The article provides a novel, conservative account of material constitution, one that employs sortal essentialism and a theory of dominant sortals. It avoids coinciding objects, temporal parts, relativizations of identity, mereological essentialism, anti-essentialism, denials of the reality of the objects of our ordinary ontology, and other radical departures from the metaphysic implicit in ordinary ways of thinking. Defenses of the account against important objections are found in Burke 1997, 2003, and 2004, as well as in the often neglected six (...) paragraphs that conclude section V of this article. (shrink)
One feature of vague predicates is that, as far as appearances go, they lack sharp application boundaries. I argue that we would not be able to locate boundaries even if vague predicates had sharp boundaries. I do so by developing an idealized cognitive model of a categorization faculty which has mobile and dynamic sortals (`classes', `concepts' or `categories') and formally prove that the degree of precision with which boundaries of such sortals can be located is inversely constrained by (...) their flexibility. Given the literature, it is plausible that we are appropriately like the model. Hence, an inability to locate sharp boundaries is not necessarily because there are none; boundaries could be sharp and it is plausible that we would nevertheless be unable to locate them. (shrink)
Advocates of sortal essentialism have argued that concepts like “thing” or “object” lack the unambiguous individuative criteria necessary to play the role of genuine sortals in reference. Instead, they function as “dummy sortals” which are placeholders or incomplete designations. In disqualifying apparent placeholder sortals, however, these philosophers have posed insuperable problems for accounts of childhood conceptual development. I argue that recent evidence in psychology demonstrates that children do possess simple or basic sortals of physical objects or (...) things. I contend that these concepts provide the genuine individuative criteria necessary for reference. As a consequence, sortalism can be made compatible with the developmental facts of conceptual development. (shrink)
In a recent article, Harold Noonan argues that application conditions and criteria of identity are not distinct from one another. This seems to threaten the standard approach to distinguishing sortals from adjectival terms. I propose that his observation, while correct, does not have this consequence. I present a simple scheme for distinguishing sortals from adjectival terms. I also propose an amended version of the standard canonical form of criteria of identity.
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.
The neo-Fregean account of arithmetical knowledge is centered around the abstraction principle known as Hume’s Principle: for any concepts X and Y , the number of X ’s is the same as the number of Y ’s just in case there is a 1–1 correspondence between X and Y . The Caesar Problem, originally raised by Frege in §56 of Die Grundlagen der Arithmetik , emerges in the context of the neo-Fregean programme, because, though Hume’s Principle provides a criterion of (...) identity for objects falling under the concept of Number–namely, 1–1 correspondence—the principle fails to deliver a criterion of application. That is, it fails to deliver a criterion that will tell us which objects fall under the concept Number, and so, leaves unanswered the question whether Caesar could be a number. Hale and Wright have recently offered a neo-Fregean solution to this problem. The solution appeals to the notion of a categorical sortal. This paper offers a reconstruction of their solution, which has the advantage over Hale and Wright’s original proposal of making clear what the structure of the background ontology is. In addition, it is shown that the Caesar Problem can be solved in a framework more minimal than that of Hale and Wright, viz . one that dispenses with categorical sortals. The paper ends by discussing an objection to the proposed neo-Fregean solutions, based on the idea that Leibniz’s Law gives a universal criterion of identity. This is an idea that Hale and Wright reject. However, it is shown that a solution very much in keeping with their own proposal is available, even if it is granted that Leibniz’s Law provides a universal criterion of identity. (shrink)
With the past and future tense propositional operators in its syntax, a formal logical system for sortal quantifiers, sortal identity and (second order) quantification over sortal concepts is formulated. A completeness proof for the system is constructed and its absolute consistency proved. The completeness proof is given relative to a notion of logical validity provided by an intensional semantic system, which assumes an approach to sortals from a modern form of conceptualism.
A formal logical system for sortal quantifiers, sortal identity and (second order) quantification over sortal concepts is formulated. The absolute consistency of the system is proved. A completeness proof for the system is also constructed. This proof is relative to a concept of logical validity provided by a semantics, which assumes as its philosophical background an approach to sortals from a modern form of conceptualism.
