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  1. Michael Esfeld, Belief and Meaning. Essays at the Interface.
    This paper recalls the motivation for a normative account of the conceptual content of our beliefs, namely the problem of rule-following. It employs Brandom’s social, inferential semantics as a paradigmatic example of such an account of conceptual content. The conceptual content of our beliefs – and the meaning of the sentences that we use – is normative in the sense that it is determined by social, normative practices. Nevertheless, a description of content and meaning is possible. The paper argues that (...)
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  2. Michael Esfeld, Comment on David Papineau, Can Any Sciences Be Special?
    David Papineau, Jerry Fodor and many others wonder how the conjunction of the following three positions can be true: 1) Special science laws: There are lawlike generalizations in the special sciences. These sciences trade in kinds that are such that statements about salient, reliable correlations that are projectible and that support counterfactuals apply to the tokens coming under these kinds. 2) Non-reductionism: The laws of some of the special sciences cannot be reduced to physical laws. 3) Physicalism: Everything there is (...)
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  3. Michael Esfeld, Essay Review Wigner's View of Physical Reality.
    Jagdish Mehra (ed.): The Collected Works of Eugene Paul Wigner. Part B. Historical, Philosophical, and Socio-Political Papers. Volume 6: Philosophical Reflections and Syntheses (annotated by Gérard G. Emch) (Berlin: Springer, 1995), XX + 631 pp., ISBN 3-.
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  4. Michael Esfeld, Holism and Structural Realism.
    We first introduce structural realism as a position in the metaphysics of science, pointing out the way in which this position replaces intrinsic properties with relations so that it amounts to a holistic in contrast to an atomistic metaphysics. We argue in favour of a moderate version of structural realism that puts objects and relations on the same ontological footing and assess the general philosophical arguments for this position. The second section shows how structural realism gains support from quantum physics. (...)
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  5. Michael Esfeld, Lewis' Causation and Quantum Correlations.
    If we apply Lewis’ theory of causation to the quantum correlations which become manifest in the Bell experiments, this theory tells us that these correlations are a case of causation. However, there are strong physical reasons (and concrete suggestions) not to treat these correlations in terms of a physical interaction. The aim of this paper is to assess this conflict. My conclusion is: one can either divorce Lewis’ causation from physical interaction, or one can take the quantum case as an (...)
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  6. Michael Esfeld, Recent German Books in the Philosophy of Mind.
    Gottschling, Verena (2003): Bilder im Geiste. Die Imagery-Debatte. Paderborn: Mentis. Nida-Rümelin, Martine (2006): Der Blick von Innen. Zur transtemporalen Identität bewusstseinsfähiger Wesen. Frankfurt (Main): Suhrkamp.
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  7. Michael Esfeld, Review of Max Kistler, Causalité Et Lois de la Nature Paris: Vrin 1999, 311 Pages, FRF 198. [REVIEW]
    Max Kistler’s first book, based on his Paris Ph.D. thesis, is an elaborate defence of a transference theory of causation. Such a theory conceives of causality as the transfer of a conserved quantity. A transference theory of causation is thus one form that a regularity account of causation, as opposed to a counterfactual account, might take. Kistler’s original contribution consists (a) in the way in which he develops an account of causation based on transference and (b) in relating a theory (...)
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  8. Michael Esfeld, What Are Social Practices?
    In the framework of the current revival of Wittgenstein’s later philosophy as well as American pragmatism, social practices are seen as determining the conceptual content of our beliefs. This position amounts to an inferential semantics with inferential relations supervening on social norms and these norms, in turn, supervening on normative attitudes. The paper elaborates on the distinction between social practices and social behaviour. Three conceptions of social practices are considered: (1) social practices as being reducible to social behaviour; (2) social (...)
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  9. Michael H. Herzog & Michael Esfeld, Consciousness & the Small Network Argument.
    The last decade has experienced a vivid enthusiasm to unravel the mystery of consciousness believed to be one of the major puzzles of human kind. We share this enthusiasm. Still, we feel that current models are incomplete suffering from a problem that we call the “small network argument”.
