How is the debate between presentism and eternalism to be characterized? It is usual to suggest that this debate about time is analogous to the debate between the actualist and the possibilist about modality. I think that this suggestion is right. In what follows I pursue the analogy more strictly than is usual and offer a characterization of what is at the core of the dispute between presentists and eternalists that may be immune to worries often raised about the substantiality (...) of the debate. I suggest that the debate be characterized in Lewisean terms and define positions I call *Lewisean* eternalism and anti-*Lewisean*' presentism (analogous to Lewisean possibilism and anti-Lewisean actualism). I explain some advantages of the proposal and discuss some objections. I conclude that pursuing the analogy strictly offers the prospect of giving clear sense to a controversy which otherwise seems to many deeply obscure. (shrink)
Much of the debate about identity in recent decades has been about personal identity, and specifically about personal identity over time, but identity generally, and the identity of things of other kinds, have also attracted attention. Various interrelated problems have been at the centre of discussion, but it is fair to say that recent work has focussed particularly on the following areas: the notion of a criterion of identity; the correct analysis of identity over time, and, in particular, the disagreement (...) between advocates of perdurance and advocates of endurance as analyses of identity over time; the notion of identity across possible worlds and the question of its relevance to the correct analysis of de re modal discourse; the notion of contingent identity; the question of whether the identity relation is, or is similar to, the composition relation; and the notion of vague identity. A radical position, advocated by Peter Geach, is that these debates, as usually conducted, are void for lack of a subject matter: the notion of absolute identity they presuppose has no application; there is only relative identity. Another increasingly popular view is the one advocated by Lewis: although the debates make sense they cannot genuinely be debates about identity, since there are no philosophical problems about identity. Identity is an utterly unproblematic notion. What there are, are genuine problems which can be stated using the language of identity. But since these can be restated without the language of identity they are not problems about identity. (For example, it is a puzzle, an aspect of the so-called “problem of personal identity”, whether the same person can have different bodies at different times. But this is just the puzzle whether a person can have different bodies at different times. So since it can be stated without the language of personal “identity”, it is not a problem about identity, but about personhood.) This article provides an overview of the topics indicated above, some assessment of the debates and suggestions for further reading. (shrink)
What is the self? And how does it relate to the body? In the second edition of Personal Identity, Harold Noonan presents the major historical theories of personal identity, particularly those of Locke, Leibniz, Butler, Reid and Hume. Noonan goes on to give a careful analysis of what the problem of personal identity is, and its place in the context of more general puzzles about identity. He then moves on to consider the main issues and arguments which are the subject (...) of current debate, including the work of Bernard Williams and Derek Parfit, and makes new and challenging interpretations of them. This new edition contains additional material assessing the biological approach which has become increasingly popular in recent years, and extends the treatment of indeterminate identity to take account of the epistemic view of vagueness. This book covers the problem of personal identity from its origin in Locke's work to the most recent debates in the philosophical literature, and will be invaluablereading for any student of the topic. (shrink)
Personal pronoun revisionism (so-called by Olson, E. 2007. What are We? A Study in Personal Ontology. Oxford: Oxford University Press) is a response to the problem of the thinking animal on behalf of the neo-Lockean theorist. Many worry about this response. The worry rests on asking the wrong question, namely: how can two thinkers that are so alike differ in this way in their cognitive capacities? This is the wrong question because they don't. The right question is: how can they (...) fail to be the same? From the materialist viewpoint shared by the animalist and neo-Lockean they can't. Personal pronoun revisionism is a consequence of their cognitive identity. (shrink)
Personal Identity is a comprehensive introduction to the nature of the self and its relation to the body. Harold Noonan places the problem of personal identity in the context of more general puzzles about identity, discussing the major historical theories and more recent debates. The second edition of Personal Identity contains a new chapter on 'animalism' and a new section on vagueness.
