It is customary in current philosophy of time to distinguish between an A- (or tensed) and a B- (or tenseless) theory of time. It is also customary to distinguish between an old B-theory of time, and a new B-theory of time. We may say that the former holds both semantic atensionalism and ontological atensionalism, whereas the latter gives up semantic atensionalism and retains ontological atensionalism. It is typically assumed that the B-theorists have been induced by advances in the philosophy of (...) language and related A-theorists’ criticisms to acknowledge that semantic atensionalism can hardly stand, but have also maintained that what is essential for the B-theory is ontological atensionalism, which can be independently defended. Here it is argued that the B-theorists have been too quick in abandoning semantic atensionalism: they can still cling to it. (shrink)
A version of Bradley's regress can be endorsed in an effort to address the problem of the unity of states of affairs or facts, thereby arriving at a doctrine that I have called fact infinitism . A consequence of it is the denial of the thesis, WF, that all chains of ontological dependence are well-founded or grounded. Cameron has recently rejected fact infinitism by arguing that WF, albeit not necessarily true, is however contingently true. Here fact infinitism is supported by (...) showing that Cameron's argument for the contingent truth of WF is unsuccessful. (shrink)
This paper examines the challenge that the argument known as "Bradley's regress" poses to the friends of states of affairs (facts), in its requesting an explanation of the existence of a fact as a unitary whole in addition to its constituents. All the main theoretical options, short of denying that there are facts, are considered. It is argued that only two of them are viable, namely a "Brute fact approach", according to which the existence of a fact cannot be explained (...) with the typical tools of ontologists, and "Fact infinitism", according to which, for any given fact, one should posit for explanatory purposes an infinite number of distinct states of affairs involving exemplification relations of higher and higher levels. Fact infinitism is defended against various objections and it is suggested that it should be preferred to the brute fact approach by those who are not too shy in vindicating for ontology a role, alongside with the empirical sciences, in the task of postulating entities in order to achieve explanations. (shrink)
States of affairs involving a non-symmetric relation such as loving are said to have a relational order, something that distinguishes, for instance, Romeo’s loving Juliet from Juliet’s loving Romeo. Relational order can be properly understood by appealing to o-roles, i.e., ontological counterparts of what linguists call thematic roles, e.g., agent, patient, instrument, and the like. This move allows us to meet the appropriate desiderata for a theory of relational order. In contrast, the main theories that try to do without o-roles, (...) proposed by philosophers such as Russell, Hochberg, and Fine, are in trouble with one or another of these desiderata. After discussing some alternatives, it is proposed that o-roles are best viewed as very generic properties characterizable as ways in which objects jointly exemplify a relation. This makes for exemplification relations understood as complex entities having o-roles as building blocks. (shrink)
This paper first discusses how Russell and Hochberg have addressed some phenomena of relatedness, notably relational order, in a similarly ‘positionalist’ way, yet by appealing to different sorts of formal relations: “positions” in Russell's case and “ordering relations” in Hochberg's. After pointing out some shortcomings of both approaches, the paper then proposes an alternative view based on ‘o-roles’, which are, roughly speaking, ontological counterparts of the thematic roles postulated in linguistics. It is argued that o-roles are sort of middle-of-the-road entities (...) in the sense that they have the virtues of positions and those of ordering relations, without having their respective vices. Some tentative ideas on which o-roles should be acknowledged are also put forward. (shrink)
Russell’s type theory has been the standard property theory for years, relying on rigid type distinctions at the grammatical level to circumvent the paradoxes of predication. In recent years it has been convincingly argued by Bealer, Cochiarella, Turner and others that many linguistic and ontological data are best accounted for by using a type-free property theory. In the spirit of exploring alternatives and “to have as many opportunities as possible for theory comparison”, this paper presents another type-free property theory, to (...) be called P*, intended for applications in Montague-style natural language semantics and formal ontology. The theory is philosophically grounded on Gupta’s and Belnap’s revision theory of definitions and its basic idea is viewing predication (exemplification) as a ‘circular concept’ that can be captured by circular definitions. The paper has the following fourteen sections: (1) Introduction; (2) Formal type-free property theory; (3) Applying RTD [revision theory of definitions] to exemplification; (4) The system P*; (5) Some features of P*; (6) A comparison with Turner’s system; (7) Entailment and P*; (8) P* and natural language semantics; (9) Noun phrases; (10) The need for type-freedom in semantics; (11) Arithmetic in P*; (12) Arithmetic in PN*; (13) Complexity of P*; (14) Conclusion, and acknowledgments. (shrink)
Typical presentism asserts that whatever exists is present. Moderate presentism more modestly claims that all events are present and thus acknowledges past and future times understood in a substantivalist sense, and past objects understood, following Williamson, as “ex-concrete.” It is argued that moderate presentism retains the most valuable features of typical presentism, while having considerable advantages in dealing with its most prominent difficulties.
