Alan Sidelle's Necessity, Essence, and Individuation is a sustained defense of empiricism—or, more generally, conventionalism—against recent attacks by realists. Sidelle focuses his attention on necessity a posteriori, a kind of necessity which contemporary realists have taken to support realism over empiricism. Turning the tables against the realists, Sidelle argues that if there are in fact truths necessary a posteriori, it is not realism, but rather empiricism which provides the best explanation for them.
I argue 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', and 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.
According to an intuitive semantics for 'I,' 'here' and 'now,' 'I am not here now' should always be false when uttered. But occurrences of 'I am not here now' on an answering machine seem to be true (when the speaker is not home). A number of possible solutions are considered and rejected, and a novel solution offered introducing the notion of a 'deferred utterance,' which allows for non-mysterious sort of action at a distance.
The Aristotelian doctrine of hylomorphism has seen a recent resurgence of popularity, due to the work of a number of well-known and impressive philosophers. One of the recently motivating virtues claimed for the doctrine is its ability to solve the grounding problem for philosophers who believe in coinciding entities. In this brief article, I will argue that when fully spelled out, hylomorphism does not, in fact, contribute a distinctive solution to this problem. It is not that it offers no solution (...) at all, but that it is not really a different solution from other familiar, seemingly non-hylomorphic, solutions on offer. (shrink)
A not-unpopular position in the metaphysics of material objects (Ted Sider's, for instance) combines realism about what objects there are and the conditions of objecthood with conventionalism about de re modality. I argue that this is not a coherent combination of views: one must go fully conventionalist, or fully realist. The central argument displays the difficulty for the modal conventionalist/object realist in specifying the object that satisfies de re modal predicates. I argue that if this is a mind-independent object, contradictions (...) arise when we consider the possibility or actuality of non-equivalent conventions both applying to 'the same object'. (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)
The idea that disputes which are heated, and apparently important, may nonetheless be 'merely verbal' or 'just semantic' is surely no stranger to any philosopher. I urge that many disputes, both in and out of philosophy, are indeed plausibly considered verbal, and that it would repay us to more frequently consider whether they are so or not. Asking this question is what I call ‘The Method of Verbal Dispute’. Neither the notion nor the method of verbal dispute is new. What (...) I do here is to urge its wider application, to suggest how widespread is the phenomenon of verbal disputes, and to clarify certain misconceptions about what is, or needs to be, involved in a verbal dispute. One central claim is that verbal disputes need not be ‘merely’ verbal disputes – that often, there is a real disagreement to be had, but it is not the one suggested by the surface form of the disagreement. I also discuss the relation between verbal disputes, relativism and cases in which ‘there is no fact of the matter’. (shrink)
This paper defends the traditional view that the laws of nature are contingent, or, if some of them are necessary, this is due to analytic principles for the individuation of the law-governed properties. Fundamentally, I argue that the supposed explanatory purposes served by taking the laws to be necessary --showing how laws support counterfactuals, how properties are individuated, or how we have knowledge of properties--are in fact undermined by the continued possibility of the imagined scenarios--this time, described neutrally--which seemed to (...) disprove the claim to necessity in the first place. I speculate that this will be true for any proposed necessary a posteriori truths, and is a basis for rejecting their supposed metaphysical significance. (shrink)
One common objection to Conventionalism about modality is that since it is contingent what our conventions are, the modal facts themselves will thereby be contingent. A standard reply is that Conventionalists can accept this, if they reject the S4 axiom, that what is possibly possible is possible. I first argue that this reply is inadequate, but then continue to argue that it is not needed, because the Conventionalist need not concede that the contingency of our conventions has any bearing on (...) the modal status of necessary truths. It is explained why this does not compromise the Conventionalist claim that necessity – and particularly, essence – is due to conventions. (shrink)
This paper lays out the basic structure of any view involving coincident entities, in the light of the grounding problem. While the account is not novel, I highlight fundamental features, to which attention is not usually properly drawn. With this in place, I argue for a number of further claims: The basic differences between coincident objects are modal differences, and any other differences between them need to be explained in terms of these differences. More specifically, the basic difference is not (...) a difference in sort. A number of recent defenses of coincidence, which share the basic structure I outline, misidentify what, in their accounts, plays the basic role of addressing the grounding problem. More tentatively, I argue Coincident entities differ only in these modal properties, and properties they entail. In particular, they do not differ in properties like ‘being a tree,’ ‘being a statue,’ or aesthetic properties, and finally in light of how the account of coincidence offered addresses the grounding problem, the grounding problem provides no reason to prefer monism to pluralism. (shrink)
