John Carroll undertakes a careful philosophical examination of laws of nature, causation, and other related topics. He argues that laws of nature are not susceptible to the sort of philosophical treatment preferred by empiricists. Indeed he shows that emperically pure matters of fact need not even determine what the laws are. Similar, even stronger, conclusions are drawn about causation. Replacing the traditional view of laws and causation requiring some kind of foundational legitimacy, the author argues that these phenomena are inextricably (...) intertwined with everything else. This distinctively clear and detailed discussion of what it is to be a law will be valuable to a broad swathe of philosophers in metaphysics, the philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of science. (shrink)
The unanimity theory is an account of property-level causation requiring that causes raise the probability of their effects in specified test situations. Richard Otte (1981) and others have presented counterexamples in which one property is probabilistically sufficient for at least one other property. Given the continuing discussion (e.g., Cartwright 1989; Cartwright and Dupre 1988; Eells 1988a,b), many apparently think that these problems are minor. By considering the impact of Otte's cases on recent versions of the theory, by raising several new (...) examples, and by criticizing natural replies, I argue that the problems for the unanimity theory are severe. (shrink)
Some scientists try to discover and report laws of nature. And, they do so with success. There are many principles that were for a long time thought to be laws that turned out to be useful approximations, like Newton’s gravitational principle. There are others that were thought to be laws and still are considered laws, like Einstein’s principle that no signals travel faster than light. Laws of nature are not just important to scientists. They are also of great interest to (...) us philosophers, though primarily in an ancillary way. Qua philosophers, we do not try to discover what the laws are. We care about what it is to be a law, about lawhood, the essential difference between something’s being a law and something’s not being a law. It is one of our jobs to understand lawhood and convey our understanding to others. (shrink)
Ted Sider aptly and concisely states the self-visitation paradox thus: 'Suppose I travel back in time and stand in a room with my sitting 10-year-old self. I seem to be both sitting and standing, but how can that be?' (2001, 101). I will explore a relativist resolution of this paradox offered by, or on behalf of, endurantists.1 It maintains that the sitting and the standing are relative to the personal time or proper time of the time traveler and is intended (...) to yield the result that Ted is sitting at a certain initial personal/proper time but is not standing relative to that time. Similarly, it is also supposed to yield that Ted is standing relative to a later personal/proper time, but not sitting relative to that .. (shrink)
An argument for realism (i.E., The ontological thesis that there exist universals) has emerged in the writings of david armstrong, Fred dretske, And michael tooley. These authors have persuasively argued against traditional reductive accounts of laws and nature. The failure of traditional reductive accounts leads all three authors to opt for a non-Traditional reductive account of laws which requires the existence of universals. In other words, These authors have opted for accounts of laws which (together with the fact that there (...) are laws) entail that realism is true. This argument for realism which emerges from the work of armstrong, Dretske, And tooley is discussed and criticized. Conclusions from the discussion question the tenability of all reductive accounts of laws. (shrink)
The possibility of continuous backwards time travel—time travel for which the traveler follows a continuous path through space between departure and arrival—gives rise to the double-occupancy problem. The trouble is that the time traveler seems bound to have to travel through his or her younger self as the trip begins. Dowe and Le Poidevin agree that this problem is solved by putting the traveler in motion for a gradual trip to the past. Le Poidevin goes on to argue, however, that (...) the gradual trip gives rise to the Cheshire cat problem, a concern about whether the traveler survives the gradual trip. We address the Cheshire cat problem by proposing and considering new continuity constraints on identity over time. Along the way, we come upon an endurantist conception of temporal parts. (shrink)
In his book Objects and Persons, Trenton Merricks has reoriented and ﬁne-tuned an argument from the philosophy of mind to support a selective eliminativism about macroscopic objects.1 The argument turns on a rejection of systematic causal overdetermination and the conviction that microscopic things do the causal work that is attributed to a great many (though not all) macroscopic things. We will argue that Merricks’ argument fails to establish his selective eliminativism.
