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Jessica Wilson
University of Toronto at Scarborough
Jessica Wilson
University of Missouri, St. Louis
  1. No Work for a Theory of Grounding.Jessica M. Wilson - 2014 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 57 (5-6):535-579.
    It has recently been suggested that a distinctive metaphysical relation— ‘Grounding’—is ultimately at issue in contexts in which some goings-on are said to hold ‘in virtue of’’, be ‘metaphysically dependent on’, or be ‘nothing over and above’ some others. Grounding is supposed to do good work in illuminating metaphysical dependence. I argue that Grounding is also unsuited to do this work. To start, Grounding alone cannot do this work, for bare claims of Grounding leave open such basic questions as whether (...)
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  2. Fundamental Determinables.Jessica M. Wilson - 2012 - Philosophers' Imprint 12.
    Contemporary philosophers commonly suppose that any fundamental entities there may be are maximally determinate. More generally, they commonly suppose that, whether or not there are fundamental entities, any determinable entities there may be are grounded in, hence less fundamental than, more determinate entities. So, for example, Armstrong takes the physical objects constituting the presumed fundamental base to be “determinate in all respects” (1961, 59), and Lewis takes the properties characterizing things “completely and without redundancy” to be “highly specific” (1986, 60). (...)
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  3. Non-Reductive Realization and the Powers-Based Subset Strategy.Jessica M. Wilson - 2011 - The Monist (Issue on Powers) 94 (1):121-154.
    I argue that an adequate account of non-reductive realization must guarantee satisfaction of a certain condition on the token causal powers associated with (instances of) realized and realizing entities---namely, what I call the 'Subset Condition on Causal Powers' (first introduced in Wilson 1999). In terms of states, the condition requires that the token powers had by a realized state on a given occasion be a proper subset of the token powers had by the state that realizes it on that occasion. (...)
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  4. A Determinable-Based Account of Metaphysical Indeterminacy.Jessica M. Wilson - 2013 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 56 (4):359-385.
    ABSTRACT Many phenomena appear to be indeterminate, including material macro-object boundaries and certain open future claims. Here I provide an account of indeterminacy in metaphysical, rather than semantic or epistemic, terms. Previous accounts of metaphysical indeterminacy have typically taken this to involve its being indeterminate which of various determinate states of affairs obtain. On my alternative account, MI involves its being determinate that an indeterminate state of affairs obtains. I more specifically suggest that MI involves an object's having a determinable (...)
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  5. How Superduper Does a Physicalist Supervenience Need to Be?Jessica M. Wilson - 1999 - Philosophical Quarterly 49 (194):33-52.
    Note: this is the first published presentation and defense of the 'proper subset strategy' for making sense of non-reductive physicalism or the associated notion of realization; this is sometimes, inaccurately, called "Shoemaker's subset strategy"; if people could either call it the 'subset strategy' or better yet, add my name to the mix I would appreciate it. Horgan claims that physicalism requires "superdupervenience" -- supervenience plus robust ontological explanation of the supervenient in terms of the base properties. I argue that Horgan's (...)
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  6. The Unity and Priority Arguments for Grounding.Jessica M. Wilson - 2016 - In Ken Aizawa & Carl Gillett (eds.), Scientific Composition and Metaphysical Ground. Basinstoke: Palgrave MacMillan. pp. 171-204.
    Grounding, understood as a primitive posit operative in contexts where metaphysical dependence is at issue, is not able on its own to do any substantive work in characterizing or illuminating metaphysical dependence---or so I argue in 'No Work for a Theory of Grounding' (Inquiry, 2014). Such illumination rather requires appeal to specific metaphysical relations---type or token identity, functional realization, the determinable-determinate relation, the mereological part-whole relation, and so on---of the sort typically at issue in these contexts. In that case, why (...)
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  7. Much Ado About 'Something'.Jessica M. Wilson - 2011 - Analysis 71 (1):172-188.
    Every paper in this collection is worth reading, for one reason or another. Still, due to certain problematic metametaphysical presuppositions most of these discussions miss the deeper mark, on the pessimist as well as the optimist side. My reasons for thinking this come from considering how best to answer three metametaphysical questions. First, why be pessimistic about metaphysics – why be Carnapian in a post-positivist age? There is, I’ll suggest, a post-positivist strategy for reviving Carnapian pessimism, but it is almost (...)
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  8. Non-Reductive Physicalism and Degrees of Freedom.Jessica M. Wilson - 2010 - British Journal for Philosophy of Science 61 (2):279-311.
    Some claim that Non- reductive Physicalism is an unstable position, on grounds that NRP either collapses into reductive physicalism, or expands into emergentism of a robust or ‘strong’ variety. I argue that this claim is unfounded, by attention to the notion of a degree of freedom—roughly, an independent parameter needed to characterize an entity as being in a state functionally relevant to its law-governed properties and behavior. I start by distinguishing three relations that may hold between the degrees of freedom (...)
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  9. Comments on Making Things Up.Jessica M. Wilson - 2019 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 98 (2):497-506.
    These comments are part of a book symposium on Karen Bennett's book, _Making Things Up_.
