Recently, oysters have been identified by the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) as a risky food to eat because they may or may not contain the pathogenic bacteria Vibrio parahaemolyticus. The USFDA's attempts to manage the risk manifest themselves in a “Quantitative Risk Assessment”, a report that attempts to quantify and predict the number of oyster eaters that will fall ill from Vibrio. In seeking to produce knowledge and eliminate uncertainty, the USFDA, through the use of a discourse of (...) quantification, does the opposite. Instead, we argue, documents such as risk assessments are best understood as kinds of rhetorical practice. According to this perspective, these documents are epistemologically and ontologically reductive, produce uncertainty, politicize the act of eating, and serve an ironic function. (shrink)
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 (...) Grounded goings-on exist, whether they are reducible to or rather distinct from Grounding goings-on, whether they are efficacious, and so on; but in the absence of answers to such basic questions, we are not in position to assess the associated claim or theses concerning metaphysical dependence. There is no avoiding appeal to the specific metaphysical relations typically at issue in investigations into dependence—for example, type or token identity, functional realization, classical mereological parthood, the set membership relation, the proper subset relation, the determinable/determinate relation, and so on—which are capable of answering these questions. But, I argue, once the specific relations are on the scene, there is no need for Grounding. (shrink)
Jessica Flanigan defends patients' rights of self-medication on the grounds that same moral reasons against medical paternalism in clinical contexts are also reasons against paternalistic pharmaceutical policies, including prohibitive approval processes and prescription requirements.
Most people have a clear sense of what they mean by disability, and have little trouble identifying conditions they consider disabling. Yet providing a clear and consistent definition of disability is far from straightforward. Standardly, disability is understood as the restriction in our abilities to perform tasks, as a result of an impairment of normal physical or cognitive human functioning. However, which inabilities matter? We are all restricted by our bodies, and are all incapable of performing some tasks, but most (...) of these inabilities are not considered disabilities. If, then, we are to avoid the category of disability becoming overly broad—and thus politically and practically useless—we need some way of picking out the specific inabilities that are disabling. I argue that our answer should be informed by an account of the opportunities individuals are entitled to be able to perform as a matter of justice. Thus, to be disabled is to have these opportunities restricted, and not to deviate from the species norm or lack any ability that might improve our well-being. (shrink)
In this lucid, deep, and entertaining book, John Perry supposes that type-identity physicalism is antecedently plausible, and that rejecting this thesis requires good reason. He aims to show that experience gap arguments, as given by Jackson, Kripke, and Chalmers, fail to provide such reason, and moreover that each failure stems from an overly restrictive conception of the content of thought.
Friedrich Hayek’s account of “spontaneous order” has generated increasing interest in recent decades. His argument for the superiority of the market in distributing knowledge without the need for central oversight has appealed to progressive democratic theorists, who are wary of the hubris of state planning and attracted to possibilities for self-organization, and to Foucaultians, who have long counseled political theory to cut off the King’s head. A spontaneous social order, organized by an invisible hand, would appear to dispense with arbitrary (...) power and foster creativity and individual liberty. This article challenges this view by highlighting the centrality of submission to Hayek’s account of spontaneous order. It shows that Hayek struggles to obscure the providentialism underpinning the account of social order he derives from Adam Ferguson and the Scottish Enlightenment. Nonetheless, his own account of spontaneous order relies on faith in the workings of the market, and submission to unintelligible market forces. (shrink)
This paper defends the use-based metasemantic project against the problem of meaning without use, which allegedly shows the predictions of use-based metasemantic accounts to be indeterminate with respect to unusably long or complex expressions. This criticism is commonly taken to be decisive, prompting various retreats and contributing to the project’s eventual decline. Using metasemantic conventionalism as a case study, I argue the following: either such expressions do not belong to used languages or their meanings are uniquely determined by use. Thus, (...) the alleged problem of meaning without use offers no challenge to the use-based metasemantic project generally, nor to conventionalism in particular. (shrink)
Motivated by the seeming structure of the sciences, metaphysical emergence combines broadly synchronic dependence coupled with some degree of ontological and causal autonomy. Reflecting the diverse, frequently incompatible interpretations of the notions of dependence and autonomy, however, accounts of emergence diverge into a bewildering variety. Here I argue that much of this apparent diversity is superficial. I first argue, by attention to the problem of higher-level causation, that two and only two strategies for addressing this problem accommodate the genuine emergence (...) of special science entities. These strategies in turn suggest two distinct schema for metaphysical emergence---'Weak' and 'Strong' emergence, respectively. Each schema imposes a condition on the powers of entities taken to be emergent: Strong emergence requires that higher-level features have more token powers than their dependence base features, whereas Weak emergence requires that higher-level features have a proper subset of the token powers of their dependence base features. Importantly, the notion of “power” at issue here is metaphysically neutral, primarily reﬂecting commitment just to the plausible thesis that what causes an entity may bring about are associated with how the entity is---that is, with its features. (shrink)
Pt. I. The apparent good. Evaluative cognition -- Perceiving the good -- Phantasia and the apparent good -- pt. II. The apparent good and non-rational motivation. Passions and the apparent good -- Akrasia and the apparent good -- pt. III. The apparent good and rational motivation. Phantasia and deliberation -- Happiness, virtue, and the apparent good -- Practical induction -- Conclusion : Aristotle's practical empiricism.