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  10. Vincent Lam & Michael Esfeld, Structures as the Objects of Fundamental Physics.
    The paper argues that there are structures rather than objects with an intrinsic identity in the domain of fundamental physics. We line out the standard metaphysics of objects with an intrinsic identity, recall the main objection against that position (section 1) and then retrace the development to epistemic structural realism (section 2) and to ontic structural realism (section 3). We elaborate on the arguments for ontic structural realism from quantum physics (section 4) and from space-time physics (section 5). Finally, we (...)
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  11. Matthias Egg & Michael Esfeld (forthcoming). Non-Local Common Cause Explanations for EPR. European Journal for Philosophy of Science:1-16.
    The paper argues that a causal explanation of the correlated outcomes of EPR-type experiments is desirable and possible. It shows how Bohmian mechanics and the GRW mass density theory offer such an explanation in terms of a non-local common cause.
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  12. Antonio Vassallo & Michael Esfeld (2014). A Proposal for a Bohmian Ontology of Quantum Gravity. Foundations of Physics (1):1-18.
    The paper shows how the Bohmian approach to quantum physics can be applied to develop a clear and coherent ontology of non-perturbative quantum gravity. We suggest retaining discrete objects as the primitive ontology also when it comes to a quantum theory of space-time and therefore focus on loop quantum gravity. We conceive atoms of space, represented in terms of nodes linked by edges in a graph, as the primitive ontology of the theory and show how a non-local law in which (...)
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  13. Michael Esfeld (2013). Contemporary Metaphysics: Review of David J. Chalmers, Constructing the World, Oxford: Oxford University Press 2012, 494 Pages; John Heil, The Universe as We Find It, Oxford: Oxford University Press 2012, 311 Pages; and Theodore R. Sider, Writing the Book of the World, Oxford: Oxford University Press 2011, 318 Pages. [REVIEW] Metaphysica 14 (1):143-148.
    Metaphysics is definitely back on the agenda of contemporary philosophy. It is a metaphysics in the full traditional sense, seeking to provide the means to gain knowledge that covers being as a whole, not just parts of it (such as the metaphysics of mind, the metaphysics of values, etc.). Oxford University Press published three books in 2011 and 2012 each of which spells out that ambition. The present review sums up the main topics covered in these books and offers some (...)
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  14. Michael Esfeld (2013). Learn From Descartes. Philosophisches Jahrbuch 120 (1):102-108.
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  15. Michael Esfeld (2013). Ontic Structural Realism and the Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. European Journal for Philosophy of Science 3 (1):19-32.
    This paper argues that ontic structural realism (OSR) faces a dilemma: either it remains on the general level of realism with respect to the structure of a given theory, but then it is, like epistemic structural realism, only a partial realism; or it is a complete realism, but then it has to answer the question how the structure of a given theory is implemented, instantiated or realized and thus has to argue for a particular interpretation of the theory in question. (...)
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  16. Michael Esfeld, Dustin Lazarovici, Mario Hubert & Detlef Dürr (2013). The Ontology of Bohmian Mechanics. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axt019.
    The article points out that the modern formulation of Bohm’s quantum theory, known as Bohmian mechanics, is committed only to particles’ positions and a law of motion. We explain how this view can avoid the open questions that the traditional view faces, according to which Bohm’s theory is committed to a wave-function that is a physical entity over and above the particles, although it is defined on configuration space instead of three-dimensional space. We then enquire into the status of the (...)
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  17. Michael Esfeld & Antonio Vassallo (2013). From Quantum Gravity to Classical Phenomena. In Tilman Sauer & Adrian Wüthrich (eds.), New Vistas on Old Problems. Max Planck Research Library for the History and Development of Knowledge.
    Quantum gravity is supposed to be the most fundamental theory, including a quantum theory of the metrical field (spacetime). However, it is not clear how a quantum theory of gravity could account for classical phenomena, including notably measurement outcomes. But all the evidence that we have for a physical theory is based on measurement outcomes. We consider this problem in the framework of canonical quantum gravity, pointing out a dilemma: all the available accounts that admit classical phenomena presuppose entities with (...)
