Awareness is a two-place determinable relation some determinates of which are seeing, hearing, etc. Abstract objects are items such as universals and functions, which contrast with concrete objects such as solids and liquids. It is uncontroversial that we are sometimes aware of concrete objects. In this paper I explore the more controversial topic of awareness of abstract objects. I distinguish two questions. First, the Existence Question: are there any experiences that make their subjects aware of abstract (...)objects? Second, the Grounding Question: if an experience makes its subject aware of an abstract object, in virtue of what does it do so? I defend the view that intuitions, specifically mathematical intuitions, sometimes make their subjects aware of abstract objects. In defending this view, I develop an account of the ground of intuitive awareness. (shrink)
The special composition question asks, roughly, under what conditions composition occurs. The common sense view is that composition only occurs among some things and that all and only ‘ordinary objects’ exist. Peter van Inwagen has marshaled a devastating argument against this view. The common sense view appears to commit one to giving what van Inwagen calls a ‘series-style answer’ to the special composition question, but van Inwagen argues that series-style answers are impossible because they are inconsistent with the transitivity (...) of parthood. In what follows I answer this objection in addition to other, less troubling objections raised by van Inwagen. (shrink)
The one-world interpretation of Kant's idealism holds that appearances and things in themselves are, in some sense, the same things. Yet this reading faces a number of problems, all arising from the different features Kant seems to assign to appearances and things in themselves. I propose a new way of understanding the appearance/thing in itself distinction via an Aristotelian notion that I call, following Kit Fine, a ‘qua-object.’ Understanding appearances and things in themselves as qua-objects provides a clear sense (...) in which they can be the same things while differing in many of their features. (shrink)
Drawing on different suggestions from the literature, we outline a unified metaphysical framework, labeled as Modal Meinongian Metaphysics (MMM), combining Meinongian themes with a non-standard modal ontology. The MMM approach is based on (1) a comprehension principle (CP) for objects in unrestricted, but qualified form, and (2) the employment of an ontology of impossible worlds, besides possible ones. In §§1–2, we introduce the classical Meinongian metaphysics and consider two famous Russellian criticisms, namely (a) the charge of inconsistency and (b) (...) the claim that naïve Meinongianism allows one to prove that anything exists. In §3, we have impossible worlds enter the stage and provide independent justification for their use. In §4, we introduce our revised comprehension principle: our CP has no restriction on the (sets of) properties that can characterize objects, but parameterizes them to worlds, therefore having modality explicitly built into it. In §5, we propose an application of the MMM apparatus to fictional objects and defend the naturalness of our treatment against alternative approaches. Finally, in §6, we consider David Lewis’ notorious objection to impossibilia, and provide a reply to it by resorting to an ersatz account of worlds. (shrink)
I argue (1) that metaphysical views of material objects should be understood as 'packages', rather than individual claims, where the other parts of the package include how the theory addresses 'recalcitant data' (such as - the denier of artifacts has to account, somehow, for the seeming truth of 'there are three pencils on my table'), and (2) that when the packages meet certain general desiderata - which all of the currently competing views *can* meet - there is nothing in (...) the world that could make one of the theories true as opposed to any of the others. (shrink)
This paper is concerned with neo-Fregean accounts of reference to abstract objects. It develops an objection to the most familiar such accounts, due to Bob Hale and Crispin Wright, based upon what I call the 'proliferation problem': Hale and Wright's account makes reference to abstract objects seem too easy, as is shown by the fact that any equivalence relation seems as good as any other. The paper then develops a response to this objection, and offers an account of (...) what it is for abstracta to exist that is Fregean in spirit but more robust than familiar views. (shrink)
In this paper, we see that contrary to most readings of T 1.4.2 in the Treatise (“Of Skepticism with Regard to the Senses”), Hume does not think that objects are sense impressions. This means that Hume’s position on objects (whatever that may be) is not to be conflated with the vulgar perspective. Moreover, the vulgar perspective undergoes a marked transition in T 1.4.2, evolving from what we may call vulgar perspective I into vulgar perspective II. This paper presents (...) the first detailed analysis of this evolution, which includes an explanation of T 1.4.2’s four-part system. (shrink)
Ordinary objects are vague, because either (i) composition is restricted, or (ii) there really are no such objects (but we still want to talk about them), or (iii) because such objects are not metaphysically (independently of us) distinguishable from other 'extra-ordinary' objects. In any sense in which there are ordinary objects, they are vague.