Counterfactuals all the way down? Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11016-010-9437-9 Authors Jim Woodward, History and Philosophy of Science, 1017 Cathedral of Learning, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, USA Barry Loewer, Department of Philosophy, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA John W. Carroll, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-8103, USA Marc Lange, Department of Philosophy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, CB#3125—Caldwell Hall, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3125, USA Journal Metascience Online (...) ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796 Journal Volume Volume 20 Journal Issue Volume 20, Number 1. (shrink)
As a subject of inquiry, laws of nature exist in the overlap between metaphysics and the philosophy of science. Over the past three decades, this area of study has become increasingly central to the philosophy of science. It also has relevance to a variety of topics in metaphysics, philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, and epistemology. Readings on Laws of Nature is the first anthology to offer a contemporary history of the problem of laws. The book is organized around three (...) key issues: the matter of distinguishing laws from mere correlations, questions concerning inductive reasoning and laws, and the consideration of whether there are any true laws in science. Designed for class use, the anthology covers a remarkably broad range of views and concerns, and consists exclusively of articles that have proved highly influential in the field. Readings on Laws of Nature will also serve as a valuable research and reference tool for philosophers who do not specialize in the subject, but who have occasion to examine concepts relating to the laws of nature in their own work. (shrink)
There is a longstanding definition of instantaneous velocity. It saysthat the velocity at t 0 of an object moving along a coordinate line is r if and only if the value of the first derivative of the object's position function at t 0 is r. The goal of this paper is to determine to what extent this definition successfully underpins a standard account of motion at an instant. Counterexamples proposed by Michael Tooley (1988) and also by John Bigelow and Robert (...) Pargetter (1990) are reinforced and illuminated by considering the presence or absence of changes to the object's motion. (shrink)
This chapter illustrates a theory that describes how certain modal statements, including counterfactual sentences, are dependent on context. Building on the work of Robert Stalnaker and David Lewis, its application to a familiar argument for fatalism and a recent exchange about time-traveler freedom between Kadri Vihvelin and Ted Sider is considered. This chapter presents a new perspective on the flaws and the seductiveness of both the fatalist argument and the freedom paradox. This new perspective may be applied to arguments for (...) incompatibilism advanced by Carl Ginet and Peter van Inwagen. The issue of the compatibility of free will and determinism is generally regarded as one of the most serious metaphysical issues about human freedom. Consequence arguments of the sort made famous by Inwagen and Ginet are the leading arguments in favor of incompatibilism. (shrink)
A contextualist account of modal assertions is sketched that makes their truth sensitive to the presuppositions of the conversation. Support for the account is mustered by considering its application to the context-sensitivity of assertions of subjunctive conditional sentences, explanation sentences, and knowledge sentences.
The backward induction argument purports to show that rational and suitably informed players will defect throughout a finite sequence of prisoner's dilemmas. It is supposed to be a useful argument for predicting how rational players will behave in a variety of interesting decision situations. Here, I lay out a set of assumptions defining a class of finite sequences of prisoner's dilemmas. Given these assumptions, I suggest how it might appear that backward induction succeeds and why it is actually fallacious. Then, (...) I go on to consider the consequences of adopting a stronger set of assumptions. Focusing my attention on stronger sets that, like the original, obey the informedness condition, I show that any supplementation of the original set that preserves informedness does so at the expense of forcing rational participants in prisoner's dilemma situations to have unexpected beliefs, ones that threaten the usefulness of backward induction. (shrink)
The traditional model and the contextual unanimity model are two probabilistic accounts of general causation subject to many well-known problems; e.g. cases of epiphenomena, causes raising their own probability, effects raising the probability of the cause, et cetera. After reviewing these problems and raising a new problem for the two models, I suggest the beginnings of an alternative probabilistic account. My suggestion avoids the problems encountered by earlier models, in large part, by an appeal to singular causation.
This article returns to the question of the foundations of Western culture. Many have trod this path before, notably Nietzsche. At issue is a theory of culture, and the classical Greek preoccupation with how humans can make sense of their lives, find direction and some sort of vindication — for that is what culture is, and does. Travelling Greece today, what surprises is the vitality of the ancient sites. Alive with their own cast of timeless enchantment, it is as if (...) they haven't changed over the millennia. Has this miraculous, enduring vitality something to do with the fact that the Western tree that Greece seeded continues to flourish? Or, is this just romantic illusion, a way to redeem the prosaic orders of modern everyday life; or, a fantasy aesthetico-religious culture to populate the disenchanted ruins of the Christian churchyard? (shrink)
showing what makes causal facts both true and accessible enough for us to have the knowledge of them that we ordinarily take ourselves to have. Some current approaches to analyzing causation were once resisted. First, analyses that use the counterfactual conditional were viewed with suspicion because philosophers also sought (and still do seek) similar understanding of counterfactual facts. Since the same can be said for the other nomic concepts--causation, lawhood, explanation, chance, dispositions, and their conceptual kin--philosophy demonstrated a preference for (...) non-nomic definitions of causation, analytic completions of (S) with no nomic terms in the analysans. Recently, however, philosophers have been less demanding regarding what terms may be used. Attention has been given to analyzing causation in terms of chance, the counterfactual conditional, and lawhood. If we reserve the term ‘causal’ for the terms and concepts that have extremely obvious connections.. (shrink)