In the pure powers ontology (PPO), basic physical properties have wholly dispositional essences. PPO has clear advantages over categoricalist ontologies, which suffer from familiar epistemological and metaphysical problems. However, opponents argue that because it contains no qualitative properties, PPO lacks the resources to individuate powers, and generates a regress. The challenge for those who take such arguments seriously is to introduce qualitative properties without reintroducing the problems that PPO was meant to solve. In this paper, I distinguish the core claim (...) of PPO: (i) basic physical properties have dispositional essences, from a hitherto unnoticed assumption: (ii) the dispositional essences of basic physical properties exclusively involve type-causal relations to other basic physical properties. I reject (ii), making room for a structuralist ontology in which all basic physical properties are pure powers, individuated by their places in a causal structure that includes not only other powers, but also physically realized qualitative properties such as shapes, patterns and structures. Such qualities individuate pure powers in the way that non-mental input and output properties individuate realized mental properties in functionalist theories of mind, except that here it is basic physical powers that are individuated by relations to realized non-powers. I distinguish one Platonic and two Aristotelian version of this theory, and argue that the Aristotelian versions require that grounding is not always a relative fundamentality relation, because the powers ground the qualities that individuate them. I argue that symmetric grounding is the best way to make sense of the relational individuation common to all structuralist ontologies, and is therefore no additional commitment of the one proposed here. (shrink)
Taking into account significant developments in the metaphysical thinking of E. J. Lowe over the past 20 years, _More Kinds of Being:A Further Study of Individuation, Identity, and the Logic of Sortal Terms_ presents a thorough reworking and expansion of the 1989 edition of _Kinds of Being_ Brings many of the original ideas and arguments put forth in _Kinds of Being_ thoroughly up to date in light of new developments Features a thorough reworking and expansion of the earlier work, (...) rather than just a new edition Reflects the author's conversion to what he calls 'the four-category ontology,' a metaphysical system that takes its inspiration from Aristotle Provides a unified discussion of individuation and identity that should prove to be essential reading for philosophers working in metaphysics. (shrink)
In a recent paper, Sun Demirli (2010) proposes an allegedly new way of conceiving of individuation in the context of the bundle theory of object constitution. He suggests that allowing for distance relations to individuate objects solves the problems with worlds containing indiscernible objects that would otherwise affect the theory. The aim of the present paper is i) To show that Demirli’s proposal falls short of achieving this goal and ii) To carry out a more general critical assessment of (...) the issue by appraising the costs and benefits of Demirli’s view as well as of existing alternatives. (shrink)
This paper looks at the history of the problem of individuation from Plato to Whitehead. Part I takes as its point of departure Reiner Wiehl’s interpretation of the different meanings of “abstract” in the metaphysics of Alfred North Whitehead and arrives at a corresponding taxonomy of different ways things can be called concrete. Part II compares the way philosophers in different periods understand the relation between thought and intuition. The view mostly associated with ancient philosophy is that thought and (...) sense-perception target different kinds of objects. The view mostly associated with modern philosophy (although it was introduced by the Stoics) is that thought and sense-perception are different ways of targeting the same objects. These differences have specific consequences for theories of individuation, which are assessed historically in Part III and then applied to Whitehead’s difficult texts in part IV. (shrink)
Naturalistically minded philosophers hope to identify a privileged nonsemantic relation that holds between a mental representation m and that which m represents, a relation whose privileged status underwrites the assignment of reference to m. The naturalist can accomplish this task only if she has in hand a nonsemantic criterion for individuating mental representations: it would be question-begging for the naturalist to characterize m, for the purpose of assigning content, as 'the representation with such and such content'. If we individuate mental (...) representations using the tools of dynamical systems theory, we find that a given mental representation, characterized nonsemantically, emerges in the cognitive system as the result of causal interactions between the subject and her environment. At least for the most basic of our mental representations, I argue that the dynamical systems-based approach to individuation increases the plausibility of a theory that assigns reference as a function of the subject's causal history. (shrink)
Christopher Peacocke has presented an original version of the perennial philosophical thesis that we can gain substantive metaphysical and epistemological insight from an analysis of our concepts. Peacocke's innovation is to look at how concepts are individuated by their possession conditions, which he believes can be specified in terms of conditions in which certain propositions containing those concepts are accepted. The ability to provide such insight is one of Peacocke's major arguments for his theory of concepts. I will critically examine (...) this "fruitfulness" argument by looking at one philosophical problem Peacocke uses his theory to solve and treats in depth. Peacocke (1999, 2001) defines what he calls the "Integration Challenge." The challenge is to integrate our metaphysics with our epistemology by showing that they are mutually acceptable. Peacocke's key conclusion is that the Integration Challenge can be met for "epistemically individuated concepts." A good theory of content, he believes, will close the apparent gap between an account of truth for any given subject matter and an overall account of knowledge. I shall argue that there are no epistemically individuated concepts, and shall critically analyze Peacocke's arguments for their existence. I will suggest more generally that the possession conditions of concepts and their principles of individuation shed little light on the epistemology or metaphysics of things other than concepts. My broader goal is to shed light on what concepts are by showing that they are more fundamental than the sorts of cognitive and epistemic factors a leading theory uses to define them. (shrink)
