I argue that extended simples are possible. The argument given here parallels an argument given elsewhere for the claim that the shape properties of material objects are extrinsic, not intrinsic as is commonly supposed. In the final section of the paper, I show that if the shape properties of material objects are extrinsic, the most popular argument against extended simples fails.
Kris McDaniel argues that there are different ways in which things exist. For instance, past things don't exist in the same way as present things. Numbers don't exist in the same way as physical objects; nor do holes, which are real, but less real than what they are in. McDaniel's theory of being illuminates a wide range of metaphysical topics.
In this paper, I formulate, elucidate, and defend a version of modal realism with overlap, the view that objects are literally present at more than one possible world. The version that I defend has several interesting features: it is committed to an ontological distinction between regions of spacetime and material objects; it is committed to compositional pluralism, which is the doctrine that there is more than one fundamental part-whole relation; and it is the modal analogue of endurantism, which is the (...) doctrine that objects persist through time by being wholly present at each moment they are located. (shrink)
Recently, I’ve championed the doctrine that fundamentally different sorts of things exist in fundamentally different ways.1 On this view, what it is for an entity to be can differ across ontological categories.2 Although historically this doctrine was very popular, and several important challenges to this doctrine have been dealt with, I suspect that contemporary metaphysicians will continue to treat this view with suspicion until it is made clearer when one is warranted in positing different modes of existence.3 I address this (...) concern here. The question of when to posit ways of being is closely related to a more general question: when should one think that some philosophically interesting expression is analogous? Accordingly, my strategy here is as follows. First, I briefly explain my interpretation of ontological pluralism, the doctrine that there are ways of being.4 Second, I introduce the notion of an analogous term, and show how, on most ways of implementing ontological pluralism, “existence” is analogous. Third, I discuss two sufficient conditions for when one is warranted in claiming that a philosophically interesting term is analogous. Fourth, I present a series of ontological schemes, each of which satisfies at least one of the sufficient conditions. The upshot is this: if you are attracted to one of these ontologies, you have reason to believe in ways of being. The careful reader will have noted the apparent modesty of my conclusion. Unfortunately, I do not believe that one could ever be rationally required to believe in ways of being. Still, in general a metaphysic is a live option to the extent that it is shown to be rationally permissible to believe. Since the apparent consensus among contemporary analytic metaphysicians is that believing that things can exist in different ways is silly or confused, establishing the rational permissibility of belief in ways of being is a non-trivial task. Let us begin. (shrink)
The claim that composition is identity is an intuition in search of a formulation. The farmer’s field is made of six plots, and in some sense is nothing more than those six plots. According to the friend of composition as identity, the six plots are identical with the farmer’s field.1 Some philosophers, such as Peter van Inwagen (1994), have claimed that the view that composition is identity is incoherent. Van Inwagen cites the apparent ungrammaticality of sentences like ‘the six plots (...) are the farmer’s field’ as evidence for his view. Perhaps van Inwagen is right, but I needn’t settle this question here. I will argue against the view that composition is identity, whatever that view amounts to, in the following way. First, I will elucidate a principle called ‘the Plural Duplication Principle’ [PDP]. Any acceptable way of making sense of the slogan that composition is identity— i.e., any way that properly conforms to the intuitions that lead one to utter this slogan— must validate PDP. Second, I argue that PDP is false. So any acceptable way of making sense of the slogan that composition is identity is false. The slogan that composition is identity will be refuted prior to being properly formulated. Following David Lewis (1986: 59-63), let us say that x and y are duplicates just in case there is a 1-1 correspondence between their parts that preserves perfectly natural properties and relations. Suppose that A is identical with B. Then any duplicate of A must also be a duplicate of B. This follows via Leibniz’s Law: if some duplicate of A were not.. (shrink)
I will discuss Stein’s first major philosophical work, On the Problem of Empathy. I’ll first present some of the background context to the composition of this work and then discuss some of the themes of the work that I find intriguing.
