a worthy successor to Harte and Honoré’s classic Causation in the Law, and I expect that it will guide discussion for many years to come.
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  16. Jonathan Schaffer (2012). Grounding, Transitivity, and Contrastivity. In Fabrice Correia & Benjamin Schnieder (eds.), Metaphysical Grounding: Understanding the Structure of Reality. Cambridge University Press. 122-138.
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  17. Jonathan Schaffer (2012). Necessitarian Propositions. Synthese 189 (1):119-162.
    Kaplan (drawing on Montague and Prior, inter alia) made explicit the idea of world and time neutral propositions, which bear truth values only relative to world and time parameters. There was then a debate over the role of time. Temporalists sided with Kaplan in maintaining time neutral propositions with time relative truth values, while eternalists claimed that all propositions specify the needed time information and so bear the same truth value at all times. But there never was much of a (...)
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  18. Jonathan Schaffer (2012). Why the World Has Parts: Reply to Horgan and Potrc. In Goff (ed.), Spinoza on Monism.
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  19. Jonathan Schaffer & Joshua Knobe (2012). Contrastive Knowledge Surveyed. Noûs 46 (4):675-708.
    Suppose that Ann says, “Keith knows that the bank will be open tomorrow.” Her audience may well agree. Her knowledge ascription may seem true. But now suppose that Ben—in a different context—also says “Keith knows that the bank will be open tomorrow.” His audience may well disagree. His knowledge ascription may seem false. Indeed, a number of philosophers have claimed that people’s intuitions about knowledge ascriptions are context sensitive, in the sense that the very same knowledge ascription can seem true (...)
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  20. Jonathan Schaffer (2010). Contrastive Causation in the Law. Legal Theory 16 (4):259-297.
    What conception of causation is at work in the law? I argue that the law implicitly relies on a contrastive conception. In a liability case where the defendant's breach of duty must be shown to have caused the plaintiff's damages, it is not enough to consider what would have happened if the cause had not occurredthe law requires us to look to a specific replacement for the effect, which in this case is the hypothetical outcome in which the plaintiff came (...)
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  21. Jonathan Schaffer (2010). Monism: The Priority of the Whole. Philosophical Review 119 (1):31-76.
    Consider a circle and a pair of its semicircles. Which is prior, the whole or its parts? Are the semicircles dependent abstractions from their whole, or is the circle a derivative construction from its parts? Now in place of the circle consider the entire cosmos (the ultimate concrete whole), and in place of the pair of semicircles consider the myriad particles (the ultimate concrete parts). Which if either is ultimately prior, the one ultimate whole or its many ultimate parts?
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  22. Jonathan Schaffer (2010). The Debasing Demon. Analysis 70 (2):228 - 237.
    What knowledge is imperilled by sceptical doubt? That is, what range of beliefs may be called into doubt by sceptical nightmares like the Cartesian demon hypothesis? It is generally thought that demons have limited powers, perhaps only threatening a posteriori knowledge of the external world, but at any rate not threatening principles like the cogito. I will argue that there is a demon – the debasing demon – with unlimited powers, which threatens universal doubt. Rather than deceiving us with falsities, (...)
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  23. Jonathan Schaffer (2010). The Least Discerning and Most Promiscuous Truthmaker. Philosophical Quarterly 60 (239):307 - 324.
    I argue that the one and only truthmaker is the world. This view can be seen as arisingfrom (i) the view that truthmaking is a relation of grounding holding between true propositions and fundamental entities, together with (ii) the view that the world is the one and only fundamental entity. I argue that this view provides an elegant and economical account of the truthmakers, while solving the problem of negative existentials, in a way that proves ontologically revealing.
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  24. Jonathan Schaffer (2010). The Internal Relatedness of All Things. Mind 119 (474):341 - 376.