Recent work by Frigg et. al. and Mayo-Wilson have called attention to a particular sort of error associated with attempts to model certain complex systems: structural modeling error. The assessment of the degree of SME in a model presupposes agreement between modelers about the best way to individuate natural systems, an agreement which can be more problematic than it appears. This problem, which we dub “the system individuation problem” arises in many of the same contexts as SME, and the (...) two often compound one another. This paper explores the common roots of the two problems in concerns about the precision of predictions generated by scientific models, and discusses how both concerns bear on the study of complex natural systems, particularly the global climate. (shrink)
In this article, I challenge the dominant view of the importance of the debate over action-individuation. On the dominant view, it is held that the conclusions we reach about action-individuation make little or no difference for other debates in the philosophy of action, much less in other areas of philosophy. As a means of showing that the dominant view is mistaken, I consider the implications of accepting a given theory of action-individuation for thinking about doxastic agency. In (...) particular, I am interested in the implications for thinking about the variety of evaluative control we can exercise over the formation of our doxastic attitudes. I show that our assumptions about how to individuate actions matters for how we think about doxastic agency and, hence, the conclusions we reach about action-individuation are of greater significance than some have thought. (shrink)
This book provides both a historical analysis of the philosophical problem of individuation, and a new trajectory in its treatment. Drawing on the work of Gilles Deleuze, as well as C.S. Peirce and the lesser-known Gilbert Simondon, Alberto Toscano takes the problem of individuation, as reconfigured by Kant and Nietzsche, into the realm of modernity, providing a unique and vibrant contribution to contemporary debates in European philosophy.
This book explores the evolution of space and time from the apeiron — the spaceless, timeless chaos of primordial nature. Here Western culture’s efforts to deny apeiron are examined, and we see the critical need now to lift the repression of the apeiron for the sake of human individuation.
The role of content in computational accounts of cognition is a matter of some controversy. An early prominent view held that the explanatory relevance of content consists in its supervenience on the the formal properties of computational states (see, e.g., Fodor 1980). For reasons that derive from the familiar Twin Earth thought experiments, it is usually thought that if content is to supervene on formal properties, it must be narrow; that is, it must not be the sort of content that (...) determines reference and truth-conditions. An interesting alternative to this view has recently been proposed by Egan (1995). According to Egan, the explanatory role of content is such that contents must in general be broad to be explanatorily relevant. But Egan’s view involves a non-realist interpretation of content assignments. I will argue here that this non-realism about contents is undermotivated. A realist variation on her view of the explanatory role of content, however, would survive this criticism. This realist variation, I suggest, shares with the views of other commentators on Marr’s theory (e.g., Burge 1986; Shapiro 1993; forthcoming) certain commitments concerning the supervenience base of visual contents and processes. I will argue, however, that these commitments beg important questions regarding the individuation of cognitive states and processes. I conclude, contrary to Burge and Shapiro, that Marr’s theory does not favor anti-individualism. (shrink)
If the wedding had taken place an hour later, it would have been rained out. When we make counterfactual claims like this, we indicate that events are not terribly fragile things. That is, we typically think of events as particulars which can survive small changes in nearby possible worlds, such that one and the same event could have occurred under slightly different circumstances. I argue, however, that any account of “non-fragile” event individuation is subject to what is known as (...) the recycling problem. This was a problem initially raised against origin essentialism, or the view that individuals are individuated by their origins, and is roughly the difficulty that arises in cases where the criteria of individuation for a particular individual are duplicated. I then examine a potential solution, which takes its cue from predecessor essentialism, the leading response to the recycling problem in the origins literature. I argue that the predecessor essentialist’s solution yields unacceptably counter-intuitive results when applied to the recycling problem for event individuation, and conclude that, if events have qualitative individuating essences, then they must be—contrary to intuition—modally fragile entities. I then suggest three alternatives to qualitative essentialism which could accommodate our intuitions about the modal non-fragility of events. (shrink)