It has long been debated whether objects are ‘sortally’ individuated. This paper begins by clarifying some of the key terms in play—in particular, ‘sortal’, ‘individuation’, and ‘object’. The term ‘individuation’ is taken to have both a cognitive and a metaphysical sense, in the former denoting the singling out of an object in thought and in the latter a determination relation between entities. ‘Sortalism’ is defined as the doctrine that only as falling under some specific sortal concept can an object be (...) successfully singled out in thought. It is argued that such a view is too strong, but that a weaker one, ‘categorialism’, can be defended, this implying that a thinker cannot successfully single out an object in thought without having at least an implicit grasp of the criterion of identity that the object satisfies. (shrink)
In recent decades, a view of identity I call Sortalism has gained popularity. According to this view, if a is identical to b, then there is some sortal S such that a is the same S as b. Sortalism has typically been discussed with respect to the identity of objects. I argue that the motivations for Sortalism about object-identity apply equally well to event-identity. But Sortalism about event-identity poses a serious threat to the view that mental events are token identical (...) to physical events: A particular mental event m is identical with a particular physical event p only if there is a sortal S such that m and p are both Ss. If there is no such sortal, the doctrine of token-identity is not true. I argue here that we have no good reason for thinking that there is any such sortal. (shrink)
According to the sortal conception of the universe of individuals every individual falls under a highest sortal, or category. It is argued here that on this conception the identity relation is defined between individuals a and b if and only if a and b fall under a common category. Identity must therefore be regarded as a relation of the form \, with three arguments x, y, and Z, where Z ranges over categories, and where the range of x and y (...) depends on the value of Z. An identity relation of this kind can be made good sense of in Martin-Löf’s type theory. But identity so construed requires a reformulation of Hume’s Principle that makes this principle unfit for explaining the sortal concept of cardinal number. The Neo-Logicist can therefore not appeal to the sortal conception in tackling the Julius Caesar problem, as proposed by Hale and Wright. (shrink)
In the past few years, deflationary positions in the debate on the nature of composite material objects have become prominent. According to Ted Sider these include the thesis of quantifier variance, against which he has defended ontological realism. Recently, Sider has considered the possibility of rejecting his arguments against the vagueness of the unrestricted quantifiers in terms of translation functions. Against this strategy, he has presented an intuitive complaint and has argued that it can only be resisted if quantifier variance (...) is accepted. But this is false. In this paper I argue, against Sider, that there is a coherent way to combine the rejection of quantifier variance with the vagueness of the unrestricted quantifiers. I sketch a model to show this, and then I consider, on the basis of it, several versions of the indeterminacy argument against the vagueness of the unrestricted quantifiers that Sider has formulated over the years. (shrink)
In his paper, “Identity Statements and Essentialism,” Loux seeks to demonstrate sortal essentialism based on Frege’s thesis that all statements of number concerning a collection require that the members fall under the same sortal concept. I shall attempt to argue that a detailed analysis of Loux’s argument reveals it as failing to imply the type of sortal dependency thesis necessary for the justification of sortal essentialism. However, if one construes the transworld identity relation as no different from our run of (...) the mill identity relation, then his argument can serve as the basis for a proof of a type of nontrivial essentialism, thereby showing that the possible worlds picture of modality is indeed committed to a robust essentialism. (shrink)
We consider a formal language whose logical syntax involves both modal and tense propositional operators, as well as sortal quantifiers, sortal identities and (second order) quantifiers over sortals. We construct an intensional semantics for the language and characterize a formal logical system which we prove to be sound and complete with respect to the semantics. Conceptualism is the philosophical background of the semantic system.