ABSTRACT: Rudolf Carnap’s “Empiricism, Semantics and Ontology” (ESO) has received a good deal of sympathetic interest over the years from philosophers who are not particularly sympathetic to verificationism, or suspicious of metaphysics in general. Recent work has favorably cited ESO in connection with doubts about the genuine content of debates in the metaphysics of material objects. But, when we look at how Carnap introduces his central notion of a ‘framework’, and the questions he wants to use it to deflate, there (...) seem to be significant differences in his approach and aim from that of contemporary deflationists about the metaphysics of material objects. This paper first looks at some of these differences, and suggests a way of seeing them as arising more from differences in focus and interest than fundamental approach. However, a further question is whether philosophers who may entirely disagree with Carnap about abstract entities, or the substantiveness of the debate between Realists and Idealists – possibly all of his negative conclusions in ESO - can really be seen as heirs to his approach and argument therein. We look first at his discussion of the Realism/Idealism debate, to sort out different aspects of his analysis, and determine to what extent one can disagree with it while not thinking this undermines other analyses using the same general strategy. In the course of this, we are able to distinguish the basic Carnapian analysis of metaphysical disputes, from the question of whether, if the analysis is correct, this actually subverts the disputes. I suggest that, if we put verificationism aside, ESO really provides us with an approach and a type of skeptical challenge more than an argument, and it is open to contemporary philosophers to think that this skeptical challenge can (or can’t) be met, or can be supplemented by further argument, on a case by case basis. (shrink)
Some relations - like supervenience and composition - can appear very much like identity. Sometimes, the relata differ only in modal, or modally-involved features. Yet, in some cases, we judge the pairs to be identical (water/H2O; Hesperus/Phosphorus), while in others, many judge one of the weaker relations to hold (c-fiber firing/pain; statues/lumps). Given the seemingly same actual properties these pairs have, what can justify us in sometimes believing identity is the relation, and sometimes something weaker? I argue that it can (...) only be knowledge of differences of individuative criteria that we know a priori because they are built into the meanings of the words/concepts involved. Possible metaphysical conclusions are considered. (shrink)
This volume is an encyclopedia, with entries on philosophers, issues, views, and concepts in metaphysics, pretty broadly construed. I must admit that I was at first dubious about the value of such a book, particularly with the Encyclopedia of Philosophy being updated, and the new Routledge Encyclopedia coming out. But the Companion has a number of virtues that make it a useful resource for both students and professional philosophers.
André Gallois’s Occasions of Identity is a detailed, well-written presentation and defense of one attempt to solve many of the recently much discussed puzzles in the metaphysics of material objects. It is engaging not only for Gallois’s ingenious attempt to defend his view that objects can be “occasionally identical”—identical at one time but not another —but for his discussion throughout of the puzzles and of alternative solutions. Gallois does a fine job of keeping the motivations for a position, whether his (...) own or others’, in view while working out details and responding to objections. Even where one disagrees, there is excellent food for thought and discussion here. (shrink)
Most contemporary internalists are fallibilists, denying that there need be anything about which we are infallible for us to have knowledge or justified beliefs. At the same time, internalists standardly appeal to ‘internal twins’ in arguing against externalism and motivating internalism---a Cartesian demon can ruin the ‘external’ relations we have to the world, but one is equally well justified in one’s beliefs whether or not one is subject to such deception. Even if one doesn’t motivate one’s internalism by appeal to (...) internal twins, any internalist must agree that internal twins are equally well justified in their beliefs. I argue that the internal twins argument for, or commitment of internalism, commits one to the claim that the conditions in virtue of which one is justified must be ones about which a believer is infallible. The basic argument is that for anything about which one can be mistaken, one has an internal twin who is mistaken, but is equally well justified---and so, not in virtue of that about which one can be mistaken. If the argument can be resisted, this should tell us something useful about how to properly understand both internalism in general, and the idea of internal twins in particular. (shrink)
Many philosophers believe that identity through time cannot depend on features extrinsic to the relata and relations between them. This goes with the view that one must deny identity in cases for which there is a ‘duplication case’-a case just like the first, but for an additional, ‘external’ element which provides an equal or better ‘candidate’ for identity with one of the relata. Such friends of intrinsicness cannot remedy the failure of continuity of function/form to be one-one by non-branching or (...) closest competitor clauses. The obvious intrinsic approach-perhaps taken for granted-appeals to considerations of quantity of matter, requiring over 50% shared matter between identicals . But this rules out plausible cases of halving and doubling for which there are not duplication cases. After bringing out this problem, I ask what makes duplication cases possible, and use this to formulate an intrinsic condition which allows identity whenever there is continuity of function, but no threat to intrinsic ness via duplication cases. (shrink)