This paper argues that a theory of situated vision, suited for the dual purposes of object recognition and the control of action, will have to provide something more than a system that constructs a conceptual representation from visual stimuli: it will also need to provide a special kind of direct (preconceptual, unmediated) connection between elements of a visual representation and certain elements in the world. Like natural language demonstratives (such as `this' or `that') this direct connection allows entities to be (...) referred to without being categorized or conceptualized. Several reasons are given for why we need such a preconcep- tual mechanism which individuates and keeps track of several individual objects in the world. One is that early vision must pick out and compute the relation among several individual objects while ignoring their properties. Another is that incrementally computing and updating representations of a dynamic scene requires keeping track of token individuals despite changes in their properties or locations. It is then noted that a mechanism meeting these requirements has already been proposed in order to account for a number of disparate empiri- cal phenomena, including subitizing, search-subset selection and multiple object tracking (Pylyshyn et al., Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology 48(2) (1994) 260). This mechanism, called a visual index or FINST, is brie. (shrink)
A modus tollens against zero-dimensional material objects is presented from the premises (i) that if there are zero-dimensional material objects then there are bare particulars, and (ii) that there are no bare particulars. The argument for the first premise proceeds by elimination. First, bare particular theory and bundle theory are motivated as the most appealing theories of property exemplification. It is then argued that the bundle theorist’s Ockhamism ought to lead her to reject spatiotemporally located zero-dimensional property instances. (...) Finally, it is argued that since she must accept such instances if she accepts zero-dimensional material object bundles, she ought to avoid the latter. This leaves bare particular theory as the default view of zero-dimensional material objects. The argument for the second premise invokes the thesis that the exemplification of at least one sparse property is a prerequisite for the existence of any particular. It is argued from Humean considerations that bare particulars fail this prerequisite. (shrink)
Philosophers have defended various views about abstract objects by appealing to metaphysical considerations, considerations regarding mathematics or science, and, not infrequently, intuitions about natural language. This book pursues the question of how and whether natural language allows for reference to abstract objects in a fully systematic way. By making full use of contemporary linguistic semantics, it presents a much greater range of linguistic generalizations than has previously been taken into consideration in philosophical discussions, and it argues for an (...) ontological picture is very different from that generally taken for granted by philosophers and semanticists alike. Reference to abstract objects such as properties, numbers, propositions, and degrees is considerably more marginal than generally held. (shrink)
Musical Platonists identify musical works with abstract sound structures but this implies that they are not created but only discovered. Jerrold Levinson adapts Platonism to allow for creation by identifying musical works with indicated sound structures. In this paper I explore the similarities between Levinson's view and Kit Fine's theory of qua objects. Fine offers the theory of qua objects as an account of constitution, as it obtains, for example, between a statue and the clay the statue is (...) made out of. I argue that Fine's theory does not adequately characterize the constitution relation and that the problems it faces extend to Levinson's account of musical works as indicated structures. I develop an alternative theory of constitution, based on the notion of being made out of. This approach to constitution enables me to offer an account of musical works as abstract objects that are constituted by sound structures. I argue that my account has several advantages over the Levinson/Fine approach. (shrink)
It is argued that there are ways of individuating the objects of perception without using sortal concepts. The result is an moderate anti-sortalist position on which one can single out objects using demonstrative expressions without knowing exactly what sort of thing those objects are.
This discussion paper proposes that a meaningful distinction between science and technoscience can be found at the level of the objects of research. Both notions intermingle in the attitudes, intentions, programs and projects of researchers and research institutions—that is, on the side of the subjects of research. But the difference between science and technoscience becomes more explicit when research results are presented in particular settings and when the objects of research are exhibited for the specific interest they hold. (...) When an experiment is presented as scientific evidence which confirms or disconfirms a hypothesis, this agrees with traditional conceptions of science. When organic molecules are presented for their capacity to serve individually as electric wires that carry surprisingly large currents, this would be a hallmark of technoscience. Accordingly, we propose research on the ontology of research objects. The focus on the character and significance of research objects makes this a specifically philosophical project. (shrink)
