El Paso Times journalists routinely face ethical dilemmas as they cover difficult stories amid all of the violence in neighboring Ciudad Juarez. This ethnographic study, which utilizes participant-observation and in-depth interviews, examines how journalists deal with tough ethical choices. It reveals how reporters and editors at the El Paso Times consider the needs of the public and the ramifications of their stories. The journalists strive to be accurate and fair while protecting their sources and themselves. They weigh the importance of (...) each story with its potential for risk. (shrink)
The physiologist and neo-Kantian philosopher Johannes von Kries (1853-1928) wrote one of the most philosophically important works on the foundation of probability after P.S. Laplace and before the First World War, his Principien der Wohrscheinlich-keitsrechnung (1886, repr. 1927). In this book, von Kries developed a highly original interpretation of probability, which maintains it to be both logical and objectively physical. After presenting his approach I shall pursue the influence it had on Ludwig Wittgenstein and Friedrich Waismann. It seems that von (...) Kries's approach had more potential than recognized in his time and that putting Waismann's and Wittgenstein's early work in a von Kries perspective is able to shed light on the notion of an elementary proposition. (shrink)
These arguments are fairly well known today. It is interesting to note that v. Kries already knew them, and that they have been ignored by Reichenbach and v. Mises in their original account of probability.2This observation leads to the interesting question why the frequency theory of probability has been adopted by many people in our century in spite of severe counterarguments. One may think of a change in scientific attitude, of a scientific revolution put forward by Feyerabendarian propaganda- and who (...) would deny that Reichenbach was an excellent propagandist!My suggested explanation is the following:J. v. Kries is still a mentalist in the tradition of Descartes and Locke. This can be shown very well from his logic, which he wrote even much later (1916). A mentalist does not pose semantical questions in a proper sense: he rather asks which ideas in the human mind make up a concept. And studying probability in this way, he will find in any case that what is in the human mind is first of all an expectation. Therefore, his analysis of the concept of probability will be centered around the concept of expectation.People tended to approach the problem in quite a different way after the scientific revolution which led from mentalism to lingualism. They tended in many cases to use operationalism and to ask how probabilities are determined in science, if they wanted to clear up the meaning of probability. This new aspect of probability, which was caused by looking at it from a new position or standpoint, suggested it to be the limit of relative frequencies in the first instance. This suggestion was so strong that all objections were ignored, and all counterarguments encountered deaf ears.Of course I have used here an oversimplification. Neither was J. v. Kries untouched by Poincaré's conventionalism, which is essentially a movement leading to the breakdown of mentalism; nor was Reichenbach, when he wrote his thesis in 1915, already a lingualist in any respect.Nevertheless, I think that the lingualist revolution, which took place particularly in mathematics and physics, has also changed the attitude towards probability. It would be interesting to corroborate this thesis by extensive study of the history of science in the late 19th century.Besides this historical aspect of v. Kries' theory, there is a systematic one which should be noticed. Though his theory still has a mentalist outlook, many of v. Kries' statements can be translated into the present lingualist idiom and then become most interesting contributions to the present discussion. We shall then state that for v. Kries probabilities appear first of all in probabilistic hypotheses which may or may not be confirmed by empirical data. Therefore, they have a role similar to theoretical concepts.3But that is not the only predominant feature of v. Kries' theory. He is approaching objective probability in a way which is quite unfamiliar to present day philosophers or mathematicians. Objective probabilities are connected with other concepts in three different ways. First of all, probabilistic hypotheses are confirmed by empirically found relative frequencies in a finite series of events. Secondly, they serve as an aid for decisions. And finally, there is a third relationship. Probabilities have to be explained by theories which are in many cases not formulated in probabilistic terms themselves. We can try to understand probability in one of the first two ways via their connection to other concepts. That is what is usually done by interpretations in terms of frequencies or decisions. A third approach, however, is to understand the nature of probability by the way probabilities are explained, and that is what v. Kries does. Such an approach does not seem unusual at all. In many cases the nature of a kind of objects is characterized by giving an explanation. If somebody asks what an eclipse of the moon is, we shall answer - as Aristotle already proposed - by giving an explanation of it. Thus it is quite natural to answer a question as to the nature of probability by describing the general type of explanation of probability distributions in natural or social science. The answer given by v. Kries is - as we know today — of limited validity. Quantum mechanical probabilities are not explainable by Spielräume. V. Kries solution, however, is remarkable in one important respect. It accounts for the time direction of objective probabilities, which are always predictive or forward probabilities, while retrodictive or backward probabilities are always subjective. The relation of objective probabilities to time direction is surely of utmost importance for natural philosophy. I do not know of any other philosophical foundation of probability which takes into account this deep-rooted relation. Therefore, v. Kries' interpretation may help us to understand one of the most intricate puzzles of philosophy. It may be nearly one hundred years old, but is by no means out of date. (shrink)
Ontological Pluralism is the view that there are different modes, ways, or kinds of being. In this paper, I characterize the view more fully (drawing on some recent work by Kris McDaniel) and then defend the view against a number of arguments. (All of the arguments I can think of against it, anyway.).
