Philosophical theories of gender are typically understood as theories of what it is to be a woman, a man, a nonbinary person, and so on. In this paper, I argue that this is a mistake. There’s good reason to suppose that our best philosophical theory of gender might not directly match up to or give the extensions of ordinary gender categories like ‘woman’.
Disability is primarily a social phenomenon -- a way of being a minority, a way of facing social oppression, but not a way of being inherently or intrinsically worse off. This is how disability is understood in the Disability Rights and Disability Pride movements; but there is a massive disconnect with the way disability is typically viewed within analytic philosophy. The idea that disability is not inherently bad or sub-optimal is one that many philosophers treat with open skepticism, and sometimes (...) even with scorn. The goal of this book is to articulate and defend a version of the view of disability that is common in the Disability Rights movement. To be physically disabled is not to have a defective body, but simply to have a minority body. (shrink)
Metaphysical orthodoxy maintains that the relation of ontological dependence is irreflexive, asymmetric, and transitive. The goal of this paper is to challenge that orthodoxy by arguing that ontological dependence should be understood as non- symmetric, rather than asymmetric. If we give up the asymmetry of dependence, interesting things follow for what we can say about metaphysical explanation— particularly for the prospects of explanatory holism.
In this paper, I argue for a new way of characterizing ontological emergence. I appeal to recent discussions in meta-ontology regarding fundamentality and dependence, and show how emergence can be simply and straightforwardly characterized using these notions. I then argue that many of the standard problems for emergence do not apply to this account: given a clearly specified meta-ontological background, emergence becomes much easier to explicate. If my arguments are successful, they show both a helpful way of thinking about emergence (...) and the potential utility of discussions in meta-ontology when applied to first-order metaphysics. (shrink)
Disability rights activists often claim that disability is not—by itself—something that makes disabled people worse off. A popular objection to such a view of disability is this: were it correct, it would make it permissible to cause disability and impermissible to cause nondisability. The aim of this article is to show that these twin objections don’t succeed.
In this paper I develop a framework for understanding ontic vagueness. The project of the paper is two-fold. I first outline a definitional account of ontic vagueness – one that I think is an improvement on previous attempts because it remains neutral on other, independent metaphysical issues. I then develop one potential manifestation of that basic definitional structure. This is a more robust (and much less neutral) account which gives a fully classical explication of ontic vagueness via modal concepts. The (...) overarching aim is to systematically investigate the puzzling question of what exactly it could be for the world itself to be vague. (shrink)
Social constructionism is often considered a form of anti-realism. But in contemporary feminist philosophy, an increasing number of philosophers defend views that are well-described as both realist and social constructionist. In this paper, I use the work of Sally Haslanger as an example of realist social constructionism. I argue: that Haslanger is best interpreted as defending metaphysical realism about social structures; that this type of metaphysical realism about the social world presents challenges to some popular ways of understanding metaphysical realism.
In this paper we aim to disentangle the thesis that the future is open from theses that often get associated or even conflated with it. In particular, we argue that the open future thesis is compatible with both the unrestricted principle of bivalence and determinism with respect to the laws of nature. We also argue that whether or not the future (and indeed the past) is open has no consequences as to the existence of (past and) future ontology.
Much recent literature in metaphysics attempts to answer the question, ‘What is metaphysics?’ In this paper I argue that many of the most influential contemporary answers to this question yield the result that feminist metaphysics is not metaphysics. I further argue this result is problematic.