    The argument from internal relatedness was one of the major nineteenth century neo-Hegelian arguments for monism. This argument has been misunderstood, and may even be sound. The argument, as I reconstruct it, proceeds in two stages: first, it is argued that all things are internally related in ways that render them interdependent; second, the substantial unity of the whole universe is inferred from the interdependence of all of its parts. The guiding idea behind the argument is that failure of free (...)
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  25. Jonathan Schaffer (2009). Knowing the Answer Redux: Replies to Brogaard and Kallestrup. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 78 (2):477-500.
    In "Knowing the Answer" I argued that knowledge-wh is question-relative. For example, to know when the movie starts is to know the answer p to the question Q of when the movie starts. Berit Brogaard and Jesper Kallestrup have each responded with insightful critiques of my argument, and novel accounts of knowledge-wh. I am grateful to them both for continuing the discussion in so thoughtful a way.
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  26. Jonathan Schaffer (2009). Knowing the Answer Redux. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 78 (2):477-500.
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  27. Jonathan Schaffer (2009). On What Grounds What. In David Manley, David J. Chalmers & Ryan Wasserman (eds.), Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology. Oxford University Press. 347-383.
    On the now dominant Quinean view, metaphysics is about what there is. Metaphysics so conceived is concerned with such questions as whether properties exist, whether meanings exist, and whether numbers exist. I will argue for the revival of a more traditional Aristotelian view, on which metaphysics is about what grounds what. Metaphysics so revived does not bother asking whether properties, meanings, and numbers exist (of course they do!) The question is whether or not they are fundamental.
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  28. Jonathan Schaffer (2009). Perspective in Taste Predicates and Epistemic Modals. In Andy Egan & B. Weatherson (eds.), Epistemic Modality. Oxford University Press.
    Imagine that Ann, asked to name her favorite treat, answers: 1. Licorice is tasty Imagine that Ben, having hidden some licorice in the cupboard, whispers to Ann: 2. There might be licorice in the cupboard. What if any role is played by perspective—whom the licorice is tasty to, whose evidence allows for licorice in the cupboard—in the semantics of such sentences?
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  29. Jonathan Schaffer (2009). Spacetime the One Substance. Philosophical Studies 145 (1):131 - 148.
    What is the relation between material objects and spacetime regions? Supposing that spacetime regions are one sort of substance, there remains the question of whether or not material objects are a second sort of substance. This is the question of dualistic versus monistic substantivalism. I will defend the monistic view. In particular, I will maintain that material objects should be identified with spacetime regions. There is the spacetime manifold, and the fundamental properties are pinned directly to it.
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  30. Jonathan Schaffer (2009). 1 Three Conceptions of Metaphysical Structure. In D. Chalmers, D. Manley & R. Wasserman (eds.), Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology. Oxford University Press. 347.
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  31. Jonathan Schaffer (2009). The Deflationary Metaontology of Thomasson's Ordinary Objects. Philosophical Books 50 (3):142-157.
    In Ordinary Objects, Thomasson pursues an integrated conception of ontology and metaontology. In ontology, she defends the existence of shoes, ships, and other ordinary objects. In metaontology, she defends a deflationary view of ontological inquiry, designed to suck the air out of arguments against ordinary objects. The result is an elegant and insightful defense of a common sense worldview. I am sympathetic—in spirit if not always in letter—with Thomasson’s ontology. But I am skeptical of her deflationary metaontology.
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  32. Jonathan Schaffer (2008). Review: Andreas Hüttemann: What's Wrong with Microphysicalism? [REVIEW] British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 59 (2):253-257.
    In What’s Wrong With Microphysicalism?, Andreas H üttemann argues against the ontological priority of the microphysical, in favour of a ‘pluralism’ that accepts physical systems of all scales as interdependent equals. This is thoughtful and original work, deploying an understanding of the relevant physics to mount a serious challenge to the dominant microphysicalist view.
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  33. Jonathan Schaffer (2008). Causation and Laws of Nature : Reductionism. In Theodore Sider, John Hawthorne & Dean W. Zimmerman (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Metaphysics. Blackwell Pub.. 82-107.