Introduction: "meaning in life and death : our stories" -- John Martin Fischer and Anthony B rueckner, "Why is death bad?", Philosophical studies, vol. 50, no. 2 (September 1986) -- "Death, badness, and the impossibility of experience," Journal of ethics -- John Martin Fischer and Daniel Speak, "Death and the psychological conception of personal identity," Midwest studies in philosophy, vol. 24 -- "Earlier birth and later death : symmetry through thick and thin," Richard Feldman, Kris McDaniel, Jason R. Raibley, (...) eds., The good, the right, life and death (Aldershot : Ashgate Publishing, 2006) -- "Why immortality is not so bad," International journal of philosophical studies, vol. 2, no. 2 (September 1994) -- John Martin Fischer and Ruth Curl, "Philosophical models of immortality in science fiction," in George Slusser et. al., eds., Immortal engines : life extension and immortality in science fiction and fantasy (Athens, Ga. : University of Georgia Press, 1996) -- "Epicureanism about death and immortality," Journal of ethics, vol. 10, no. 4 -- "Stories," Midwest studies in philosophy, vol. 20 -- "Free will, death, and immortality : the role of narrative," Philosophical papers (Special issue : meaning in life) volume 34, number 3, November 2005 -- "Stories and the meaning of life," revised and expanded version of "A reply to Pereboom, Zimmerman, and Smith," part of a book symposium on John Martin Fischer, my way : essays on moral responsibility, philosophical books, vol. 47, no. 3. (shrink)
I am attracted to ontological pluralism, the doctrine that some things exist in a different way than other things.1 For the ontological pluralist, there is more to learn about an object’s existential status than merely whether it is or is not: there is still the question of how that entity exists. By contrast, according to the ontological monist, either something is or it isn’t, and that’s all there is say about a thing’s existential status. We appear to be to be (...) ontological committed to what I will call almost nothings. Examples of almost nothings include holes, cracks, and shadows; almost nothings thrive in the absence of ‘positive’ entities such as donuts, walls, and sunlight. Let’s focus on holes, since the literature on them is voluminous.2 We quantify over holes, and even count them: we say, for example, that there are some holes in the cheese, seven to be precise. We ascribe features to them and talk as though they stand in relations: that hole is three feet wide, much wider than that tire over there. Holes apparently persist through time, as evidenced by the fact that my sweater has the same hole in it as the last time you saw me wear it. We even talk as though holes are causally efficacious: my ankle was badly sprained because I stepped in that hole in the sidewalk.3 It seems then that we believe in holes. If our beliefs are true, holes must enjoy some kind of reality. This puts the ontological monist in an uncomfortable position. According to her, everything that there is enjoys the same kind of reality, which is the kind of reality enjoyed by full-fledged concrete entities such as ourselves. She is committed to the unpleasant claim that holes are just as real as concretia, a claim that is apt to be met with incredulous stares by those not acquainted with contemporary metaphysics. Roy Sorensen (2008, p. 19) notes the tension almost nothings generate for ontological monists: ‘… it feels paradoxical to say that absences exist—but no better to say that absences do not exist’.. (shrink)
Philosophical questions concerning parts and wholes have received a tremendous amount of the attention of contemporary analytic metaphysicians. In what follows, I discuss some of the central questions. The questions to be discussed are: how general is parthood? Are there different kinds of parthood or ways to be a part? Can two things be composed of the same parts? When does composition occur? Can material objects gain or lose parts? What is the logical form of the parthood relation enjoyed by (...) material objects? (shrink)
The claim that composition is identity is an intuition in search of a formulation. The farmer’s field is made of six plots, and in some sense is nothing more than those six plots. According to the friend of composition as identity, the six plots are identical with the farmer’s field.1 Some philosophers, such as Peter van Inwagen (1994), have claimed that the view that composition is identity is incoherent. Van Inwagen cites the apparent ungrammaticality of sentences like ‘the six plots (...) are the farmer’s field’ as evidence for his view. Perhaps van Inwagen is right, but I needn’t settle this question here. I will argue against the view that composition is identity, whatever that view amounts to, in the following way. First, I will elucidate a principle called ‘the Plural Duplication Principle’ [PDP]. Any acceptable way of making sense of the slogan that composition is identity— i.e., any way that properly conforms to the intuitions that lead one to utter this slogan— must validate PDP. Second, I argue that PDP is false. So any acceptable way of making sense of the slogan that composition is identity is false. The slogan that composition is identity will be refuted prior to being properly formulated. Following David Lewis (1986: 59-63), let us say that x and y are duplicates just in case there is a 1-1 correspondence between their parts that preserves perfectly natural properties and relations. Suppose that A is identical with B. Then any duplicate of A must also be a duplicate of B. This follows via Leibniz’s Law: if some duplicate of A were not.. (shrink)
