The vast majority of metaphysicians agree that powers (in contrast to categorical properties) can exist unmanifested. This paper focuses on the ontological distinction between unmanifested and manifested powers underpinning that fact and has two main aims. First, to determine the proper relata of the distinction and second, to show that an unrestricted version of dispositional monism faces serious difficulties to accommodate it. As far as the first aim is concerned, it is argued that the distinction in question, in order (...) to be free of irrelevant features, must hold between an un- manifested power-instance and the same power-instance being manifested. To the second end, the paper examines two possible candidate distinctions (actual vs. possible, be- ing-in-energeia vs. being-in-capacity). It is argued that the former fails to be a good fit for the role that the distinction under consideration should play in a dispositional monistic context. It is also argued that a specific version of the latter can ground a promising solution to the difficulty discussed in the paper. That solution, however, presupposes the inclusion of aspects of the Aristotelian metaphysical framework for powers to the dispositional monistic context. (shrink)
I will defend two claims. First, Schaffer's priority monism is in tension with many research programs in quantum gravity. Second, priority monism can be modified into a view more amenable to this physics. The first claim is grounded in the fact that promising approaches to quantum gravity such as loop quantum gravity or string theory deny the fundamental reality of spacetime. Since fundamental spacetime plays an important role in Schaffer's priority monism by being identified with the fundamental (...) structure, namely the cosmos, the disappearance of spacetime in these views might undermine classical priority monism. My second claim is that priority monism can avoid this issue with two moves: first, in dropping one of its core assumptions, namely that the fundamental structure is spatio-temporal, second, by identifying the connection between the non-spatio-temporal structure and the derivative spatio-temporal structure with mereological composition. (shrink)
Consider a circle and a pair of its semicircles. Which is prior, the whole or its parts? Are the semicircles dependent abstractions from their whole, or is the circle a derivative construction from its parts? Now in place of the circle consider the entire cosmos (the ultimate concrete whole), and in place of the pair of semicircles consider the myriad particles (the ultimate concrete parts). Which if either is ultimately prior, the one ultimate whole or its many ultimate parts?
Neutral monism is a position in metaphysics defended by Mach, James, and Russell in the early twentieth century. It holds that minds and physical objects are essentially two different orderings of the same underlying neutral elements of nature. This paper sets out some of the central concepts, theses and the historical background of ideas that inform this doctrine of elements. The discussion begins with the classic neutral monism of Mach, James, and Russell in the first part of the (...) paper, then considers recent neo-Russellian versions in the second half. The chances for a revival of neutral monism are probably slight; its key ideas and starting points lie far from those in contemporary philosophy of mind. A better route might be through the philosophy of science and a deeper understanding of causation. (shrink)
Priority monism is the view that the cosmos is the only independent concrete object. The paper argues that, pace its proponents, Priority monism is in conflict with the dependence of any whole on any of its parts: if the cosmos does not depend on its parts, neither does any smaller composite.