    Causation and the laws of nature are nothing over and above the pattern of events, just like a movie is nothing over and above the sequence of frames. Or so I will argue. The position I will argue for is broadly inspired by Hume and Lewis, and may be expressed in the slogan: what must be, must be grounded in what is.
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  34. Jonathan Schaffer (2008). Knowledge in the Image of Assertion. Philosophical Issues 18 (1):1-19.
    How must knowledge be formed, if made in the image of assertion? That is, given that knowledge plays the normative role of governing what one may assert, what can be inferred about the structure of the knowledge relation from this role? I will argue that what one may assert is sensitive to the question under discussion, and conclude that what one knows must be relative to a question. In short, knowledge in the image of assertion is question-relative knowledge.
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  35. Jonathan Schaffer, Monism. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    This entry focuses on two of the more historically important monisms: existence monism and priority monism . Existence monism targets concrete objects and counts by tokens. This is the doctrine that exactly one concrete object exists. Priority monism also targets concrete objects, but counts by basic tokens. This is the doctrine that exactly one concrete object is basic, which will turn out to be the classical doctrine that the whole is prior to its parts.
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  36. Jonathan Schaffer (2008). Truth and Fundamentality: On Merricks's Truth and Ontology. Philosophical Books 49 (4):302-316.
    Truth and Ontology is a lively book, brimming with arguments, and drawing the reader towards the radical conclusion that what is true does not depend on what there is. If there is a central line of argument, it is that the best account of truthmaking requires truths to be about their truthmakers, but negative existentials, modals, and claims about the past and future are not about what is, but rather about what is not, what might be, and what was and (...)
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  37. Jonathan Schaffer (2008). Truthmaker Commitments. Philosophical Studies 141 (1):7-19.
    On the truthmaker view of ontological commitment [Heil (From an ontological point of view, 2003); Armstrong (Truth and truthmakers, 2004); Cameron (Philosophical Studies, 2008)], a theory is committed to the entities needed in the world for the theory to be made true. I argue that this view puts truthmaking to the wrong task. None of the leading accounts of truthmaking—via necessitation, supervenience, or grounding—can provide a viable measure of ontological commitment. But the grounding account does provide a needed constraint on (...)
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  38. Jonathan Schaffer (2008). The Contrast-Sensitivity of Knowledge Ascriptions. Social Epistemology 22 (3):235-245.
    Knowledge ascriptions are contrast-sensitive. One natural explanation for this is that the knowledge relation is contrastive ( s knows that p rather than q ). But can the binary view of knowledge ( s knows that p ) explain contrast-sensitivity? I review some of the linguistic data supporting contrast-sensitivity, and critique the three main binary explanations for contrast-sensitivity. I conclude that the contrast-sensitivity of knowledge ascriptions shows that knowledge is a contrastive relation.
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  39. Jonathan Schaffer, The Metaphysics of Causation. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Questions about the metaphysics of causation may be usefully divided as follows. First, there are questions about the nature of the causal relata, including (1.1) whether they are in spacetime immanence), (1.2) how fine grained they are individuation), and (1.3) how many there are adicity). Second, there are questions about the metaphysics of the causal relation, including (2.1) what is the difference between causally related and causally unrelated sequences connection), (2.2) what is the difference between sequences related as cause to (...)
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  40. Jonathan Schaffer (2007). Closure, Contrast, and Answer. Philosophical Studies 133 (2):233–255.
    How should the contrastivist formulate closure? That is, given that knowledge is a ternary contrastive state Kspq (s knows that p rather than q), how does this state extend under entailment? In what follows, I will identify adequacy conditions for closure, criticize the extant invariantist and contextualist closure schemas, and provide a contrastive schema based on the idea of extending answers. I will conclude that only the contrastivist can adequately formulate closure.
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  41. Jonathan Schaffer (2007). Deterministic Chance? British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 58 (2):113 - 140.