According to one contemporary formulation of infallibilism, probability 1 infallibilism, if a subject knows that p, then the probability of p on her evidence is 1. To avoid an implausible scepticism about knowledge, probability 1 infallibilism needs to allow that, in a wide range of cases, a proposition can be evidence for itself. However, such infallibilism needs to explain why it is typically infelicitous to cite p as evidence for p itself. I argue that probability 1 infallibilism has no explanation (...) of this infelicity and should be rejected. (shrink)
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). (...) Here I look at the usually cited reasons for these suppositions as directed against the case of determinable properties, in particular, and argue that none is compelling (Sections 1 to 3). The discussion in Section 3 moreover identifies positive reason for taking some determinable properties to be part of a fundamental (or relatively fundamental) base. I close (Section 4) by noting certain questions arising from the possibility of fundamental determinables, as directions for future research. (shrink)
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 (...) property, but not having any unique determinate of that determinable. I motivate the needed extension of the traditional understanding of determinables, then argue that a determinable-based account of MI accommodates, in illuminating fashion, both ‘glutty’ and ‘gappy’ cases of MI, while satisfactorily treating concerns about MI stemming from Evans’ argument and the problem of the many. (shrink)
The physicalist thesis that all entities are nothing over and above physical entities is often interpreted as appealing to a supervenience-based account of "nothing over and aboveness”, where, schematically, the A-entities are nothing over and above the B-entities if the A-entities supervene on the B-entities. The main approaches to filling in this schema correspond to different ways of characterizing the modal strength, the supervenience base, or the supervenience connection at issue. I consider each approach in turn, and argue that the (...) resulting formulation of physicalism is compatible with physicalism’s best traditional rival: a naturalist emergentism. Others have argued that supervenience-based formulations of physicalism fail. My aim here, besides addressing the full spectrum of supervenience-based approaches, is to show how certain philosophical and scientific theses concerning naturalism, properties, and laws give us new reasons to think that supervenience-based formulations of physicalism are untenable. (shrink)
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. (...) Accounts of non-reductive realization conforming to this condition are implementing what I call 'the powers-based subset strategy'. I focus on the crucial case involving mental and brain states; the results may be generalized, as appropriate. I ﬁrst situate and motivate the strategy by attention to the problem of mental causation; I make the case, in schematic terms, that implementation of the strategy makes room (contra Kim 1989, 1993, 1998, and elsewhere) for mental states to be ontologically and causally autonomous from their realizing physical states, without inducing problematic causal overdetermination, and compatible with both Physicalism and Non-reduction; and I show that several contemporary accounts of non-reductive realization (in terms of functional realization, parthood, and the determinable/determinate relation) are plausibly seen as implementing the strategy. As I also show, implementation of the powers-based strategy does not require endorsement of any particular accounts of either properties or causation---indeed, a categoricalist contingentist Humean can implement the strategy. The schematic location of the strategy in the space of available responses to the problem of mental (more generally, higher-level) causation, as well as the fact that the schema may be metaphysically instantiated, strongly suggests that the strategy is, appropriately generalized and instantiated, sufficient and moreover necessary for non-reductive realization. I go on to defend the sufficiency and necessity claims against a variety of objections, considering, along the way, how the powers-based subset strategy fares against competing accounts of purportedly non-reductive realization in terms of supervenience, token identity, and constitution. (shrink)