Truthmaker monism is the view that the one and only truthmaker is the world. Despite its unpopularity, this view has recently received an admirable defence by Schaffer :307–324, 2010b). Its main defect, I argue, is that it omits partial truthmakers. If we omit partial truthmakers, we lose the intimate connection between a truth and its truthmaker. I further argue that the notion of a minimal truthmaker should be the key notion that plays the role of constraining ontology and that (...) truthmaker monism is not necessary for an appropriate solution to the problem of finding truthmakers for negative truths. I conclude that we should reject truthmaker monism once and for all. (shrink)
Steinberg has recently proposed an argument against Schaffer’s priority monism. The argument assumes the principle of Necessity of Monism, which states that if priority monism is true, then it is necessarily true. In this paper, I argue that Steinberg’s objection can be eluded by giving up Necessity of Monism for an alternative principle, that I call Essentiality of Fundamentality, and that such a principle is to be preferred to Necessity of Monism on other grounds as (...) well. (shrink)
Existence monism is defended against priority monism. Schaffer's arguments for priority monism and against pluralism are reviewed, such as the argument from gunk. The whole does not require parts. Ontological vagueness is impossible. If ordinary objects are in the right ontology then they are vague. So ordinary objects are not included in the right ontology; and hence thought and talk about them cannot be accommodated via fully ontological vindication. Partially ontological vindication is not viable. Semantical theorizing outside (...) the ontology room and semantical theorizing in the doorway. Existence monism is theoretically preferable to priority monism. (shrink)
Scientific specialties are the key unit of analysis in Kuhn’s theory of scientific change. Kuhn believed that scientific specialties, in their normal phases, are characterized by theoretical monism. This is what makes scientists so efficient in realizing their epistemic goals. Recent work in the philosophy of scientific practice raises questions about the extent to which there is or needs to be consensus in science, thus challenging a key dimension of Kuhn’s view. Hasok Chang has been a leader in this (...) project, focusing attention on the benefits of pluralism. I argue that Chang and other pluralists are overcorrecting. I argue that a variety of types of pluralism can be reconciled with theoretical monism, and that theoretical monism serves significant functions, aiding scientists in the effective pursuit of their epistemic goals. Thus, I aim to set limits to pluralism. I argue that Kuhn’s theoretical monism not only has room for the sort of pluralism that Chang and others aims to defend, I also show that it presupposes such forms of pluralism. (shrink)
Monism is the view that there is only a single material object in existence: the world. According to this view, therefore, the ordinary objects of common sense—cats and hats, cars and stars, and so on—do not actually exist; there is only the world. Because of this, monism is routinely dismissed in the contemporary literature as being absurd and obviously false. It is simply obvious that there is a plurality of material things, thus it is simply obvious that (...) class='Hi'>monism is false, or so the argument goes. I call this the common sense argument against monism and in this paper I offer a response. I argue that providing the monist can make his view consistent with the appearance that there is a multiplicity of material things, then it is not rationally acceptable to reject monism solely on the basis of that appearance. Through an appeal to a particular type of property—distributional properties—I sketch out a plausible story of how monism is perfectly consistent with the appearance of plurality, and thus nullify the common sense argument. There may be any number of arguments that serve to undermine monism, but the common sense argument is not one of them. Monism deserves to be taken more seriously than that. (shrink)
Between 1653 and 1655 Margaret Cavendish makes a radical transition in her theory of matter, rejecting her earlier atomism in favour of an infinitely-extended and infinitely-divisible material plenum, with matter being ubiquitously self-moving, sensing, and rational. It is unclear, however, if Cavendish can actually dispense of atomism. One of her arguments against atomism, for example, depends upon the created world being harmonious and orderly, a premise Cavendish herself repeatedly undermines by noting nature’s many disorders. I argue that her supposed difficulties (...) with atomism expose a deeper tension in her work between two fundamental metaphysical commitments each of which has substantial philosophical support: her monist theory of the material world (which maintains that there exists just one natural substance which is the single principal cause) and her occasional theory of causation (which requires multiple finite principal causes in nature -- causes that might be considered individual substances). Her monism undermines atomism while her theory of occasional cause seems to rest on a conception of nature that would be especially friendly to atomism. I argue further that we can solve this tension within a Cavendishian framework in such a way as to preserve her theory of causation and her monism, but that this solution depends upon our taking her monism in a particular (and weak) form. I finally note that we can best make sense of her unique and interesting form of monism by acknowledging her social-political motivations in addition to her motivations in natural philosophy. (shrink)
Abstract Let ?monism? be the view that there is only one basic object?the world. Monists face the question of whether there are also non-basic objects. This is in effect the question of whether the world decomposes into parts. Jonathan Schaffer maintains that it does, Terry Horgan and Matja? Potr? that it does not. In this paper, I propose a compromise view, which I call ?Kantian monism.? According to Kantian monism, the world decomposes into parts insofar as an (...) ideal subject under ideal conditions would divide it into parts, but it does not decompose into parts in and of itself, that is, in an entirely mind-independent manner. After articulating Kantian monism more precisely (Section 1), I present a prima facie case for preferring it over more standard varieties of monism (Section 2). (shrink)
Priority monism (hereafter, ‘monism’) is the view that there exists one fundamental entity—the world—and that all other objects that exist (a set of objects typically taken to include tables, chairs, and the whole menagerie of everyday items) are merely derivative. Jonathan Schaffer has defended monism in its current guise, across a range of papers. Each paper looks to add something to the monistic picture of the world. In this paper we argue that monism—as Schaffer describes it—is (...) false. To do so we develop an ‘island universe’ argument against Schaffer's monistic theory. (shrink)
This entry focuses on two of the more historically important monisms: existence monism and priority monism . Existence monism targets concrete objects and counts by tokens. This is the doctrine that exactly one concrete object exists. Priority monism also targets concrete objects, but counts by basic tokens. This is the doctrine that exactly one concrete object is basic, which will turn out to be the classical doctrine that the whole is prior to its parts.
