Mark Colyvan (2010) raises two problems for ‘easy road’ nominalism about mathematical objects. The first is that a theory’s mathematical commitments may run too deep to permit the extraction of nominalistic content. Taking the math out is, or could be, like taking the hobbits out of Lord of the Rings. I agree with the ‘could be’, but not (or not yet) the ‘is’. A notion of logical subtraction is developed that supports the possibility, questioned by Colyvan, of bracketing a theory’s (...) mathematical aspects to obtain, as remainder, what it says ‘mathematics aside’. The other problem concerns explanation. Several grades of mathematical involvement in physical explanation are distinguished, by analogy with Quine’s three grades of modal involvement. The first two grades plausibly obtain, but they do not require mathematical objects. The third grade is likelier to require mathematical objects. But it is not clear from Colyvan’s example that the third grade really obtains. (shrink)
The real distinction between mind and body -- Is conceivability a guide to possibility? -- Textbook kripkeanism and the open texture of concepts -- Coulda, woulda, shoulda -- No fool's cold : notes on illusions of possibility -- Beyond rigidification : the importance of being really actual -- How in the world? -- Mental causation -- Singling out properties -- Wide causation -- Causal relevance : mental, moral, and epistemic.
Here is Frege in Foundations of Arithmetic, § 64:The judgment 'Line a is parallel to line b', in symbols: ab, can be taken as an identity. If we do this, we obtain the concept of direction, and say: 'The direction of line a is equal to the direction of line b.' Thus we replace the symbol by the more generic symbol =, through removing what is specific in the content of the former and dividing it between a and b. We (...) carve up the content in a way different from the original way, and this yields us a new concept.Something important is going on in this passage. But at the same time it borders on incoherent. For Frege is saying at least the following:'dir(a ) = dir(b )' has the same content as 'ab'reflecting on that .. (shrink)
Mental causes are threatened from two directions: from below, since they would appear to be screened off by lower-order, e.g., neural states; and from within, since they would also appear to be screened off by intrinsic, e.g., syntactical states. A principle needed to parry the first threat -causes should be proportional to their effects- appears to leave us open to the second; for why should unneeded extrinsic detail be any less offensive to proportionality than excess microstructure? I say that the (...) second threat relies on a perversion of proportionality that would lay waste to all causal relations. (shrink)
By effective thinkers I mean not people who think effectively, but people who understand “how it’s done,” i.e., people not paralyzed by the philosophical problem of epiphenomenalism. I argue that mental causes are not preempted by either neural or narrow content states, and that extrinsically individuated mental states are not out of proportion with their putative effects. I give three examples/models of how an extrinsic cause might be more proportional to an effect than the competition.
Kripke, argued like this: it seems possible that E; the appearance can't be explained away as really pertaining to a "presentation" of E; so, pending a different explanation, it is possible that E. Textbook Kripkeans see in the contrast between E and its presentation intimations of a quite general distinction between two sorts of meaning. E's secondary or a posteriori meaning is the set of all worlds w which E, as employed here, truly describes. Its primary or a priori meaning (...) is the set of all w such that if w is actual, then E is true. "Conceivability error" occurs when a primary possibility is mistaken for a secondary one. Textbook Kripkeanism is rejected on the grounds that it makes meaning too modal and modality too much a matter of meaning. (shrink)
[Stephen Yablo] The usual charge against Carnap's internal/external distinction is one of 'guilt by association with analytic/synthetic'. But it can be freed of this association, to become the distinction between statements made within make-believe games and those made outside them-or, rather, a special case of it with some claim to be called the metaphorical/literal distinction. Not even Quine considers figurative speech committal, so this turns the tables somewhat. To determine our ontological commitments, we have to ferret out all traces of (...) nonliterality in our assertions; if there is no sensible project of doing that, there is no sensible project of Quinean ontology. /// [Andre Gallois] I discuss Steve Yablo's defence of Carnap's distinction between internal and external questions. In the first section I set out what I take that distinction, as Carnap draws it, to be, and spell out a central motivation Carnap has for invoking it. In the second section I endorse, and augment, Yablo's response to Quine's arguments against Carnap. In the third section I say why Carnap's application of the distinction between internal and external questions runs into trouble. In the fourth section I spell out what I take to be Yablo's version of Carnap. In the last I say why that version is especially vulnerable to the objection raised in the second. (shrink)
Essence and causation are fundamental in metaphysics, but little is said about their relations. Some essential properties are of course causal, as it is essential to footprints to have been caused by feet. But I am interested less in causation's role in essence than the reverse: the bearing a thing's essence has on its causal powers. That essencemight make a causal contribution is hinted already by the counterfactual element in causation; and the hint is confirmed by the explanation essence offers (...) of something otherwise mysterious, namely, how events exactly alike in every ordinary respect, like the bolt'ssuddenly snapping and its snapping per se, manage to disagree in what they cause. Some prior difference must exist between these events to make their causal powers unlike. Paradoxically, though, it can only be in point of a property, suddenness, which both events possess in common. Only by postulating a difference in themanner — essential or accidental — of the property's possession is the paradox resolved. Next we need an account of causation in which essence plays an explicit determinative role. That account, based on the idea that causes should becommensurate with their effects, is thatx causesy only if nothing essentially poorer would have done, and nothing essentially richer was needed. (shrink)
Descartes's "conceivability argument" for substance-dualism is defended against Arnauld's criticism that, for all he knows, Descartes can conceive himself without a body only because he underestimates his true essence; one could suggest with equal plausibility that it is only for ignorance of his essential hairiness that Descartes can conceive himself as bald. Conceivability intuitions are defeasible but special reasons are required; a model for such defeat is offered, and various potential defeaters of Descartes's intuition are considered and rejected. At best (...) though Descartes shows the separability of mind from body, not (as he claims) their actual separateness. (shrink)
Many topics have not been covered, in most cases because I don't know quite what to say about them. Would it be possible to add a decidability predicate to the language? What about stronger connectives, like exclusion negation or Lukasiewicz implication? Would an expanded language do better at expressing its own semantics? Would it contain new and more terrible paradoxes? Can the account be supplemented with a workable notion of inherent truth (see note 36)? In what sense does stage semantics (...) lie “between” fixed point and stability semantics? In what sense, exactly, are our semantical rules inconsistent? In what sense, if any, does their inconsistency resolve the problem of the paradoxes?The ideals of strength, grounding, and closure together define an intuitively appealing conception of truth. Nothing would be gained by insisting that it was the intuitive conception of truth, and in fact recent developments make me wonder whether such a thing exists. However that may be, until the alternatives are better understood it would be foolish to attempt to decide between them. Truth gives up her secrets slowly and grudgingly, and loves to confound our presumptions. (shrink)