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  10. Are There Indeterminate States of Affairs? Yes.Jessica M. Wilson - forthcoming - In Elizabeth Barnes (ed.), Current Controversies in Metaphysics. Taylor & Francis.
    Here I compare two accounts of metaphysical indeterminacy (MI): first, the 'meta-level' approach described by Elizabeth Barnes and Ross Cameron in the companion to this paper, on which every state of affairs (SOA) is itself precise/determinate, and MI is a matter of its being indeterminate which determinate SOA obtains; second, my preferred 'object-level' determinable-based approach, on which MI is a matter of its being determinate---or just plain true---that an indeterminate SOA obtains, where an indeterminate SOA is one whose constitutive object (...)
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  11. Hume's Dictum and Metaphysical Modality: Lewis's Combinatorialism.Jessica M. Wilson - 2015 - In Barry Loewer & Jonathan Schaffer (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to David Lewis. Blackwell. pp. 138-158.
    Many contemporary philosophers accept Hume's Dictum, according to which there are no metaphysically necessary connections between distinct, intrinsically typed entities. Tacit in Lewis 's work is a potential motivation for HD, according to which one should accept HD as presupposed by the best account of the range of metaphysical possibilities---namely, a combinatorial account, applied to spatiotemporal fundamentalia. Here I elucidate and assess this Ludovician motivation for HD. After refining HD and surveying its key, recurrent role in Lewis ’s work, I (...)
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  12. Three Dogmas of Metaphysical Methodology.Jessica M. Wilson - 2013 - In Matthew Haug (ed.), Philosophical Methodology: The Armchair or the Laboratory? Routledge. pp. 145-165.
    In what does philosophical progress consist? 'Vertical' progress corresponds to development within a specific paradigm/framework for theorizing (of the sort associated, revolutions aside, with science); 'horizontal' progress corresponds to the identification and cultivation of diverse paradigms (of the sort associated, conservativism aside, with art and pure mathematics). Philosophical progress seems to involve both horizontal and vertical dimensions, in a way that is somewhat puzzling: philosophers work in a number of competing frameworks (like artists or mathematicians), while typically maintaining that only (...)
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  13. Causal Powers, Forces, and Superdupervenience.Jessica M. Wilson - 2002 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 63 (1):53-77.
    Horgan (1993) proposed that "superdupervenience" - supervenience preserving physicalistic acceptability - is a matter of robust explanation. I argued against him (1999) that (as nearly all physicalist and emergentist accounts reflect) superdupervenience is a matter of Condition on Causal Powers (CCP): every causal power bestowed by the supervenient property is identical with a causal power bestowed by its base property. Here I show that CCP is, as it stands, unsatisfactory,for on the usual understandings of causal power bestowal, it is trivially (...)
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  14. Nonlinearity and Metaphysical Emergence.Jessica M. Wilson - 2013 - In Stephen Mumford & Matthew Tugby (eds.), Metaphysics and Science.
    The nonlinearity of a composite system, whereby certain of its features (including powers and behaviors) cannot be seen as linear or other broadly additive combinations of features of the system's composing entities, has been frequently seen as a mark of metaphysical emergence, coupling the dependence of a composite system on an underlying system of composing entities with the composite system's ontological autonomy from its underlying system. But why think that nonlinearity is a mark of emergence, and moreover, of metaphysical rather (...)
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  15. The Regress Argument Against Cartesian Skepticism.Jessica M. Wilson - 2012 - Analysis 72 (4):668-673.
    I argue that Cartesian skepticism about the external world leads to a vicious regress of skeptical attitudes, the only principled and unproblematic response to which requires refraining from taking the very first skeptical step.
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  16. Hume's Dictum and the Asymmetry of Counterfactual Dependence.Jessica M. Wilson - 2014 - In Alastair Wilson (ed.), Chance and Temporal Asymmetry. Oxford University Press. pp. 258-279.
    Why believe Hume's Dictum, according to which there are, roughly speaking, no necessary connections between wholly distinct entities? Schaffer suggests that HD, at least as applied to causal or nomological connections, is motivated as required by the best account of of counterfactuals---namely, a similarity-based possible worlds account, where the operative notion of similarity requires 'miracles'---more specifically, worlds where entities of the same type that actually exist enter into different laws. The main cited motivations for such an account of similarity are (...)
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  17. Relativized Metaphysical Modality.Adam Murray & Jessica M. Wilson - 2012 - In Karen Bennett & Dean Zimmerman (eds.), Oxford Studies in Metaphysics. Oxford University Press. pp. 189.
    It is commonly supposed that metaphysical modal claims are to be evaluated with respect to a single domain of possible worlds: a claim is metaphysically necessary just in case it is true in every possible world, and metaphysically possible just in case it is true in some possible world. We argue that the standard understanding is incorrect; rather, whether a given claim is metaphysically necessary or possible is relative to which world is indicatively actual. We motivate our view by attention (...)
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  18. Carnap, the Necessary a Priori, and Metaphysical Anti-Realism.Stephen Biggs & Jessica M. Wilson - 2016 - In Stephen Blatti & Sandra Lapointe (eds.), Ontology after Carnap. Oxford: pp. 81-104.