Gupta's and Belnap's Revision Theory of Truth defends the legitimacy of circular definitions. Circularity, however, forces us to reconsider our conception of meaning. A readjustment of some standard theses about meaning is here proposed, by relying on a novel version of the sense-reference distinction.
Dynamic events such as a rolling ball moving from one place to another involve change and time intervals and thus presumably successions of static events occurring one after the other, e.g., the ball’s being at a certain place and then at another place during the interval in question. When dynamic events are experienced they should count as present and thus as existent from a presentist point of view. But this seems to imply the existence of the static events involved in (...) them. This in turn seems to imply that there exist past and perhaps even future static events. Therefore, there is a problem for presentism. A possible way out for the presentist is proposed, based on allowing for time-indexed past-oriented and future-oriented properties. One may raise objections regarding the ontological status of these properties and the commitment to past and future objects and times that they seem to bring with them, but these objections can be put to rest. (shrink)
Analyses, in the simplest form assertions that aim to capture an intimate link between two concepts, are viewed since Russell's theory of definite descriptions as analyzing descriptions. Analysis therefore has to obey the laws governing definitions including some form of a Substitutivity Principle (SP). Once (SP) is accepted the road to the paradox of analysis is open. Popular reactions to the paradox involve the fundamental assumption (SV) that sentences differing only in containing an analysandum resp. an analysans express the same (...) proposition, because analysandum and analysans are the same entity. Following suggestions of Gupta and Belnap it is argued that (SV) should be rejected. (shrink)
I present a formal framework historically faithful to Leibniz's analysis of relational sentences, which: (i) engrafts thematic roles and the non-truth-functional connective insofar as (quatenus) into the monadic fragment of first-order logic; (ii) suggests a plausible ontological picture of thematic roles and relational facts; (iii) supports argument deletion and related inferential patterns that are not taken into account by standard first-order logic.
It is shown that two formally consistent type-free second-order systems, due to Cocchiarella, and based on the notion of homogeneous stratification, are subject to a contingent version of Russell's paradox.
There have been attempts to derive anti-haeccetistic conclusions from the fact that quantum mechanics (QM) appeals to non-standard statistics. Since in fact QM acknowledges two kinds of such statistics, Bose-Einstein and Fermi-Dirac, I argue that we could in the same vein derive the sharper anti-haeccetistic conclusion that bosons are bundles of tropes and fermions are bundles of universals. Moreover, since standard statistics is still appropriate at the macrolevel, we could also venture to say that no anti-haecceitistic conclusion is warranted for (...) ordinary objects, which could then tentatively be identified with substrates. In contrast to this, however, there has been so far no acknowledgement of the possibility of inclusivism, according to which ontological accounts of particulars as widely different as those can possibly coexist in one world picture. The success of the different statistics in physics at least calls for a revision in this respect. (shrink)
In line with much current literature, Bradley’s regress is here discussed as an argument that casts doubt on the existence of states of affairs or facts, understood as complex entities working as truthmakers for true sentences or propositions. One should distinguish two versions of Bradley’s regress, which stem from two different tentative explanations of the unity of states of affairs. The first version actually shows that the corresponding explanation is incoherent; the second one merely points to some prima facie implausible (...) consequences of the explanation it stems from, e.g., that there are infinite explanatory chains and that, for any given fact, there are infinitely many facts involving exemplification relations of increasing levels. But these consequences can be swal- lowed after all, thereby leading to the acceptance of a doctrine which may be called fact infinitism, a doctrine adumbrated in a well-known discussion of relations by Meinong. (shrink)