    Can there be deterministic chance? That is, can there be objective chance values other than 0 or 1, in a deterministic world? I will argue that the answer is no. In a deterministic world, the only function that can play the role of chance is one that outputs just Os and 1s. The role of chance involves connections from chance to credence, possibility, time, intrinsicness, lawhood, and causation. These connections do not allow for deterministic chance.
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  42. Jonathan Schaffer (2007). From Nihilism to Monism. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 85 (2):175 – 191.
    Mereological nihilism is the view that all concrete objects are simple. Existence monism is the view that the only concrete object is one big simple: the world. I will argue that nihilism culminates in monism. The nihilist demands the simplest sufficient ontology, and the monist delivers it.
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  43. Jonathan Schaffer (2007). Knowing the Answer. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 75 (2):383-403.
    How should one understand knowledge-wh ascriptions? That is, how should one understand claims such as ‘‘I know where the car is parked,’’ which feature an interrogative complement? The received view is that knowledge-wh reduces to knowledge that p, where p happens to be the answer to the question Q denoted by the wh-clause. I will argue that knowledge-wh includes the question—to know-wh is to know that p, as the answer to Q. I will then argue that knowledge-that includes a contextually (...)
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  44. Jonathan Schaffer (2007). Review of Dowe and Noordhof: Cause and Chance: Causation in an Indeterministic World. [REVIEW] British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 58 (4):869-874.
    This is an excellent anthology. The contributors are first-rate, the contributions are state-of-the-art, and the content is highly unified. The introduction further connects the essays and succinctly articulates the main themes. What results will be of interest to anyone interested in the contemporary discussion of causation.
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  45. Jonathan Schaffer (2006). The Irrelevance of the Subject: Against Subject-Sensitive Invariantism. [REVIEW] Philosophical Studies 127 (1):87-107.
    Does what you know depend on what is at stake for you? That is, is the knowledge relation sensitive to the subject’s practical interests? Subject sensitive invariantists (Fantl and McGrath, 2002; Hawthorne, 2004, ch. 4; Stanley, forthcoming) say that the answer is yes. They claim to capture the contextualist data without the shifty semantics. I will argue that the answer is no. The knowledge relation is sensitive to what is in question for the attributor, rather than what is at stake (...)
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  46. Jonathan Schaffer, Max Kistler & Philippe De Brabanter (2006). Le trou noir de la causalité. Philosophie 89 (1):40.
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  47. Jonathan Schaffer (2005). Contrastive Causation. Philosophical Review 114 (3):327-358.
    Causation is widely assumed to be a binary relation: c causes e. I will argue that causation is a quaternary, contrastive relation: c rather than C* causes e rather than E*, where C* and E* are nonempty sets of contrast events. Or at least, I will argue that treating causation as contrastive helps resolve some paradoxes.
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  48. Jonathan Schaffer (2005). Contrastive Knowledge. In Tamar Szabo Gendler & John Hawthorne (eds.), Oxford Studies in Epistemology 1. Oxford University Press. 235.
    Does G. E. Moore know that he has hands? Yes, says the dogmatist: Moore’s hands are right before his eyes. No, says the skeptic: for all Moore knows he could be a brain-in-a-vat. Yes and no, says the contrastivist: yes, Moore knows that he has hands rather than stumps; but no, Moore does not know that he has hands rather than vat-images of hands. The dogmatist and the skeptic suppose that knowledge is a binary, categorical relation: s knows that p. (...)
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  49. Jonathan Schaffer (2005). Quiddistic Knowledge. Philosophical Studies 123 (1-2):1-32.
    Is the relation between properties and the causal powers they confer necessary, or contingent? Necessary, says Sydney Shoemaker, on pain of skepticism about the properties. Contingent, says David Lewis, swallowing the skeptical conclusion. I shall argue that Lewis is right about the metaphysics, but that Shoemaker and Lewis are wrong about the epistemology. Properties have intrinsic natures (quiddities), which we can know.
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