    In Meaning and Necessity (1947/1950), Carnap advances an intensional semantic framework on which modal claims are true in virtue of semantical rules alone, and so are a priori. In 'Empiricism, Semantics, and Ontology' (1950), Carnap advances an epistemic-ontological framework on which metaphysical claims are either trivial or meaningless, since lacking any means of substantive confirmation. Carnap carried out these projects two decades before Kripke influentially argued, in Naming and Necessity (1972/1980), that some modal claims are true a posteriori. How should (...)
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  19. Relativized Metaphysical Modality: Index and Context.Benj Hellie, Adam Russell Murray & Jessica Wilson - forthcoming - In Otávio Bueno & Scott Shalkowski (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Modality. New York: Routledge.
    Relativized Metaphysical Modality (RMM: Murray and Wilson, 'Relativized metaphysical modality', Oxford Studies in Metaphysics, 2012; Murray, Perspectives on Modal Metaphysics, 2017) exploits 'two-dimensionalist' resources to metaphysical, rather than epistemological, ends: the second dimension offers perspective-dependence without contingency, diverting attacks on 'Classical' analyses of modals (in effect, analyses validating S5 and the Barcan Formulae). Here, we extend the RMM program in two directions. First, we harvest resources for RMM from Lewis's 1980 'Context--Index' (CI) framework: (a) the ban in CI on binding (...)
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  20. From Constitutional Necessities to Causal Necessities.Jessica M. Wilson - 2010 - In Helen Beebee & Nigel Sabbarton-Leary (eds.), The Semantics and Metaphysics of Natural Kinds. Routledge.
    Humeans and non-Humeans reasonably agree that there may be necessary connections between entities that are identical or merely partly distinct—between, e.g., sets and their individual members, fusions and their individual parts, instances of determinates and determinables, members of certain natural kinds and certain of their intrinsic properties, and (especially among physicalists) certain physical and mental states. Humeans maintain, however, that as per “Hume’s Dictum”, there are no necessary connections between entities that are wholly distinct;1 and in particular, no necessary causal (...)
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  21. Could Experience Disconfirm the Propositions of Arithmetic?Jessica M. Wilson - 2000 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 30 (1):55--84.
    Alberto Casullo ("Necessity, Certainty, and the A Priori", Canadian Journal of Philosophy 18, 1988) argues that arithmetical propositions could be disconfirmed by appeal to an invented scenario, wherein our standard counting procedures indicate that 2 + 2 != 4. Our best response to such a scenario would be, Casullo suggests, to accept the results of the counting procedures, and give up standard arithmetic. While Casullo's scenario avoids arguments against previous "disconfirming" scenarios, it founders on the assumption, common to scenario and (...)
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  22. Causality.Jessica M. Wilson - 2006 - In Jessica Pfeifer & Sahotra Sarkar (eds.), The Philosophy of Science: An Encyclopedia. Routledge. pp. 90--100.
    Arguably no concept is more fundamental to science than that of causality, for investigations into cases of existence, persistence, and change in the natural world are largely investigations into the causes of these phenomena. Yet the metaphysics and epistemology of causality remain unclear. For example, the ontological categories of the causal relata have been taken to be objects (Hume 1739), events (Davidson 1967), properties (Armstrong 1978), processes (Salmon 1984), variables (Hitchcock 1993), and facts (Mellor 1995). (For convenience, causes and effects (...)
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  23. Naturalist Metaphysics.Jessica M. Wilson - 2003 - Michigan Philosophy News.
  24. The Mind in Nature, by C. B. Martin. [REVIEW]Jessica M. Wilson - 2010 - Mind 119 (474):503-511.
  25. Force.Jessica M. Wilson - 2006 - In Borchert (ed.), Philosophy of Science. MacMillan.
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    Ego Boundaries, Shamanic-Like Techniques, and Subjective Experience: An Experimental Study.Adam J. Rock, Jessica M. Wilson, Luke J. Johnston & Janelle V. Levesque - 2008 - Anthropology of Consciousness 19 (1):60-83.
    The subjective effects and therapeutic potential of the shamanic practice of journeying is well known. However, previous research has neglected to provide a comprehensive assessment of the subjective effects of shamanic-like journeying techniques on non-shamans. Shamanic-like techniques are those that demonstrate some similarity to shamanic practices and yet deviate from what may genuinely be considered shamanism. Furthermore, the personality traits that influence individual susceptibility to shamanic-like techniques are unclear. The aim of the present study was, thus, to investigate experimentally the (...)
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  27. Physicalism, Emergentism, and Fundamental Forces.Jessica M. Wilson - 2001 - Dissertation, Cornell University
    Physicalism is the thesis that all entities are nothing over and above physical entities. Here I investigate into whether and how physicalism might be formulated so as to substantively contrast with its best traditional rivals---including and especially emergentism. Formulating physicalism requires making sense of both the physical/non-physical distinction and the nothing/something over and above distinction. It has been argued that no distinction between the physical and the non-physical exists, that can serve as the basis for a sub stantive physicalism. But (...)
     
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