Idealist philosophers have traditionally tried to defend their views by appealing to the claim that nonmental reality is inconceivable. A standard response to this inconceivability claim is to try to show that it is only plausible if one blurs the fundamental distinction between consciousness and its object. I try to rehabilitate the idealistic argument by presenting an alternative formulation of the idealist’s basic inconceivability claim. Rather than suggesting that all objects are inconceivable apart from consciousness, I suggest that it (...) is impossible to conceive of any such object as genuinely existent. This thesis is lent credence by the fact that only in reflective self-consciousness is existence a phenomenological datum. Not only is it the case that we are not ever aware of an object as existing, we do not have a clear understanding of what it would be like to have such an awareness. If this is true, then we have reason to believe that while consciousness exists, the objects of consciousness cannot exist. (shrink)
In this paper, the authors discuss Frege's theory of "logical objects" (extensions, numbers, truth-values) and the recent attempts to rehabilitate it. We show that the 'eta' relation George Boolos deployed on Frege's behalf is similar, if not identical, to the encoding mode of predication that underlies the theory of abstract objects. Whereas Boolos accepted unrestricted Comprehension for Properties and used the 'eta' relation to assert the existence of logical objects under certain highly restricted conditions, the theory of (...) abstract objects uses unrestricted Comprehension for Logical Objects and banishes encoding (eta) formulas from Comprehension for Properties. The relative mathematical and philosophical strengths of the two theories are discussed. Along the way, new results in the theory of abstract objects are described, involving: (a) the theory of extensions, (b) the theory of directions and shapes, and (c) the theory of truth values. (shrink)
An account of non-existing objects called 'classical possibilism', according to which objects that don't actually exist do exist in various other ways, is implemented in a two-dimensional modal logic with non-traditional predication theory. This account is very similar to Priest's, but preserves bivalence and does not endorse dialethism. The power of classical possibilism is illustrated by giving some examples that makes use of a description theory of reference. However, the same effect could also be achieved in a more (...) Millian fashion. It is argued that classical possibilism is ontologically more neutral than is commonly thought, because it allows for the formulation of various forms of reductionism within the object language. (shrink)
Husserl’s philosophy of culture relies upon a person’s body being expressive of the person’s spirit, but Husserl’s analysis of expression in Logical Investigations is inadequate to explain this bodily expressiveness. This paper explains how Husserl’s use of “expression” shifts from LI to Ideas II and argues that this shift is explained by Husserl’s increased understanding of the pervasiveness of sense in subjective life and his increased appreciation for the unity of the person. I show how these two developments allow Husserl (...) to better describe the bodily expressiveness that is the source of culture. Husserl’s account of culture is thoroughly intentionalistic, but it does not emphasize thought at the expense of embodiment. Culture originates not in an abstract subjectivity, but by persons’ expressing themselves physically in the world. By seeing how Husserl develops his mature position on bodily expressiveness, we can better appreciate the meaningfulness and the bodily concreteness of cultural objects. (shrink)
In this paper, the author derives the Dedekind-Peano axioms for number theory from a consistent and general metaphysical theory of abstract objects. The derivation makes no appeal to primitive mathematical notions, implicit definitions, or a principle of infinity. The theorems proved constitute an important subset of the numbered propositions found in Frege's Grundgesetze. The proofs of the theorems reconstruct Frege's derivations, with the exception of the claim that every number has a successor, which is derived from a modal axiom (...) that (philosophical) logicians implicitly accept. In the final section of the paper, there is a brief philosophical discussion of how the present theory relates to the work of other philosophers attempting to reconstruct Frege's conception of numbers and logical objects. (shrink)
The problem of the many poses the task of explaining mereological indeterminacy of ordinary objects in a way that sustains our familiar practice of counting these objects. The aim of this essay is to develop a solution to the problem of the many that is based on an account of mereological indeterminacy as having its source in how ordinary objects are, independently of how we represent them. At the center of the account stands a quasi-hylomorphic ontology of (...) ordinary objects as material objects with multiple individual forms. (shrink)
We propose a formal representation of objects , those being mathematical or empirical objects. The powerful framework inside which we represent them in a unique and coherent way is grounded, on the formal side, in a logical approach with a direct mathematical semantics in the well-established field of constructive topology, and, on the philosophical side, in a neo-Kantian perspective emphasizing the knowing subject’s role, which is constructive for the mathematical objects and constitutive for the empirical ones.