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  18. Vincent Lam & Michael Esfeld (2013). A Dilemma for the Emergence of Spacetime in Canonical Quantum Gravity. Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 44 (3):286-293.
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  19. Michael Esfeld (ed.) (2012). Philosophie der Physik.
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  20. Michael Esfeld, Christian Sachse & Patrice Soom (2012). Marrying the Merits of Nagelian Reduction and Functional Reduction. Acta Analytica 27 (3):217-230.
    This paper points out the merit of Nagelian reduction, namely to propose a model of inter-theoretic reduction that retains the scientific quality of the reduced theory and the merit of functional reduction, namely to take multiple realization into account and to offer reductive explanations. By considering Lewis and Kim’s proposal for local reductions, we establish that functional reduction fails to achieve a theory reduction and cannot retain the scientific quality of the reduced theory. We improve on that proposal by showing (...)
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  21. Vincent Lam & Michael Esfeld (2012). The Structural Metaphysics of Quantum Theory and General Relativity. Journal for General Philosophy of Science 43 (2):243-258.
    The paper compares ontic structural realism in quantum physics with ontic structural realism about space–time. We contend that both quantum theory and general relativity theory support a common, contentful metaphysics of ontic structural realism. After recalling the main claim of ontic structural realism and its physical support, we point out that both in the domain of quantum theory and in the domain of general relativity theory, there are objects whose essential ways of being are certain relations so that these objects (...)
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  22. Michael Esfeld (2011). Causal Properties and Conservative Reduction. Philosophia Naturalis 47 (1-2):1-2.
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  23. Michael Esfeld (2011). Conservative Reductionism. Routledge.
    The dilemma of functionalism -- The metaphysics of causal structures -- The theory of evolution and causal structures in biology -- Case study: classical and molecular genetics -- Conservative functional reduction.
     
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  24. Michael Esfeld & Vincent Lam (2011). Ontic Structural Realism as a Metaphysics of Objects. In. In Alisa Bokulich & Peter Bokulich (eds.), Scientific Structuralism. Springer Science+Business Media. 143--159.
  25. Michael Esfeld & Christian Sachse (2011). Identität statt Emergenz: Plädoyer für einen konservativen Reduktionismus. In Jens Greve & Annette Schnabel (eds.), Emergenz: Zur Analyse Und Erklärung Komplexer Strukturen. Suhrkamp.
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  26. Mauro Dorato & Michael Esfeld (2010). GRW as an Ontology of Dispositions. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 41 (1):41-49.
    The paper argues that the formulation of quantum mechanics proposed by Ghirardi, Rimini and Weber (GRW) is a serious candidate for being a fundamental physical theory and explores its ontological commitments from this perspective. In particular, we propose to conceive of spatial superpositions of non-massless microsystems as dispositions or powers, more precisely propensities, to generate spontaneous localizations. We set out five reasons for this view, namely that (1) it provides for a clear sense in which quantum systems in entangled states (...)
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  27. Michael Esfeld (2010). Can Any Sciences Be Special? Comments on Papineau. In Graham Macdonald & Cynthia Macdonald (eds.), Emergence in Mind. Oxford University Press. 198.
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  28. Michael Esfeld (2010). Causal Overdetermination for Humeans? Metaphysica 11 (2):99-104.
    The paper argues against systematic overdetermination being an acceptable solution to the problem of mental causation within a Humean counterfactual theory of causation. The truth-makers of the counterfactuals in question include laws of nature, and there are laws that support physical to physical counterfactuals, but no laws in the same sense that support mental to physical counterfactuals.
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  29. Michael Esfeld (2010). Humean Metaphysics Versus a Metaphysics of Powers. In Gerhard Ernst & Andreas Hüttemann (eds.), Time, Chance and Reduction: Philosophical Aspects of Statistical Mechanics. Cambridge University Press. 119.
