This anthology introduces advanced undergraduates and beginning graduate students to today's debates in metaphysics. The book consists of essays by contemporary metaphysicians, and all but one appear here for the first time. For each of nine topics, there are two essays, one "pro-" and one "con-".
The paper has two parts: First, I describe a relatively popular thesis in the philosophy of propositional attitudes, worthy of the name “taking tense seriously”; and I distinguish it from a family of views in the metaphysics of time, namely, the A-theories (or what are sometimes called “tensed theories of time”). Once the distinction is in focus, a skeptical worry arises. Some A-theorists maintain that the difference between past, present, and future, is to be drawn in terms of what exists: (...) growing-block theorists eschew ontological commitment to future entities; presentists, to future and past entities. Others think of themselves as A-theorists but exclude no past or future things from their ontology. The metaphysical skeptic suspects that their attempt to articulate an “eternalist” version of the A-theory collapses into merely “taking tense seriously” — a thesis that does not imply the A-theory. The second half of the paper is the search for a stable eternalist A-theory. It includes discussion of temporary intrinsics, temporal parts, and truth. (shrink)
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Property dualism is enjoying a slight resurgence in popularity, these days; substance dualism, not so much. But it is not as easy as one might think to be a property dualist and a substance materialist. The reasons for being a property dualist support the idea that some phenomenal properties (or qualia) are as fundamental as the most basic physical properties; but what material objects could be the bearers of the qualia? If even some qualia require an adverbial construal (if they (...) are modifications of the thing that is conscious because of them, not properties of something else to which the subject of consciousness is related), then the property dualist can be driven to speculative forms of materialism none of which, at this point, looks more likely to be true than the more modest versions of emergent dualism defended by contemporary substance dualists. (shrink)
The ‘friends of temporal parts’ and their opponents disagree about how things persist through time. The former, who hold what is sometimes called a ‘4D’ theory of persistence, typically claim that all objects that last for any period of time are spread out through time in the same way that spatially extended objects are spread out through space — a different part for each region that the object fills. David Lewis calls this manner of persisting ‘perdurance’. The opposing, ‘3D’ theory (...) has it that at least some objects do not persist in this manner; they ‘endure’ through time by ‘being wholly present at more than one time’.1 A related dispute pits ‘presentists’ against ‘non-presentists’. Presentists hold that the only things that really exist are those that exist now, at the present moment; and nonpresentists believe in something like a ‘block-universe’ in which non-simultaneous objects and events nevertheless co-exist (in a tenseless or non-temporal sense). Of late, the relations between these four positions have come under considerable scrutiny.2 As Ned Markosian has pointed out, it would be surprising if commitment to a perdurance or endurance theory of persistence automatically foreclosed one’s options in the presentism—non-presentism debate. But, says Markosian, that is just what the standard formulations of the perdurance and endurance theories imply.3 David Lewis has set the terms of the debate; in his usage, someone who thinks that all persisting objects endure would be said to hold the following. (shrink)
The Oxford Handbook of Metaphysics offers the most authoritative and compelling guide to this diverse and fertile field of philosophy. Twenty-four of the world's most distinguished specialists provide brand-new essays about 'what there is': what kinds of things there are, and what relations hold among entities falling under various categories. They give the latest word on such topics as identity, modality, time, causation, persons and minds, freedom, and vagueness. The Handbook's unrivaled breadth and depth make it the definitive reference work (...) for students and academics across the philosophical spectrum. (shrink)
Mark Johnston’s book, Saving God (Princeton University Press, 2010) has two main goals, one negative and the other positive: (1) to eliminate the gods of the major Western monotheisms (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) as candidates for the role of “the Highest One”; (2) to introduce the real Highest One, a panentheistic deity worthy of devotion and capable of extending to us the grace needed to transform us from inwardly-turned sinners to practitioners of agape. In this review, we argue that Johnston’s (...) attack on traditional forms of monotheism has less force than his criticism of the “undergraduate atheists” (e.g., Hitchens, Harris, Dawkins); and that his candidate for Highest One is not the greatest possible being, and so could not play the role Johnston casts for it. -/- . (shrink)
It is not easy to be a materialist and yet believe that there is a way for human beings to survive death. Peter van Inwagen identifies the central obstacle the materialist faces: Namely, the need to posit appropriate “immanent-causal” connections between my body as it is at death and some living body elsewhere or elsewhen. I offer a proposal, consistent with van Inwagen’s own materialist metaphysics, for making materialism compatible with the possibility of survival.
