Montgomery Furth has written1, "given a suitable pair of individuals ... there is no reason of Aristotelian metaphysics why the very fire and earth that this noon composes Callias and distinguishes him from Socrates could not, by a set of utterly curious chances, twenty years from now compose Socrates ...". He does not specify what these "curious chances" might be. But we may suppose that Socrates eats Callias for his lunch and that, owing to the superiority of Callias' flesh and (...) bone, it is the matter of this which remains in Socrates after the period of twenty years. (shrink)
There are four broad grounds upon which the intelligibility of quantification over absolutely everything has been questioned—one based upon the existence of semantic indeterminacy, another on the relativity of ontology to a conceptual scheme, a third upon the necessity of sortal restriction, and the last upon the possibility of indefinite extendibility. The argument from semantic indeterminacy derives from general philosophical considerations concerning our understanding of language. For the Skolem–Lowenheim Theorem appears to show that an understanding of quanti- fication over absolutely (...) everything (assuming a suitably infinite domain) is semantically indistinguishable from the understanding of quantification over something less than absolutely everything; the same first-order sentences are true and even the same first-order conditions will be satisfied by objects from the narrower domain. From this it is then argued that the two kinds of understanding are indistinguishable tout court and that nothing could count as having the one kind of understanding as opposed to the other. (shrink)
I propose a new semantics for intuitionistic logic, which is a cross between the construction-oriented semantics of Brouwer-Heyting-Kolmogorov and the condition-oriented semantics of Kripke. The new semantics shows how there might be a common semantical underpinning for intuitionistic and classical logic and how intuitionistic logic might thereby be tied to a realist conception of the relationship between language and the world.
Towards the end of Theta.4 of the Metaphysics, Aristotle appears to endorse the obviously invalid modal principle that the truth of A will entail the truth of B if the possibility of A entails the possibility of B. I attempt to show how Aristotle's endorsement of the principle can be seen to arise from his accepting a non-standard interpretation of the modal operators and I indicate how the principle and its interpretation are of independent interest, quite apart from their role (...) in understanding Aristotle. (shrink)
“Mathematical objects are not exactly of our own making, but we actually have to do something to get them. There’s something out there which we prod, but there’s the prodding that’s also required. Numbers are not exactly out there or in us, but somehow in between.”.
How can a statue and a piece of alloy be coincident at any time at which they exist and yet differ in their modal properties? I argue that this question demands an answer and that the only plausible answer is one that posits a difference in the form of the two objects.
Introducing a new and ambitious position in the field, Kit Fine’s Semantic Relationism is a major contribution to the philosophy of language. Written by one of today’s most respected philosophers Argues for a fundamentally new approach to the study of representation in language and thought Proposes that there may be representational relationships between expressions or elements of thought that are not grounded in the intrinsic representational features of the expressions or elements themselves Forms part of the prestigious new Blackwell/Brown Lectures (...) in Philosophy series, based on an ongoing series of lectures by today’s leading philosophers. (shrink)
There is a common form of problem, to be found in many areas of philosophy, concerning the relationship between our perspective on reality and reality itself. We make statements (or form judgements) about how things are from a given standpoint or perspective. We make the statement ‘it is raining’ from the standpoint of the present time, for example, or the statement‘it is here’ from the standpoint of where we are, or the statement ‘I am glad’ from the standpoint of a (...) subject. In each of these cases, the statement has a certain ‘aspect’ or perspectival character in virtue of which its truth is capable of varying from one standpoint to another. Thus the statement ‘it is raining’ is tensed, the statement ‘it is here’ is ‘spatiocentric’ and the statement ‘I am glad’ is first-personal. The problem we then face is to determine whether this aspect is a feature of the reality which is described or merely a feature of the statement by which it is described. Is reality itself somehow tensed or spatiocentric or firstpersonal or is it merely that we describe a tenseless or spatially uncentered or impersonal reality from a tensed or spatiocentric or first-personal point of view? (shrink)
