At The Lock-Up in Newcastle one weekend in September 2015, a group of artists, musicians and performers, performed to an audience which included philosopher commentators. The idea was to look for points of intersection, interface or divergence between art and philosophy. However, what we found was that the commentators were not engaged in analysing what was simply given them, but instead actively constructing the meaning they would ascribe to the work. As such they were co-creators. The objective of this report (...) of the event is to establish a basis for more collaboration between art and philosophy in the future on the assumption that interdisciplinarity reveals possibilities and perspectives masked by the general insularity of well-established disciplines. (shrink)
Similarity and difference, patterns of variation, consistency and coherence: these are the reference points of the philosopher. Understanding experience, exploring ideas through particular instantiations, novel and innovative thinking: these are the reference points of the artist. However, at certain points in the proceedings of our Symposium titled, Next to Nothing: Art as Performance, this characterisation of philosopher and artist respectively might have been construed the other way around. The commentator/philosophers referenced their philosophical interests through the particular examples/instantiations created by the (...) artist and in virtue of which they were then able to engage with novel and innovative thinking. From the artists’ presentations, on the other hand, emerged a series of contrasts within which philosophical and artistic ideas resonated. This interface of philosopher-artist bore witness to the fact that just as art approaches philosophy in providing its own analysis, philosophy approaches art in being a co-creator of art’s meaning. In what follows, we discuss the conception of philosophy-art that emerged from the Symposium, and the methodological minimalism which we employed in order to achieve it. We conclude by drawing out an implication of the Symposium’s achievement which is that a counterpoint to Institutional theories of art may well be the point from which future directions will take hold, if philosophy-art gains traction. (shrink)
The dilemma of free will is that if actions are caused deterministically, then they are not free, and if they are not caused deterministically then they are not free either because then they happen by chance and are not up to the agent. I propose a conception of free will that solves this dilemma. It can be called agent causation but it differs from what Chisholm and others have called so.
Some argue for materialism claiming that a physical event cannot have a non-physical cause, or by claiming the 'Principle of Causal Closure' to be true. This I call a 'Sweeping Naturalistic Argument'. This article argues against this. It describes what it would be for a material event to have an immaterial cause.
Trope ontology is exposed and confronted with the question where one trope ends and another begins. It is argued that tropes do not have determinate boundaries, it is arbitrary how tropes are carved up. An ontology, which I call field ontology, is proposed which takes this into account. The material world consists of a certain number of fields, each of which is extended over all of space. It is shown how field ontology can also tackle the problem of determin-able properties (...) and the problem of completeness of things. (shrink)
If God brings about an event in the universe, does it have a preceding cause? For example, if the universe began with the Big Bang and if God brought it about, did the Big Bang then have a preceding cause? The standard answer is: yes, it was caused by a divine willing. I propose an alternative view: God’s actions, unlike human actions, are not initiated by willings, undertakings, or volitions, but God brings about the intended event directly. Presenting a solution (...) to the dilemma of free will I explain what ‘bringing about directly’ means and show that the question of what an action begins with is distinct from the question whether it is a basic action. (shrink)
Although many philosophers today have turned away slightly from the linguistic turn, their methods, e.g. conceptual analysis, are still linguistic. These methods lead to false results. The right method in philosophy, like in other disciplines, is to try to perceive the object and to collect and weigh evidence. We must turn back to things in themselves.
A theory of causation with ‘tendencies’ as causal con- nections is proposed. Not, however, as ‘necessary connec- tions’: causes are not sufficient, they do not necessitate their effects. The theory is not an analysis of the concept of causation, but a description of what is the case in typical cases of causation. Therefore it does not strictly contradict any analysis of the concept of causation, not even reduct- ive ones. It would even be supported by a counterfactual or a probabilistic (...) analysis. (shrink)
This article argues that there is a great divide between semantics and metaphysics. Much of what is called metaphysics today is still stuck in the linguistic turn. This is illustrated by showing how Fraser MacBride misunderstands David Armstrong's theory of modality.