My comments have two parts. I begin by laying out the argument that seems to me to be at the core of Olson’s thinking about human persons; and I suggest a problem with his reasons for accepting one of its premises. The premise is warranted by its platitudinous or commonsensical status; but Olson’s arguments lead him to conclusions that undermine the family of platitudes to which it belongs. Then I’ll raise a question about how Olson should construe the vagueness that (...) would seem to infect the boundaries of human animals. (shrink)
I attempt to rebut Dean Zimmerman's novel argument (2010), which he presents in support of substance dualism, for the conclusion that, in spite of its popularity, the combination of property dualism with substance materialism represents a precarious position in the philosophy of mind. I take issue with Zimmerman's contention that the vagueness of 'garden variety' material objects such as brains or bodies makes them unsuitable candidates for the possession of phenomenal properties. I also argue that the 'speculative materialism' that is (...) available to a substance materialist property dualist who abandons the identification of persons with such garden variety objects is significantly more attractive than Zimmerman allows. Although I do not attempt to refute its substance dualist rival, I conclude that the combination of property dualism with substance materialism can withstand Zimmerman's objections. (shrink)
The nature of persons is a perennial topic of debate in philosophy, currently enjoying something of a revival. In this volume for the first time metaphysical debates about the nature of human persons are brought together with related debates in philosophy of religion and theology. Fifteen specially written essays explore idealist, dualist, and materialist views of persons, discuss specifically Christian conceptions of the value of embodiment, and address four central topics in philosophical theology: incarnation, resurrection, original sin, and the trinity.
William Rowe argues that if an omnipotent, omniscient being were faced with an infinite hierarchy of better and better worlds to create, that being could not also be unsurpassably morally excellent. His argument assumes that, at least in ideal circumstances, degree of moral goodness must be perfectly expressed in the degree of goodness of the outcomes chosen. Reflection upon the application of analogous expression principles for certainty and desire shows that such principles can be expected to fail for anyone capable (...) of facing an infinite range of options. (shrink)
This chapter contains sections titled: * I Introduction * II A-Theories and B-Theories * III Competing Versions of the A-Theory * IV Presentism a Trivial Truth? * V Open Theism and the A-Theory of Time * VI The âTruthmakerâ Argument * VII Conclusion * Notes.
I have argued that contemporary humeans face a trilemma: either give up temporal parts, deny the humean supervenience of causal relations, or deny the possibility of there being a difference between rotating and nonrotating homogeneous spheres. Mark Scala describes an interesting class of seemingly possible objects, spinning and stationary simples; and argues their possibility undermines my argument. I argue that it does not. And I conclude with a more general assessment of the status of objections to humeanism from the possibility (...) of homogeneous objects in motion. (shrink)
The paper has two parts: First, I describe a relatively popular thesis in the philosophy of propositional attitudes, worthy of the name ‘taking tense seriously’; and I distinguish it from a family of views in the metaphysics of time, namely, the A‐theories. Once the distinction is in focus, a skeptical worry arises. Some A‐theorists maintain that the difference between past, present, and future, is to be drawn in terms of what exists: growing‐block theorists eschew ontological commitment to future entities; presentists, (...) to future and past entities. Others think of themselves as A‐theorists but exclude no past or future things from their ontology. The metaphysical skeptic suspects that their attempt to articulate an ‘eternalist’ version of the A‐theory collapses into merely ‘taking tense seriously’– a thesis that does not imply the A‐theory. The second half of the paper is the search for a stable eternalist A‐theory. It includes discussion of temporary intrinsics, temporal parts, and truth. (shrink)
‘Molinism’, in contemporary usage, is the name for a theory about the workings of divine providence. Its defenders include some of the most prominent contemporary Protestant and Catholic philosophical theologians.¹ Molinism is often said to be the only way to steer a middle..
Oxford Studies in Metaphysics is the forum for the best new work in this flourishing field. Much of the most interesting work in philosophy today is metaphysical in character: this new series will be a much-needed focus for it. OSM will offer a broad view of the subject, featuring not only the traditionally central topics such as existence, identity, modality, time, and causation, but also the rich clusters of metaphysical questions in neighbouring fields, such as philosophy of mind and philosophy (...) of science. Besides independent essays, volumes will often contain a critical essay on a recent book, or a symposium that allows participants to respond to one another's criticisms and questions. Anyone who wants to know what's happening in metaphysics can start here. (shrink)
The most well-known arguments for the simplicity of the soul - i.e., for the thesis that the subject of psychological states must be an unextended substance -are based upon the logical possibility of disembodiment. Descartes introduced this sort of argument into modern philosophy, and a version of it has been defended recently by Richard Swinburne. Some of the underlying assumptions of both arguments are examined and defended, but a closer look reveals that each depends upon unjustified inferences from the conceivability (...) of a certain state of affairs to the logical possibility of that state of affairs. (shrink)
Many theists reject the notion that God’s eternity consists in his timelessness — i.e., in his lacking temporal extension and failing to possess properties at any times. Some of these “divine temporalists” hold that, for philosophical reasons, it is impossible to accept both the timelessness of God and the view that God knows what happens at different times and brings about events in time. 1 Many reject divine timelessness as a dubious import from Platonism with no biblical or theological warrant.2 (...) And some question the very intelligibility of the doctrine. (shrink)