Michael Tooley presents a major new philosophical theory of the nature of time, offering a powerful alternative to the traditional "tensed" and recent "tenseless" accounts of time. He argues for a dynamic conception of the universe, in which past, present, and future are not merely subjective features of experience. He claims that the past and the present are real, while the future is not. Tooley's approach accounts for time in terms of causation. He therefore claims that the key to understanding (...) the dynamic nature of the universe is to understand the nature of causation. Time, Tense, and Causation is a landmark treatment of one of the oldest and most perplexing intellectual problems, and will be fascinating reading for anyone interested in the character of time. (shrink)
This paper is concerned with the question of the truth conditions of nomological statements. My fundamental thesis is that it is possible to set out an acceptable, noncircular account of the truth conditions of laws and nomological statements if and only if relations among universals - that is, among properties and relations, construed realistically - are taken as the truth-makers for such statements. My discussion will be restricted to strictly universal, nonstatistical laws. The reason for this limitation is not that (...) I feel there is anything dubious about the concept of a statistical law, nor that I feel that basic laws cannot be statistical. The reason is methodological. The case of strictly universal, nonstatistical laws would seem to be the simplest case. If the problem of the truth conditions of laws can be solved for this simple subcase, one can then investigate whether the solution can be extended to the more complex cases. I believe that the solution I propose here does have that property, though I shall not pursue that question here.1. (shrink)
Tooley here sets out and defends realist accounts of traditional empiricist explanations of causation and laws of nature, arguing that since reductionist accounts of causation are exposed to decisive objections, empiricists must break with that tradition.
In his recent article, "Self-Consciousness", George Bealer has set out a novel and interesting argument against functionalism in the philosophy of mind. I shall attempt to show, however, that Bealer's argument cannot be sustained. In arguing for this conclusion, I shall be defending three main theses. The first is connected with the problem of defining theoretical predicates that occur in theories where the following two features are present: first, the theoretical predicate in question occurs within both extensional and non-extensional contexts; (...) secondly, the theory in question asserts that the relevant theoretical states enter into causal relations. What I shall argue is that a Ramsey-style approach to the definition of such theoretical terms requires two distinct quantifiers: one which ranges over concepts, and the other which ranges over properties in the world. My second thesis is a corollary: since the theories on which Bealer is focusing have both of the features just mentioned, and since the method that he employs to define theoretical terms in his argument against functionalism does not involve both quantifiers that range over properties and quantifiers that range over concepts, that method is unsound. My final thesis is that when a sound method is used, Bealer's argument against functionalism no longer goes through. The structure of my discussion is as follows. I begin by setting out two arguments - the one, a condensed version of Bealer's argument, and the other, an argument that parallels Bealer's argument very closely. The parallel argument leads to a conclusion, however, that, rather than being merely somewhat surprising, seems very implausible indeed. For what the second argument establishes, if sound, is that there can be theoretical terms that apply to objects by virtue of their first-order physical properties, but whose meaning cannot be defined via a Ramsey-style approach. Having set out the two parallel arguments, I then go on to focus upon the second, to determine what is wrong with it. My diagnosis will be that the problem with the argument arises from the fact that it involves defining a theoretical term that occurs both inside and outside of opaque contexts, for the method employed fails to take into account the fact that the types of entities that are involved in the relevant truthmakers are different when a sentence occurs within an extensional context from those involved when a sentence occurs within a non-extensional context. I then go on to discuss how one should define a theoretical term that occurs within such theories, and I argue that in such a case one needs two quantifiers, ranging over different types of entities - on the one hand, over properties and relations, and the other, over concepts. I then show that, when such an approach is followed, the argument in question collapses. I then turn to Bealer's argument against functionalism, and I show, first, that precisely the same method of defining theoretical terms can be applied there, and, secondly, that, when this is done, it turns out that that argument is also unsound. Next, I consider two responses that Bealer might make to my argument, and I argue that those responses would not succeed. Finally, I conclude by asking exactly where the problem lies in the case of Bealer's argument. My answer will be that it is not simply the fact that one is dealing with a theoretical term that occurs in both extensional and non-extensional contexts. It is rather the combination of that feature together with the fact that the theory in question asserts that the relevant type of theoretical state enters into causal relations. For the first of these features means that the Ramsey sentence for the theory must involve quantification over concepts, while the presence of the second feature means that the Ramsey sentence must involve quantification over properties in the world, and so no attempt to offer a Ramsey-style account of the meaning of the relevant theoretical term can succeed unless one employs both quantification over concepts and quantification over properties. Bealer, however, in his argument against functionalism, uses a method of defining theoretical terms that does not involve both types of quantification, and it is precisely because of this that his argument does not in the end succeed. (shrink)
This volume presents a selection of the most influential recent discussions of the crucial metaphysical questions: what is it for one event to cause another? The subject of causation bears on many topics, such as time, explanation, mental states, the laws of nature, and the philosphy of science.