Functionally, religion is what is held as sacred, that is, as untouchable. In the United States, taxes and military manpower are untouchable and, therefore, beyond objection by particular religions. The courts, too, are untouchable in determining what is and what is not religion. Despite these severe limitations on religious freedom, sometimes religion has broken the national consensus - most notably in the abolitionist movement of 1829-1865 and in the civil rights movement of 1959-1964. Such acts of religious freedom have been (...) the dynamism of profound social change. (shrink)
In this paper we articulate a growing awareness within the field of the ways in which medical humanities could be deemed expressive of Western cultural values. The authors suggest that medical humanities is culturally limited by a pedagogical and scholarly emphasis on Western cultural artefacts, as well as a tendency to enact an uncritical reliance upon foundational concepts (such as ‘patient’ and ‘experience’) within Western medicine. Both these tendencies within the field, we suggest, are underpinned by a humanistic emphasis on (...) appreciative or receptive encounters with ‘difference’ among patients that may unwittingly contribute to the marginalisation of some patients and healthcare workers. While cultural difference should be acknowledged as a central preoccupation of medical humanities, we argue that the discipline must continue to expand its scholarly and critical engagements with processes of Othering in biomedicine. We suggest that such improvements are necessary in order to reflect the cultural diversification of medical humanities students, and the geographical expansion of the discipline within non-Western and/or non-Anglophone locations. (shrink)
What are the requirements on an adequate genuine modal realist analysis of modal discourse? One is material adequacy: the modal realist must provide for each candidate analysandum an analysans in the language of counterpart theory which by his lights has the same truth value as the candidate analysandum. Must the material biconditional joining these be necessarily true? This is the requirement of strict adequacy. It is not satisfied if Lewis’s 1968 scheme provides the analysis. John Divers puts forward a modification, (...) which identifies cases of ‘advanced modalizing’ in which the modal operator is semantically redundant. Even with this modification modal realist analyses of statements of modal discourse will be strictly inadequate. Strict adequacy can be achieved by extending the redundancy interpretation to all de dicto modal statements. The price is the denial of de dicto contingency. But perhaps material adequacy is enough. If the modal realist has a systematic means of replacing every sentence of quantified modal logic which he considers true by a sentence of counterpart theory that he considers true, perhaps he need do no more. Still, traditionally philosophical analysis aims at strict adequacy so it is as well to know that this is a test the modal realist analysis fails unless he abandons de dicto contingency. (shrink)
Van Inwagen has an ingenious argument for the non-existence of human artefacts . But the argument cannot be accepted, since human artefacts are everywhere. However, it cannot be ignored. The proper response to it is to treat it as a refutation of its least plausible premise, i.e., to ‘tollens’ it. I first set out van Inwagen’s argument. I then identify its least plausible premise and explain the consequence of denying it, that is, the acceptance of a plenitudinous, pluralist ontology. I (...) argue that denying it is not so difficult, since its denial is an easy consequence of ordinary beliefs. I finish by explaining why van Inwagen has not persuaded me that it may be that artefacts do not exist and conclude that nothing stands in the way of tollensing van Inwagen and accepting the consequence of doing so. (shrink)
Examples suggest that one and the same A may be different Bs, and hence that there is some sort of incompleteness in the unqualified statement that x and y are the same which needs to be eliminated by answering the question “the same what?” One way to make this more precise is by appeal to Geach's idea that identity is relative. In this paper I evaluate Geach's relative identity thesis.
The aim of the paper is to discuss some recent variants of familiar puzzles concerning the relations of parts to wholes put forward by Trenton Merricks and Eric Olson. The argument is put forward that so long as the familiar distinction between 'loose and popular' and 'strict and philosophical' senses of identity claims is accepted the paradoxical conclusions at which Merricks and Olson arrive can be resisted. It is not denied that accepting the distinction between 'loose and popular' and 'strict (...) and philosophical' senses of identity claims is itself a departure from common-sense, but it is argued that it is the smallest such departure available to us. (shrink)
Coincidence comes in two varieties – permanent and temporary. Moderate monism is the position that permanent coincidence, but not temporary coincidence, entails identity. Extreme monism is the position that even temporary coincidence entails identity. Pluralists are opponents of monism tout court. The intuitively obvious, commonsensical position is moderate monism. It is therefore important to see if it can be sustained.