The aim of this chapter is to understand how sortals determine what aesthetic properties an object has. It is argued that Frank Sibley’s notion of an ideal of beauty does not help us to achieve that aim. Instead, it is argued, the special aesthetic relevance of sortals is better understood by reference to the (non-aesthetic) ideas of normality and functionality associated with sortals. In passing, the paper also argues that there must be a maximum degree of beauty (...) if non-comparative judgments of beauty are possible, as they seem to be. (shrink)
We assemble here in this time and place to discuss the thesis that conscious attention can provide knowledge of reference of perceptual demonstratives. I shall focus my commentary on what this claim means, and on the main argument for it found in the first five chapters of "Reference and Consciousness". The middle term of that argument is an account of what attention does: what its job or function is. There is much that is admirable in this account, and I am (...) confident that it will be the foundation, the launching-pad, for much future work on the subject. But in the end I will argue that Campbell's picture makes the mechanisms of attention too smart: smarter than they are, smarter than they could be. If we come to a more realistic appraisal of the skills and capacities of our sub-personal minions, the "knowledge of reference" which they yield will have to be taken down a notch or two. (shrink)
One obvious solution to the puzzles of apparently coincident objects is a sort of reductionism - the tree really just is the wood, the statue is just the clay, and nothing really ceases to exist in the purported non-identity showing cases. This paper starts with that approach and its underlying motivation, and argues that if one follows those motivations - specifically, the rejection of coincidence, and the belief that 'genuine' object-destroying changes must differ non-arbitrarily from accidental changes, that one can (...) plausibly be pushed to an extreme nihilism, that denies the existence of any objects at all. (shrink)
David Liebesman argues that we never count by identity. He generalizes from an argument that we don't do so with sentences indicating fractions, or with measurement sentences on their supposed count readings. In response, I argue that measurement sentences aren't covered by the thesis that we count by identity, in part because they don't have count readings. Then I use the data to which Liebesman appeals, in his argument that we don't count by identity using measurement sentences, in order to (...) rebut his argument that we don't count by identity using sentences indicating fractions. (shrink)
This paper outlines a heterodox and largely unexplored conception of objecthood according to which the notion of an individual object is a determinable. §1 outlines the view. §2 argues that the view is incompatible with a natural analysis of kind membership and, as a consequence, undermines the Quinean distinction between ontology and ideology. The view is then used to alleviate one source of Quinean hostility towards non-trivial restrictions on de re possibility in §3, and to elucidate Fine’s neo-Aristoteltian, non-modal conception (...) of essence in §4. §5 concludes. (shrink)
En este artículo muestro cómo el conceptualismo, como enfoque filosófico, podría ofrecer una motivación para el desarrollo de teorías lógicas y matemáticas. Así, estas teorías encontrarían su justificación filosófica en el conceptualismo.
A lot of people believe that distinct objects can occupy precisely the same place for the entire time during which they exist. Such people have to provide an answer to the 'grounding problem' – they have to explain how such things, alike in so many ways, nonetheless manage to fall under different sortals, or have different modal properties. I argue in detail that they cannot say that there is anything in virtue of which spatio-temporally coincident things have those properties. (...) However, I also argue that this may not be as bad as it looks, and that there is a way to make sense of the claim that such properties are primitive. (shrink)
Pluralists about coincident entities say that distinct entities may be spatially coincident throughout their entire existence. The most pressing issue they face is the grounding problem. They say that coincident entities may differ in their persistence conditions and in the sortals they fall under. But how can they differ in these ways, given that they share all their microphysical properties? What grounds those differences, if not their microphysical properties? Do those differences depend only on the way we conceptualise those (...) objects? Are they primitive facts about reality? Neither option is pleasant for the pluralist, but what else can she say? To respond to the grounding problem, the pluralist should first tell a story about what material objects are. If that story explains how the modal and sortal properties of objects are grounded, in a way that allows for differences between coincident objects, then she has a response to the problem. That is precisely my aim in this paper. (shrink)
This paper follows Part I of our essay on case-intensional first-order logic (CIFOL; Belnap and Müller (2013)). We introduce a framework of branching histories to take account of indeterminism. Our system BH-CIFOL adds structure to the cases, which in Part I formed just a set: a case in BH-CIFOL is a moment/history pair, specifying both an element of a partial ordering of moments and one of the total courses of events (extending all the way into the future) that that moment (...) is part of. This framework allows us to define the familiar Ockhamist temporal/modal connectives, most notably for past, future, and settledness. The novelty of our framework becomes visible in our discussion of substances in branching histories, i.e., in its first-order part. That discussion shows how the basic idea of tracing an individual thing from case to case via an absolute property is applicable in a branching histories framework. We stress the importance of keeping apart extensionality and moment-definiteness, and give a formal account of how the specification of natural sortals and natural qualities turns out to be a coordination task in BH-CIFOL. We also provide a detailed answer to Lewis’s well-known argument against branching histories, exposing the fallacy in that argument. (shrink)
I defend a version of color subjectivism — that colors are sortals for certain neural events — by arguing against a sophisticated form of color objectivism and by showing how a subjectivist can legitimately explain the phenomenal fact that colors seem to be properties of external objects.