The problem of qualitative heterogeneity is to explain how an extended simple can enjoy qualitative variation across its spatial or temporal axes, given that it lacks both spatial and temporal parts. I discuss how friends of extended simples should address the problem of qualitative heterogeneity. I present a series of arguments designed to show that rather than appealing to fundamental distributional properties one should appeal to tiny and short-lived tropes. Along the way, issues relevant to debates about material composition, persistence (...) over time and existence monism are discussed.  . (shrink)
Composition as Identity is the view that, in some sense, a whole is numerically identical with its parts. Compositional universalism is the view that, whenever there are some things, there is a whole composed of those things. Despite the claims of many philosophers, these views are logically independent. Here, I will show that composition as identity does not entail compositional universalism.
I argue that extended simples are possible. The argument given here parallels an argument given elsewhere for the claim that the shape properties of material objects are extrinsic, not intrinsic as is commonly supposed. In the final section of the paper, I show that if the shape properties of material objects are extrinsic, the most popular argument against extended simples fails.
Possibilism—the view that there are non-actual, merely possible entities—is a surprisingly resilient doctrine.1 One particularly hardy strand of possibilism—the modal realism championed by David Lewis—continues to attract both foes who seek to demonstrate its falsity (or at least stare its advocates into apostasy) and friends who hope to defend modal realism (or, when necessary, modify modal realism so as to avoid problematic objections).2 Although I am neither a foe nor friend of modal realism (but some of my best friends are!), (...) like many I continue to be fascinated by the doctrine. (shrink)
In this paper, I formulate, elucidate, and defend a version of modal realism with overlap , the view that objects are literally present at more than one possible world. The version that I defend has several interesting features: (i) it is committed to an ontological distinction between regions of spacetime and material objects; (ii) it is committed to compositional pluralism , which is the doctrine that there is more than one fundamental part-whole relation; and (iii) it is the modal analogue (...) of endurantism , which is the doctrine that objects persist through time by being wholly present at each moment they are located. (shrink)
Composition as identity is the strange and strangely compelling doctrine that the whole is in some sense identical to its parts. According to the most interesting and fun version, the one inspired by Donald Baxter (1988a,b), this is meant in the most straightforward way: a single whole is genuinely identical to its many parts, in the very same sense of identity, familiar to philosophers, logicians, and mathematicians, in which I am identical to myself and 2 + 2 is identical to (...) 4. Composition as identity implies the principle of Collapse: something is one of the X s iff it is part of the fusion of the X s. (Collapse is so-called because it in effect identifies mereologically equivalent pluralities.) In an earlier paper I pointed out that Collapse alters Boolos’s logic of plural quantification in various ways.1 Here I point out some further consequences of Collapse. For example, collapse implies that plural definite descriptions do not function normally. (As we will see, this undermines Kris McDaniel’s (2008) recent argument against composition as identity.) Also it opens the door to drastic—albeit unattractive— ideological simplifications: parthood, identity, and the plural quantifiers may all be eliminated. (shrink)
Let’s start with compositional pluralism. Elsewhere I’ve defended compositional pluralism, which we can provisionally understand as the doctrine that there is more than one basic parthood relation. (You might wonder what I mean by “basic”. We’ll discuss this in a bit.) On the metaphysics I currently favor, there are regions of spacetime and material objects, each of which enjoy bear a distinct parthood relation to members of their own kind. Perhaps there are other kinds of objects that enjoy a kind (...) of parthood relation other than the ones enjoyed by material objects and regions of spacetime. Perhaps, for example, there are facts; I’ve been wavering over whether to embrace these entities for years now. However, I’m reasonably confident that if there are facts than the kind of parthood relation that facts bear to that which composes them is not the kind of parthood relation enjoyed by material objects or regions of spacetime. More on why I am reasonably confident later. (shrink)