Branden Thornhill-Miller and Peter Millican as well as Janusz Salomon put forward versions of supernaturalism that avoid the existence of a religion which alone provides the true revelation and the only way to salvation and which teaches that God acted in this world. Their rejection of revealed, exclusive religion is based on an argument from religious diversity and an argument from natural explanations of religious phenomena. These two together form the "common-core/diversity dilemma". In this article I refute these two arguments (...) by arguing that explaining the origin of belief in supernatural agents does not provide a reason for not believing in the existence of supernatural agents. (shrink)
While other philosophers have pointed out that Libet’s experiment is compatible with compatibilist free will and also with some kinds of libertarian free will, this article ar- gues that it is even compatible with strong libertarian free will, i.e. a person’s ability to initiate causal processes. It is widely believed that Libet’s experiment has shown that all our actions have preceding unconscious causes. This article argues that Libet’s claim that the actions he invest- igated are voluntary is false. They are (...) urges, and there- fore the experiment shows at most that our urges have preceding unconscious causes, which is what also strong libertarianism leads us to expect. Further, Libet’s correct observation that we can veto urges undermines his claim that our actions are initiated unconsciously and supports the thesis that we have strong libertarian free will. (shrink)
This article argues against Benjamin Libet’s claim that his experiment has shown that our actions are caused by brain events which begin before we decide and before we even think about the action. It assumes, contra the com- patibilists and pro Libet, that this claim is incompatible with free will. It clarifies what exactly should be meant by saying that the readiness potential causes, initiates, or pre- pares an action. It shows why Libet’s experiment does not support his claim and (...) why the experiments by Herrmann et al. and by Trevena & Miller provide evidence against it. The empirical evidence is compatible with strong liber- tarian free will. Neither the readiness potential nor the lateralized readiness potential causes our actions. (shrink)
This paper argues that there are true synthetic modal claims and that modal questions in philosophy in general are to be interpreted not in terms of logical necessity but in terms of syn- thetic necessity. I begin by sketching the debate about modality between logical empiricism and phenomenology. Logical empiri- cism taught us to equate being tautological with being necessary. The now common view is that tautologies are necessary in the narrow sense but that there is also necessity in a (...) wider sense. I argue against this that we should distinguish analyticity and necessity more strictly. (shrink)
Materialists who do not deny the existence of mental phenomena usually claim that the mental supervenes on the physical, i.e. that there cannot be a change in the mental life of a man without there being a change in the man's body. This modal claim is usually understood in terms of logical necessity. I argue that this is a mistake, resulting from assumptions inherited from logical empiricism, and that it should be understood in terms of synthetic necessity.
Some have tried to make miracles compatible with the laws of nature by re-defining them as something other than interventions. By contrast, this article argues that although miracles are divine interventions, they are not violations of the laws of nature. Miracles are also not exceptions to the laws, nor do the laws not apply to them. The laws never have exceptions; they never are violated or suspended, are probably necessary and unchangeable, and apply also to divine interventions. We need to (...) reconsider not miracles but laws. The main claim of this article is that laws of nature do not entail regularities, and therefore that miracles do not violate the laws. We need a new theory of the laws of nature: the tendency theory. (shrink)
This article criticises Alvin Plantinga’s claim that ‘basic’ design beliefs, which arise without a conscious inference, have more positive epistemic status than non-basic ones and that we cannot evaluate the probabilities involved in inferential, inductive design arguments.
Some have tried to make miracles compatible with the laws of nature by re-defining them as something other than interventions. By contrast, this article argues that although miracles are divine interventions, they are not violations of the laws of nature. Miracles are also not exceptions to the laws, nor do the laws not apply to them. The laws never have exceptions; they never are violated or suspended, are necessary and unchangeable, and apply also to divine interventions. We need to reconsider (...) not miracles but laws. The main claim of this article is that laws of nature do not entail regularities, and that therefore miracles do not violate the laws. We need a new theory of the laws of nature: the tendency theory. (shrink)