Trope theory is a leading metaphysical theory in analytic ontology. One of its classic statements is found in the work of Donald C. Williams who argued that tropes qua abstract particulars are the very alphabet of being. The concept of an abstract particular has been repeatedly attacked in the literature. Opponents and proponents of trope theory alike have levelled their criticisms at the abstractness of tropes and the associated act of abstraction. In this paper I defend the concept of a (...) trope qua abstract particular by rejecting arguments that purport to show that tropes should not be understood as abstract and by arguing that the abstractness of tropes plays an indispensable role in one of our more promising trope-theoretic analyses of universals and of concrete objects. (shrink)
The concept of instantiation is realized differently across a variety of metaphysical theories. A certain realization of the concept in a given theory depends on what roles are specified and associated with the concept and its corresponding term as well as what entities are suited to fill those roles. In this paper, the classic realization of the concept of instantiation in a one-category ontology of abstract particulars or tropes is articulated in a novel way and defended against unaddressed objections.
Truthmaker monism is the view that the one and only truthmaker is the world. Despite its unpopularity, this view has recently received an admirable defence by Schaffer :307–324, 2010b). Its main defect, I argue, is that it omits partial truthmakers. If we omit partial truthmakers, we lose the intimate connection between a truth and its truthmaker. I further argue that the notion of a minimal truthmaker should be the key notion that plays the role of constraining ontology and that truthmaker (...) monism is not necessary for an appropriate solution to the problem of finding truthmakers for negative truths. I conclude that we should reject truthmaker monism once and for all. (shrink)
Structural universals are a kind of complex universal. They have been put to work in a variety of philosophical theories but are plagued with problems concerning their compositional nature. In this article, we will discuss the following questions. What are structural universals? Why believe in them? Can we give a consistent account of their compositional nature? What are the costs of doing so?
In the early twentieth century, many philosophers in America thought that time should be taken seriously in one way or another. George P. Adams (1882-1961) argued that the past, present and future are all real but only the present is actual. I call this theory ‘actualist eternalism’. In this paper, I articulate his novel brand of eternalism as one piece of his metaphysical system and I explain how he argued for the view in light of the best explanations of temporal (...) experience and the present. I argue that his exploitation of analogies between time and modality offer some lessons for current debates about time such as the importance of providing a temporal epistemology. I also extract what I call the temporal boundary problem and argue that it gives rise to an unaddressed challenge for presentists and growing block theorists. (shrink)
The revival of analytic metaphysics in the latter half of the twentieth century is typically understood as a consequence of the critiques of logical positivism, Quine’s naturalization of ontology, Kripke’s Naming and Necessity, clarifications of modal notions in logic, and the theoretical exploitation of possible worlds. However, this explanation overlooks the work of metaphysicians at the height of positivism and linguisticism that affected metaphysics of the late twentieth century. Donald C. Williams is one such philosopher. In this paper I explain (...) how Williams’s fundamental ontology and philosophy of time influenced in part the early formation of David Lewis’s metaphysics. Thus, Williams played an important role in the revival of analytic metaphysics. (shrink)
Samuel Alexander was an important figure in the rise of realism in the early twentieth century. Alongside Moore and Russell he forwarded the cause of realism in England with a systematic exposition of a realist metaphysics in his magnum opus Space, Time and Deity (1920). This volume is a collection of essays on Alexander’s philosophy, ranging from his metaphysics of spacetime, theory of categories, epistemology and account of perception, naturalism, and interpretations of reactions by R.G. Collingwood and John Anderson.