Many of us are tempted by the thought that the future is open, whereas the past is not. The future might unfold one way, or it might unfold another; but the past, having occurred, is now settled. In previous work we presented an account of what openness consists in: roughly, that the openness of the future is a matter of it being metaphysically indeterminate how things will turn out to be. We were previously concerned merely with presenting the view and (...) exploring its consequences; we did not attempt to argue for it over rival accounts. That is what we will aim to do in this paper. (shrink)
Sider (Four-dimensionalism 2001; Philos Stud 114:135–146, 2003; Nous 43:557–567, 2009) has developed an influential argument against indeterminacy in existence. In what follows, I argue that the defender of metaphysical forms of indeterminate existence has a unique way of responding to Sider’s argument. The response I’ll offer is interesting not only for its applicability to Sider’s argument, but also for its broader implications; responding to Sider helps to show both how we should think about precisification in the context of metaphysical indeterminacy (...) and how we should understand commitment to metaphysically indeterminate existence. And if I’m right that metaphysical indeterminacy can allow for indeterminate existence in a way that semantic indeterminacy can’t, indeterminate existence might actually give us a reason to accept metaphysical indeterminacy (rather than a reason to reject it, as is commonly assumed). (shrink)
AbstrctSean Aas, Dana Howard, and Leslie Francis raise compelling and interesting objections to the definition of disability I defend in The Minority Body. In this paper, I reply to these objections and elaborate on my criticisms of the disability/impairment distinction.
abstract In this paper I develop a characterization of disability according to which disability is in no way a sub-optimal feature. I argue, however, that this conception of disability is compatible with the idea that having a disability is, at least in a restricted sense, a harm. I then go on to argue that construing disability in this way avoids many of the common objections levelled at accounts which claim that disability is not a negative feature.
We discuss arguments against the thesis that the world itself can be vague. The first section of the paper distinguishes dialectically effective from ineffective arguments against metaphysical vagueness. The second section constructs an argument against metaphysical vagueness that promises to be of the dialectically effective sort: an argument against objects with vague parts. Firstly, cases of vague parthood commit one to cases of vague identity. But we argue that Evans' famous argument against will not on its own enable one to (...) complete the reductio in the present context. We provide a metaphysical premise that would complete the reductio, but note that it seems deniable. We conclude by drawing general morals from our case study. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that Gareth Evans’ famous proof of the impossibility of de re indeterminate identity fails on a counterpart-theoretic interpretation of the determinacy operators. I attempt to motivate a counterpart-theoretic reading of the determinacy operators and then show that, understood counterpart-theoretically, Evans’ argument is straightforwardly invalid.
Guy Kahane and Julian Savulescu respond to my paper “Valuing Disability, Causing Disability” by arguing that my assessment of objections to the mere-difference view of disability is unconvincing and fails to explain their conviction that it is impermissible to cause disability. In reply, I argue that their response misconstrues, somewhat radically, both what I say in my paper and the commitments of the mere-difference view more generally. It also fails to adequately appreciate the unique epistemic factors present in philosophical discussions (...) of disability. (shrink)
This thesis is a systematic investigation of whether there might be conceptual room for the idea that the world itself might be vague, independently of how we describe it. This idea – the existence of so-called ontic vagueness – has generally been extremely unpopular in the literature; my thesis thus seeks to evaluate whether this ‘negative press’ is justified. I start by giving a working definition and semantics for ontic vagueness, and then attempt to show that there are no conclusive (...) arguments that rule out vagueness of this kind. I subsequently establish what type of arguments I think would be most effective in establishing ontic vagueness and provide some arguments of this form. I then highlight a potential worry for this type of argument, but argue that it can be circumvented. Finally, I consider the main ways that the opponent of ontic vagueness would be likely resist the arguments I have offered, and argue that these strategies of response are methodologically problematic. I conclude by claiming that ontic vagueness is a perfectly plausible ontological commitment. (shrink)
In this paper I respond to Trenton Merricks's (2005) paper ‘Composition and Vagueness’. I argue that Merricks's paper faces the following difficulty: he claims to provide independent motivation for denying one of the premisses of the Lewis-Sider vagueness argument for unrestricted composition, but the alleged motivation he provides begs the question.
Metaphysicians eager to engage with substantive, thoughtful, and provocative issues will be happy with John Heil’s From an Ontological Point of View. The book represents not only a sustained defence of a specific metaphysical theory, but also of a specific way of doing metaphysics. Put ontology first, Heil urges us, in order to remember that the original fascination of metaphysics wasn’t the question ‘what must the world be like in order to correspond neatly to our use of language?’, but rather (...) the altogether more fundamental ‘what must the world be like?’. (shrink)