Daniel Dennett has claimed that if Chalmers' argument for the irreducibility of consciousness were to succeed, an analogous argument would establish the truth of Vitalism. Chalmers denies that there is such an analogy. I argue that the analogy does have merit and that skepticism is called for.
The thesis that there can be vague objects is the thesis that there can be identity statements which are indeterminate in truth-value (i.e., neither true nor false) as a result of vagueness (as opposed, e.g., to reference-failure), "the singular terms of which do not have their references fixed by vague descriptive means". (if this is "not" what is meant by the thesis that there can be vague objects, it is not clear what "is" meant by it.) the possibility of vague (...) objects should not be taken, in itself, to imply the more radical thesis that the identity relation can be one of "degree". one can hold that the concept of degrees of identity is absurd (how can one thing be more or less identical to another?) "and" that indeterminacy in identity is possible; hence, any incoherence in the idea of degrees of identity does not thereby undermine the idea of indeterminate identity. (shrink)
In his well-known time travel story, David Lewis claims that there is a sense in which Tim can go back in time and kill his Grandfather and a (more inclusive) sense in which he cannot. Lewis describes Tim’s predicament as semi-fatalist, but holds that this does not compromise Tim’s freedom or his ability to kill Grandfather. I argue that if semi-fatalism is true of Tim, it is true of everyone, and that this is a troubling conclusion.
I examine the main arguments of Elizabeth Anscombe’s difficult but fecund paper ‘The First Person’. Anscombe argues that the first‐person singular is not a device of reference, and, in particular, that it is not a device of indexical reference. Both arguments fail, but in ways that we can learn from.
I argue that José Luis Bermúdez has not shown that there is a paradox in our concept of self-consciousness. The deflationary theory is not a plausible theory of self-consciousness, so its paradoxicality is irrelevant. A more plausible theory, 'the simple theory', is not paradoxical. However, I do think there is a puzzle about the connection between self-consciousness and 'I'-thoughts.
Storrs McCall claims to have a novel solution to the age-old problem of the incompatibility of free will and God's omniscience. His solution is based on the thesis of the supervenience of truth on being. I argue that this thesis plays no role in solving the ancient conundrum.
In ‘The Sorites is disguised nonsense’ Analysis (2012) 77: 61–5 L Goldstein attempts to show that some of the conditionals in any Sorites argument are nonsensical, and hence no Sorites argument can be sound. I give four reasons why this is not the case.
The standard bilking argument is well-known and attempts to prove the impossibility of backwards causation. In this discussion note, I identify an epistemic bilking argument, which has not received sufficient attention in the literature, and indicate how best to respond to it. This response involves a parity argument based on a forwards causation case.
_Personal Identity and Self-Consciousness_ is about persons and personal identity. What are we? And why does personal identity matter? Brian Garrett, using jargon-free language, addresses questions in the metaphysics of personal identity, questions in value theory, and discusses questions about the first person singular. Brian Garrett makes an important contribution to the philosophy of personal identity and mind, and to epistemology.
In ‘Bringing about the Past’ Michael Dummett attempted to defend the coherence of the idea of bringing about the past. I agree that bringing about the past is conceptually no more problematic than bringing about the future, but argue, against Dummett, that there is no need to restrict the scope of an agent’s knowledge in order to make sense of intentionally bringing about past events.
In this discussion I argue that, given the possibility of travel to the past, eternalists face a dilemma. They must choose between fatalism and the denial of an intuitive claim about what a traveller to the past cannot do. The eternalist should deny this seemingly intuitive claim which is in fact a version of fatalism about the past.