David Lewis objected to theories that posit necessary connections between distinct entities and to theories that involve a magical grasping of their primitives. In On the Plurality of Worlds, Lewis objected to nondescript ersatzism on these grounds. The literature contains several reconstructions of Lewis’ critique of nondescript ersatzism but none of these interpretations adequately address his main argument because they fail to see that Lewis’ critique is based on broader methodological considerations. I argue that a closer look at his methodology (...) reveals the broader objection he presented against nondescript ersatzism. This objection, I further argue, remains a challenge for the ersatzer who posits structure-less entities as possible worlds. (shrink)
In the middle of last century metaphysics was widely criticized, ridiculed, and committed to the flames. During this period a handful of philosophers, against several anti-metaphysical trends, defended metaphysics and articulated novel metaphysical doctrines. Donald C. Williams was one of these philosophers. But while his contributions to metaphysics are well known his defence of metaphysics is not and yet it played a key part in the development and revival of metaphysics. In this paper I present his defence of metaphysics in (...) its historical context. I also show how his defence is relevant in response to recent attacks on metaphysics. (shrink)
This chapter explores the philosophical development of Alexander’s empiricism, interest in experimental psychology, and its connection to realism and its subsequent rise in the early twentieth century. His early interests are most notably his rejection of British idealism and an empiricist tendency derived in part from classical empiricism and empirical developments in psychology. It is argued that Alexander arrives at realism through his work on psychology, thus revealing that the rise of realism has some psychological origins. His philosophical method is (...) also analysed in detail and it is shown that many of his arguments should be understood as following this method and that many objections to his arguments for realism and against his theory of perception can be resisted when this method is taken into consideration. (shrink)
I apply the notion of truthmaking to the topic of fundamentality by articulating a truthmaker theory of fundamentality according to which some truths are truth-grounded in certain entities while the ones that don't stand in a metaphysical-semantic relation to the truths that do. I motivate this view by critically discussing two problems with Ross Cameron's truthmaker theory of fundamentality. I then defend this view against Theodore Sider's objection that the truthmaking approach to fundamentality violates the purity constraint. Truthmaker theorists can (...) have a trouble-free theory of fundamentality. (shrink)
In the ontology of music the Aristotelian theory of musical works is the view that musical works are immanent universals. The Aristotelian theory (hereafter Musical Aristotelianism) is an attractive and serviceable hypothesis. However, it is overlooked as a genuine competitor to the more well-known theories of Musical Platonism and nominalism. Worse still, there is no detailed account in the literature of the nature of the universals that the Aristotelian identifies musical works with. In this paper, I argue that the best (...) version of Musical Aristotelianism identifies musical works with structural universals. I first motivate the view by outlining its explanatory benefits. I then argue that Musical Aristotelianism is preferable to Musical Platonism and present a novel account of musical works as structural universals by developing D. M. Armstrong’s theory of structural universals. I discuss the consequences of Musical Aristotelianism with respect to on-going issues in debates about musical works and defend the view against an influential objection, concluding that Musical Aristotelianism is a genuine competitor in debates about the nature of musical works. (shrink)
In this paper I outline the main features of Karen Bennett’s (Australasian Journal of Philosophy 1–21, 2011) non-classical mereology, and identify its methodological costs. I argue that Bennett’s mereology cannot account for the composition of structural universals because it cannot explain the mereological difference between isomeric universals, such as being butane and being isobutane. I consider responses, which come at costs to the view.
Samuel Alexander was one of the first realists of the twentieth century to defend a theory of categories. He thought that the categories are genuinely real and grounded in the intrinsic nature of Space-Time. I present his reduction of the categories in terms of Space-Time, articulate his account of categorial structure and completeness, and offer an interpretation of what he thought the nature of the categories really were. I then argue that his theory of categories has some advantages over competing (...) theories of his day, and finally draw some important lessons that we can learn from his realist yet reductionist theory of categories. (shrink)
Donald C. Williams was a key figure in the development of analytic philosophy. This book will be the definitive source for his highly original work, which did much to bring metaphysics back into fashion. It presents six classic papers and six previously unpublished, revealing his full philosophical vision for the first time.
Samuel Alexander was a central figure of the new wave of realism that swept across the English-speaking world in the early twentieth century. His Space, Time, and Deity (1920a, 1920b) was taken to be the official statement of realism as a metaphysical system. But many historians of philosophy are quick to point out the idealist streak in Alexander’s thought. After all, as a student he was trained at Oxford in the late 1870s and early 1880s as British Idealism was beginning (...) to flourish. This naturally had some effect on his philosophical outlook and it is said that his early work is overtly idealist. In this paper I examine his neglected and understudied reactions to British Idealism in the 1880s. I argue that Alexander was not an idealist during this period and should not be considered as part of the British Idealist tradition, philosophically speaking. (shrink)
One of the more obscure arguments for Rawls’ difference principle dubbed ‘the Pareto argument for inequality’ has been criticised by G. A. Cohen (1995, 2008) as being inconsistent. In this paper, we examine and clarify the Pareto argument in detail and argue (1) that justification for the Pareto principles derives from rational selfinterest and thus the Pareto principles ought to be understood as conditions of individual rationality, (2) that the Pareto argument is not inconsistent, contra Cohen, and (3) that the (...) kind of bargaining model required to arrive at the particular unequal distribution that the difference principle picks out is a model that is not based on bargaining according to one’s threat advantage. (shrink)
David Lewis is typically interpreted as a class nominalist. One consequence of class nominalism, which he embraced, is that the reduction of ordered pairs, triples, etc to unordered sets of sets is conventional. The reaction by his Australian counterparts D.M. Armstrong and Peter Forrest was that Lewis was not being ontologically serious. This chapter evaluates this debate over serious ontology. It is argued that in one sense Lewis is ontologically serious, but that his additional commitment to structuralism about classes should (...) push him to adopt a trope-theoretic account of naturalness, which opens up another way to respond to the charge of not doing serious ontology. This conclusion is supported by certain remarks he makes in his correspondence, thus revealing how his thinking about properties appears to have evolved from property-egalitarianism to a sparse theory of tropes. (shrink)
We argue that two main accounts of hypocrisy— the deception-based and the moral-non-seriousness-based account—fail to capture a specific kind of hypocrite who is morally serious and sincere "all the way down." The kind of hypocrisy exemplified by this hypocrite is irreducible to deception, self-deception or a lack of moral seriousness. We call this elusive and peculiar kind of hypocrisy, pure hypocrisy. We articulate the characteristics of pure hypocrisy and describe the moral psychology of two kinds of pure hypocrites.
