Gilbert Ryle is most famous for accusing the Cartesian dualist of committing a category mistake. Yet the nature of this accusation, and the idea of a category mistake more generally, remains woefully misunderstood. The aim of this paper is to rectify this misunderstanding. I show that Ryle does not conceive of category mistakes as mistakes of predication, as is so widely believed. Instead I show category mistakes are mistakes of conjunction and quantification. This thesis uniquely unifies and explains the wide (...) variety of Ryle’s remarks, judgments, and arguments. (shrink)
On the grounds that there are no mereological composites, mereological nihilists deny that ordinary objects exist. Even if nihilism is true, however, I argue that tables and chairs exist anyway: for I deny that ordinary objects are the mereological sums the nihilist rejects. Instead, I argue, ordinary objects have a different nature; they are arrangements, not composites. My argument runs as follows. First, I defend realism about ordinary objects by showing that there is something that plays the role of ordinary (...) objects in perception and discourse, and that ordinary objects are whatever plays this role. Next, I argue that it is arrangements that play this role. It follows that ordinary objects exist- even if mereological nihilism is true. (shrink)
The central claim of this paper is that the Aristotelian metaphysics of objects is incompatible with physicalism. This includes the contemporary variant of Aristotelianism I call ‘sortalism’. The core reason is that an object’s identity as an instance of a (natural) kind, as well as its consequent persistence conditions, is neither physically fundamental nor determined by what is physically fundamental. The argument for the latter appeals to what is commonly known as ‘the grounding problem’; in particular I argue that the (...) physicalist has no solution, and this requires that the physicalist jettison the traditional concept of objects having kind-specific identity and persistence conditions. (shrink)
On the standard view for something to exist is for one thing to exist: in slogan form, to be is to be countable. E.J. Lowe argues something can exist without being countable as one, however. His primary example is homogenous “stuff,” i.e., qualitatively uniform and infinitely divisible matter. Lacking nonarbitrary boundaries and being everywhere the same, homogenous stuff lacks a principle of individuation that would yield countably distinct constituents. So, for Lowe, homogenous stuff is strongly uncountable. Olson rejects Lowe’s view (...) and defends the orthodox connection between existence and number. He argues that if there is any stuff, there is a number of portions of stuff. Sider also rejects a stuff ontology, claiming it is incompatible with his preferred view that the familiar quantifiers of predicate logic carve at nature’s joints. Against these arguments, I defend the uncountability of stuff and the possibility of existence without countability. If to be is to be countable, more is needed than the arguments that Olson and Sider provide. (shrink)
Abstract. Could a person or mind be uploaded—transmitted to a computer or network—and thereby survive bodily death? I argue ‘mind uploading’ is possible only if a mind is an abstract object rather than a concrete particular. Two implications are notable. One, if someone can be uploaded someone can be multiply-instantiated, such that there could be as many instances of a person as copies of a book. Second, mind uploading’s possibility is incompatible with the leading theories of personal identity, insofar as (...) these assume the mind is a concrete particular. Moreover, because David Chalmers (2010; 2012; 2014) defends mind uploading without construing minds as abstract, I show Chalmers’ argument to be unsound. (shrink)
Sider (2011; Writing the Book of the World. Oxford: Oxford University Press) argues it is not only predicates that carve reality at its joints, but expressions of any logical or grammatical category – including quantifiers, operators, and sentential connectives. Even so, he denies these expressions pick out entities in the world; instead, they only represent the world’s “structure”. I argue that this distinction is not viable, and that Sider’s ambitious programme requires an exotic ontology – and even a Fregean “third (...) realm” – of logical entities. (shrink)
Opponents of ‘ought implies can’ (OIC) often proceed via cases or counterexamples; hypothetical situations are described in which one is unable to do what one intuitively ought to do. I proceed differently. I offer six arguments against OIC via general principles; no cases. Though each argument would suffice to refute OIC if sound, redundancy is always a failsafe.
A world where there exists n concrete things is a count-determinate world. The orthodox view is count-determinacy is necessary; if to be is to be the value of a variable and the domain of quantification is enumerable, count-determinacy follows. Yet I argue how many there are can be indeterminate; count-indeterminacy is metaphysically possible and even likely actual. Notably, my argument includes rebuttals of Evans’ reductio of indeterminate identity and the Lewis/Sider ‘argument from vagueness’. Count-indeterminacy should therefore be recognized as another (...) basic form of genuine metaphysical indeterminacy, in addition to types recently defend by Barnes, Williams, and Wilson. (shrink)
This paper aims to make headway on two related issues—one methodological, the other substantive. The former concerns cost–benefit analyses when applied to metaphysical theory choice. The latter concerns material coincidence, i.e., multiple objects occupying the same space at the same time, such as the statue and the clay from which it’s made. The issues are entwined as many reject coincidence on the grounds that it’s costly. I argue this judgment is unjustified. More generally, I set out and defend a framework (...) for the use of cost–benefit analyses in metaphysics. The framework employs a fourfold division of pretheoretical costs and benefits, and theoretical costs and benefits. Yet these do not hold equal weight. Instead I argue that the appeal to theoretical benefits is illegitimate if the theory in question cannot first account for the relevant evidence or data, including, crucially, certain bits of pretheoretical or common knowledge. This is crucial because I not only argue that material coincidence is consistent with common sense, against what is widely believed, but that coincidence may even be a feature or implication of the common sense view. Put together, the result is that accepting an anti-coincidence theory for its putative theoretical virtues at the expense of common sense is an improper usage of the cost–benefit methodology. I instead conclude that material coincidence should be accepted with equanimity—which, after all, is free. (shrink)
Liberal and republican conceptions of freedom differ as to whether freedom consists in noninterference or non-domination. Pettit defends the republican non-domination conception on the grounds that one can be unfree without being interfered with if one is dominated, and that one can be interfered with yet free if not dominated. I show that these claims mistake the scope of actual interference. In particular, I show that cases said to involve unfreedom without interference do involve interference, and that cases said to (...) involve freedom despite interference— in particular, cases involving government regulations—are cases in which some interference is outweighed by protection from even greater interference. The liberal noninterference conception of freedom, therefore, can account for what Pettit claims can only be accounted for by freedom as non-domination. (shrink)
If natural kinds have microstructural essences they have them independently of rules for the application of kind terms. This suggests that what those rules are should make no difference to the essences being discoverable. I present two thought-experiments that suggest otherwise, however. Each shows an authority’s application of rules creates the appearance of there being kind essences; absent those rules, the appearance vanishes. This suggests natural kind essences are not independent of authority-sanctioned rules.