Benardete Paradoxes, Causal Finitism, and the Unsatisfiable Pair Diagnosis

Mind (forthcoming)
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Abstract

We examine two competing solutions to Benardete paradoxes: causal finitism, according to which nothing can have infinitely many causes, and the unsatisfiable pair diagnosis (UPD), according to which such paradoxes are logically impossible and no metaphysical thesis need be adopted to avoid them. We argue that the UPD enjoys notable theoretical advantages over causal finitism. Causal finitists, however, have levelled two main objections to the UPD. First, they urge that the UPD requires positing a ‘mysterious force’ that prevents paradoxes from arising. Since such a force is implausible, the UPD is in trouble. Second, they employ recombination or patchwork principles to argue that paradoxical situations would be possible if causal finitism were false. Since such situations are not possible, causal finitism is true, and so a substantive metaphysical thesis is needed to avoid the paradoxes. We argue that the UPD proponent can successfully respond to these objections.

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Author Profiles

Joseph Schmid
Princeton University
Alex Malpass
University of Bristol

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