I consider backtracking reasoning: that is, reasoning from backtracking counterfactuals such as if Hitler had won the war, he would have invaded Russia six weeks earlier. Backtracking counterfactuals often strike us as true. Despite that, reasoning from them just as often strikes us as illegitimate. A number of diagnoses have been offered of the illegitimacy of such backtracking reasoning which invoke the fixity of the past, or the direction of causation. I argue against such diagnoses, and in favor of one (...) that invokes a principle I call the fixity of reasons. Backtracking reasoning violates the fixity of reasons. But, the fixity of reasons is a principle that must be observed in order to engage in practical reasoning at all. (shrink)
Occasions of Identity is an exploration of timeless philosophical issues about persistence, change, time, and sameness. AndreGallois offers a critical survey of various rival views about the nature of identity and change, and puts forward his own original theory. He supports the idea of occasional identities, arguing that it is coherent and helpful to suppose that things can be identical at one time but distinct at another. Gallois defends this view, demonstrating how it can solve puzzles (...) about persistence dating back to the Ancient Greeks, and investigates the metaphysical consequences of rejecting the necessity and eternity of identities. (shrink)
In this challenging study, André Gallois proposes and defends a thesis about the character of our knowledge of our own intentional states. Taking up issues at the centre of attention in contemporary analytic philosophy of mind and epistemology, he examines accounts of self-knowledge by such philosophers as Donald Davidson, Tyler Burge and Crispin Wright, and advances his own view that, without relying on observation, we are able justifiably to attribute to ourselves propositional attitudes, such as belief, that we consciously (...) hold. His study will be of wide interest to philosophers concerned with questions about self-knowledge. (shrink)
[Stephen Yablo] The usual charge against Carnap's internal/external distinction is one of 'guilt by association with analytic/synthetic'. But it can be freed of this association, to become the distinction between statements made within make-believe games and those made outside them-or, rather, a special case of it with some claim to be called the metaphorical/literal distinction. Not even Quine considers figurative speech committal, so this turns the tables somewhat. To determine our ontological commitments, we have to ferret out all traces of (...) nonliterality in our assertions; if there is no sensible project of doing that, there is no sensible project of Quinean ontology. /// [AndreGallois] I discuss Steve Yablo's defence of Carnap's distinction between internal and external questions. In the first section I set out what I take that distinction, as Carnap draws it, to be, and spell out a central motivation Carnap has for invoking it. In the second section I endorse, and augment, Yablo's response to Quine's arguments against Carnap. In the third section I say why Carnap's application of the distinction between internal and external questions runs into trouble. In the fourth section I spell out what I take to be Yablo's version of Carnap. In the last I say why that version is especially vulnerable to the objection raised in the second. (shrink)
Occasions of Identity is an exploration of timeless philosophical issues about persistence, change, time, and sameness. André Gallois offers a critical survey of various rival views about the nature of identity and change, and puts forward his own original theory in the face of the prevailing orthodoxy. He argues that it is coherent and helpful to suppose that things can be identical at one time, but distinct at another - in other words, that there are genuine occasional identities. (...) class='Hi'>Gallois defends this view against objections, demonstrates how it can solve puzzles about persistence dating back to the Ancient Greeks, and investigates the metaphysical consequences of rejecting the necessity and eternity of identities. (shrink)
In my article "berkeley's master argument" I attempt to show that an argument berkeley uses in the 'dialogues' and 'principles' to support his contention that whatever is perceivable is perceived can be seen as an illuminating attempt to relate conceptualizing, Imaging and perceiving. In consequence it cannot be dismissed as resting on an elementary fallacy, But reflects on the conditions for the self ascription of experience.