Reflexive monism is, in essence, an ancient view of how consciousness relates to the material world that has, in recent decades, been resurrected in modern form. In this paper I discuss how some of its basic features differ from both dualism and variants of physicalist and functionalist reductionism, focusing on those aspects of the theory that challenge deeply rooted presuppositions in current Western thought. I pay particular attention to the ontological status and seeming “out-thereness” of the phenomenal world and (...) to how the “phenomenal world” relates to the “physical world”, the “world itself”, and processing in the brain. In order to place the theory within the context of current thought and debate, I address questions that have been raised about reflexive monism in recent commentaries and also evaluate competing accounts of the same issues offered by “transparency theory” and by “biological naturalism”. I argue that, of the competing views on offer, reflexive monism most closely follows the contours of ordinary experience, the findings of science, and common sense. (shrink)
Let us call dispositional monism the view that all natural properties have their identities fixed purely by their dispositional features, that is, by the patterns of stimulus and response in which they participate. DM implies that natural properties are pure powers: things whose natures are fully identified by their roles in determining the potentialities of events to cause or be caused. As pure powers, properties are meant to lack quiddities in Black's sense. A property possesses a quiddity just in (...) case its identity is fixed by something independent of the causal–nomological roles it may enter into. Paradigmatically, a categorical property is thought of as a property whose identity is fixed by a quiddity .The key question about the viability of DM as a theory of properties is how properties can be pure powers devoid of any quiddity. Bird provides an answer. According to Bird , ‘all there is to a property is a matter of second-order relations to other properties’. The second-order relation is just the relation that a disposition, its stimulus condition, and a manifestation condition bear to each other. Call this relation SR. SR is not causation or physical necessitation. The latter relations are first-order relations between concrete events. SR is a second-order relation. Its possession by properties explains why events featuring those properties can enter into certain first-order relations of causation or necessitation.Bird's thought then is this: the sense in which properties have their identities fixed purely by their causal–nomological roles is that they are relationally constituted, where the relation doing the constituting is SR. 1 This thesis of relational constitution does not imply that natural properties are themselves relations. Nothing prevents the identity …. (shrink)
Are the sculpture and the mass of gold which permanently makes it up one object or two? In this article, we argue that the monist, who answers ‘one object’, cannot accommodate the asymmetry of material constitution. To say ‘the mass of gold materially constitutes the sculpture, whereas the sculpture does not materially constitute the mass of gold’, the monist must treat ‘materially constitutes’ as an Abelardian predicate, whose denotation is sensitive to the linguistic context in which it appears. We motivate (...) this approach in terms of modal analyses of material constitution, but argue that ultimately it fails. The monist must instead accept a deflationary, symmetrical use of ‘materially constitutes’. We argue that this is a serious cost for her approach. (shrink)