Downward causation is a widespread and problematic phenomenon. It is typically defined as the causation of lower-level effects by higher-level entities. Downward causation is widespread, as there are many examples of it across different sciences: a cell constraints what happens to its own constituents; a body regulates its own processes; two atoms, when they are appropriately related, make it the case that their own electrons are distributed in certain ways. However, downward causation is also problematic. Roughly, it seems to be (...) at odds with specific scientific and/or epistemological desiderata: first and foremost, that everything can be reduced (one day or another) to the fundamental, micro-physical constituents and goings-on of the universe, so as to provide a unified explanation of everything and a unification of all the sciences " from the bottom ". Indeed, downward causation (if it is an irreducible phenomenon) introduces special causings not only at the higher levels, but also at the lower ones: if, in principle, we cannot fully understand what happens to the electrons without paying attention to the atoms (at the higher level) and we cannot fully understand what happens to the atoms by only paying attention to the electrons (at the lower level), there is no fully lower-level explanation for both higher-level and lower-level goings-on. In this introduction, we shall try to describe the prospects for downward causation in metaphysics and the philosophy of science. After having delved into the connections between downward causation, emergence and levels (§1), we shall discuss the irreducibility of downward causation (§2). We shall then briefly consider how specific metaphysical and epistemological assumptions bear on our understanding of downward causation and of its possibility (§3) and describe some views according to which downward causation is actually non-causal (or it is a special causal relation) (§4). We shall also mention some problems for the connection between downward causation and mental causation (§5) and some scientific examples of downward causation (§6). Finally, we shall summarize the contents of the contributions in this book (§7). (shrink)
Konolige''s technical notion of belief based on deduction structures is briefly reviewed and its usefulness for the design of artificial agents with limited representational and deductive capacities is pointed out. The design of artificial agents with more sophisticated representational and deductive capacities is then taken into account. Extended representational capacities require in the first place a solution to the intensional context problems. As an alternative to Konolige''s modal first-order language, an approach based on type-free property theory is proposed. It considers (...) often neglected issues, such as the need for a more general account of thede dicto-de re distinction, and quasi-indicators. Extended deductive capacities require a subdivision of Konolige''s notion of belief into two distinct technical notions,potential anddispositional belief. The former has to do with what an artificial agent could in principle come to actively believe, given enough time and its specific logical competence; the latter with what an agent can be assumed to believe with respect to a specific goal to be fulfilled. (shrink)
This paper embeds a theory of proper names in a general approach to singular reference based on type‐free property theory. It is proposed that a proper name “N” is a sortal common noun whose meaning is essentially tied to the linguistic type “N”. Moreover, “N” can be singularly referring insofar as it is elliptical for a definite description of the form the “N” Following Montague, the meaning of a definite description is taken to be a property of properties. The proposed (...) theory fulfils the major desiderata stemming from Kripke's works on proper names. (shrink)
This original and enticing book provides a fresh, unifying perspective on many old and new logico-philosophical conundrums. Its basic thesis is that many concepts central in ordinary and philosophical discourse are inherently circular and thus cannot be fully understood as long as one remains within the confines of a standard theory of definitions. As an alternative, the authors develop a revision theory of definitions, which allows definitions to be circular without this giving rise to contradiction (but, at worst, to “vacuous” (...) uses of definienda). The theory is applied with varying levels of detail to a circular analysis of concepts as diverse as truth, predication, necessity, physical object, etc. The focus is on truth, and hope is expressed that a deeper understanding of the Liar and related paradoxes has been provided: “We have tried to show that once the circularity of truth is recognized, a great deal of its behavior begins to make sense. In particular, from this viewpoint, the existence of the paradoxes seems as natural as the existence of the eclipses” (p. 142). We think that this hope is fully justified, although some problems remain that future research in this field should take into account. (shrink)
Kim has argued that in the layered model of reality shared by nonreductive physicalism and by emergentism, the assumed dependence of the mental level on the physical level leaves no room for downward causation. In his analysis Kim assumes that causal relata are events, conceived of as exemplifications of properties by particulars at a certain time. But if causal relata are conceived of in different ways and causation is appropriately understood, one can find room in the layered model for downward (...) causation with different degrees of strength. A mild form of downward causation somehow arises from the identification of causal relata with tropes. A stronger form comes from an appeal to generic events as causal relata. Finally, an even stronger form emerges from causal relata understood as free exercisings of powers to will. (shrink)