  30. Michael Esfeld (2010). Kausale Strukturen: Einheit Und Vielfalt in der Natur Und den Naturwissenschaften. Suhrkamp.
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  31. Michael Esfeld (2010). Kritik und Antwort. Zu: Peter Stemmer: Normativität. Normen und mentale Eigenschaften in der physikalischen Welt. Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie 58 (1):145-148.
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  32. Michael Esfeld (2010). Physics and Causation. Foundations of Physics 40 (9-10):1597-1610.
    The paper makes a case for there being causation in the form of causal properties or causal structures in the domain of fundamental physics. That case is built in the first place on an interpretation of quantum theory in terms of state reductions so that there really are both entangled states and classical properties, GRW being the most elaborate physical proposal for such an interpretation. I then argue that the interpretation that goes back to Everett can also be read in (...)
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  33. Patrice Soom, Christian Sachse & Michael Esfeld (2010). Functional Sub-Types. Journal of Consciousness Studies 17 (1-2):1-2.
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  34. Michael Esfeld, Hypothetical Metaphysics of Nature.
    The paper first sketches out a reply to the underdetermination challenge and the incommensurability challenge that rebuts the sceptical conclusions of these challenges and that is sufficient to lay the ground for the project of a metaphysics of nature. That metaphysics is as hypothetical as are our scientific theories. The paper then explains how can one can argue for certain views in the metaphysics of nature based on our current fundamental physical theories, namely the commitments to a tenseless theory of (...)
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  35. Michael Esfeld, Quantum Physics, Causation, and the Grw Dynamics.
    The paper makes a case for there being causation in the form of causal properties in the domain of fundamental physics. That case is built on an interpretation of quantum theory in terms of state reductions so that there really are both entangled states and classical properties (although that case does not necessarily depend on such an interpretation). GRW is the most elaborate physical proposal for such an interpretation. I show how this interpretation suggests a commitment to entangled states being (...)
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  36. Michael Esfeld (2009). The Modal Nature of Structures in Ontic Structural Realism. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 23 (2):179 – 194.
    Ontic structural realism is the view that structures are what is real in the first place in the domain of fundamental physics. The structures are usually conceived as including a primitive modality. However, it has not been spelled out as yet what exactly that modality amounts to. This paper proposes to fill this lacuna by arguing that the fundamental physical structures possess a causal essence, being powers. Applying the debate about causal vs categorical properties in analytic metaphysics to ontic structural (...)
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  37. Patrice Soom, Christian Sachse & Michael Esfeld, Psycho-Neural Reduction Through Functional Sub-Types.
    The paper argues that a functional reduction of ordinary psychology to neuropsychology is possible by means of constructing fine-grained functional, mental sub-types that are coextensive with neuropsychological types. We establish this claim by means of considering as examples the cases of the disconnection syndrome and schizophrenia. We point out that the result is a conservative reduction, vindicating the scientific quality of the mental types of ordinary psychology by systematically linking them with neuroscience. That procedure of conservative reduction by means of (...)
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  38. Michael Esfeld (2008). Die Metaphysik dispositionaler Eigenschaften. Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung 62 (3):323-342.
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  39. Michael Esfeld (2008). Naturphilosophie Als Metaphysik der Natur. Suhrkamp.
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  40. Michael Esfeld & Michael Sollberger (2008). Strukturale Repräsentation – by Andreas Bartels Subjektivität, Intersubjektivität, Personalität. Ein Beitrag Zur Philosophie der Person – by Christian Beyer Bilder Im Geiste. Die Imagery-Debatte – by Verena Gottschling der Blick Von Innen. Zur Transtemporalen Identität Bewusstseinsfähiger Wesen – by Martine Nida-Rümelin Illusion Freiheit? Mögliche Und Unmögliche Konsequenzen der Hirnforschung – by Michael Pauen Willensfreiheit Und Hirnforschung. Das Freiheitsmodell Des Epistemischen Libertarismus – by Bettina Walde der Mentale Zugang Zur Welt. Realismus, Skeptizismus Und Intentionalität – by Marcus Willaschek. [REVIEW] Dialectica 62 (1):128–135.