This paper reviews the role of sortals in the syntax and semantics of proper names and the related question of a mass-count distinction among proper names. The paper argues that sortals play a significant role with proper names and that that role matches individuating or ‘sortal’ classifiers in languages lacking a mass-count distinction. Proper names do not themselves classify as count, but may classify as mass or rather number-neutral. This also holds for other expressions or uses of expressions (...) that lack a syntactic mass-count distinction, namely that-clauses, predicative phrases, intensional NPs, quotations, as well as verbs with respect to their event arguments. In all those cases, the relevant diagnostics show a number-neutral status, rather than a division into mass and count. This is remarkable because it means that count status is independent of the nature of the semantic values of an expression or its conceptual content. It also means that even languages such as English or German are classifier languages when it comes to expressions or uses of expressions to which a syntactic mass-count distinction is inapplicable. (shrink)
The paper defends a combination of perdurantism with mereological universalism by developing semantics of temporary predications of the sort ’some P is/was/will be (a) Q’. We argue that, in addition to the usual application of causal and other restrictions on sortals, the grammatical form of such statements allows for rather different regimentations along three separate dimensions, according to: (a) whether ‘P’ and ‘Q’ are being used as phase or substance sortal terms, (b) whether ‘is’, ‘was’, and ‘will be’ are (...) the ‘is’, ‘was’, ‘will be’ of identity or of constitution, and (c) whether ‘Q’ is being used as a subject or predicate term. We conclude that this latitude is beneficial, as it conforms with linguistic reality (i.e., the multiple uses actually in place) and also enables one to turn what is ordinarily perceived as a problem for universalist perdurantism viz., a commitment to all sorts of weird and gerrymandered temporally extended entities, into an advantage, for the richness in questions allows us to make sense of. (shrink)
I examine John Campbell’s claim that the determination of the reference of a perceptual demonstrative requires conscious visual object-based selective attention. I argue that although Campbell’s claim to the effect that, first, a complex binding parameter is needed to establish the referent of a perceptual demonstrative, and, second, that this referent is determined independently of, and before, the application of sortals is correct, this binding parameter does not require object-based attention for its construction. If object-based attention were indeed required (...) then the determination of the referent would necessarily involve the application of sortal concepts, since object-based attention initiates top-down cognitive effects on visual processing. I also examine Mohan Matthen’s claim that reference to objects is established only through the visual processing in the dorsal visual stream and argue that although it is true that processing in the dorsal stream can determine reference, a thesis that goes against Campbell’s view that the determination of the referent requires conscious attention, processing along the ventral visual stream can also establish the reference of perceptual demonstratives. It also claim that Matthen’s account of dorsal processing underestimates the kind of information processed along the dorsal stream and this has some implications regarding perceptual demonstratives reference fixing. (shrink)
The event analysis of action sentences seems to be at odds with plausible (Davidsonian) views about how to count actions. If Booth pulled a certain trigger, and thereby shot Lincoln, there is good reason for identifying Booths' action of pulling the trigger with his action of shooting Lincoln; but given truth conditions of certain sentences involving adjuncts, the event analysis requires that the pulling and the shooting be distinct events. So I propose that event sortals like 'shooting' and 'pulling' (...) are true of complex events that have actions (and various effects of actions) as parts. Combining this view with some facts about so-called causative verbs, I then argue that paradigmatic actions are best viewed as tryings, where tryings are taken to be intentionally characterized events that typically cause peripheral bodily motions. The proposal turns on a certain conception of what it is to be the Agent of an event; and I conclude by elaborating this conception in the context of some recent discussions about the relation of thematic roles to grammatical categories. (shrink)