In the year 1894, Husserl had not been already contaminated by Bolzano’s realism. It was then that he conceived a theory of assumptions in order to “save an existence” for mathematical objects. Here we would like to explore this theory and show in what way it represented a convincing alternative to realistic ontology and its counterpart: the correspondence theory of truth. However, as soon as he designed it, Husserl shoved away all the implications for his theory of assumptions, and (...) merely abandoned it. We would also like to consider the wrong reasons for this renouncement, which undoubtedly have to do with the dichotomy between signification and perception in his elaboration of phenomenology. (shrink)
Ted Sider argues that nihilism about objects is incompatible with the metaphysical possibility of gunk and takes this point to show that nihilism is flawed. I shall describe one kind of nihilism able to answer this objection. I believe that most of the things we usually encounter do not exist. That is, I take talk of macroscopic objects and macroscopic properties to refer to sets of fundamental properties, which are invoked as a matter of linguistic convention. This view (...) is a kind of nihilism: it rules out the existence of objects; that is, from an ontological point of view, there are no objects. But unlike the moderate nihilism of Mark Heller, Peter van Inwagen and Trenton Merricks that claims that most objects do not exist, I endorse a radical nihilism according to which there are no objects in the world, but only properties instantiated in spacetime. As I will show, radical nihilism is perfectly compatible with the metaphysical possibility of gunk. It is also compatible with the epistemic possibility that we actually live in a gunk world. The objection raised by Ted Sider only applies to moderate nihilism that admits some objects in its ontology. (shrink)
What caused the event we report by saying “the window shattered”? Was it the baseball, which crashed into the window? Causal exclusionists say: many, many microparticles collectively caused that event—microparticles located where common sense supposes the baseball was. Unitary large objects such as baseballs cause nothing; indeed, by Alexander’s dictum, there are no such objects. This paper argues that the false claim about causal efficacy is instead the one that attributes it to the many microparticles. Causation obtains just (...) where there is an “invariance”, a true generalization to the effect that had things been different with the putative cause, things would have been correspondingly different with the putative effect. But “correspondingly” here requires a rough metric. There must be a fact as to which alternative group events, involving many microparticles, would have departed less from the putative cause of the shattering, and which would have departed more. Surprisingly, there is no such fact. (shrink)
Contemporary process metaphysics has achieved a number of important results, most significantly in accounting for emergence, a problem on which substance metaphysics has foundered since Plato. It also faces trenchant problems of its own, among them the related problems of boundaries and individuation. Historically, the quest for ontology may thus have been largely responsible for the persistence of substance metaphysics. But as Plato was well aware, an ontology of substantial things raises serious, perhaps insurmountable problems for any account of our (...) epistemic access to such things. Physical things are subject to change, and as such, they are poor objects of knowledge—if knowledge is to be more reliable than mere opinion. There is a reading of Plato’s Theaetetus on which knowledge may be understood as a relation between an epistemic subject and a logos, where logoi are intrinsically dialectical, and where dialectic is a kind of intersubjective activity. Insofar as this epistemology may be attributed to Plato, the project of this paper is Platonic in spirit. It is also, in a sense, Kantian, in that it divorces ontology from the search for things-in-themselves, redirecting our attention from things to objects: epistemic objects. Such objects can be understood, as Maurice Merleau-Ponty proposed, as shared by multiple subjects by virtue of their participation in an intersubjective world, constituted by what Shaun Gallagher calls participatory sense-making. On an epistemology constructed in this way, the fact that both epistemic objects and their subject are mutable is no obstacle to knowledge. Far-from-equilibrium systems are forever mutable; at thermodynamic equilibrium, there would be neither subject, nor object. Epistemic objects, on this picture, are metastable loci of interactive potential. (shrink)
A reply to Arda Denkel's argument that it is not possible to have matter without objects. I argue that the argument assumes that having a 'form' is being sufficient for the existence of an object, which the opponent should not be thought to grant.
In this paper, an account of two novel ontologies is given to point to the need to revise the status of facts in school curriculum. It is argued that schooling is in dire need of re-enchantment. The way to re-enchant schooling is to re-enliven the world we inhabit. We need to fall head over heels in love with the world again. In order to do that, we need to shake up our conception of “the hard and cold facts of the (...) world” to make the latter come alive radiating vibrancy and luminosity out into the world. Facts have to be liberated from their “cold and hard” status and become things that captivate us with their uniqueness and dynamism. To the extent that facts enchant (instead of merely re/present the world), working with them leads to educative experience. To work out how to let the facts do that, two thinkers and two ways to reconceptualize ‘facts’ are discussed: Graham Harman and his objects, and Ken Wilber and his holons. (shrink)