Abstract: This paper proposes a way to understand Kant's modalities of judgment—problematic, assertoric, and apodeictic—in terms of the location of a judgment in an inference. Other interpretations have tended to understand these modalities of judgment in terms of one or other conventional notion of modality. For example, Mattey (1986) argues that we should take them to be connected to notions of epistemic or doxastic modality. I shall argue that this is wrong, and that these kinds of interpretation of the modality (...) of judgments cannot be reconciled with a key claim made by Kant, namely, that the modality of a judgment does not contribute to its content, and has nothing to do with the matter that is judged. I offer an alternative interpretation based upon Kant's explicating these modalities in terms of the location of a judgment in an inference, whereby the modality of a judgment is determined by the role a judgment plays in a given course of reasoning. If I am right, then Kant in fact presents an intriguing thesis pertaining to the inferential status and potential of all our judgments. (shrink)
Contextualists such as Cohen and DeRose claim that the truth conditions of knowledge attributions vary contextually, in particular that the strength of epistemic position required for one to be truly ascribed knowledge depends on features of the attributor's context. Contextualists support their view by appeal to our intuitions about when it's correct (or incorrect) to ascribe knowledge. Someone might argue that some of these intuitions merely reflect when it is conversationally appropriate to ascribe knowledge, not when knowledge is truly ascribed, (...) and so try to accommodate these intuitions even on an invariantist view. DeRose (Blackwell Guide to Epistemology, 1998; Philosophical Review, 2002) argues that any such 'warranted assertibility manoeuvre', or 'WAM', against contextualism is unlikely to succeed. Here, I argue that his objections to a WAM against contextualism are not persuasive and offer a pragmatic account of the data about ascriptions of knowledge. (shrink)
How should physical entities be characterized? Physicalists, who have most to do with the notion, usually characterize the physical by reference to two components: 1. The physical entities are the entities treated by fundamental physics with the proviso that 2. Physical entities are not fundamentally mental (that is, do not individually possess or bestow mentality) Here I explore the extent to which the appeals to fundamental physics and to the NFM (“no fundamental mentality”) constraint are appropriate for characterizing the physical, (...) especially for purposes of formulating physicalism. Ultimately, I motivate and defend a version of an account incorporating both components: The physics-based NFM account: An entity existing at a world w is physical iff (i) it is treated, approximately accurately, by current or future (in the limit of inquiry, ideal) versions of fundamental physics at w, and (ii) it is not fundamentally mental (that is, does not individually either possess or bestow mentality). (shrink)
did plato and aristotle have anything to say about belief? The answer to this question might seem blindingly obvious: of course they did. Plato distinguishes belief from knowledge in the Meno, Republic, and Theaetetus, and Aristotle does so in the Posterior Analytics. Plato distinguishes belief from perception in the Theaetetus, and Aristotle does so in the De anima. They talk about the distinction between true and false beliefs, and the ways in which belief can mislead and the ways in which (...) it can steer us aright. Indeed, they make belief a central component of their epistemologies.The view underlying these claims—one so widespread these days as to remain largely unquestioned—is that when Plato and Aristotle talk... (shrink)
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 (...) account fails to rule out physically unacceptable emergence. I rather suggest that this and other unacceptable possibilities may be ruled out by requiring that each individual causal power in the set associated with a given supervenient property be numerically identical with a causal power in the set associated with its base property. I go on to show that a wide variety of physicalist accounts, both reductive and non-reductive, are implicitly or explicitly designed to meet this condition, and so are more similar than they seem. In particular, non-reductive physicalism accounts typically appeal to a relation plausibly ensuring that the powers of a higher-level property are a proper subset of those of its physical base property. (shrink)