Standardly, a one-level criterion of identity 1 is given in the form: ∀ x∀ y )where ‘ K’ denotes the kind of thing for which the criterion is being given and ‘ R’ denotes the criterial relation.Thus, we have, for example, the criterion of identity for sets: ∀ x∀ y))and for composites: ∀ x∀ y))and for events: ∀ x∀ y)). is equivalent to the conjunction of: ∀ x and ∀ x )),which just give two necessary 2 conditions for application of (...) the predicate ‘ K’. 3Consider now the reading of ‘ Kx’ as ‘ x is a member of the Theology Department’ and ‘ Rxy’ as ‘ x admires y and y admires x’. On this reading says that every theologian admires himself and admires no other member of the department. In other words it tells us that the theologians are a bunch of narcissists bound together only by mutual contempt or indifference . Suppose that this is 4 true of the theologians. It might also be …. (shrink)
The paper defends Gareth Evans's argument against vague identity. It appeals to a principle I name the principle of the diversity of the definitely dissimilar to defend the thesis that vague identity statements owe their indeterminacy to vagueness in language.
Can the world itself be vague, so that rather than vagueness be a deficiency in our mode of describing the world, it is a necessary feature of any true description of it? Gareth Evans famously poses this question in his paper ‘Can There Be Vague Objects’ :208, 1978). In his recent paper ‘Indeterminacy and Vagueness: Logic and Metaphysics’, Peter van Inwagen elaborates the account of vagueness and, in particular, in the case of sentences, consequent indeterminacy in truth value, to which (...) this conception of ‘worldly’ vagueness is opposed, calling it the ‘sensible’ theory of indeterminacy and rejecting it. In what follows, I defend the sensible theory van Inwagen rejects. I first explain more fully what it involves and, as importantly, what it does not. (shrink)
Current patterns of global economic activity are not only unsustainable, but unethical - this claim is central to Materialist Ethics and Life-Value. Grounding the definition of ethical value in the natural and social requirements of life-support and life-development shared by all human beings, Jeff Noonan provides a new way of understanding the universal conception of "the good life." Noonan argues that the true crisis affecting the world today is not sluggish rates of economic growth but the model of measuring economic (...) and social health in terms of money-value. In response, he develops an alternative understanding of good societies where the breadth and depth of life-activity and enjoyment are dependent on dominant institutions. The more social institutions satisfy the necessary requirements of human life, the more they empower each person to develop and enjoy the capacities that make human life valuable and meaningful. A well-reasoned synthesis of traditional philosophical concerns and contemporary critiques of global capitalism, this book is a forward-looking treatise that defends political struggle and reconsiders what is most important for a happy life. (shrink)
In the standard Newcomb scenario two-boxing is not the rational act and, in general, in Newcomb-style cases the ‘two-boxing’ choice is not the rational act. Hence any decision theory which recommends two-boxing is unacceptable.