It is not at all obvious how best to draw the distinction between conditional and unconditional desires. In this paper we examine extant attempts to analyse conditional desire. From the failures of those attempts, we draw a moral that leads us to the correct account of conditional desires. We then extend the account of conditional desires to an account of all desires. It emerges that desires do not have the structure that they have been thought to have. We attempt to (...) explain the distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic desire in light of our account of desire. We show how to use our account to solve Wollheim's paradox of democracy and to save modus ponens. Finally, we extend the account of desire to related phenomena, such as conditional promises, intentions, and commands. (shrink)
Friends of states of affairs and structural universals appeal to a relation, structure-making, that is allegedly a kind of composition relation: structure-making ?builds? facts out of particulars and universals, and ?builds? structural universals out of unstructured universals. D. M. Armstrong, an eminent champion of structures, endorses two interesting theses concerning composition. First, that structure-making is a composition relation. Second, that it is not the only (fundamental) composition relation: Armstrong also believes in a mode of composition that he calls mereological, and (...) which he takes to be the only kind of composition recognized by his philosophical adversaries, such as David Lewis. Armstrong, accordingly, is a kind of pluralist about compositional relations: there is more than one way to make wholes from parts. In this paper, I critically evaluate Armstrong's compositional pluralism. (shrink)
Recently, I’ve championed the doctrine that fundamentally different sorts of things exist in fundamentally different ways.1 On this view, what it is for an entity to be can differ across ontological categories.2 Although historically this doctrine was very popular, and several important challenges to this doctrine have been dealt with, I suspect that contemporary metaphysicians will continue to treat this view with suspicion until it is made clearer when one is warranted in positing different modes of existence.3 I address this (...) concern here. The question of when to posit ways of being is closely related to a more general question: when should one think that some philosophically interesting expression is analogous? Accordingly, my strategy here is as follows. First, I briefly explain my interpretation of ontological pluralism, the doctrine that there are ways of being.4 Second, I introduce the notion of an analogous term, and show how, on most ways of implementing ontological pluralism, “existence” is analogous. Third, I discuss two sufficient conditions for when one is warranted in claiming that a philosophically interesting term is analogous. Fourth, I present a series of ontological schemes, each of which satisfies at least one of the sufficient conditions. The upshot is this: if you are attracted to one of these ontologies, you have reason to believe in ways of being. The careful reader will have noted the apparent modesty of my conclusion. Unfortunately, I do not believe that one could ever be rationally required to believe in ways of being. Still, in general a metaphysic is a live option to the extent that it is shown to be rationally permissible to believe. Since the apparent consensus among contemporary analytic metaphysicians is that believing that things can exist in different ways is silly or confused, establishing the rational permissibility of belief in ways of being is a non-trivial task. Let us begin. (shrink)
I argue that a solution to puzzles concerning the relationship ofobjects and their properties – a version of the `bundle' theory ofparticulars according to which ordinary objects are mereologicalfusions of monadic and relational tropes – is also a solution topuzzles of material constitution involving the allegedco-location of material objects. Additionally, two argumentsthat have played a prominent role in shaping the current debate,Mark Heller's argument for Four Dimensionalism and Peter vanInwagen's argument against Mereological Universalism, are shownto be unsound given this version (...) of the bundle theory. (shrink)
Composition as identity is the strange and strangely compelling doctrine that the whole is in some sense identical to its parts. Kris McDaniel (2008) argues that composition as identity rules out strongly emergent properties. I will argue that one version of the doctrine—namely, the most straightforward, albeit strangest, version—is resistant to the argument in an instructive way. What could it mean to say that one thing (such as a whole) is identical to many things (its parts)? That is indeed (...) the $64,000 question. But however we answer it, McDaniel says, composition as identity had better be taken to imply the following principle. (shrink)
In a recent paper titled 'Simples', Ned Markosian asks and answers the Simple Question, which is, 'under what circumstances is it true of some object that it has no proper parts?' Markosian's answer to the simple question is MaxCon , which states that an object is a simple if and only if it is a maximally continuous object. I present several arguments against MaxCon.
