Quine’s general approach is to treat ontology as a matter of what a theory says there is. This turns ontology into a question of which existential statements are consequences of that theory. This approach is contrasted favourably with the view that takes ontological commitment as a relation to things. However within the broadly Quinean approach we can distinguish different accounts, differing as to the nature of the consequence relation best suited for determining those consequences. It is suggested that Quine’s own (...) narrowly formal account fails. Then a consideration of the necessitation approach championed by Jackson and Lewis shows that it does not do justice to the role of acknowledging consequences in determining rationality. I suggest that an approach which puts a priori consequence as the key relation does a better job. The task of spelling out the nature of a priori consequence is sketched, along with reasons to doubt the adequacy of the double indexing approach to analysing the a priori. The sorts of relations we can stand in to theories which allow us to inherit ontological commitments are touched on with a number of important philosophical strategies for introducing belief-like attitudes which nevertheless avoid ontological commitment. (shrink)
Priest and others have presented their “most telling” argument for paraconsistent logic: that only paraconsistent logics allow non-trivial inconsistent theories. This is a very prevalent argument; occurring as it does in the work of many relevant and more generally paraconsistent logicians. However this argument can be shown to be unsuccessful. There is a crucial ambiguity in the notion of non-triviality. Disambiguated the most telling reason for paraconsistent logics is either question-begging or mistaken. This highlights an important confusion about the role (...) of logic in our development of our theories of the world. Does logic chart good reasoning or our commitments? We also consider another abductive argument for paraconsistent logics which also is shown to fail. (shrink)
Famously, David Lewis argued that we can avoid the apparent paradoxes of time travel by introducing a notion of personal time, which by and large follows the causal flow of the time traveler's life history. This paper argues that a related approach can be adapted for use by three-dimensionalists in response to Ted Sider's claim that three-dimensionalism is inconsistent with time travel. In contrast to Lewis (and others who follow him on this point), however, this paper argues that the order (...) of events captured by so-called "personal time" should be thought of as causal, rather than temporal. (shrink)
Changes in the methodology of the historical sciences make them more vulnerable to unjustifiable speculations being passed off as scientific results. The integrity of historical science is in peril due the way speculative and often unexamined causal assumptions are being used to generate data and underpin the identification of correlations in such data. A step toward a solution is to distinguish between plausible and speculative assumptions that facilitate the inference from measured and observed data to causal claims. One way to (...) do that is by comparing these assumptions against a well-attested set of aspects of causation, such as the so-called “Bradford Hill Criteria”. The BHC do not provide a test for causation or necessary and sufficient conditions for causation but do indicate grounds for further investigation. By revising the BHC to reflect the needs and focus of historical sciences, it will be possible to assess the cogency of methods of investigation. These will be the Historical Sciences Bradford Hill Criteria. An application to one area in historical science is used to demonstrate the effectiveness of the HSBHC, namely biogeography. Four methods are assessed in order to show how the HSBHC can be used to examine the assumptions between our data and the causal biogeographical processes we infer. (shrink)
Classical logic is explosive in the face of contradiction, yet we find ourselves using inconsistent theories. Mark Colyvan, one of the prominent advocates of the indispensability argument for realism about mathematical objects, suggests that such use can be garnered to develop an argument for commitment to inconsistent objects and, because of that, a paraconsistent underlying logic. I argue to the contrary that it is open to a classical logician to make distinctions, also needed by the paraconsistent logician, which allow a (...) more nuanced ranking of theories in which inconsistent theories can have different degrees of usefulness and productivity. Facing inconsistency does not force us to adopt an underlying paraconsistent logic. Moreover we will see that the argument to best explanation deployed by Colyvan in this context is unsuccessful. I suggest that Quinean approach which Colyvan champions will not lead to the revolutionary doctrines Colyvan endorses. (shrink)
Inspired by two-dimensional modal logic, some have sought to provide analyses of the notion of the contingent a priori which identify the a priori with truths which have a necessary diagonal. I argue that these analyses fail insofar as they miss the crucial epistemic aspect of the a priori. Augmenting these analyses with specifically epistemic accounts might be possible, but the interest would then reside in these epistemic accounts of the a priori and not in the formal models.
Do our lives have meaning? Should we create more people? Is death bad? Should we commit suicide? Would it be better if we were immortal? Should we be optimistic or pessimistic? Life, Death, and Meaning brings together key readings, primarily by English-speaking philosophers, on such 'big questions.'.
In Tichy's influential attack, a number of egregious errors are attributed to Kripke's seminal distinction of epistemic and metaphysical dimensions in meaning. I argue that Tichy's work is based on important misunderstandings. In particular Tichy attributes to Kripke the mistaken view that it is propositions, that is sets of worlds, which are the proper object of the appellation "a priori" and "a posteriori". I show that this is a mistaken attribution. Further, I argue that propositions cannot be uniquely associated with (...) these appellations. Thus, the position Tichy mistakenly attributes to Kripke, a position which Tichy actually endorses, is unsustainable. (shrink)
ABSTRACTLloyd encourages us to look anew at philosophy and science by using a comparative methodology, comparing the familiar Western form of philosophy, for example, with the forms found in ancient China. Taking lessons from comparative biology, this paper attempts to show that such comparison can only take place when we understand what we are looking at in the familiar case. The question of the centrality of the drive for certainty is addressed. Why has certainty been so attractive and what does (...) it mean if philosophers and scientists cannot achieve certainty? (shrink)
Floridi’s Theory of Strongly Semantic Information posits the Veridicality Thesis. One motivation is that it can serve as a foundation for information-based epistemology being an alternative to the tripartite theory of knowledge. However, the Veridicality thesis is false, if ‘information’ is to play an explanatory role in human cognition. Another motivation is avoiding the so-called Bar-Hillel/Carnap paradox. But this paradox only seems paradoxical, if ‘information’ and ‘informativeness’ are synonymous, logic is a theory of inference, or validity suffices for rational inference; (...) a, b, and c are false. (shrink)
David Lewis presented a celebrated argument for the identity theory of mind. His argument has provided the model for the program of analytic functionalism. He argues from two premises, that mental states are analytically tied to their causal roles and that, contingently, there is never a need to explain any physical change by going outside the realm of the physical, to the conclusion that mental states are physical. I show that his argument is mistaken and that it trades on a (...) crucial ambiguity in the second premise. He argues for a weaker version of that premise and then uses a stronger version in the argument. The weaker version of that premise will not allow the inference and the stronger version is contested in the dialectical context. In general then this strategy for providing analytic reductions will not be guaranteed to succeed. (shrink)
We investigate the formal theory of binary quantifiers, that is, quantifiers that take seriously the surface structure of natural language quantifier phrases. We show how to develop a natural deduction system for logics of this sort and demonstrate soundness and completeness results.
Do our lives have meaning? Should we create more people? Is death bad? Should we commit suicide? Would it be better to be immortal? Should we be optimistic or pessimistic? Since Life, Death, and Meaning: Key Philosophical Readings on the Big Questions first appeared, David Benatar's distinctive anthology designed to introduce students to the key existential questions of philosophy has won a devoted following among users in a variety of upper-level and even introductory courses.