Philosophers have responded to McTaggart’s famous argument for the unreality of time in a variety of ways. Some of those responses are not easy to evaluate, since they involve, for example, sometimes murky questions concerning whether a certain infinite regress is or is not vicious. In this paper I set out a response that has not, I think, been advanced by any other author, and which, if successful, is absolutely clear-cut. The basic idea is simply that a tensed approach to (...) time can avoid McTaggart’s contradiction, and can also avoid any regress, vicious or otherwise, by specifying the times at which events have different tensed properties in a tenseless fashion — namely, by using dates. This answer to McTaggart’s argument is, however, open to four important objections. The first objection is that my answer to the second part of McTaggart’s argument is incompatible with something that McTaggart takes himself to have proved in the first part of his argument — the claim, namely, that “there can be no change unless some propositions are sometimes true and sometimes false.” The second objection is that the sentences that I claim can be used to specify when an event has a given tensed property do not in fact do so, since they turn out to be purely tenseless sentences. The third objection is that the sentences in question make use of tenseless verbs, and that it is not in fact possible to make sense of such verbs. The fourth and final objection is that it is not really possible to specify, in tenseless terms, when an event has a given tensed property, since dates have to be analyzed using the relation of temporal priority, and that relation, in turn, must be analyzed in terms of the tensed properties of pastness, presentness and futurity, so that the purportedly tenseless specification is implicitly tensed. I argue, however, that none of these four objections can be sustained. (shrink)
The newest addition to the Point/Counterpoint Series, Abortion: Three Perspectives features a debate between four noted philosophers - Michael Tooley, Celia Wolf-Devine, Philip E. Devine, and Alison M. Jaggar - presenting different perspectives on one of the most socially and politically argued issues of the past 30 years. The three main arguments include the "liberal" pro-choice approach, the "communitarian" pro-life approach, and the "gender justice" approach. Divided into two parts, the text features the authors' ideas, developed in depth, and their (...) responses to one another within each framework. As philosophers, the authors have special skills in critical analysis and thinking systematically about values. The text is appropriate for advanced courses in ethics, bioethics, sex and gender issues, and contemporary moral issues. (shrink)
This volume presents a selection of the most influential recent discussions of the crucial metaphysical question: What is it for one event to cause another? The subject of causation bears on many topics, such as time, explanation, mental states, the laws of nature, and the philosophy of science. Contributors include J.L Mackie, Michael Scriven, Jaegwon Kim, G.E.M. Anscombe, G.H. von Wright, C.J. Ducasse, Wesley C. Salmon, David Lewis, Paul Horwich, Jonathan Bennett, Ernest Sosa, and Michael Tooley.
Knowledge of God takes the form of a debate between Alvin Plantinga and Michael Tooley. Plantinga opens the batting with a seventy-page laying out of his case ‘that theism has a significant epistemic virtue: if it is true, it is warranted; this is a virtue naturalism emphatically lacks’. Indeed, Plantinga argues that ‘if naturalism were true, there would be no such thing as knowledge’. It will be recalled [e.g. Plantinga and Plantinga ] that Plantinga's position is that warrant, understood as (...) whatever it is that needs to be added to true belief to …. (shrink)
In this essay, my goal is, first, to describe the most important contemporary philosophical approaches to the nature of time, and then, secondly, to discuss the ways in which those different accounts bear upon the question of the possibility of divine foreknowledge. I shall argue that different accounts of the nature of time give rise to different objections to the idea of divine foreknowledge, but that, in addition, there is a general argument for the impossibility of divine foreknowledge that is (...) independent of one’s account of the nature of time. (shrink)
Among the central theses defended in this paper are the following. First, the logical incompatibility version of the argument from evil is not one of the crucial versions, and Plantinga, in fostering the illusion that it is, seriously misrepresents claims advanced by other philosophers. Secondly, Plantinga’s arguments against the thesis that the existence of any evil at all is logically incompatible with God’s existence. Thirdly, Plantinga’s attempt to demonstrate that the existence of a certain amount of evil in the world (...) does not render improbable the existence of God involves both a false claim and a fallacious inference. (shrink)
In her book, The Dilemma of Freedom and Foreknowledge, Linda Zagzebski suggests that among the strongest ways of supporting the thesis that libertarian free will is incompatible with divine foreknowledge is what she refers to as the Accidental Necessity argument. Zagzebski contends, however, that at least three satisfactory responses to that argument are available.I argue that two of the proposed solutions are open to strong objections, and that the third, although it may very well handle the specific versions of the (...) Accidental Necessity argument that Zagzebski considers, fails when confronted with a stronger version of the Accidental Necessity line of argument. (shrink)
How are causal relations between particular states of affairs related to causal laws? There appear to be three main answers to this question, and the choice among those three alternatives would seem to be crucial for any account of causation. In spite of this fact, the question of which view is correct has been all but totally neglected in present-day discussions. Indeed, since the time of Hume, one answer has more or less dominated philosophical thinking about causation. In this paper (...) I shall attempt to show that the view in question is exposed to decisive objections. (shrink)
Different approaches to causation often diverge very significantly on ontological issues, in the case of both causal laws, and causal relations between states of affairs. This article sets out the main alternatives with regard to each. Causal concepts have surely been present from the time that language began, since the vast majority of action verbs involve the idea of causally affecting something. Thus, in the case of transitive verbs describing physical actions, there is the idea of causally affecting something external (...) to one — one finds food, builds a shelter, sows seed, catches fish, and so on — while in the case of intransitive verbs describing physical actions, it is very plausible that they involve the idea of causally affecting one's own body — as one walks, runs, jumps, hunts, and so on. (shrink)