In Republic V, Plato distinguishes two different cognitive powers, knowledge and belief, which operate differently on different types of object. I argue that in Republic VI Plato modifies this account, and claims that there is a single cognitive power, which under different circumstances behaves either as knowledge or as belief. I show that the circumstances which turn true belief into knowledge are the provision of an individuation account of the object of belief, which reveals the ontological status and the (...) nature of the object. Plato explores many alternative candidates of individuation accounts of objects of true belief, which he discards. I conclude with a Platonic sketch of a teleological account of individuation which would satisfy his requirements of turning true belief into knowledge. (shrink)
When is conceptual change so significant that we should talk about a new theory, not a new version of the same theory? We address this problem here, starting from Gould’s discussion of the individuation of the Darwinian theory. He locates his position between two extremes: ‘minimalist’—a theory should be individuated merely by its insertion in a historical lineage—and ‘maximalist’—exhaustive lists of necessary and sufficient conditions are required for individuation. He imputes the minimalist position to Hull and attempts a (...) reductio : this position leads us to give the same ‘name’ to contradictory theories. Gould’s ‘structuralist’ position requires both ‘conceptual continuity’ and descent for individuation. Hull’s attempt to assimilate into his general selectionist framework Kuhn’s notion of ‘exemplar’ and the ‘semantic’ view of the structure of scientific theories can be used to counter Gould’s reductio , and also to integrate structuralist and population thinking about conceptual change. (shrink)
Animal camouflage is said to be a mode of being negative, implying a setback visibility. On the contrary, we try here to restore all its aesthetic positivity considering the singularity of extremely varied forms it produces. It soon becomes apparent that the camouflage forces us to question the privilege of individuality and traditional drawdown on singularity. The disruptive camouflage, especially, that crushes the individual formal unity provides the argument in favor of an individuation with the environment, and more with (...) the world: the animal camoufleur disappears under only an individual visibility; it appears on the contrary in all its pre-individual splendor when it involves with environment components to make them the most expressive. (shrink)
My aim in this paper is two?fold. I start by contrasting three versions of externalist arguments based on etiological considerations, whose differences are not often appreciated. My purpose in doing so is to isolate one of these versions of externalism as most supportive of current anti?individualist attitudes toward the mental. My second aim is to show that this version, which I call (for reasons soon to be clear) Dialectal Etiology , is marred to a greater extent than the other two (...) by an important problem of language individuation.ii.. (shrink)
Leibniz’s first essay, his dissertation on the principle of individuality, is mainly dedicated to a critique of Duns Scotus’s explanation of individuation. Leibniz’s critique of Scotus and the historical antecedents of the German philosopher’s position have not been studied before. The paper examines Scotus’s and Leibniz’s views on individuation and sheds some light on the doctrinal genealogy that leads up to Leibniz’s position. I argue that Leibniz’s view and his critique of Scotus depend upon William of Ockham and (...) Francis Suárez. Ockham, Suárez, and Leibniz posit that individuals are such by themselves or by their entire entity, rather than by an entity that is only a part of their being (as Scotus’s ‘haecceity’). Furthermore, all three take issue with Scotus’s view for the same reason, i.e. because they reject the formal distinction, a key assumption in Scotus’s account of individuation. (shrink)
Particularism denies that invariant valence is always possible and that it is needed in sound moral theorising. It relies on variabilism, namely the idea that the relevant features of a given situation can alter their moral valence even across seemingly similar cases. An alternative model is defended (the “disappearing model”), in which changes in the overall relevance of complex cases are explained by re-individuation of the constituent features: certain features do not alter their relevance in consequence of contextual changes, (...) but rather they disappear, either because they are embedded within larger complexes or are substituted by different features. This view is shown to be compatible with the main premises of variabilism and explanatorily superior to it. Nevertheless, it does not involve particularism, but rather a peculiar form of generalism. (shrink)
This paper is the first trope-theoretical reply to E. J. Lowe’s serious dilemma against trope nominalism in print. The first horn of this dilemma is that if tropes are identity dependent on substances, a vicious circularity threatens trope theories because they must admit that substances are identity dependent on their constituent tropes. According to the second horn, if the trope theorist claims that tropes are identity independent, she faces two insurmountable difficulties. (1) It is hard to understand the ontological dependence (...) of tropes on substances. (2) The identity-conditions of tropes cannot be determinate, which threatens the determination of the identity-conditions of substances. Our reply to the first horn of Lowe’s dilemma is to deny the identity dependence of tropes. Yet we can avoid the second horn because our theory can explain the ontological dependence of tropes on substances and the fully-determined identity-conditions of both tropes and substances. (shrink)
We consider and reject a variety of attempts to provide a ground for identifying and differentiating disembodied minds. Until such a ground is provided, we must withhold inclusion of disembodied minds from our picture of the world.
