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Neil E. Williams [8]Neil Edward Williams [2]
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Profile: Neil Williams (State University of New York, Buffalo)
  1. Neil E. Williams, Do Zombies Hunger for Humean Brains?
    John Heil’s From an Ontological Point of View (Heil 2003) is a tremendous philosophical work. The neo-Lockean ontology the reader finds within its 267 pages is a sensible and refreshing alternative to the neo-Humean ontologies which presently occupy the vast majority of the metaphysical literature. What Heil offers is a much needed change in perspective. Nor are the strengths of the book limited to Heil’s willingness to approach central metaphysical problems in largely untried and unpopular way; the book is very (...)
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  2. Neil E. Williams (2011). Arthritis and Nature's Joints. In Michael O'Rourke, Joseph Keim Campbell & Matthew H. Slater (eds.), Carving Nature at its Joints. Mit Press.
  3. Neil E. Williams (2011). Dispositions and the Argument From Science. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89 (1):71 - 90.
    Central to the debate between Humean and anti-Humean metaphysics is the question of whether dispositions can exist in the absence of categorical properties that ground them (that is, where the causal burden is shifted on to categorical properties on which the dispositions would therefore supervene). Dispositional essentialists claim that they can; categoricalists reject the possibility of such ?baseless? dispositions, requiring that all dispositions must ultimately have categorical bases. One popular argument, recently dubbed the ?Argument from Science?, has appeared in one (...)
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  4. Neil E. Williams (2011). Putting Powers Back on Multi-Track. Philosophia 39 (3):581-595.
    Power theorists are divided on the question of whether individual powers are single-track (for a single manifestation type) or are multi-track (capable of producing distinct manifestation types for distinct stimuli). EJ Lowe has recently defended single-tracking, arguing that the multi-tracker can provide no adequate reason for treating powers as capable of having multiple manifestation types, and claiming that putative instances of multi-track powers are either single-track powers in need of unifying descriptions or are merely several single-track powers. I respond to (...)
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  5. Neil E. Williams (2011). Putnam's Traditional Neo-Essentialism. Philosophical Quarterly 61 (242):151 - 170.
    Recently, several philosophers have defended what might be called `neo-essentialism' about natural kinds. Their views purport to improve upon the traditional essentialism of Kripke and Putnam by rejecting the claim that essences must be comprised of intrinsic properties. I argue that this so-called break from traditional essentialism is not a break at all, because the widespread interpretation of Putnam according to which he takes essences to be intrinsic is mistaken. Putnam makes no claim to the effect that essences of natural (...)
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  6. Neil E. Williams (2010). Puzzling Powers: The Problem of Fit. In Anna Marmodoro (ed.), The Metaphysics of Powers: Their Grounding and Their Manifestations. Routledge. 84--105.
    – The conjunction of three plausible theses about the nature of causal powers—that they are intrinsic, that their effects are produced mutually, and that the manifestations they are for are essential to them—leads to a problem concerning the ability of causal powers to work together to produce manifestations. I call this problem the problem of fit. Fortunately for proponents of a power-based metaphysic, the problem of fit is not insurmountable. Fit can be engineered if powers are properties whose natures are (...)
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  7. Neil Edward Williams (2009). The Ungrounded Argument is Unfounded: A Response to Mumford. Synthese 170 (1):7 - 19.
    Arguing against the claim that every dispositional property is grounded in some property other than itself, Stephen Mumford presents what he calls the ‘Ungrounded Argument’. If successful, the Ungrounded Argument would represent a major victory for anti-Humean metaphysics over its Humean rivals, as it would allow for the existence of primitive modality. Unfortunately, Humeans need not yet be worried, as the Ungrounded Argument is itself lacking in grounding. I indicate where Mumford’s argument falls down, claiming that even the dispositions of (...)
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  8. Andrea Borghini & Neil E. Williams (2008). A Dispositional Theory of Possibility. Dialectica 62 (1):21–41.
    – The paper defends a naturalistic version of modal actualism according to which what is metaphysically possible is determined by dispositions found in the actual world. We argue that there is just one world—this one—and that all genuine possibilities are anchored by the dispositions exemplified in this world. This is the case regardless of whether or not those dispositions are manifested. As long as the possibility is one that would obtain were the relevant disposition manifested, it is a genuine possibility. (...)
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  9. Neil E. Williams (2007). Review of Peter Unger, Philosophical Papers: Volumes 1 & 2. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2007 (2).
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  10. Neil Edward Williams (2005). Static and Dynamic Dispositions. Synthese 146 (3):303 - 324.
    When it comes to scientific explanation, our parsimonious tendencies mean that we focus almost exclusively on those dispositions whose manifestations result in some sort of change – changes in properties, locations, velocities and so on. Following this tendency, our notion of causation is one that is inherently dynamic, as if the maintenance of the status quo were merely a given. Contrary to this position, I argue that a complete concept of causation must also account for dispositions whose manifestations involve no (...)
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