We develop a criterion for telling when integrating two pieces of information, e.g. two pictures or statements requires an understanding of perspective. Problems that require such an understanding are perspective problems. With this criterion we can show that understanding false beliefs vis-à-vis reality pose a perspective problem, so does understanding spatial descriptions given from different viewing points (a classical example of what is commonly seen as a problem of perspective) and individuating objects with different sortals (naming objects). We use (...) the result that understanding false belief as well as alternative naming of objects are both perspective problems to explain the otherwise inexplicable developmental finding that children master these two tasks at about the same time, around the age of 4 years. (shrink)
I am now typing on a computer I bought two years ago. The computer I bought is identical to the computer on which I type. My computer persists over time. Let us divide our subject matter in two. There is first the question of criteria of identity, the conditions governing when an object of a certain kind, a computer for instance, persists until some later time. There are secondly very general questions about the nature of persistence itself. Here I include (...) the question of temporal parts, as well as certain familiar paradoxes (e.g., the statue and the lump). Following John Perry (1975, Introduction), let us characterize a criterion of identity over time for F s as a way of filling in φ in the following schema: Stages S1 and S2 belong to some continuing F iff φ Defenders of temporal parts (see below) regard S1 and S2 as being temporal parts of the continuing F ; others regard S1 and S2 as different stages in the life history of the continuing F . Thus each camp can make use of Perry’s formula. It is traditional to divide such criteria into those governing persons and those governing anything else. It is further traditional to say that the criterion of identity over time for non-persons involves spatiotemporal continuity. An excellent discussion is Eli Hirsch’s The Concept of Identity1, which utilizes the notion of continuity under a sortal. Kind-terms, or sortals, are terms that specify what kind of or sort of thing an object is. Examples include ‘tree’, ‘car’, and ‘mountain’. Where F is a sortal, Hirsch’s analysis is roughly that stages belong to the same F iff they are connected by a spatiotemporally and qualitatively continuous sequence of F -stages. Unmodified, this analysis prohibits temporally discontinuous entities, such as a watch that is taken apart and then reassembled. Hirsch discusses the necessary modifications. Spatiotemporal continuity analyses face a problem when applied to the persistence of matter. The literature here has been dominated by discussion of examples provided by David Armstrong (1980) and Saul Kripke (unpublished.... (shrink)
The paper discusses sortal essentialism': the view that some sortal concepts represent essential properties of the things that fall under them. Although sortal essentialism is widely accepted, there is a dearth of theories purporting to explain why some sortals should have this characteristic. The paper examines two theories that do attempt this explanatory task, theories proposed by Baruch Brody and David Wiggins. It is argued that Brody's theory rests on an untenable principle about "de re" modality, while Wiggins' theory (...) appeals to a thesis about principles of individuation that is either unjustified, or vacuous and incapable of supporting sortal essentialism. (shrink)
Echoing a distinction made by David Wiggins in his discussion of the relation of identity, this paper investigates whether aesthetic adjectives such as ‘beautiful’ are sortal-relative or merely sortal-dependent. The hypothesis guiding the paper is that aesthetic adjectives, though probably sortal-dependent in general, are sortal-relative only when used to characterize multifunctional artefacts. This means that multifunctional artefacts should be unique in allowing the following situation to occur: for some object x there are sortals K and K' such that x (...) is a beautiful K and also a K', but not a beautiful K'. Examples of multifunctional artefacts show that this is indeed a possibility. However, that multifunctional artefacts are unique in this respect will be demonstrated by a more principled argument, taking into account the nature of functions on the one hand, and the nature of artefact-classification on the other hand. (shrink)