In a recent paper, Stephen Barker and Phil Dowe (2003)1 argue that multilocation is impossible. An object enjoys multi-location just in case it is wholly present at more than one (distinct) space-time region (106). One popular view that is committed to multi-located objects is endurantism, the doctrine that objects persist through time by being wholly present at each time they are located.2 So if Barker and Dowe are right, endurantism is in big trouble.
Kris McDaniel (2009). Ways of Being. In David John Chalmers, David Manley & Ryan Wasserman (eds.), Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology. Oxford University Press.score: 3.0
There are many kinds of beings – stones, persons, artifacts, numbers, propositions – but are there also many kinds of being? The world contains a variety of objects, each of which exists – but do some objects exist in different ways? The historically popular answer is yes. This answer is suggested by the Aristotelian slogan that “being is said in many ways”, and according to some interpretations is Aristotle’s view.1 Variants of this slogan were championed by medieval philosophers, such as (...) Aquinas, who worried that God cannot be said to exist in the same sense (or in the same way?) as created things.2 Descartes alluded to the medievals’ worry, but extensive discussion of the problem of being disappeared from the central stage by the time of the modern period.3 However, in the early 20th century, friends of ways of being included Alexius Meinong (1910: 49- 62), G.E. Moore (1903: 161-163), Russell (1912: 91-100), Husserl (1901: 249-250), and Heidegger (1927).4 In what follows, I develop a meta-ontological theory based on the work of Martin Heidegger circa Being and Time. I take Heidegger’s work as my inspiration because of the historical importance of Heidegger’s philosophy, and because Heidegger provides a particularly clear statement of the doctrine that there are many ways to be. I begin by carefully discussing and then formulating the relevant aspects of Heidegger’s metaontological theory. Heidegger claims both that the word “being” has many meanings and that there are different ways in which things exist. Section 2 explicates the former thesis, as well as elucidates the connection between senses of “being” and quantification. Most contemporary analytic metaphysicians believe that the idea that different kinds of beings can enjoy different ways of being is metaphysically bankrupt, and probably even meaningless.5 They are mistaken. In section 3, I discuss the doctrine that there are ways of being, and show how we can understand this doctrine in terms of the meta-ontological framework defended by Theodore Sider.. (shrink)
Let us agree that everything that there is exists, and that to be, to be real, and to exist are one and the same. Does everything that there is exist to the same degree? Or do some things exist more than others? Are there gradations of being? I argue that some entities exist more than others. Moreover, many of the notions in play in contemporary metaphysical discourse, such as fundamentality, perfect naturalness, and grounding ought to be cashed out in terms (...) of degree of existence. (shrink)
This paper discusses Heidegger's distinction between entities that are present-at-hand and entities that are ready-to-hand. Contrary to common consensus, I argue that this distinction is a metaphysical distinction. Specifically, no ready-to-hand object is numerically identical with a present-at-hand object.