This paper presents a type-free property-theoretic system in the spirit of a framework proposed by Menzel and then supplements it with a theory of truth and exemplification. The notions of a truth-relevantly complex (simple) sentence and of a truth-relevant subsentence are introduced and then used in order to motivate the proposed theory. Finally, it is shown how the theory avoids Russell's paradox and similar problems. Some potential applications to the foundations of mathematics and to natural language semantics are sketched in (...) the introduction. (shrink)
A version of Bradley's regress can be endorsed in an effort to address the problem of the unity of states of affairs or facts, thereby arriving at a doctrine that I have called fact infinitism. A consequence of it is the denial of the thesis, WF, that all chains of ontological dependence are well‐founded or grounded. Cameron has recently rejected fact infinitism by arguing that WF, albeit not necessarily true, is however contingently true. Here fact infinitism is supported by showing (...) that Cameron's argument for the contingent truth of WF is unsuccessful. (shrink)
The late Hector-Neri Castañeda, the Mahlon Powell Professor of Philosophy at Indiana University, and founding editor of Noûs, has deeply influenced current analytic philosophy with diverse contributions, including guise theory, the theory of indicators and quasi-indicators, and the proposition/practition theory. This volume collects 15 papers--for the most part previously unpublished--in ontology, philosophy of language, cognitive science, and related areas by ex-students of Professor Castañeda, most of whom are now well-known researchers or even distinguished scholars. The authors share the conviction that (...) Castañeda's work must continue to be explored and that his philosophical methodology must continue to be applied in an effort to further illuminate all the issues that he so deeply investigated. The topics covered by the contributions include intensional contexts, possible worlds, quasi-indicators, guise theory, property theory, Russell's substitutional theory of propositions, event theory, the adverbial theory of mental attitudes, existentialist ontology, and Plato's, Leibniz's, Kant's, and Peirce's ontologies. An introduction by the editors relates all these themes to Castañeda's philosophical interests and methodology. (shrink)
The hierarchical analysis of existence attribution is Fregean in its endorsement of senses, understood as guises. Furthermore, the hierarchical analysis makes an essential use of the Russellian analysis (9′) as a means to understand what it is for a sense to present a given entity (cf. biconditional (11) above). The hierarchical analysis, on the other hand, is more general than the Russellian one and hence - in accordance with natural language usage - allows for a wider range of applications.
I assume that the task of natural language semantics is to provide an unambiguous logical language into which natural language can be translated in such a way that the translating expressions display a structure which is isomorphic to the meaning of the translated expressions. Since language is a means of thinking and communicating mental contents, the meanings of singular terms cannot be the individuals of the substratist tradition, because such individuals are not cognizable entities. Thus I propose that the logical (...) language be based on Castaneda's guise theory, according to which singular terms always denote guises, i.e., roughly, bundles of properties. This, I argue, would result in a semantics which is in accordance with projects such as Lakoff's natural logic or Fodor's methodological solipsism. ;I first propose a formal system, GCC, which tries to be as faithful as possible to Castaneda's informal presentation of guise theory. It is therefore characterized by different forms of predication and a distinction between a level of property composition and a level of proposition composition. Such a distinction is dropped in a second system, GF, which presents a more traditional Fregean representation of predication. Yet, GF endorses essential assumptions of guise theory such as the existence of different sameness relations that can provide various interpretations for the English "is". I claim that GF provides more theoretical simplicity than GCC. ;Finally, I show the fruitfulness of the present approach by applying GF to a vast collection of linguistico-philosophical puzzles which includes but is not restricted to those that guise theory was originally designed to address: various versions of Frege's paradox, the paradox of analysis, Quine's puzzle on the number of planets, issues of reidentification and intentional identity, the anaphoric "it" of sentences such as "the lizard's tail fell off but then it grew back," problems connected with the use of "knowing-who ," proper names, indexicals and demonstratives. (shrink)