This essay discusses monism and pluralism about two related evaluative notions: welfare, or what makes people better off, and value simpliciter, or what makes the world better. These are stipulatively referred to as 'axiological value'. Axiological value property monists hold that one of these notions is reducible to the other (or else eliminable), while axiological value property pluralists deny this. Substantive monists about axiological value hold that there is just one basic kind of thing that makes our lives or (...) the world better, while substantive pluralists hold that there is more than one such thing. A more radical kind of pluralism holds that each of the plurality of good things is good in its own way, thus raising questions concerning value comparability and compensability. The essay elucidates these theories and discusses important arguments for and against them. (shrink)
In the fifth century BCE, Melissus of Samos developed wildly counterintuitive claims against plurality, change, and the reliability of the senses. This book provides a reconstruction of the preserved textual evidence for his philosophy, along with an interpretation of the form and content of each of his arguments. A close examination of his thought reveals an extraordinary clarity and unity in his method and gives us a unique perspective on how philosophy developed in the fifth century, and how Melissus came (...) to be the most prominent representative of what we now call Eleaticism, the monistic philosophy inaugurated by Parmenides. The rich intellectual climate of Ionian enquiry in which Melissus worked is explored and brought to bear on central questions of the interpretation of his fragments. This volume will appeal to students and scholars of early Greek philosophy, and also those working on historical and medical texts. (shrink)
Scholars have often thought that a monistic reading of Aristotle’s definition of the human good – in particular, one on which “best and most teleios virtue” refers to theoretical wisdom – cannot follow from the premises of the ergon argument. I explain how a monistic reading can follow from the premises, and I argue that this interpretation gives the correct rationale for Aristotle’s definition. I then explain that even though the best and most teleios virtue must be a single virtue, (...) that virtue could in principle be a whole virtue that arises from the combination of all the others. I also clarify that the definition of the human good aims at capturing the nature of human eudaimonia only in its primary case. (shrink)
This article introduces the concept of ‘hyperdimensional neutral monism’ as an elaboration and exploration of neutral monism. Neutral monism states that there is a single type of neutral, ontologically primary ultimate, which both the physical and the mental supervene on, 173-187, 2010). Hyperdimensional neutral monism states that these ultimates exist in a more-than-4-dimensional realm and that the physical world of spacetime is a 4-dimensional aspect of this realm. Consciousness is the localized protrusion of spacetime into more (...) than four dimensions. In order to explain these concepts, I utilize an aquatic metaphor of vortices appearing within a physical ocean. I compare HNM to panqualityism, which is another version of neutral monism, 19–44 2014 & Panpsychism: Contemporary Perspectives, ed. Godehard Bruntrup and Ludwig Jaskolla, pp. 249–282 2016), and cosmopsychism, 389-437, 2015, Shani & Keppler, 2018) which relies on a similar aquatic metaphor. I argue that HNM is a viable means of addressing the mind–body problem and the hard problem of consciousness, 2017, Chalmers, 2019). (shrink)
I argue that the distinction between monism and pluralism about well-being should be understood in terms of explanation: the monist affirms (but the pluralist denies) that whenever two particular things are basically good for you, the explanation of their basic goodness for you is the same. I then consider a number of arguments for monism and a number of arguments for pluralism.
Abstract. The neutral monism suggested by Constantin Rădulescu-Motru was a theoretical frame intended to match the general idea of Kant’s apriorism with the results reached by physics and psychology at the beginning of the 20th Key words: transcendental aesthetic; consciousness in general; empirical consciousness; psychophysical parallelism; phenomenal ontology; scientistic ontology.