How can mental properties bring about physical effects, as they seem to do, given that the physical realizers of the mental goings-on are already sufficient to cause these effects? This question gives rise to the problem of mental causation (MC) and its associated threats of causal overdetermination, mental causal exclusion, and mental causal irrelevance. Some (e.g., Cynthia and Graham Macdonald, and Stephen Yablo) have suggested that understanding mental-physical realization in terms of the determinable/determinate relation (henceforth, 'determination') provides the key to (...) solving the problem of MC: if mental properties are determinables of their physical realizers, then (since determinables and determinates are distinct, yet don't causally compete) all three threats may be avoided. Not everyone agrees that determination can do this good work, however. Some (e.g., Douglas Ehring, Eric Funkhauser, and Sven Walter) object that mental-physical realization can't be determination, since such realization lacks one or other characteristic feature of determination. I argue that on a proper understanding of the features of determination key to solving the problem of MC these arguments can be resisted. (shrink)
Hume's Dictum (HD) says, roughly and typically, that there are no metaphysically necessary connections between distinct, intrinsically typed, entities. HD plays an influential role in metaphysical debate, both in constructing theories and in assessing them. One should ask of such an influential thesis: why believe it? Proponents do not accept Hume's arguments for his dictum, nor do they provide their own; however, some have suggested either that HD is analytic or that it is synthetic a priori (that is: motivated by (...) intuitions we have no good reason to question). Here I explore whether belief in HD is directly justified on either grounds. I motivate and present more formal characterizations of HD; I show that there are good prima facie cases to be made for HD's being analytic and for its being synthetic a priori; I argue that each of the prima facie cases fails, some things considered. I close by offering two suggestions for how belief in HD might be indirectly justified on argumentative grounds. (shrink)
In this paper, I examine a contextualist thesis that has been little discussed in comparison with contextualism about knowledge, namely contextualism about evidential support. This seems surprising since, prima facie, evidential support statements seem shifty in a way parallel to knowledge ascriptions. I examine but reject the suggestion that contrastivism about evidential support is motivated by arguments analogous to those used to motivate contrastivism about knowledge including sceptical closure arguments, the nature of inquiry, the existence of explicitly contrastive evidential support (...) statements, and the intuitive shiftiness of some binary evidential support statements. I end by discussing the relations between contextualism about evidential support, evidence and knowledge. In particular, I argue that my discussion of contrastivism about evidential support undermines Neta's contextualist view about evidence, and his broader suggestion that the shiftiness of evidence statements explains the shiftiness of knowledge ascriptions. (shrink)
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 (...) posit 'big-G' Grounding in addition to the 'small-g' grounding relations already in the metaphysician's toolkit? The best reasons for doing so stem from the Unity argument, according to which the further posit of Grounding is motivated as an apt unifier of the specific relations, and the Priority argument, according to which Grounding is needed in order to fix the direction of priority of the specific relations. I previously considered versions of these arguments, and argued that they did not succeed; in two papers, however, Jonathan Schaffer aims to develop a better version of the Unity argument, and offers certain objections to my reasons for rejecting the Priority argument. Here I consider these new arguments for Grounding. (shrink)
Knowledge ascriptions are a central topic of research in both philosophy and science. In this collection of new essays on knowledge ascriptions, world class philosophers offer novel approaches to this long standing topic.