Let us agree that everything that there is exists, and that to be, to be real, and to exist are one and the same. Does everything that there is exist to the same degree? Or do some things exist more than others? Are there gradations of being? I argue that some entities exist more than others. Moreover, many of the notions in play in contemporary metaphysical discourse, such as fundamentality, perfect naturalness, and grounding ought to be cashed out in terms (...) of degree of existence. (shrink)
I am attracted to ontological pluralism, the doctrine that some things exist in a different way than other things.1 For the ontological pluralist, there is more to learn about an object’s existential status than merely whether it is or is not: there is still the question of how that entity exists. By contrast, according to the ontological monist, either something is or it isn’t, and that’s all there is say about a thing’s existential status. We appear to be to be (...) ontological committed to what I will call almost nothings. Examples of almost nothings include holes, cracks, and shadows; almost nothings thrive in the absence of ‘positive’ entities such as donuts, walls, and sunlight. Let’s focus on holes, since the literature on them is voluminous.2 We quantify over holes, and even count them: we say, for example, that there are some holes in the cheese, seven to be precise. We ascribe features to them and talk as though they stand in relations: that hole is three feet wide, much wider than that tire over there. Holes apparently persist through time, as evidenced by the fact that my sweater has the same hole in it as the last time you saw me wear it. We even talk as though holes are causally efficacious: my ankle was badly sprained because I stepped in that hole in the sidewalk.3 It seems then that we believe in holes. If our beliefs are true, holes must enjoy some kind of reality. This puts the ontological monist in an uncomfortable position. According to her, everything that there is enjoys the same kind of reality, which is the kind of reality enjoyed by full-fledged concrete entities such as ourselves. She is committed to the unpleasant claim that holes are just as real as concretia, a claim that is apt to be met with incredulous stares by those not acquainted with contemporary metaphysics. Roy Sorensen (2008, p. 19) notes the tension almost nothings generate for ontological monists: ‘… it feels paradoxical to say that absences exist—but no better to say that absences do not exist’.. (shrink)
We argue that desire is an attitude that relates a person not to one proposition but rather to two, the first of which we call the object of the desire and the second of which we call the condition of the desire. This view of desire is initially motivated by puzzles about conditional desires. It is not at all obvious how best to draw the distinction between conditional and unconditional desires. In this paper we examine extant attempts to analyse conditional (...) desire. From the failures of those attempts, we draw a moral that leads us to the correct account of conditional desires. We then extend the account of conditional desires to an account of all desires. We attempt to explain the distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic desire in light of our account of desire. We show how to use our account to solve Wollheim’s paradox of democracy and to save modus ponens. Finally, we extend the account of desire to related phenomena, such as conditional promises, intentions, and commands. (shrink)
Friends of states of affairs and structural universals appeal to a relation, structure-making, that is allegedly a kind of composition relation: structure-making ?builds? facts out of particulars and universals, and ?builds? structural universals out of unstructured universals. D. M. Armstrong, an eminent champion of structures, endorses two interesting theses concerning composition. First, that structure-making is a composition relation. Second, that it is not the only (fundamental) composition relation: Armstrong also believes in a mode of composition that he calls mereological, and (...) which he takes to be the only kind of composition recognized by his philosophical adversaries, such as David Lewis. Armstrong, accordingly, is a kind of pluralist about compositional relations: there is more than one way to make wholes from parts. In this paper, I critically evaluate Armstrong's compositional pluralism. (shrink)
The problem of qualitative heterogeneity is to explain how an extended simple can enjoy qualitative variation across its spatial or temporal axes, given that it lacks both spatial and temporal parts. I discuss how friends of extended simples should address the problem of qualitative heterogeneity. I present a series of arguments designed to show that rather than appealing to fundamental distributional properties one should appeal to tiny and short-lived tropes. Along the way, issues relevant to debates about material composition, persistence (...) over time and existence monism are discussed.  . (shrink)
Peter van Inwagen presented a powerful argument against the Principle of Sufficient Reason, which I henceforth abbreviate as ‘PSR’. For decades, the consensus was that this argument successfully refuted PSR. However, now a growing consensus holds that van Inwagen’s argument is fatally flawed, at least when ‘sufficient reason’ is understood in terms of ground, for on this understanding, an ineliminable premiss of van Inwagen’s argument is demonstrably false and cannot be repaired. I will argue that this growing consensus is mistaken (...) and that a powerful argument relevantly similar to van Inwagen’s should still concern us, even when we understand ‘sufficient reason’ in terms of ground. (shrink)
I argue that a solution to puzzles concerning the relationship ofobjects and their properties – a version of the `bundle' theory ofparticulars according to which ordinary objects are mereologicalfusions of monadic and relational tropes – is also a solution topuzzles of material constitution involving the allegedco-location of material objects. Additionally, two argumentsthat have played a prominent role in shaping the current debate,Mark Heller's argument for Four Dimensionalism and Peter vanInwagen's argument against Mereological Universalism, are shownto be unsound given this version (...) of the bundle theory. (shrink)
The distinction between "the two truths" was initially developed to resolve seeming contradictions in the Buddha's teachings.1 The Buddha teaches that persons should act compassionately, that persons will be reincarnated, and that persons do not exist. The first two lessons seem inconsistent with the third. Consistency could be restored by distinguishing kinds of truth: the first and second lessons are conventionally true, but it is conventionally but not ultimately true that persons exist.2In addition to this semantic distinction, there is an (...) ontological distinction between modes of being that also promises to restore consistency. As many note, "the two truths" is a distinction between entities at least as much as... (shrink)
The Frege-Russell view is that existence is a second-order property rather than a property of individuals. One of the most compelling arguments for this view is based on the premise that there is an especially close connection between existence and number. The most promising version of this argument is by C.J.F Williams (1981, 1992). In what follows, I argue that this argument fails. I then defend an account according to which both predications of number and existence attribute properties to individuals.