We make how a person acts intelligible by revealing it as rational in the light of what she perceives, thinks, wants and so on. For example, we might explain that she reached out and picked up a glass because she was thirsty and saw that it contained water. In doing this, we are giving a causal explanation of her behaviour in terms of her antecedent beliefs, desires and other attitudes. Her wanting a drink and realizing that the glass contained one (...) caused her reaching out and grasping for it. This tells us how the action came about and makes sense of why it happened. At least, something broadly along these lines strikes me as a fairly crude and partial regimentation of our pretheoretic understanding of everyday action explanation. (shrink)
The debate concerning the individuating role of the external environment in propositional content has turned to Marr’s computational theory of vision for either verification or disproof. Although not all the relevant arguments concerning the determining role of environmental constraints that Marr invokes in his visual account may succeed, the paper argues that Marr divides his computational explanation into two parts, the information processing “what” and the constraint introducing “why” aspect. It is the second part where separate claims concerning the necessity (...) and sufficiency of constraints are advocated, and initiate a specific computational process. The above explanation becomes subordinate to a conception of inference that closely resembles deduction. (shrink)
Current attempts to understand psychological content divide into two families of views. According to externalist accounts such as those advanced by Tyler Burge and Ruth Millikan, psychological content does not supervene on the physical features of the individual subject, but is fixed partially by the nature of the world external to her.1 In the rival functional role theories developed by Ned Block and Brian Loar, content does supervene on the physical features of the individual, and is, in addition, determined solely (...) by the role it plays in the causal network of an individual's sensations, behavior, and mental states.2 Over the past fifteen years, criticism of these two types of views has often focussed on their capacity to individuate content in an acceptable way, and both seem to be deficient in this respect. (shrink)
cause other than the very individual itself, and thus there is no ‘metaphysical’ problem of individuation at all—individuality, unlike generality, is primitive and needs no explanation. He supports this view in two ways. First, he argues that there are no nonindividual entities, whether existing in their own right or as metaphysical constituents either of things or in things, and hence that no real principle or cause of individuality (other than the individual itself) is required. Second, he oﬀers a ‘semantic’ (...) interpretation of what appear to be metaphysical diﬃculties about individuality by recasting the issues in the formal mode, as issues within semantics, such as how a referring expression can pick out a single individual. Yet although there is no ‘metaphysical’ problem of individuation, Buridan discusses two associated problems at some length: the identity of individuals over time and the discernibility of individuals. (shrink)
The essay explores the systematic relationship in the work of Giordano Bruno (1548-1600) between his monadology, his metaphysics as presented in works such as De la causa, principio et uno, the mythopoeic cosmology of Lo spaccio de la bestia trionfante, and practical works like De vinculis in genere. Bruno subverts the conceptual regime of the Aristotelian substantial forms and its accompanying cosmology with a metaphysics of individuality that privileges individual unity (singularity) over formal unity and particulars over substantial forms without (...) sacrificing a metaphysical perspective on the cosmos. The particular is individuated as a unique site of desire, continually transforming but able to entrain itself and others through phantasmatic ‘bonding’, the new source of regularity in Bruno’s polycentric universe. Bruno thus tries to do justice to the demands of intelligibility as well as transformative eros. The essay concludes with a note on Bruno’s geometry as it relates to his general conception of form. (shrink)
Supervenience is compatible with anomalism: biconditional laws are ruled out by the disjunctive base, and the wideness of mental states rules out one-way psychophysical laws, as there's no single property in the base.
Brian Loar has argued that the well-known arguments against individualism in the philosophy of mind are insufficient because they rely on the assumption that that-clauses uniquely capture psychological content. He tried to show that this is not the use of that-clauses in philosophical psychology. I argue that he does not succeed in his argument. That-clauses sometimes capture psychological content, if our system of mental ascription is to be workable at all. I argue further that individualism tends to be at odds (...) with a requirement of intersubjective shareability of contents and that Loar is alternative conception of psychological content is beset with difficulties. (shrink)
Purpose: The purpose of the paper is to provide a constructivist account of the "self as subject" that avoids the need for any metaphysical assumptions. Findings: The thesis developed in this paper is that the human "psychological individual," "self" or "subject" is an emergent within the nexus of human social interaction. With respect to psychological and social wholes (composites) there is no distinction between the form of the elements and the form of the composites they constitute i.e., all elements have (...) the form of composites. Further, recursively, composites may serve as elements within higher order composites. Implications for a rational theory of ethics are discussed. Original Value: The thesis contributes in a fundamental way to the research programme of radical constructivism by demonstrating that metaphysical assumptions about the nature of the "subject" are not an a priori necessity. Although the thesis in itself is not original, the paper offers a useful synthesis of ideas from a number of key thinkers in the disciplines of cybernetics, biology, psychology and philosophy. (shrink)
The dreaming body -- The philosophical Jung -- Locating identities : individual and collective matters -- Projection : the mirror image -- Divine reversal -- Mimesis revisited : Demeter and Persephone -- Jung, Irigaray, and essentialism : a new look at an old problem -- Speaking of the collective unconscious.