Traditionally, this puzzle has been solved in various ways. Aristotle, for example, distinguished between “accidental” and “essential” changes. Accidental changes are ones that don't result in a change in an objects' identity after the change, such as when a house is painted, or one's hair turns gray, etc. Aristotle thought of these as changes in the accidental properties of a thing. Essential changes, by contrast, are those which don't preserve the identity of the object when it changes, such as when (...) a house burns to the ground and becomes ashes, or when someone dies. Armed with these distinctions, Aristotle would then say that, in the case of accidental changes, (1) and (2) are both false—a changing thing can really change one of its “accidental properties” and yet literally remain one and the same thing before and after the change. (shrink)
My concern is with a version of scepticism which, following a number of philosophers, I will entitle global scepticism. According to global scepticism no one is to any degree justified in holding any belief. Global scepticism is a live option, and has at least one compelling argument in its favour1 Nevertheless, one's first reaction to global scepticism is likely to be that it is self-refuting. The issue I will be discussing here is whether global scepticism is self-refuting. In the first (...) section I consider arguments to the conclusion that global scepticism is self-refuting, and argue that the global sceptic need take only one of them seriously. In the next I examine a global sceptic's reply to the argument in question, and a response to that reply available to the anti-sceptic. What emerges is an apparent impasse. The global sceptic has a response to each reply that the anti-sceptic makes in support of the anti-sceptic's original argument. However, it seems that the anti-sceptic is able to effectively reply to each of the global sceptic's responses. In the last section I develop an argument to show that global scepticism is self-refuting which breaks the deadlock between the global sceptic and anti-sceptic. (shrink)
The philosophy problem of identity and the related problem of change go back to the ancient Greek philosophers and fascinated later figures including Leibniz, Locke and Hume. Heraclitus argued that one could not swim in the same river twice because new waters were ever flowing in. When is a river not the same river? If one removes one plank at a time when is a ship no longer a ship? What is the basic nature of identity and persistence? This book (...) introduces and asseses the philosophical puzzles posed by things persisting through time. Beginning with essential historical background to the problem it explores the following key topics and debates: mereology and identity, including 'Leibniz's Law' the constitution view of identity the 'relative identity' argument concerning identity temporary identity four-dimensionalism, counterpart and mulitiple counterpart theory supervenience the problem of temporary intrinsics the necessity of identity presentism ontological and epistemological criteria for persistence and the difference between them. Including chapter summaries, annotated further reading and a glossary this book is essential reading for anyone seeking a clear and informative introduction to and assessement of the metaphysics of identity. (shrink)
This paper criticizes the conception of applied ethics as the top-down application of a theory to practical issues. It is argued that a theory such as utilitarianism cannot override our intuitive moral perceptions. We cannot be radically mistaken about the kinds of considerations which count as practical reasons, and it is the task of theoretical ethics to articulate the basic kinds of considerations which we appeal to in practical discussions. Dworkin's model of doing ethics ‘from the inside out’ is used (...) to illustrate the appropriate role for theory in a broader sense. In conclusion, some sceptical questions are raised about how far theoretical ethics can contribute to public policy, especially if this requires a consensus. (shrink)
The chief defect of all previous materialism is that things, reality, the sensible world, are conceived only in the form of objects of observation , but not as human sense activity , not as practical activity , not subjectively. Hence, in opposition to materialism, the active side was developed abstractly by idealism, which of course does not know real sense activity as such.
André Gallois’s Occasions of Identity injects a refreshing new perspective into an old debate. Actually, what is new is the advocacy of the perspective: Gallois takes up a view that many consider a non-starter, and shows this reaction to be premature. The debate is over the right way to understand the traditional puzzles involving two things being in the same place at the same time; the perspective is that identity can hold temporarily. Suppose an amoeba, name it AMOEBA, (...) divides in two. One of the resultant amoebas, POND, lives in a pond; the other, SLIDE, is examined on a slide in a laboratory. Does AMOEBA survive this process, and if so, does it survive as POND or SLIDE? If we stipulate that POND and SLIDE are symmetrically related to AMOEBA then it seems arbitrary to identify AMOEBA with exactly one of POND and SLIDE. But we cannot identify AMOEBA with each, for then by the transitivity and symmetry of identity we would wrongly identify POND and SLIDE. We are left with the conclusion that AMOEBA is identical to neither. But this seems wrong too; surely fission does not result in death. So just what does happen to AMOEBA? How to respond to this and related cases has been much discussed.1 There are many proposals, each with distinctive strengths and weaknesses. To these Gallois adds his own, which runs as follows. After division, there are two amoebas, POND and SLIDE, each of which existed before division. But it does not follow that there were two amoebas before division. Though POND and SLIDE are numerically distinct after division, they were numerically identical before division. The identity relation can hold temporarily, or occasionally, as Gallois puts it. My sense is that this sort of claim is regarded by most metaphysicians as downright wacky. And yet there is something very natural about it. Why distinguish POND and SLIDE today because they will differ tomorrow? I suspect the “wackiness” reaction has two sources, one based on Leibniz’s Law.. (shrink)
André Gallois (1998) attempts to defend the occasional identity thesis (OIT), the thesis that objects which are distinct at one time may nonetheless be identical at another time, in the face of two influential lines of argument against it. One argument involves Kripke’s (1971) notion of rigid designation and the other, Leibniz’s law (affirming the indiscernibility of identicals). It is reasonable for advocates of (OIT) to question the picture of rigid designation and the version of Leibniz’s law that these (...) arguments employ, but, the problem is, some form of rigidity is required for one to affirm the occasional identity of objects, and some (restricted) version of Leibniz’s law must be conceded if identity really is involved. Gallois accordingly recommends an account of rigidity and a version of Leibniz’s law to this end.1 We find Gallois’ proposals entirely inadequate to their task. We aim in this paper is to explicate and defend an alternative approach for occasional identity theorists. We do not seek to defend (OIT) per se; our aim, rather, is simply to show that the arguments from rigid designation and Leibniz’s law are inconclusive. Let’s begin with an outline of these arguments. (shrink)