In Examination of McTaggart's Philosophy, C.D. Broad advanced a distinctive ontology of things and processes. He argues that neither things nor processes are reduced to each other but instead are reduced to some further kind of entity: “absolute process.” This paper will present Broad's theory of absolute processes and argue that they are best understood as tropes by developing a version of Donald C. Williams's trope ontology. This process ontology of tropes is then defended against objections in the contemporary metaphysics (...) literature. (shrink)
This chapter by Fisher continues the theme of the relation between Armstrong and Lewis, only Fisher casts the net far wider. He begins by arguing that there were at least two different lines of influence from early twentieth-century behaviourism to the identity theory: one through logical positivism and the other through ordinary language philosophy, the latter involving Place and Smart, and Lewis and Armstrong. It was Armstrong and Lewis who were to have a profound influence on subsequent developments in analytic (...) philosophy, both methodologically and in metaphysics, and it is for this reason that Fisher devotes the rest of his chapter to tracing the origins of their theories of mind and the manner in which the emphases and methodologies deployed in developing their respective theories became the hallmarks of their wider impact on analytic philosophy. (shrink)
The famous Cartesian Nicolas Malebranche (1638-1715) espoused the occasionalist doctrine that ‘there is only one true cause because there is only one true God; that the nature or power of each thing is nothing but the will of God; that all natural causes are not true causes but only occasional causes’ (LO, 448, original italics). One of Malebranche’s well-known arguments for occasionalism, known as, the ‘no necessary connection’ argument (or, NNC ) stems from the principle that ‘a true cause… is (...) one such that the mind perceives a necessary connection between it and its effect’ (LO, 450). The outline of this paper is as follows. I explicitly layout NNC and articulate some of its prima facie strengths (§1). I then critically discuss, what I take to be, the two main arguments against NNC of the Lee-Pyle interpretation (§2). The main conclusion from (§2) is that Malebranche did not abandon NNC in his later works given textual evidence from the Dialogues, contrary to the Lee-Pyle interpretation. In (§3) I discuss in what ways Suárez, Leibniz, Régis and Spinoza all accepted the main premise of NNC. Then, I rebut Steven Nadler’s influential and unchallenged criticism that Malebranche conflated causal and logical necessity, and provide a more accurate interpretation of Malebranche that only commits him to a partial reduction of causal to logical necessity (§4). (shrink)
Trenton Merricks argues for and defends a novel version of primitivism about truth : being true is a primitive monadic but non-intrinsic property. This examination consists of the following triad: a critical discussion of Merricks’ argument for his view, a rejection of his objection against Paul Horwich’s minimalist theory of truth, and a direct objection against his view on the grounds that it entails being true is a mysterious and suspicious property. The conclusion is that Merricks’ primitivism should be rejected.
The life-long correspondence of David K. Lewis, one of the most influential philosophers of the twentieth century, reveals the development, breadth, and depth of his philosophy in its historical context. The second of this two volume collection focuses on his contributions to philosophical questions of language, mind, and epistemology.
David K. Lewis (1941-2001) was unquestionably one of the most important analytic philosophers of the twentieth century, writing papers and books, largely but not exclusively in metaphysics, that set the intellectual agenda across a huge variety of topics in the last three decades. Some twenty years after his death, this collection of essays reflects the historical importance of Lewis's work by bringing together a range of scholarly reflections on his work. The essays consider a range of topics including the nature (...) of metaphysics, the epistemology of necessary truths, possibility, naturalness, supervenience, time travel, causation, semantics, and ethics. Several of them draw on an exciting new body of material in the Lewisian corpus, his extensive correspondence, recently published in two volumes (OUP, 2020). The wide-ranging topics of these essays illustrate the impressive extent of Lewis's thought and his reach across most areas of analytic philosophy. The chapters collected in this volume adds to the increasing literature on the philosophy of David K. Lewis and will be an important book for those examining his role in the history of analytic philosophy. (shrink)
The life-long correspondence of David K. Lewis, one of the most influential philosophers of the twentieth century, reveals the development, breadth, and depth of his philosophy in its historical context. The first of this two volume collection of letters focuses on his contributions to metaphysics, arguably where he made his greatest impact.
In this Introduction, Alexander and his work are outlined in its historical context with an account of his place in the history of philosophy. The background and motivation of the work is given along with a description of the organisation and content of the chapters that follow. Justification is also given for the inclusion of three posthumous papers by Alexander and how these posthumous papers relate to the newly commissioned essays.