This book provides the first comprehensive account of Hume’s conception of objects in Book I of the Treatise. What, according to Hume, are objects? Ideas? Impressions? Mind-independent objects? All three? None of the above? Through a close textual analysis, I show that Hume thought that objects are imagined ideas. However, I argue that he struggled with two accounts of how and when we imagine such ideas. On the one hand, Hume believed that we always and universally (...) imagine that objects are the causes of our perceptions. On the other hand, he thought that we only imagine such causes when we reach a “philosophical” level of thought. This tension manifests itself in Hume’s account of personal identity; a tension that, I argue, Hume acknowledges in the Appendix to the Treatise. As a result of presenting a detailed account of Hume’s conception of objects, we are forced to accommodate new interpretations of, at least, Hume’s notions of belief, personal identity, justification and causality. (shrink)
The Platonic theist Peter van Inwagen argues that God cannot create abstract objects. Thus, the quantifier ‘everything’ in traditional statements of the doctrine of creation should be appropriately restricted to things that can enter into causal relations and abstract objects cannot: ‘God is the creator of everything distinct from himself…that can enter into causal relations.’ I respond to van Inwagen arguing that he has provided no good reason for thinking abstract objects must be uncreated. And if this (...) is the case, then there is no good reason to think that God cannot create abstract objects. (shrink)
Assuming there are fictional objects, what sorts of properties do they have? Intuitively, most of their properties involve being represented—appearing in works of fiction, being depicted as clever, being portrayed by actors, being admired or feared, etc. But several philosophers, including Saul Kripke, Peter van Inwagen, Kendall Walton, and Amie Thomasson argue that even if there are fictional objects, they are not really represented in some or all of these cases. I reconstruct four kinds of arguments for this (...) unexpected conclusion; they concern the semantics of names, pragmatic force, creation, and representations’ qualitative content. But I find all the arguments flawed. I then argue for the contrary, employing a new perspective: representation of fictional objects begins with the works of fiction that originate them. And a work of fiction represents its “native” objects because our culture bestows that property on it (and on other works of fiction). I sketch conditions for such property-bestowal, and argue that they are satisfied in this case. (shrink)
Classical mechanics in phase space as well as quantum mechanics in Hilbert space lead to states and observables but not to objects that may be considered as carriers of observable quantities. However, in both cases objects can be constituted as new entities by means of invariance properties of the theories in question. We show, that this way of reasoning has a long history in physics and philosophy and that it can be traced back to the transcendental arguments in (...) Kant’s critique of pure reason. (shrink)
This article shows that in 220.127.116.11-24 of the Treatise of Human Nature, Hume presents his own position on objects, which is to be distinguished from both the vulgar and philosophical conception of objects. Here, Hume argues that objects that are effectively imagined to have a “perfect identity” are imagined due to the constancy and coherence of our perceptions (what we may call ‘level 1 constancy and coherence’). In particular, we imagine that objects cause such perceptions, via (...) what I call ‘indirect causation.’ In virtue of imagining ideas of objects that have a perfect identity, our perceptions seem to be even more constant and coherent (what we may call ‘level 2 constancy and coherence’). Thus, in addition to seeing that Hume is presenting his own position on objects in this section of the Treatise, we see that he is working with a previously unrecognized kind of causation, i.e., indirect causation, and that he has two kinds of constancy and coherence in mind: level 1 and level 2. (shrink)
. Luciano Floridi argues that every existing entity is deserving of at least minimal moral respect in virtue of having intrinsic value qua information object. In this essay, I attempt a comprehensive assessment of this important view as well as the arguments Floridi offers in support of it. I conclude both that the arguments are insufficient and that the thesis itself is substantively implausible from the standpoint of ordinary intuitions.
TABLE OF CONTENTS Introduction: Art, Metaphysics, & The Paradox of Standards (Christy Mag Uidhir) GENERAL ONTOLOGICAL ISSUES 1. Must Ontological Pragmatism be Self-Defeating? (Guy Rohrbaugh) 2. Indication, Abstraction, & Individuation (Jerrold Levinson) 3. Destroying Artworks (Marcus Rossberg) INFORMATIVE COMPARISONS 4. Artworks & Indefinite Extensibility (Roy T. Cook) 5. Historical Individuals Like Anas platyrhynchos & ‘Classical Gas’ (P.D. Magnus) 6. Repeatable Artworks & Genericity (Shieva Kleinschmidt & Jacob Ross) ARGUMENTS AGAINST & ALTERNATIVES TO 7. Against Repeatable Artworks (Allan Hazlett) 8. How (...) to be a Nominalist & a Fictional Realist (Ross Cameron) 9. Platonism vs. Nominalism in Musical Ontology (Andrew Kania) ABSTRACTA ACROSS THE ARTS 10. Reflections on the Metaphysics of Sculpture (Hud Hudson) 11. Installation Art & Performance: A Shared Ontology (Sherri Irvin) 12. What Type of ‘Type’ is a Film? (David Davies) 13. Musical Works: A Metaphysical Mash-Up (Joseph Moore) . (shrink)
The modern debate around scientific structuralism has revealed the need to reassess the standing and role of both structure and objects in the metaphysics of physics. Ontic structural realism recommends that metaphysics be purged of objects. Nonetheless, its proponents have failed to specify what it means for properties to be relational and structural, and, consequently, to show how the elementary objects postulated by our best theories can be re-conceptualized in structural terms or altogether eliminated. In this paper, (...) I draw from modern physics in order to untangle various types of relational properties and propose a definition for structural properties. (shrink)