I argue that Nietzsche puts forward a pandispositionalist view that can be seen as the conjunction of two basic claims: that powers are the basic constituents of reality, on the one hand, and that the only properties things possess are relational qua dispositional, on the other hand. As I believe that such a view is, at least in part, motivated by his rejection of Kant’s notion of things in themselves, I start by sketching the metaphysics of Kant’s transcendental idealism and (...) by presenting Nietzsche’s critical reaction to it. After that, I start to work out Nietzsche’s pandispositionalist view by considering first the case of physical reality and second that of psychological reality. I then argue that in both cases that view does not conflict with Nietzsche’s naturalism. In the last part of the paper I explore how his notion of will to power fits into such a pandispositionalist picture. Here, I shall argue, some serious tension does arise, for the claim that Nietzsche sometimes makes to the effect that the will to power is a fundamental physical force seems to clash with central aspects of his mature thought. However, whereas he repeatedly entertains that claim in his unpublished notes, it is far from clear that he ever meant to endorse it in his published work. Thus, I conclude that the available textual evidence only justifies attributing to Nietzsche the kind of pandispositionalist view spelled out in the first sections of the present paper, and not also the further claim that the will to power is a fundamental physical force. (shrink)
Consequentialists often assume rational monism: the thesis that options are always made rationally permissible by the maximization of the selfsame quantity. This essay argues that consequentialists should reject rational monism and instead accept rational pluralism: the thesis that, on different occasions, options are made rationally permissible by the maximization of different quantities. The essay then develops a systematic form of rational pluralism which, unlike its rivals, is capable of handling both the Newcomb problems that challenge evidential decision theory (...) and the unstable problems that challenge causal decision theory. (shrink)
In this article, I discuss how Leibniz’s first correspondence with Malebranche from early 1676 can shed new light on the notorious “all-things-are-one”-passage found in the Quod ens perfectissimum sit possibile from late 1676—a passage that has been taken as an expression of monism or Spinozism in the young Leibniz. The correspondence with Malebranche provides a deeper understanding of Leibniz’s use of the notions of “real distinction” and “separability” in the ATOP. This forms the background for a discussion of Leibniz’s (...) commitment to the monist position expounded in the ATOP. Thus, on the basis of a close analysis of Leibniz’s use of these key terms in the Malebranche correspondence, I provide two possible, and contrary, interpretations of the ATOP, namely, a “non-commitment account” and a “commitment account.” Finally, I explain why I consider the commitment account to be the more compelling of the two. (shrink)
Concern about two problems runs through the work of davidson: the problem of accounting for the "explanatory force" of rational explanations, and the problem posed for materialism by the apparent anomalousness of psychological events. davidson believes that his view of mental causation, imbedded in his theory of "anomalous monism," can provide satisfactory answers to both questions. however, it is argued in this paper that davidson's program contains a fundamental inconsistency; that his metaphysics, while grounding the doctrine of anomalous (...) class='Hi'>monism, makes impossible a successful response to the problem of explanatory force in terms of a causal theory of action. (shrink)
This paper raises a challenge to Jonathan Schaffer's priority monism. I contend that monism may be true at the actual world but fail to hold as a matter of metaphysical necessity, contrary to Schaffer's view that monism, if true, is necessarily true. My argument challenges Schaffer for his reliance on contingent physical truths in an argument for a metaphysically necessary conclusion. A counterexample in which the actual laws of physics hold but the physical history of the universe (...) is different shows that priority monism is contingently true at best. I suggest some general lessons for discussion of metaphysical dependence. (shrink)
Contemporaries often reject epiphenomenalism out of hand, while Russellian Monism is regarded as worthy of further development. It is argued here that this difference of attitudes is indefensible, because the easy rejection of EPI is due to its violating a certain Causal Intuition, and RM implicitly violates that same intuition. An enriched version of RM mitigates the violation, but the same mitigation results if we make a parallel enrichment of EPI. If RM and EPI are approached on a level (...) playing field, it is not obvious which will prove to be the better view. (shrink)
Jonathan Schaffer distinguishes two sorts of monism. Existence monists say that only one object exists: The World. Priority monists admit the existence of The World’s parts, but say that their features are derivative from the properties of The World. Both have trouble explaining the features of statespace, the set of possibilities available to The World.