Thought experiments are the philosopher's stock-in-trade. Much recent disparagement hasn't diminished their use or apparent essentiality to philosophical investigation. The simple reason is that we have no alternative way to support or test modal claims, and while some may advocate abandoning such claims, to most of us, that sounds tantamount to just abandoning philosophy. So that leaves us looking for a better understanding of thought experiments and how they work; fortunately, this has been receiving more explicit philosophical attention. The present, (...) well-written book is one such foray into this area. (shrink)
I offer an understanding of what it is for a term to be rigid which makes no serious metaphysical commitments to or about identity across possible worlds. What makes a term rigid is not that it 'refers to the same object(property) with respect to all worlds' - rather (roughly) it is that the criteria of application for the term with respect to other worlds, when combined with the criteria of identity associated with the term, ensure that whatever meets the criteria (...) of identity also meets the criteria of application and vice versa - in the simplest case, the criteria of application just are the criteria of identity - but things can be more complex to allow for the necessary a posteriori. This makes rigidity a non-metaphysically loaded semantic matters, and allows us to see that the phenomenon of and involving rigidity - especially the necessary a posteriori - are of no metaphysical significance on their own. (shrink)
Much specific support for theories of personal identity comes from data which is really about 'what matters' in identity. I argue that if we accept Parfit's arguments that identity is not sufficient for what matters, then we should think our subject matter is actually underdetermined and indefinite, and there can be no correct answer to the question 'Under what conditions is P2 identical to P!?'.
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 “Innocuous Infallibility,” Earl Conee argues that the infallibility to which I argue Internalism is committed, in “An Argument that Internalism Requires Infallibility,” is harmless and trivial. I maintain that this overlooks the fact that Internalism makes use of an intuitive notion of ‘epistemic twinhood’ to drive its position, rather than one antecedently defined with a filled-out notion of ‘relevant epistemic circumstances’. Conee is correct that any theory requires, and trivially gets, some sort of infallibility---but it is not trivial that (...) there is a coherent and univocal notion of the sort of relevant circumstances---and so, twinhood and infallibility---behind the Internalist strategy and motivation. (shrink)
Many philosophers believe that identity through time cannot depend on features extrinsic to the relata and relations between them. This goes with the view that one must deny identity in cases for which there is a `duplication case'-a case just like the first, but for an additional, `external' element which provides an equal or better `candidate' for identity with one of the relata. Such friends of intrinsicness cannot remedy the failure of continuity of function/form to be one-one by non-branching or (...) closest competitor clauses. The obvious intrinsic approach-perhaps taken for granted-appeals to considerations of quantity of matter, requiring over 50% shared matter between identicals. But this rules out plausible cases of halving and doubling for which there are not duplication cases. After bringing out this problem, I ask what makes duplication cases possible, and use this to formulate an intrinsic condition which allows identity whenever there is continuity of function, but no threat to intrinsicness via duplication cases. (shrink)
Plausible recent arguments for the existence of necessary truths a posteriori have led many philosophers to believe, at least implicitly, that conventionalism about necessity is false, and that necessity is in fact a real-world quantity. Necessary truths, on this view, are no more independent upon our linguistic conventions than any other truths; assertions of necessity and essential predications are, like any other claims, true or false as they correspond or not to a wholly independent reality. I believe that this view (...) is not supported by the finding of necessary truths a posteriori, and further, that we have excellent reason to reject this realism about necessity, and to accept instead a conventionalist account. My dissertation attempts to argue for this view, and to present and defend such a conventionalist account. ;In Chapter One, I present a conventionalist explanation of necessary truths a posteriori, and thus argue that the existence of such truths does not establish realism about necessity. My account makes use of general conventions which I call 'general principles of individuation.' If these principles are products of our conventions, then we can both allow for and explain how there can be such 'empirical' necessary truths within a conventionalist framework. ;Chapter Two argues that conventionalism about necessity and essences has traditionally been grounded in metaphysical worries about necessity, not upon now outdated epistemological and semantic views, as is often claimed by the opponents of conventionalism. ;In Chapter Three, I present my central arguments for conventionalism and against realism about necessity. I argue that only conventionalism can explain how we have the knowledge that we do of what is necessary, and further, that it is not even clear that we can make sense of necessity as an independent feature of the world. Chapter Four responds to worries stemming from the fact that my account requires that there be systematically important analytic truths. ;Finally, in Chapter Five, I attempt to apply my findings to the theory of reference. I argue that if conventionalism about necessity and essences is true, then empiricist semantics must be basically correct, and that causal theories of reference must thus be either compatible with empiricist semantics, or false. (shrink)