It is plausible that the universe exists: a thing such that absolutely everything is a part of it. It is also plausible that singular, structured propositions exist: propositions that literally have individuals as parts. Furthermore, it is plausible that for each thing, there is a singular, structured proposition that has it as a part. Finally, it is plausible that parthood is a partial ordering: reflexive, transitive, and anti-symmetric. These plausible claims cannot all be correct. We canvass some costs of denying (...) each claim and conclude that parthood is not a partial ordering. Provided that the relevant entities exist, parthood is not anti-symmetric and proper parthood is neither asymmetric nor transitive. (shrink)
We discuss the view that a hole is identical to the region of spacetime at which it is located. This view is more parsimonious than the view that holes are sui generis entities located at those regions surrounded by their hosts and it is more plausible than the view that there are no holes. We defend the spacetime view from several objections.
This chapter is a work in applied metaphysics. Recent discussions of monism and metaphysical dependence are deployed to develop a view—the doctrine of divine priority (DDP)—that is a viable alternative to the doctrine of divine simplicity (DDS). DDS and the traditional motivation for it are discussed, then DDP is introduced by way of an analogy involving Jonathan Schaffer’s distinction between two forms of monism. It is argued that DDP is an alternative to DDS by showing that it is consistent with (...) the traditional motivation for the latter view, and argued that DDP is a viable alternative by showing that objections to its peculiar implications rest on assumptions that can reasonably be rejected. In the concluding section, the findings of the main discussion are summarized and DDP’s potential theological import is illustrated with a brief discussion of a possible solution to the Problem of the Trinity it affords. (shrink)
I argue against the Primary Sound Account of Echoes (PSAE) – the view that an echo of a sound just is that sound. I then argue that if my case against PSAE is successful, distal theories of sound are false. The upshot of my arguments, if they succeed, is that distal theories are false. Towards the end, I show how some distal theories can be modified to avoid this conclusion and note some open questions to which the modified theories give (...) rise. (shrink)
Hud Hudson has argued that if MaxCon, Ned Markosian's favored answer to the Simple Question, is true, then there couldn't be gunky objects. If Hudson's argument succeeds, then those who believe that gunky objects are possible have a good reason to reject MaxCon. However, I show that Hudson's argument relies on substantive metaphysical claims that a proponent of MaxCon need not accept. Thus, one who endorses MaxCon need not reject the possibility of gunky objects and those who believe that gunky (...) objects are possible need not reject MaxCon. (shrink)
Although the ability to perform gene therapy in human germ-line cells is still hypothetical, the rate of progress in molecular and cell biology suggests that it will only be a matter of time before reliable clinical techniques will be within reach. Three sets of arguments are commonly advanced against developing those techniques, respectively pointing to the clinical risks, social dangers and better alternatives. In this paper we analyze those arguments from the perspective of the client-centered ethos that traditionally governs practice (...) in medical genetics. This perspective clarifies the merits of these arguments for geneticists, and suggests useful new directions for the professional discussion of germ-line gene therapy. It suggests, for example, that the much discussed prospect of germ-line therapy in human pre-embryos may always be more problematic for medical genetics than adult germ-line interventions, even though the latter faces greater technical difficulties. (shrink)
Roy Sorensen has discussed a scenario he calls 'the Disappearing Act', introduced a puzzle based on this scenario, and offered a solution to this puzzle. We argue against Sorensen's solution and offer our own.
Probably the most interesting feature of the 40-year history of biomedical biotechnology is the extent to which it has been open to – and influenced by – concerns over social values and the public’s voice. Good intentions notwithstanding, however, benchmarks and best practices are woefully lacking for informing the policy-making process with public values. This is particularly true in the United States where the call for “public debate” is often heard but seldom heeded by policy-making bodies. Geneforum, an Oregon-based non-profit, (...) has developed a practical and working model designed to encourage deliberative democratic processes for addressing the ethical and social issues raised by emerging biotechnologies. Ordinary citizens do not need to be scientists to understand the important implications of the new technological advances. When factual information and basic principles are conveyed in linguistically and culturally appropriate ways, the scene is set for a shift from monologue to dialogue, from “I-thinking” to “We-thinking,” to occur. This paper describes the Geneforum model structured to intensify the democratization of policy decision-making, in general, using genomic science, in particular, as one example of its application. (shrink)
In my dissertation, I address a variety of issues in the metaphysics of space and related areas. I begin by discussing the popular thesis that regions of space are identical to sets of points in space. I present three arguments against this thesis and conclude that we should be skeptical of it. In its place, I propose an axiomatic theory of regions of space that is consistent with both reductive accounts of their nature and with accounts that treat them as (...) sui generis entities. -/- I next explore the consequences of the aforementioned considerations. In particular, I describe five different sorts of structure each of which is such that the claim that space could have that structure is consistent with the axiomatic theory previously proposed. I claim that this fact, together with the skepticism concerning reductive accounts argued for earlier, shows that we should take seriously the claim that space could have any of these structures. -/- Having argued that we should be skeptical of the thesis that regions of space are identical to sets of points in space and suggesting that space could have different sorts of structure, I discuss how best to analyze continuity. I present an analysis of continuity inspired by remarks of Richard Cartwright in his 1975 paper ‘Scattered Objects’. I argue that this Cartwrightian analysis should be rejected because it identifies regions of space with sets of points in space, and I present a modified version of the analysis that does not do so. I note, however, that there is an intuitive notion of continuity that is not captured by this modified Cartwrightian analysis. I present and defend an analysis of continuity that better captures this intuitive notion. -/- I then turn to the issue of how to analyze what it is for a region of space to be open and what it is for a region of space to be closed. Here I argue that Cartwright’s analyses of these notions are incorrect. I then present a series of alternative analyses, revising each in response to objections. This process culminates with my proposed analyses of what it is for a region of space to be open and what it is for a region of space to be closed. -/- Finally, I discuss the Maximally Continuous Account of Simples (MaxCon), originally formulated and defended by Ned Markosian in his 1998 paper ‘Simples’. I argue that Markosian’s version of MaxCon, which identifies regions of space with sets of points in space and relies on the Cartwrightian analysis of continuity, should be rejected. I then formulate a new version of MaxCon that builds on the views defended earlier in my dissertation and defend this new version of MaxCon from objections. (shrink)