Jürgen Habermas’s discourse-theoretic reconstruction of the normative foundations of democracy assumes the formal separation of democratic political practice from the economic system. Democratic autonomy presupposes a vital public sphere protected by a complex schedule of individual rights. These rights are supposed to secure the formal and material conditions for democratic freedom. However, because Habermas argues that the economy must be left to function according to endogenous market dynamics, he accepts as a condition of democracy (the formal separation of spheres) a (...) social structure that is in fact anti-democratic. The value of self-determination that Habermas’s theory of democracy presupposes is contradicted by the actual operations of capitalist markets. Further democratic development demands that the steering mechanisms of the capitalist market be challenged by self-organizing civic movements. (shrink)
What is the difference between the complex view of personal identity over time and the simple view? Traditionally, the defenders of the complex view are said to include Locke and Hume, defenders of the simple view to include Butler and Reid. In our own time it is standard to think of Chisholm and Swinburne as defenders of the simple view and Shoemaker, Parfit, Williams and Lewis as defenders of the complex view. But how exactly is the distinction to be characterized? (...) One difference between the two camps is that defenders of the simple view emphasize the difference between diachronic personal identity and the identity of other objects; they insist that in the case of the other familiar types that figure in philosophical puzzle cases about identity – ships, statues, plants and so on – the correct view is the complex one. On the other hand, defenders of the complex view do not hold a simple view of other things; rather they think that the complex view is correct across the board. We therefore need an account of the distinction which allows us to speak generally of ‘the complex/simple view of the diachronic identity of things of sort S’ where ‘S’ is a sortal term. A respectable view about problems of identity in general is that there aren’t any: any genuine philosophical puzzles can be rephrased so that the language of identity drops out. In what follows, I offer an account of the simple/complex contrast which conforms to this Lewisean view. 1 We can begin by distinguishing two types of constraint on personhood. Type, or synchronic constraints, are capturable in the form: If x is a person, then if x exists at t, Fxt where ‘ F represents a term for a non-historical property, a property …. (shrink)
A plausible principle governing identity is that whether a later individual is identical with an earlier individual cannot ever merely depend on whether there are, at the later time, any better candidates for identity with the earlier individual around. This principle has been a bone of contention amongst philosophers interested in identity for many years. In his latest book Philosophical Explanations Robert Nozick presents what I believe to be the strongest case yet made out for the rejection of this principle. (...) My aim in this paper is to argue, with reference in particular to personal and artefact identity, that Nozick's case can be met and that a theory of identity which entails the correctness of this principle is the equal, indeed the superior, in explanatory power of the theory Nozick develops on the basis of its rejection. (shrink)
Debate between Humean contingentists and anti-Humean necessitarians in the philosophy of science is ongoing. One of the most important contemporary anti-Humeans is Alexander Bird. Bird calls the particular version of Humeanism he is opposed to 'categoricalism'. In his paper (2005) and in Chapter 4 of his book (2007) Bird argues against categoricalism about properties and laws. His arguments against categoricalism about properties are intended to support the necessitarian position he calls dispositional monism. His arguments against categoricalism about laws are intended (...) to refute the contingent regularity view of laws (even in its sophisticated Lewisean version) and the nomic necessitation view of Armstrong (which involves a contingent necessitation relation). The general position Bird defends is that properties are necessarily related to the dispositions they bestow on their bearers and laws are necessary truths. I consider two of Bird's arguments against categoricalism about properties, and one of his arguments against the regularity view of laws. Maybe other arguments against categoricalism are persuasive. These, I submit, are not. (shrink)
The paper defends Gareth Evan's argument against vague identity "de re" from a criticism that quantum mechanics provides actual counter-examples to its validity. A more general version of Evans's argument is stated in which identity involving properties are not essential and it is claimed that the scientific facts as so far known are consistent with the Evansian thesis that indeterminacy in truth-value must always be due to semantic indecision.
What is the difference between the complex view of personal identity over time and the simple view? Traditionally, the defenders of the complex view are said to include Locke and Hume, defenders of the simple view to include Butler and Reid. In our own time it is standard to think of Chisholm and Swinburne as defenders of the simple view and Shoemaker, Parfit, Williams and Lewis as defenders of the complex view. But how exactly is the distinction to be characterized? (...) One difference between the two camps is that defenders of the simple view emphasize the difference between diachronic personal identity and the identity of other objects; they insist that in the case of the other familiar types that figure in philosophical puzzle cases about identity – ships, statues, plants and so on – the correct view is the complex one. On the other hand, defenders of the complex view do not hold a simple view of other things; rather they think that the complex view is correct across the board. We therefore need an account of the distinction which allows us to speak generally of ‘the complex/simple view of the diachronic identity of things of sort S’ where ‘S’ is a sortal term. A respectable view about problems of identity in general is that there aren’t any: any genuine philosophical puzzles can be rephrased so that the language of identity drops out . In what follows, I offer an account of the simple/complex contrast which conforms to this Lewisean view. 1 We can begin by distinguishing two types of constraint on personhood. Type , or synchronic constraints, are capturable in the form: If x is a person, then if x exists at t, Fxt where ‘ F represents a term for a non-historical property, a property …. (shrink)