I raised the following question in a recent paper: What are the necessary and jointly sufficient conditions for an object's being a simple? And I proposed and defended this answer (which I called 'MaxCon'): Necessarily, x is a simple iff x is a maximally continuous object. In a more recent paper, Kris McDaniel raises several objections to MaxCon, including, in particular, two objections based on a principle about the supervenience of constitution that he calls 'SoC'. The purpose of the (...) present paper is to address the main objections raised by McDaniel, and to show that none of them poses a serious threat to MaxCon. (shrink)
Let us say that space is discrete if and only if every finite extended region of space is composed of finitely many atomic regions of space. I assume here that regions of space are individuals rather than sets of points, and have mereological structure; their parts are all and only their sub-regions. A region of space is an atomic region if and only if it has no proper parts, i.e., if and only if it is a mereological atom. In what (...) follows, I will simply call atomic regions of space ‘atoms’. Let us assume that, necessarily, all atoms are unextended regions, i.e., points of space. (shrink)
In “Tropes and Ordinary Physical Objects”, Kris McDaniel argues that ordinary physical objects are fusions of monadic and polyadic tropes. McDaniel calls his view “TOPO”—for “Theory of Ordinary Physical Objects”. He argues that we should accept TOPO because of the philosophical work that it allows us to do. Among other things, TOPO is supposed to allow endurantists to reply to Mark Heller’s argument for <span class='Hi'>perdurantism</span>. But, we argue in this paper, TOPO does not help endurantists do that; indeed, (...) we argue that anyone who accepts TOPO should reject endurantism. (shrink)
I present `disruption' as what is most fundamental to Levinas' account of transcendence. I argue that one should read his treatment of the Other as a modulation of transcendence, and prioritize the structures of positionality and solitude as the conditions that make transcendence possible. Hence, Being is transcended insofar as these structures have `always already' articulated the rupturing of the subject, which, for Levinas, constitutes her transcending. Included in my argument is a critique of reading Levinas' project as undermining the (...) fundamentally solitary nature of human existence because of his focus on alterity. Such a reading reduces Levinas' account of alterity, instead of maintaining its signification as that which is `never there.' It is the solitary existent who is vulnerable before an `already gone by' alterity, such that her subjectivity is radically disrupted. For Levinas, an encounter with alterity is the agony of finding no one, or having nowhere, from which I can be granted wholeness or justification. It follows that transcendence is fundamentally concretized in a positioned solitude, and not in some inter-subjective space. (shrink)
I introduce a methodology for doing the history of philosophy called philosophical modeling. I then employ this methodology to give a theory of Kant's distinction between things in themselves and appearances. This theory models Kant's distinction on the distinction between a constituting object and the object it constitutes.
The Frege-Russell view is that existence is a second-order property rather than a property of individuals. One of the most compelling arguments for this view is based on the premise that there is an especially close connection between existence and number. The most promising version of this argument is by C.J.F Williams (1981, 1992). In what follows, I argue that this argument fails. I then defend an account according to which both predications of number and existence attribute properties to individuals.
Suppose that a material object is gunky: all of its parts are located in space, and each of its parts has a proper part. Does it follow from this hypothesis that the space in which that object resides must itself be gunky? I argue that it does not. There is room for gunky objects in a space that decomposes without remainder into mereological simples.
The human body shield problem involves an apparent dilemma for a libertarian, forcing him to choose between his own death and the death of an innocent person. This paper argues that the non-aggression principle permits a forceful response against the property of innocent individuals when a conflict is initiated with that [...].
Can we understand being valuable for in terms of being valuable ? Three different kinds of puzzle cases suggest that we must answer this question negatively. In what follows, I articulate a positive answer to this question, carefully present the three these puzzle cases, and then explain how a friend of the positive answer can successfully respond to them. This response requires us to distinguish different kinds of value bearers, rather than different kinds of value, and hold that among the (...) value bearers are totality states of affairs. The project of understanding being valuable for in terms of being valuable is more viable than one might have thought. (shrink)
Keynes's A Treatise on Probability (Keynes, 1921) contains some quite unusual concepts, such as non-numerical probabilities and the ‘weights of the arguments’ that support probability judgements. Their controversial interpretation gave rise to a huge literature about ‘what Keynes really did mean’, also because Keynes's later views in macroeconomics ultimately rest on his ideas on uncertainty and expectations formation.