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 (...) needed to characterize certain special science entities, and those needed to characterize their composing physical entities; these correspond to what I call ‘reductions’, ‘restrictions’, and ‘eliminations’ in degrees of freedom. I then argue that eliminations in degrees of freedom, in particular—when strictly fewer degrees of freedom are required to characterize certain special science entities than are required to characterize their composing physical entities—provide a basis for making sense of how certain special science entities can be both physically acceptable and ontologically irreducible to physical entities. (shrink)
According to the naïve, pre-theoretic conception, lying seems to be characterized by the intent to deceive. However, certain kinds of bald-faced lies appear to be counterexamples to this view, and many philosophers have abandoned it as a result. I argue that this criticism of the naïve view is misplaced; bald-faced lies are not genuine instances of lying because they are not genuine instances of assertion. I present an additional consideration in favor of the naïve view, which is that abandoning it (...) comes at an extremely high price; alternative accounts which eschew the intent-to-deceive condition on lying have difficulty distinguishing lies from non-literal speech. (shrink)
The debate about the ethical implications of Artificial Intelligence dates from the 1960s :741–742, 1960; Wiener in Cybernetics: or control and communication in the animal and the machine, MIT Press, New York, 1961). However, in recent years symbolic AI has been complemented and sometimes replaced by Neural Networks and Machine Learning techniques. This has vastly increased its potential utility and impact on society, with the consequence that the ethical debate has gone mainstream. Such a debate has primarily focused on principles—the (...) ‘what’ of AI ethics —rather than on practices, the ‘how.’ Awareness of the potential issues is increasing at a fast rate, but the AI community’s ability to take action to mitigate the associated risks is still at its infancy. Our intention in presenting this research is to contribute to closing the gap between principles and practices by constructing a typology that may help practically-minded developers apply ethics at each stage of the Machine Learning development pipeline, and to signal to researchers where further work is needed. The focus is exclusively on Machine Learning, but it is hoped that the results of this research may be easily applicable to other branches of AI. The article outlines the research method for creating this typology, the initial findings, and provides a summary of future research needs. (shrink)
I problematize Grounding-based formulations of physicalism. More specifically, I argue, first, that motivations for adopting a Grounding-based formulation of physicalism are unsound; second, that a Grounding-based formulation lacks illuminating content, and that attempts to imbue Grounding with content by taking it to be a strict partial order are unuseful and problematic ; third, that conceptions of Grounding as constitutively connected to metaphysical explanation conflate metaphysics and epistemology, are ultimately either circular or self-undermining, and controversially assume that physical dependence is incompatible (...) with explanatory gaps; fourth, that in order to appropriately distinguish physicalism from strong emergentism, a Grounding-based formulation must introduce one and likely two primitives in addition to Grounding; and fifth, that understanding physical dependence in terms of Grounding gives rise to ‘spandrel’ questions, including, e.g., “What Grounds Grounding?”, which arise only due to the overly abstract nature of Grounding. (shrink)
Stanley and Williamson have defended the intellectualist thesis that knowing-how is a subspecies of knowing-that by appeal to the syntax and semantics of ascriptions of knowing-how. Critics have objected that this way of defending intellectualism places undue weight on linguistic considerations and fails to give sufficient attention to empirical considerations from the scientific study of the mind. In this paper, I examine and reject Stanley's recent attempt to answer the critics.
Increased technological and pharmacological interventions in patient care when patient outcomes are uncertain have been linked to the escalation in moral and ethical dilemmas experienced by health care providers in acute care settings. Health care research has shown that facilities that are able to attract and retain nursing staff in a competitive environment and provide high quality care have the capacity for nurses to process and resolve moral and ethical dilemmas. This article reports on the findings of a systematic review (...) of the empirical literature (1980 — February 2007) on the effects of unresolved moral distress and poor ethical climate on nurse turnover. Articles were sought to answer the review question: Does unresolved moral distress and a poor organizational ethical climate increase nurse turnover? Nine articles met the criteria of the review process. Although the prevailing sentiment was that poor ethical climate and moral distress caused staff turnover, definitive answers to the review question remain elusive because there are limited data that confidently support this statement. (shrink)
This chapter explores the prospects for justifying the somewhat widespread, somewhat firmly held sense that there is some moral advantage to untruthfully implicating over lying. I call this the "Difference Intuition." I define lying in terms of asserting, but remain open about what precise definition best captures our ordinary notion. I define implicating as one way of meaning something without asserting it. I narrow down the kind of untruthful implicating that should be compared with lying for purposes of evaluating whether (...) there is a moral difference between them. Just as lying requires a robust form of assertion, so the kind of untruthful implicating to be compared with lying requires a robust form of implicating. Next, I set out various ways of sharpening the Difference Intuition and survey a range of approaches to justifying one class of sharpenings. I finish by sketching an approach to justifying an alternative sharpening of the Difference Intuition, which is inspired by John Stuart Mill's discussion of lying. (shrink)