There is a well-known argument from Leibniz's Law for the view that coincident material things may be distinct. For given that they differ in their properties, then how can they be the same? However, many philosophers have suggested that this apparent difference in properties is the product of a linguistic illusion; there is just one thing out there, but different sorts or guises under which it may be described. I attempt to show that this ‘opacity’ defence has intolerable consequences for (...) the functioning of our language and that the original argument should therefore be allowed to stand. (shrink)
Are there, in addition to the various actual objects that make up the world, various possible objects? Are there merely possible people, for example, or merely possible electrons, or even merely possible kinds? We certainly talk as if there were such things. Given a particular sperm and egg, I may wonder whether that particular child which would result from their union would have blue eyes. But if the sperm and egg are never in fact brought together, then there is no (...) actual object that my thought is about.1 Or again, in the semanti cs for modal logic we presuppose an ontology of possibilia twice over.2 For first, we coutenance various possible worlds, in addition to the actual world; and second, each of these worlds is taken to be endowed with its own domai n of objects. These will be the actual objects of the world in question, but they need not be actual simpliciter, i.e., actual objects of our world. W ha t a r e w e t o m a k e o f such discourse? There are four options: (i) the discourse is taken to be unintelligible; (ii) it is taken to be intelligible but nonfactual, i.e. as not in the business of stating facts; (iii) it is taken to be factual but reducible to discourse involving no reference to possibilia; (iv) it is taken to be both factual and irreducible.3 These options range from a fullblooded form of actualism at one extreme to a full-blooded form of possibilism at the other. The two intermediate positions are possibilist in that they accept the intelligibility of possibilist discourse but actualist in that they attempt to dispense with its prima facie commitment to possibilia. All four positions have found advocates in the literature. Quine, in his less irenic moments, favours option (i); Forbes (, p. 94) advocates option (ii), at least for certain parts of possibilist discourse; many philosophers, including Adams  and myself, opt for (iii); while Lewis  and Stalnaker  have endorsed versions of (iv), that differ in how full-blooded they take the possible objects to be.. (shrink)
Kit Fine develops a Fregean theory of abstraction, and suggests that it may yield a new philosophical foundation for mathematics, one that can account for both our reference to various mathematical objects and our knowledge of various mathematical truths. The Limits of Abstraction breaks new ground both technically and philosophically.
It is argued that there are three main forms of necessity--the metaphysical, the natural and the normative--and that none of them is reducible to the others or to any other form of necessity. In arguing for a distinctive form of natural necessity, it is necessary to refute a version of the doctrine of scientific essentialism; and in arguing for a distinctive form of normative necessity, it is necessary to refute certain traditional and contemporary versions of ethical naturalism.
This paper distinguishes two kinds of realist issue -- the issue of whether the propositions of a given domain are factual and the issue of whether they are fundamental. It criticizes previous accounts of what these issues come to and suggests that they are to be understood in terms of a basic metaphysical concept of reality. This leaves open the question of how such issues are to be resolved; and it is argued that this may be done through consideration of (...) what grounds the facts of a given domain, when fundamentality is in question, and what grounds our engagement with the putative facts, when factuality is in question. (shrink)
This paper provides a possible worlds semantics for the system of the author's previous paper The Logic of Essence. The basic idea behind the semantics is that a statement should be taken to be true in virtue of the nature of certain objects just in case it is true in any possible world compatible with the nature of those objects. It is shown that a slight variant of the original system is sound and complete under the proposed semantics.
Its significance for metaphysics is perhaps attributable to two main sources. In the first place, the concept may be used to characterize what the subject, or at least part of it, is about. For one of the central concerns of metaphysics is with the identity of things, with what they are. But the metaphysician is not interested in every property of the objects under consideration. In asking 'What is a person?', for example, he does not want to be told that (...) every person has a deep desire to be loved, even if this is in fact the case. (shrink)
This paper is part of a general programme of developing and investigating particular first-order modal theories. In the paper, a modal theory of propositions is constructed under the assumption that there are genuinely singular propositions, ie. ones that contain individuals as constituents. Various results on decidability, axiomatizability and definability are established.