In a recent paper titled ' Simples ', Ned Markosian asks and answers the Simple Question, which is, 'under what circumstances is it true of some object that it has no proper parts?' Markosian 's answer to the simple question is MaxCon, which states that an object is a simple if and only if it is a maximally continuous object. I present several arguments against MaxCon.
Let’s start with compositional pluralism. Elsewhere I’ve defended compositional pluralism, which we can provisionally understand as the doctrine that there is more than one basic parthood relation. (You might wonder what I mean by “basic”. We’ll discuss this in a bit.) On the metaphysics I currently favor, there are regions of spacetime and material objects, each of which enjoy bear a distinct parthood relation to members of their own kind. Perhaps there are other kinds of objects that enjoy a kind (...) of parthood relation other than the ones enjoyed by material objects and regions of spacetime. Perhaps, for example, there are facts; I’ve been wavering over whether to embrace these entities for years now. However, I’m reasonably confident that if there are facts than the kind of parthood relation that facts bear to that which composes them is not the kind of parthood relation enjoyed by material objects or regions of spacetime. More on why I am reasonably confident later. (shrink)
This paper discusses Heidegger's distinction between entities that are present-at-hand and entities that are ready-to-hand. Contrary to common consensus, I argue that this distinction is a metaphysical distinction. Specifically, no ready-to-hand object is numerically identical with a present-at-hand object.
Suppose that a material object is gunky: all of its parts are located in space, and each of its parts has a proper part. Does it follow from this hypothesis that the space in which that object resides must itself be gunky? I argue that it does not. There is room for gunky objects in a space that decomposes without remainder into mereological simples.
Philosophical questions concerning parts and wholes have received a tremendous amount of the attention of contemporary analytic metaphysicians. In what follows, I discuss some of the central questions. The questions to be discussed are: how general is parthood? Are there different kinds of parthood or ways to be a part? Can two things be composed of the same parts? When does composition occur? Can material objects gain or lose parts? What is the logical form of the parthood relation enjoyed by (...) material objects? (shrink)
Can we understand being valuable for in terms of being valuable? Three different kinds of puzzle cases suggest that the answer is negative. In what follows, I articulate a positive answer to this question, carefully present the three puzzle cases, and then explain how a friend of the positive answer can successfully respond to them. This response requires us to distinguish different kinds of value bearers, rather than different kinds of value, and to hold that among the value bearers are (...) totality states of affairs. The final section of the article discusses the possibility of organic unification without organic unities. (shrink)
The pressure to individuate propositions more finely than intensionally—that is, hyper-intensionally—has two distinct sources. One source is the philosophy of mind: one can believe a proposition without believing an intensionally equivalent proposition. The second source is metaphysics: there are intensionally equivalent propositions, such that one proposition is true in virtue of the other but not vice versa. I focus on what our theory of propositions should look like when it's guided by metaphysical concerns about what is true in virtue of (...) what. In this paper I articulate and defend a metaphysical theory of the individuation of propositions, according to which two propositions are identical just in case they occupy the same nodes in a network of invirtuation relations. Invirtuation is here taken to be a primitive relation of metaphysical explanation exemplified by propositions that, in conjunction with truth, defines the notion of true in virtue of. After formulating the theory, I compare it with a view.. (shrink)
I describe a number of views in which metaphysical fundamentality is accounted for in normative terms. After describing many different ways this key idea could be developed, I turn to developing the idea in one specific way. After all, the more detailed the proposal, the easier it is to assess whether it works. The rough idea is that what it is for a property to be fundamental is for it to be prima facie obligatory to theorize in terms of that (...) property. (shrink)
ABSTRACTThis paper explores Calkins’ absolute idealism and its ramifications for libertarian free will. Calkins’ metaphysics is a version of absolute idealism, according to which the absolute is a person who has everything else as either a part or an aspect. Three different arguments for the conclusion that Calkins’ metaphysics is incompatible with libertarian freewill are formulated and critically assessed. Finally, I assess the extent to which these arguments are independent of each other.
Heidegger also famously says that Being depends on Dasein, even though beings in general do not. This is perplexing. “Heidegger and the “There Is” of Being” offers an interpretation of what’s going on in the passages in which this sort of assertion is made.