Something Aristotle calls ‘right logos’ plays a crucial role in his theory of virtue. But the meaning of ‘logos’ in this context is notoriously contested. I argue against the standard translation ‘reason’, and—drawing on parallels with Plato’s work, especially the Laws—in favor of its being used to denote what transforms an inferior epistemic state into a superior one: an explanatory account. Thus Aristotelian phronēsis, like his and Plato’s technē and epistēmē, is a matter of grasping explanatory accounts: in this case, (...) accounts that identify the right action and say why it is right. Arguably, Aristotelian rationality is a matter of being able to grasp accounts in general. (shrink)
It has become recently popular to suggest that knowledge is the epistemic norm of practical reasoning and that this provides an important constraint on the correct account of knowledge, one which favours subject-sensitive invariantism over contextualism and classic invariantism. I argue that there are putative counterexamples to both directions of the knowledge norm. Even if the knowledge norm can be defended against these counterexamples, I argue that it is a delicate issue whether it is true, one which relies on fine (...) distinctions among a variety of relevant notions of propriety which our intuitions may reflect. These notions variously apply to the agent herself, her character traits, her beliefs, her reasoning and any resultant action. Given the delicacy of these issues, I argue that the knowledge norm is not a fixed point from which to defend substantive and controversial views in epistemology. Rather, these views need to be defended on other grounds. (shrink)
It is commonly recognized that one can act rightly without being praiseworthy for doing so. Those who act rightly from ignoble motives, for instance, do not strike us as fitting targets of moral praise; their actions seem to lack moral worth. Though there is broad agreement that only certain kinds of motives confer moral worth on our actions, there is disagreement as to which ones are up to the task. Many theorists confine themselves to two possibilities: praiseworthy agents are thought (...) to be motivated by either the consideration that their actions are morally right, or the considerations that explain why their actions are morally right. Though there is an important element of truth in these proposals, each has limited explanatory purchase. In this paper, I develop a pluralist conception of moral worth that acknowledges both sorts of motives as grounds for moral praise. (shrink)
Newtonian forces are pushes and pulls, possessing magnitude and direction, that are exerted (in the first instance) by objects, and which cause (in particular) motions. I defend Newtonian forces against the four best reasons for denying or doubting their existence. A running theme in my defense of forces will be the suggestion that Newtonian Mechanics is a special science, and as such has certain prima facie ontological rights and privileges, that may be maintained against various challenges.
An approach to explaining the nature and source of logic and its laws with a rich historical tradition takes the laws of logic to be laws of thought. This view seems intuitively compelling, after all, logic seems to be intimately related with how we think. But how exactly should we understand it? And what arguments can we give in favour? I will propose one line of argument for the claim that the laws of logic are laws of thought. I will (...) motivate the claim that there is a certain phenomenon, namely, that there are logical principles which are immune to rational doubt. I will then give an argument to the best explanation; I will argue that the best explanation of this phenomenon is to take the laws of logic to be constitutive-normative laws of thought. The proposal, and some responses to potential objections, will have a notably Kantian flavour. (shrink)
An essentialist theory of modality claims that the source of possibility and necessity lies in essence, where essence is then not to be defined in terms of necessity. Hence such theories owe us an account of why it is that the essences of things give rise to necessities in the way required. A new approach to understanding essence in terms of the notion of generalized identity promises to answer this challenge by appeal to the necessity of identity. I explore the (...) prospects for this approach, and argue that it fails. If one favours an account of essence in terms of generalized identity, then one will not, I argue, be able to satisfactorily defend an essentialist theory of modality against the challenge; if one wishes to defend an essentialist theory of modality, and thereby to give an explanation of how necessity arises from essence, one should not understand essence in terms of generalized identity. (shrink)
Recently, a debate has developed between those who claim that essence can be explained in terms of de re modality (modalists), and those who claim that de re modality can be explained in terms of essence (essentialists). The aim of this paper is to suggest that we should reassess. It is assumed that either necessity is to be accounted for in terms of essence, or that essence is to be accounted for in terms of necessity. I will argue that we (...) should assume neither. I discuss what role these key notions – essence and necessity – can reasonably be thought to contribute to our understanding of the world, and argue that, given these roles, there is no good reason to think that we should give an account of one in terms of the other. I conclude: if we can adequately explain de re modality and essence at all, we should aim to do so separately. (shrink)