Davidson argues that mental properties are causally relevant properties. I argue that Davidson cannot appeal to ceteris paribus causal laws to ensure that these properties are causally relevant, if he wishes to retain his argument for anomalous monism. Second, I argue that the appeal to supervenience cannot, by itself, give us an account of the causal relevancy of mental properties. I argue that, while mental properties may indeed 'make a difference' to the causally efficacious properties of events, this is not (...) sufficient to show that mental properties are causally relevant. (shrink)
Kim's exclusion argument threatens to show that irreducible constituted objects are epiphenomenal. Kim's arguments are examined and found to be unconvincing; that a constituted cause requires its constituent to be a cause is not an adequate reason to reject the causation of the constituted object (event or property-instance). However, I introduce and argue for, the Causal Power Uniqueness Condition (CPUC). I argue that CPUC and the causal closure of the physical, implies that constituted objects or property-instances are not novel causal (...) powers. (shrink)
Sur la base de ce qu’il a appelé « le principe d’héritabilité causale », Jaegwon Kim a soutenu que les propriétés réalisables de façons multiples ne constituent pas des sortes causales scientifiques. Mon principal objectif est de répondre aux arguments de Kim contre le physicalisme non réductionniste. Je défends l’idée qu’il existe plus de pouvoirs causaux que les seuls pouvoirs causaux physiques. Cela n’a rien de surprenant puisqu’il existe plus de particuliers que le nombre total de particules physiques fondamentales. Et (...) la réflexion sur la nature des individus, et plus spécifiquement sur leur capacité à préserver leur identité à travers le changement ou le remplacement de leurs parties, indique que les individus ont des pouvoirs causaux distincts de ceux des particuliers physiques qui les constituent. Je soutiens que si cela est plausible, alors l’abandon du principe d’héritabilité causale l’est tout autant.Jaegwon Kim has recently argued, using what he calls “The Causal Inheritance Principle”, that multiply realizable properties are not causal, scientific kinds. My primary concern is to reply to Kim's arguments against nonreductive physicalism. I shall defend the idea that there are, indeed, more causal powers than the physical. But this should come as no surprise, since there are more individuals than the total number of fundamental physical particles. Reflections on the nature of individuals, specifically, on their ability to survive through change or replacement of their parts, indicates that individuals have causal powers nonidentical with the causal powers of the physical individuals that constitute them. I claim that, if this is plausible, the rejection of The Causal Inheritance Principle is also plausible. (shrink)
This note criticizes Andrew Brennan's attempt to defend best?candidate theories of the identity of artefacts over time against certain now familiar objections. Adoption of a mereological conception of individuals does not, in itself, provide the means for a satisfactory response to objections of Wiggins and Noonan (some of which are anyway ill?focused). The way forward consists in recognizing that the consequences of best?candidate theories which have been thought objectionable (in particular, commitment to the extrinsicness of identity) do not violate the (...) necessity of identity and imply ? what anyway ought to seem unexceptionable ? that a predicate such as ?constituting the ship which is the Ship of Theseus? does not denote a genuine property of the hunk of matter of which the predicate is true. Once these consequences have been clearly mapped out, the best?candidate theorist's commitment to the extrinsicness of identity does not appear absurd. (shrink)
Resumo Neste texto, o autor concentra-se em dois artigos históricos: o de Max Black “Why cannot an effect precede its cause”? e o de Michael Dummett “Bringing about the Past”. O autor irá mostrar onde falha o “bilking argument” de Black, contra a possibilidade da causalidade invertida. Por conseguinte, o autor irá concordar com Dummett, na possibilidade de um agente actuar a fim de que algo possa ocorrer no passado, contudo, discordando da argumentação de Dummett face a um desafio céptico, (...) que tenta mostrar a inutilidade de afectar o passado. Palavras-chave : Black, causalidade invertida, Dummett, razões, tempoIn this discussion I focus on two classic articles: Max Black’s ‘Why cannot an effect precede its cause?’ and Michael Dummett’s ‘Bringing about the Past’. I argue that Black’s bilking argument against the possibility of backwards causation fails. I agree with Dummett that the idea of an agent acting in order that something should have happened in the past is not absurd, but I disagree with Dummett’s response to a sceptical challenge which attempts to show that it is pointless to attempt to affect the past. Keywords : backwards causation, Black, Dummett, reasons, time. (shrink)
Santayana's epiphenomenalism is best understood as part of his thinking about teleology and final causes. Santayana makes a distinction between final causes, which he rejects, and teleology, which he finds ubiquitous. Mental causation is identified with a doctrine of final causes which he argues is an absurd form of causation. Thus mental causes are rejected and Santayana embraces epiphenomenalism.