  41. Michael Esfeld, Cartwright on Wholism.
    This paper proposes a critical examination of the wholism that Cartwright contemplates. The first part spells out the consequences of this position – notably our principled ignorance of nature as a whole. The second part considers that physical theory which is widely claimed to exhibit some sort of wholism, namely quantum physics. I sketch a wholistic model of quantum physics and compare this model to the wholism that Cartwright considers. The result is that – contrary to what Cartwright suggests – (...)
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  42. Michael Esfeld (2007). La philosophie comme métaphysique des sciences. Studia Philosophica 66:61-76.
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  43. Michael Esfeld (2007). Mental Causation and the Metaphysics of Causation. Erkenntnis 67 (2):207 - 220.
    The paper argues for four claims: (1) The problem of mental causation and the argument for its solution in terms of the identity of mental with physical causes are independent of the theory of causation one favours. (2) If one considers our experience of agency as described by folk psychology to be veridical, one is committed to an anti-Humean metaphysics of causation in terms of powers that establish necessary connections. The same goes for functional properties in general. (3) A metaphysics (...)
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  44. Michael Esfeld (2007). Metaphysics of Science Between Metaphysics and Science. Grazer Philosophische Studien 74 (1):199-213.
    The paper argues that metaphysics depends upon science when it comes to claims about the constitution of the real world. That thesis is illustrated by considering the examples of global supervenience, the tenseless vs. the tensed theory of time and existence, events vs. substances, and relations vs. intrinsic properties. An argument is sketched out for a metaphysics of a four-dimensional block universe whose content are events and their sequences, events consisting in physical properties instantiated at space-time points, these properties being (...)
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  45. Michael Esfeld, The Rehabilitation of a Metaphysics of Nature.
    The paper first sketches out a reply to the underdetermination challenge and the incommensurability challenge that rebuts the sceptical conclusions of these challenges and that is sufficient to lay the ground for the project of a metaphysics of nature. That metaphysics is as hypothetical as are our scientific theories. The paper then explains how can one can argue for certain views in the metaphysics of nature based on our current fundamental physical theories, namely a tenseless theory of time and existence (...)
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  46. Michael Esfeld & Christian Sachse (2007). Theory Reduction by Means of Functional Sub-Types. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 21 (1):1 – 17.
    The paper sets out a new strategy for theory reduction by means of functional sub-types. This strategy is intended to get around the multiple realization objection. We use Kim's argument for token identity (ontological reductionism) based on the causal exclusion problem as starting point. We then extend ontological reductionism to epistemological reductionism (theory reduction). We show how one can distinguish within any functional type between functional sub-types. Each of these sub-types is coextensive with one type of realizer. By this means, (...)
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  47. Albert Newen, Vera Hoffmann & Michael Esfeld (2007). Preface to Mental Causation, Externalism and Self-Knowledge. Erkenntnis 67 (2):147-148.
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  48. Christian Sachse & Michael Esfeld (2007). Theory Reduction by Means of Functional Sub-Types. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 21 (1):1-17.
    The paper sets out a new strategy for theory reduction by means of functional sub-types. This strategy is intended to get around the multiple realization objection. We use Kim’s argument for token identity (ontological reductionism) based on the causal exclusion problem as starting point. We then extend ontological reductionism to epistemological reductionism (theory reduction). We show how one can distinguish within any functional type between functional sub-types. Each of these sub-types is coextensive with one type of realizer. By this means, (...)
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  49. Michael Esfeld (2006). From Being Ontologically Serious to Serious Ontology. In. In , John Heil: Symposium on His Ontological Point of View. Ontos. 191--206.
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  50. Michael Esfeld (ed.) (2006). John Heil: Symposium on His Ontological Point of View. Ontos.
    The volume covers a number of the most hotly debated issues in today's metaphysics and moves the discussion on in several important aspects.
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