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Profile: Thomas Hofweber (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)
  1. Thomas Hofweber, From Remnants to Things, and Back Again.
    forthcoming in Meanings and other Things: essays on Stephen Schiffer Gary Ostertag (ed.) MIT Press 2007. Schiffer substantially changed his view about propositions and that-clauses somewhere between his two most recent books: Remnants of Meaning and The Things We Mean. I look at what problems his earlier view had, and what reason Schiffer gives for giving it up in favor of his more recent view. I argue that Schiffer’s reasons are not very good reasons, and that instead the problems for (...)
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  2. Thomas Hofweber, Extraction, Displacement, and Focus: A Reply to Balcerak Jackson.
    On the one hand they seem to be quite obviously truth conditionally equivalent, but on the other hand they seem to be about different things. Whereas (1) is about Jupiter and its moons, (2) is about numbers. In particular, the word ‘four’ appears in (1) in the position of an adjective or determiner, whereas it seems to be a name for a number in (2). Furthermore, (2) appears to be an identity statement claiming that what two number terms stand for (...)
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  3. Thomas Hofweber, Is Subjectivity Required in a Material World?
    An under-explored intermediate position between traditional materialism and traditional idealism is the view that although the spatiotemporal world is purely material, minds nonetheless have a metaphysically special place in it. One such intermediate position is that minds must exist, by metaphysical necessity, in any material world, and thus a mindless material world is impossible. This position, labeled The Subjectivity Thesis by Anton Friedrich Koch, was defended by him with an intriguing, purely metaphysical argument that is largely neglected in the contemporary (...)
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  4. Thomas Hofweber, Contextualism and the Meaning-Intention Problem.
    The relevant alternatives approach in epistemology1 arose some years ago partly out of the hope to be able to reconcile our ordinary claims of knowledge with our inability to answer the skeptic. It was supposed to give rise to an account of knowledge according to which our ordinary claims of knowledge are true, even though the claims about our lack of knowledge that the skeptics make in one of their more persuasive moments are also true. To know, according to such (...)
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  5. Thomas Hofweber & Jeff Pelletier, Encuneral Noun Phrases.
    The semantics of noun phrases (NPs) is of crucial importance for both philosophy and linguistics. Throughout much of the history of the debate about the semantics of noun phrases there has been an implicit assumption about how they are to be understood. Basically, it is the assumption that NPs come only in two kinds. In this paper we would like to make that assumption explicit and discuss it and its status in the semantics of natural language. We will have a (...)
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  6. Thomas Hofweber (2014). Cardinality Arguments Against Regular Probability Measures. Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 3 (2):166-175.
    Cardinality arguments against regular probability measures aim to show that no matter which ordered field ℍ we select as the measures for probability, we can find some event space F of sufficiently large cardinality such that there can be no regular probability measure from F into ℍ. In particular, taking ℍ to be hyperreal numbers won't help to guarantee that probability measures can always be regular. I argue that such cardinality arguments fail, since they rely on the wrong conception of (...)
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  7. Thomas Hofweber (2014). Extraction, Displacement, and Focus. Linguistics and Philosophy 37 (3):263-267.
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  8. Thomas Hofweber (2014). Infinitesimal Chances. Philosophers' Imprint 14 (2).
    It is natural to think that questions in the metaphysics of chance are independent of the mathematical representation of chance in probability theory. After all, chance is a feature of events that comes in degrees and the mathematical representation of chance concerns these degrees but leaves the nature of chance open. The mathematical representation of chance could thus, un-controversially, be taken to be what it is commonly taken to be: a probability measure satisfying Kolmogorov’s axioms. The metaphysical questions about chance (...)
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  9. Thomas Hofweber (2014). Rayo's The Construction of Logical Space. 57 (4):442-454.
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  10. Thomas Hofweber & J. David Velleman (2011). How to Endure. Philosophical Quarterly 61 (242):37-57.
    The terms ‘endurance’ and ‘perdurance’ are commonly thought to denote distinct ways for an object to persist, but it is surprisingly hard to say what these are. The common approach, defining them in terms of temporal parts, is mistaken, because it does not lead to two coherent philosophical alternatives: endurance so understood becomes conceptually incoherent, while perdurance becomes not just true but a conceptual truth. Instead, we propose a different way to articulate the distinction, in terms of identity rather than (...)
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  11. J. David Velleman & Thomas Hofweber (2011). How to Endure. Philosophical Quarterly 61 (242):37 - 57.