I shall explain the notions of propositions and states of affairs as they are understood in the current ontological debate and I shall briefly relate them to similar notions in Aristotle and some Medieval authors. In contrast with the point of view of some philosophers who identify propositions and states of affairs, I shall argue that they need to be sharply distinguished. I shall then move on to a problem for propositions and, above all, states of affairs, known as Bradley’s (...) regress, and hint at discussions of this or analogous puzzles in the philosophical tradition before Bradley. Finally, I shall present my own approach to this issue, Fact Infinitism, focusing on why it would have been hardly acceptable before ontology came to have the Cantorian conception of the infinite at its disposal. (shrink)
Sentences such as "Holmes believes that the leader of the London gang is about to be incriminated" are commonly understood to have two readings: de re and de diclo. On the basis of the way which the de relde dicto distinction is customarily conveyed, it is shown that such sentences have not just two but eight readings. It is suggested that intensional entities - such as senses, guises or denoting concepts - are the most natural way to account for this (...) variety of readings. (shrink)
This paper builds on Lakoff’s and Johnson’s theory of metaphorical concepts to propose that our conception of truth as correspondence with reality is metaphorically based on our conception of perceptual fields. In particular, it is argued that parts of reality, as metaphorically understood in terms of parts of perceptual fields, can play the role of objective truth-makers for sentences with empirical content; for instance, they meet the constraints on correspondence put forward by Barry Smith. Finally, Richard Boyd’s account of the (...) function of metaphor in science is utilized to ground the nonfictional and referential status of truth-maker and related notions. (shrink)
According to the received view, descriptivism is a dead end in an attempt to account for singular reference by proper names, indexicals and possibly even incomplete descriptions, for they require referentialism. In contrast to this, I argue for an application of the former to all kinds of singular terms, indexicals in particular, by relying on a view of incomplete descriptions as elliptical in a pragmatic sense. I thus provide a general analysis of singular reference. The proposed approach is in line (...) with the classical theory of propositions, except for admitting “private” ones with subjective mental entities as constituents. On the other hand, there is no commitment to singular Russellian propositions with ordinary objects as constituents and in general to meanings that cannot be “in the mind”. (shrink)
There are many data suggesting that we should acknowledge fictional entities in our ontological inventory, in spite of the paraphrasing strategies that Russell’s theory of descriptions can offer. Thus the realist attitude toward fictional entities of Meinongian and artifactualist accounts may seem well-motivated. Yet, these approaches infringe the Russellian “robust sense of reality.” A different realist account is proposed here, one that is compatible with the Russellian “robust sense of reality” in that it identifies fictional entities with denoting concepts, understood (...) as properties of properties. (shrink)
This paper outlines a version of instantaneous presentism, according to which the present is a point-like instant, and defends it from two prominent objections. The first one has to do with the difficulty of accounting, from the point of view of instantaneous presentism, for the existence of events that take time, dynamic events, which cannot be confined to a single instant. The second objection is of a Zenonian nature and arises once time is viewed as a continuum that can be (...) subdivided ad infinitum. In response to the first problem, it is argued that the presentist can appeal to past and future instants as long as it is not assumed that there are events that occur at them. Once they are granted, one can then appeal to "past-oriented" and "future-oriented" properties such as *was P at t* (or *will be P at t*), where t is a past or future instant, in order to view dynamic events as occurring at the present instant. In response to the second problem, one must accept the idea that, as a new instant becomes present, there is no preceding instant which is immediately past. There can only be infinitely many past instants with increasingly lower degrees of pastness. (shrink)
The type-free property-theoretic system EC, based on the mediation view of predication, is presented. According to the mediation view, the copula or exemplification is a necessary component of every proposition. It is explained how the system EC relates to Bradley's Regress regarding predication. Finally, the system EC is applied to the Meinong-Russell debate on non-existent objects and it is shown how EC allows us to preserve some important intuitions of both Meinong and Russell.