Humeans and anti-Humeans agree that laws of nature should explain scientifically particular matters of fact. One objection to Humean accounts of laws contends that Humean laws cannot explain particular matters of fact because their explanations are harmfully circular. This article distinguishes between metaphysical and semantic characterizations of the circularity and argues for a new semantic version of the circularity objection. The new formulation suggests that Humean explanations are harmfully circular because the content of the sentences being explained is part of (...) the content of the sentences doing the explaining. I describe the nature of partial content and demonstrate how this account of partial content renders Humean explanations ineffective while sparing anti-Humean explanations from the same fate. 1Introduction2Standard Formulations of the Circularity Charge3Humean Responses4Semantic Characterizations of the Circularity Worry 4.1Hempel and Oppenheim’s semantic circularity concern4.2A new version of the semantic circularity charge4.3Partial content as a guide to circularity5Humean Responses to the Semantic Circularity Charge 5.1Smuggling in metaphysics through the back door?5.2Do anti-Humean laws fare any better?5.3The over-generalization concern6ConclusionAppendix. (shrink)
This paper offers a metaphysical explanation of the identity and distinctness of concrete objects. It is tempting to try to distinguish concrete objects on the basis of their possessing different qualitative features, where qualitative features are ones that do not involve identity. Yet, this criterion for object identity faces counterexamples: distinct objects can share all of their qualitative features. This paper suggests that in order to distinguish concrete objects we need to look not only at which properties and relations objects (...) instantiate but also how they instantiate these properties and relations. I propose that objects are identical when they stand in certain qualitative relations in virtue of their existence. And concrete objects are distinct when they do not stand in the same kinds of relations to one another in virtue of their existence. (shrink)
Identity and distinctness facts are ones like “The Eiffel Tower is identical to the Eiffel Tower,” and “The Eiffel Tower is distinct from the Louvre.” This paper concerns one question in the metaphysics of identity: Are identity and distinctness facts metaphysically fundamental or are they nonfundamental? I provide an overview of answers to this question.
I provide a new account of what it is for the laws of nature to govern the evolution of events. I locate the source of governance in the content of law propositions. As such, I do not appeal to primitive notions of ground, essence, or production to characterize governance. After introducing the account, I use it to outline previously unrecognized varieties of governance. I also specify that laws must govern to have two theoretical virtues: explanatory power as well as a (...) theoretical virtue I call expansiveness. A theory is expansive, roughly, when it can do more with less. (shrink)
I defend the following argument in this paper. Premise 1: Laws of nature are intrinsic to the universe. Premise 2: Humeanism maintains that laws of nature are extrinsic to the universe. Conclusion: Humeanism is false. This argument is inspired by John Hawthorne’s (2004) argument in “Why Humeans are out of their Minds”. My argument differs from his; Hawthorne focuses on Humean views of causation and how they interact with judgments about consciousness. He thinks Humeans are forced to treat certain mental (...) properties (insofar as they involve causal features) as extrinsic to conscious minds. I do not discuss causation or consciousness here. I focus on Humean accounts of laws. I argue that Humean laws are extrinsic to the entire universe. As such, Humeans are not just out of their minds; they are out of this world. I aim to show that premises 1 and 2 are well-supported and that denying either of them comes at a cost. Nevertheless, Humeans may prefer to reject 1 or 2 rather than give up Humeanism. Even if the Humean takes one of these routes, the argument above has philosophical import: it shows that Humeanism involves surprising commitments. (shrink)
Comparativism maintains that physical quantities are ultimately relational in character. For example, an object’s having 1 kg rest mass depends on the relations it stands in to other objects in the universe. Comparativism, its advocates allege, reveals that quantities are not metaphysically mysterious: Quantities are reducible to familiar relations holding among physical objects. Modal accounts of intrinsicality—such as Lewis’s duplication account or Langton and Lewis’s combinatorial account—are popular accounts preserving many of our core intuitions regarding which properties are intrinsic. I (...) argue that to endorse both comparativism and a modal account of intrinsicality, we must reject the plausible thesis that determinable properties are instantiated solely in virtue of their determinates. I call this ‘the determinacy tension’ and I suggest approaches for dissolving it. (shrink)
Identity criteria are powerful tools for the metaphysician. They tell us when items are identical or distinct. Some varieties of identity criteria also try to explain in virtue of what items are identical or distinct. This Element has two objectives: to discuss formulations of identity criteria and to take a closer look at one notorious criterion of object identity, Leibniz's Law. The first section concerns the form of identity criteria. The second section concerns the better-regarded half of Leibniz's Law, the (...) indiscernibility of identicals. The third section turns to the more controversial half of Leibniz's Law, the identity of indiscernibles. The author considers alternatives to Leibniz's Law as well as the possibility that there are no adequate identity criteria to be found. (shrink)
One conception of the Principle of Sufficient Reason maintains that every fact is metaphysically explained. There are different ways to challenge this version of the PSR; one type of challenge involves pinpointing a specific set of facts that resist metaphysical explanation. Certain identity and distinctness facts seem to constitute such a set. For example, we can imagine a scenario in which we have two qualitatively identical spheres, Castor and Pollux. Castor is distinct from Pollux but it is unclear what could (...) metaphysically explain this distinctness fact. In this paper, I argue that we should not treat identity and distinctness facts as metaphysically fundamental. As such, identity and distinctness facts do not challenge the PSR. We can metaphysically explain them. (shrink)