    The terms `endurance' and `perdurance' are commonly thought to denote distinct ways for an object to persist, but it is surprisingly hard to say what these are. The common approach, defining them in terms of temporal parts, is mistaken, because it does not lead to two coherent philosophical alternatives: endurance so understood becomes conceptually incoherent, while perdurance becomes not just true but a conceptual truth. Instead, we propose a different way to articulate the distinction, in terms of identity rather than (...)
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  12. Thomas Hofweber (2010). Inferential Role and the Ideal of Deductive Logic. The Baltic International Yearbook of Cognition, Logic and Communication 5 (1).
    There is a substantial question in the philosophy of language whether understanding a language involves knowledge of some metalinguistic facts about words. Does understanding a language in part consist in knowing what the words in that language mean? Most of the debate about this topic is carried out in the philosophy of language proper, where it seems to belong.1 But recently a subculture of philosophers has emerged who have argued that one of the lessons we must draw from issues in (...)
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  13. Thomas Hofweber (2010). Review of John P. Burgess, Mathematics, Models, and Modality: Selected Philosophical Essays. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2010 (1).
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  14. Thomas Hofweber (2009). Ambitious, yet Modest, Metaphysics. In David John Chalmers, David Manley & Ryan Wasserman (eds.), Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology. Oxford University Press. 260--289.
    There is a long history of worrying about whether or not metaphysics is a legitimate philosophical discipline. Traditionally such worries center around issues of meaning and epistemological concerns. Do the metaphysical questions have any meaning? Can metaphysical methodology lead to knowledge? But these questions are, in my opinion, not as serious as they have sometimes (historically) been taken to be. What is much more concerning is another set of worries about metaphysics, which I take to the greatest threat to metaphysics (...)
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  15. Thomas Hofweber (2009). The Meta-Problem of Change. Noûs 43 (2):286 - 314.
    The problem of change plays a central role in the metaphysics of time and material objects, and whoever does best in solving this problem has a leg up when it comes to choosing a metaphysics of time and material objects. But whether this central role of the problem of change in metaphysics is legitimate is not at all clear. This is so in part since it is not clear what the problem of change is, and why it is a problem (...)
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  16. Thomas Hofweber, Logic and Ontology. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    A number of important philosophical problems are problems in the overlap of logic and ontology. Both logic and ontology are diverse fields within philosophy, and partly because of this there is not one single philosophical problem about the relation between logic and ontology. In this survey article we will first discuss what different philosophical projects are carried out under the headings of "logic" and "ontology" and then we will look at several areas where logic and ontology overlap.
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  17. Thomas Hofweber (2007). Review of "Deflating Existential Consequence: A Case for Nominalism" by Jody Azzouni. [REVIEW] Philosophical Review 116 (3):465-467.
    As the title says, this is a book review of Azzouni’s book. I complain that Azzouni proposes an answer to a question, but it is unclear what question he is trying to answer.
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  18. Thomas Hofweber (2007). Innocent Statements and Their Metaphysically Loaded Counterparts. Philosophers' Imprint 7 (1):1-33.
    One puzzling feature of talk about properties, propositions and natural numbers is that statements that are explicitly about them can be introduced apparently without change of truth conditions from statements that don't mention them at all. Thus it seems that the existence of numbers, properties and propositions can be established`from nothing'. This metaphysical puzzle is tied to a series of syntactic and semantic puzzles about the relationship between ordinary, metaphysically innocent statements and their metaphysically loaded counterparts, statements that explicitly mention (...)
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  19. Thomas Hofweber (2007). Review of Jody Azzouni's Deflating Existential Consquence. [REVIEW] Philosophical Review 116 (3):465-467.
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  20. Thomas Hofweber (2007). Validity, Paradox, and the Ideal of Deductive Logic. In J. C. Beall (ed.), Revenge of the Liar: New Essays on the Paradox. Oxford University Press.
    I express my dissatisfaction with the common ways to treat the semantic paradoxes. Not only do they give rise to revenge paradoxes, they ignore the wisdom contained in the ordinary reaction to paradoxes. I instead propose an account that vindicates the ordinary reaction to paradox by putting the blame on us philosophers. It is the wrong conception of what a valid inference is, one that is central to “the ideal of deductive logic” that gives rise to the problem. The solution (...)
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  21. Thomas Hofweber (2006). Inexpressible Properties and Propositions. In Dean Zimmerman (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaphysics. Oup Oxford. 155-206.
    Everyone working on metaphysical questions about properties or propositions knows the reaction that many non-philosophers, even nonmetaphysicians, have to such questions. Even though they agree that Fido is a dog and thus has the property (or feature or characteristic) of being a dog, it seems weird, suspicious, or confused to them to now ask what that thing, the property of being a dog, is. The same reservations do not carry over to asking what this thing, Fido, is. There is a (...)