The whole-part relationship is generally considered transitive, but there are some apparent exceptions. Componential sortals create some apparent problems. Homo sapiens, the Pope, and his heart are all individuals. A human being, such as the Pope, is an organism-level component of Homo sapiens. The Pope’s heart is an organ-level component of both Homo sapiens and the Pope. Although the Pope is a part, and not an instance, of the Roman Catholic Church, it seems odd to say that his heart (...) is a part of that church. This is largely because the Pope’s heart does not have a place in the ecclesiastical government. However, it does contribute to the functioning of the organization. One popular alternative to the view that Homo sapiens is an individual is the notion that it is a natural kind. This has been done by redefining ‘natural kind’ in such a manner that not just the Roman Catholic Church, but the Pope and every other human being is a natural kind as well. (shrink)
John Campbell argues that visual attention to objects is the means by which we can refer to objects, and that this is so because conscious visual attention enables us to retrieve information about a location. It is argued here that while Campbell is right to think that we visually attend to objects, he does not give us sufficient ground for thinking that consciousness is involved, and is wrong to assign an intermediary role to location. Campbell’s view on sortals is (...) also queried, as is his espousal of the so-called Referential View of Experience. (shrink)
An intensional semantic system for languages containing, in their logical syntax, sortal quantifiers, sortal identities, (second-order) quantifiers over sortals and the necessity operator is constructed. This semantics provides non-standard assignments to predicate expressions, which diverge in kind from the entities assigned to sortal terms by the same semantic system. The nature of the entities assigned to predicate expressions shows, at the same time, that there is an internal semantic connection between those expressions and sortal terms. A formal logical system (...) is formulated that is proved to be absolutely consistent, sound and complete with respect to the intensional semantic system. (shrink)
Spatiotemporal and qualitative continuity are not sufficient to trace the career or path of one and the same object through its history. One needs sortal continuity, guaranteed by the form-token of the object. In this paper I concentrate on the question of sortal continuity linked to the problem of the cohabitation of objects. I intend to test whether it is possible to stick to the belief in continuants or endurers as well as the sortal dependence of identity and at the (...) same time avoid an undesirable multiplication of spatially coinciding objects, i.e., avoid the thesis of cohabitation. I abandon the philosophical view – this is the price to be paid – that the set of the material constituents making up an object is an object proper. The basic units of reality are the objects falling under sortals and not the ultimate components thereof. That a determinate piece of copper is not identical with the statue made from it, therefore, does not imply that we have a cohabitation of two numerically different objects. (shrink)
This paper follows Part I of our essay on case-intensional ﬁrst-order logic. We introduce a framework of branching histories to take account of indeterminism. Our system BH-CIFOL adds structure to the cases, which in Part I formed just a set: a case in BH-CIFOL is a moment/history pair, specifying both an element of a partial ordering of moments and one of the total courses of events that that moment is part of. This framework allows us to deﬁne the familiar Ockhamist (...) temporal/modal connectives, most notably for past, future, and settledness. The novelty of our framework becomes visible in our discussion of substances in branching histories, i.e., in its ﬁrst-order part. That discussion shows how the basic idea of tracing an individual thing from case to case via an absolute property is applicable in a branching histories framework. We stress the importance of keeping apart extensionality and moment-deﬁniteness, and give a formal account of how the speciﬁcation of natural sortals and natural qualities turns out to be a coordination task in BH-CIFOL. We also provide a detailed answer to Lewis’s well-known argument against branching histories, exposing the fallacy in that argument. (shrink)
Can two objects occupy completely the same space for all of their careers? Yes, according to the standard theory, as long as they fall under different sortals; this happens when an object constitutes another. Nevertheless, to avoid spatio-temporally coincident objects many hypothesis have been proposed, none of which has reached consensus. An unexplored way of answering that question in the negative is to claim that if one object constitutes another only the constituted exists. This commits one to intermittent existence, (...) which plausibility is argued for in here and its foundations surveyed. This notion is to be based on the sub-sistence of the constituting object when only the constituted exists, and on the super-sistence on the constituted object when this no longer exists but the constituting does under certain conditions. (shrink)