Possibilism—the view that there are non-actual, merely possible entities—is a surprisingly resilient doctrine.1 One particularly hardy strand of possibilism—the modal realism championed by David Lewis—continues to attract both foes who seek to demonstrate its falsity (or at least stare its advocates into apostasy) and friends who hope to defend modal realism (or, when necessary, modify modal realism so as to avoid problematic objections).2 Although I am neither a foe nor friend of modal realism (but some of my best friends are!), (...) like many I continue to be fascinated by the doctrine. (shrink)
In "Abhidharma Metaphysics and the Two Truths", I argued that a version of ontological pluralism—the view that there are different modes of being—is a philosophically satisfactory account of the doctrine of two truths as found in Abhidharma metaphysics, and that it is superior to accounts in the secondary literature.1 According to my account, the doctrine of two truths is best construed as a view that distinguishes between conventional and ultimate reality, the former of which is enjoyed by persons while the (...) latter is enjoyed by only short-lived, impartite dharmas.2 Conventional truth and ultimate truth understood as features of sentences, beliefs, or propositions are... (shrink)
I introduce a methodology for doing the history of philosophy called philosophical modeling. I then employ this methodology to give a theory of Kant's distinction between things in themselves and appearances. This theory models Kant's distinction on the distinction between a constituting object and the object it constitutes.
From the perspective of a contemporary metaphysician, Metaphysical Themes 1274–1671 is a fantastic book. It is an impressively rich, detailed, and thorough examination of a multitude of important metaphysical puzzles and arguments, written in a clear, engaging, lively, funny, and even on one occasion vulgar manner. The number of topics covered is astonishing: substance, attribute, form, matter, the metaphysics of predication, parts and wholes, the metaphysics of extension across space, persistence over time, the distinction between primary–secondary qualities, and many others. (...) One of the disconcerting but exciting things about reading Pasnau’s book was both the familiarity of so many of the metaphysical topics the medieval philosophers pursued as well as well as their divergent inclinations on how best to pursue them. This book is a metaphysical thriller, and I highly recommend it.In what follows, I will engage as a metaphysician with Pasnau and through him some of the figures he discu .. (shrink)
I focus here on the teleological suspension of the ethical as it appears in Fear and Trembling. A common reading of Fear and Trembling is that it explores whether there are religious reasons for action that settle that one must do an action even when all the moral reasons for action tell against doing it. This interpretation has been contested. But I defend it by showing how the explicit teleological suspension of the ethical mirrors implicit teleological suspensions of the epistemological (...) and prudential, and by articulating how it might be necessary for God to suspend the ethical in order to forgive us for our wrongdoings to others. I also discuss whether God’s commands are implicitly conditional, whether religious reasons to act, believe, and forgive are in each case grounded in divine commands, and what role love plays in each type of teleological suspension. (shrink)
There are three interconnected goals of this paper. The first is to articulate and motivate a view of the methodology for doing metaphysics that is broadly phenomenological in the sense of Husserl circa the Logical Investigations. The second is to articulate an argument for the importance of studying the history of philosophy when doing metaphysics that is in accordance with this methodology. The third is to confront this methodology with a series of objections and determine how well it fares in (...) light of them. (shrink)
Heidegger distinguishes between things that are present-at-hand and things that are ready-to-hand. I argue that, in Heidegger, this distinction is between two sets of entities rather than between two ways of considering one and the same set of entities. I argue that Heidegger ascribes distinct temporal, essential, and phenomenological properties to these two different kinds of entities.
An object is a simple if and only if it has no proper parts. An object is gunk if and only if every proper part of that object itself has a proper part. In my dissertation, I address the following questions. The concepts of simples and gunk presuppose the concept of parthood. What is the status of this concept? his question itself divides into the following: does the concept of parthood have universal applicability, so that, just as every object is (...) self-identical, every object has parts? Finally, is the concept of parthood univocal, or are there different notions of parthood, each of which is defined on distinct ontological categories? I argue that the concept of parthood has univocal. I also argue that there is some evidence that the concept of parthood has universal applicability. I address the Simple Question, which is “under what circumstances is it true of some object that it has no proper parts?” I argue against several popular answers to the Simple Question, such as the view that simples are all and only point-sized objects, and the view that simples are maximally continuous material objects. I defend the Brutal View, which holds that there is no true, finitely expressible, and informative answer to the Simple Question. In short, there is no criterion for being a simple. Along the way, I address the question of whether extended simples, i.e., simples that are extended in space, are possible. I argue that one popular argument against the possibility of extended simples is unsound. I address the question of whether both simples and gunk are possible. I argue that it is metaphysically possible that material objects be composed of gunk. (shrink)