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  22. Thomas Hofweber (2006). Oxford Studies in Metaphysics.
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  23. Thomas Hofweber (2006). Semantica e ontologia-Un enigma per l'ontologia. Rivista di Estetica 32:41.
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  24. Thomas Hofweber (2006). Schiffer's New Theory of Propositions. [REVIEW] Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 73 (1):211–217.
    Every fifteen years or so Stephen Schiffer writes a state of the art book on the philosophy of language, with special emphasis on belief ascriptions, meaning, and propositions. The latest is his terrific new book The Things we Mean. It is again full of ideas, insights, arguments, expositions, and theories. For us, however, who believe that that-clauses are first and foremost clauses, not referring expressions, and that they thus do not refer to propositions or anything else, The Things we Mean (...)
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  25. Thomas Hofweber (2006). Un enigma per l'ontologia. Rivista di Estetica 46 (32):41-69.
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  26. Thomas Hofweber (2005). A Puzzle About Ontology. Noûs 39 (2):256-283.
    Ontology is the philosophical discipline that tries to find out what there is: what entities make up reality, what is the stuff the world is made from? Thus, ontology is part of metaphysics, and in fact it seems to be about half of all of metaphysics. It tries to establish what (kinds of) things there are, the other half tries to find out what the (general) properties of these things are and what (general) relations they have to each other. Settling (...)
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  27. Thomas Hofweber (2005). Conceptions of Truth. Philosophical Review 114 (1):136-138.
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  28. Thomas Hofweber (2005). Number Determiners, Numbers, and Arithmetic. Philosophical Review 114 (2):179-225.
    In his groundbreaking Grundlagen, Frege (1884) pointed out that number words like ‘four’ occur in ordinary language in two quite different ways and that this gives rise to a philosophical puzzle. On the one hand ‘four’ occurs as an adjective, which is to say that it occurs grammatically in sentences in a position that is commonly occupied by adjectives. Frege’s example was (1) Jupiter has four moons, where the occurrence of ‘four’ seems to be just like that of ‘green’ in (...)
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  29. Thomas Hofweber (2005). Supervenience and Object-Dependent Properties. Journal of Philosophy 102 (1):5-32.
    I argue that the semantic thesis of direct reference and the meta- physical thesis of the supervenience of the non-physical on the physical cannot both be true. The argument first develops a necessary condition for supervenience, a so-called conditional locality requirement, which is then shown to be incompatible with some physical object having object dependent properties, which in turn is required for the thesis of direct reference to be true. We apply this argument to formulate a new argument against the (...)
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  30. Thomas Hofweber & Paul M. Churchland (2005). Functionalism at Forty: A Critical Retrospective. Journal of Philosophy 102 (1):33 - 50.
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  31. James Robert Brown & Thomas Hofweber (2001). Reviews-Philosophy of Mathematics: An Introduction to the World of Proofs and Pictures. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 52 (2):413.
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  32. Thomas Hofweber (2001). A Subject with No Object. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 62 (3):723-727.
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  33. Thomas Hofweber (2001). Review of "Philosophy of Mathematics: An Introduction to the World of Proofs and Pictures" by James Robert Brown. [REVIEW] British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 52 (2):413-416.
  34. Thomas Hofweber (2000). Proof-Theoretic Reduction as a Philosopher's Tool. Erkenntnis 53 (1-2):127-146.
    Hilbert’s program in the philosophy of mathematics comes in two parts. One part is a technical part. To carry out this part of the program one has to prove a certain technical result. The other part of the program is a philosophical part. It is concerned with philosophical questions that are the real aim of the program. To carry out this part one, basically, has to show why the technical part answers the philosophical questions one wanted to have answered. Hilbert (...)
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  35. Thomas Hofweber (2000). Quantification and Non-Existent Objects. In T. Hofweber & A. Everett (eds.), Empty Names, Fiction, and the Puzzles of Non-Existence. Csli Publications.
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  36. Thomas Hofweber (1999). Ontology and Objectivity. Dissertation, Stanford University
    Ontology is the study of what there is, what kinds of things make up reality. Ontology seems to be a very difficult, rather speculative discipline. However, it is trivial to conclude that there are properties, propositions and numbers, starting from only necessarily true or analytic premises. This gives rise to a puzzle about how hard ontological questions are, and relates to a puzzle about how important they are. And it produces the ontologyobjectivity dilemma: either (certain) ontological questions can be trivially (...)
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