In dealing with concern for fellow human beings, sentient animals, and the enviroment, Christopher D. Stone suggests that a single agent adopt a different ethical theory---e.g., Kant’s, Bentham’s, Leopold’s---for each domain. Ethical theories, however, and their attendant rules and principles are embedded in moral philosophies. Employing Kant’s categorical imperative in this case, Bentham’s hedonic caIculus in that, and Leopold’s land ethic in another, a single agent would therefore have either simultaneously or cyclically to endorse contradictory moral philosophies. Instead, I suggest (...) that different and sometimes conflicting duties and obligations are generated by an agent’s membership in multiple moral communities. Peter Wenz, Gary Varner, Andrew Brennan, Anthony Weston, and Eugene Hargrove, among others, variously misunderstand either what is at issue in the monism versus pluralism debate in environmental ethics or my suggested communitarian altemative to the sort of pluralism that Stone recommends. (shrink)
This paper provides an initial, multidimensional map of the complex relationships among consciousness, mind, brain, and the external world in a way that both follows the contours of everyday experience and the findings of science. It then demonstrates how this reflexive monist map can be used to evaluate the utility and resolve some of the oppositions of the many other 'isms' that currently populate consciousness studies. While no conventional, one-dimensional 'ism' such as physicalism can do justice to this web of (...) relationships, physicalism, functionalism, dualism, neutral monism, and dual-aspect monism can all be seen to provide useful ways of understanding different aspects of the relationships among consciousness, mind, brain, and the external world when these are viewed in either a first- or a third-person way from within this web of relationships by sentient creatures such as ourselves. For example, physicalism and functionalism provide a useful understanding of consciousness, mind, brain, and the external world when viewed from a third-person perspective, while neutral monism provides a useful way of understanding first- versus third-person views of external phenomena. On the other hand, dual-aspect monism provides a useful way of understanding first- versus third-person views of mind, including eastern versus western views of mind. Dual-aspect monism also provides a useful understanding of the 'unconscious ground of being' that gives rise to, supports, and embeds all these observable phenomena. For an integrated understanding one needs to understand how these phenomena and relationships combine into an integrated whole. (shrink)
The book revives the neutral monism of Mach, James, and Russell and applies the updated view to the problem of redefining physicalism, explaining the origins of sensation, and the problem of deriving extended physical objects and systems from an ontology of events.
According to Lewis, mereology is the general and exhaustive theory of ontological composition, and every contingent feature of the world supervenes upon some fundamental properties instantiated by minimal entities. A profound analogy can be drawn between these two basic contentions of his metaphysics, namely that both can be intended as a denial of emergentism. In this essay, we study the relationships between Humean supervenience and two philosophical spin-offs of mereological monism: the possibility of gunk and the thesis of composition (...) as identity. In a gunky scenario, there are no atoms and, thus, some criteria alternative to mereological atomicity must be introduced in order to identify the bearers of fundamental properties; this introduction creates a precedent, which renders the restriction of the additional criteria to gunky scenarios arbitrary. On the other hand, composition as identity either extends the principle of indiscernibility of identicals to composition or is forced to replace indiscernibility with a surrogate; both alternatives lead to the postulation of a symmetric kind of supervenience which, in contrast to Humean supervenience, does not countenance a privileged level. Both gunk and composition as identity, thus, display a tension with Humean supervenience. (shrink)
Monism is roughly the view that there is only one fundamental entity. One of the most powerful argument in its favor comes from quantum mechanics. Extant discussions of quantum monism are framed independently of any interpretation of the quantum theory. In contrast, this paper argues that matters of interpretation play a crucial role when assessing the viability of monism in the quantum realm. I consider four different interpretations: modal interpretations, Bohmian mechanics, many worlds interpretations, and wavefunction realism. (...) In particular, I extensively argue for the following claim: several interpretations of QM do not support monism at a more serious scrutiny, or do so only with further problematic assumptions, or even support different versions of it. (shrink)
Priority monism is roughly the view that the universe is the only fundamental object, that is, a concrete object that does not depend on any other concrete object. Schaffer, the main advocate of PM, claims that PM is compatible with dependence having two different directions: from parts to wholes for subcosmic wholes, and from whole to parts for the cosmic whole. Recently it has been argued that this position is untenable. Given plausible assumptions about dependence, PM entails that dependence (...) has only one direction, it always goes from wholes to parts. One such plausible assumption is a principle of Isolation. I argue that, given all extant accounts of dependence on the market, PM entails No Isolation. The argument depends upon a particular feature of the dependence relation, namely, necessitation and its direction. In the light of this, I contend that the argument is important, insofar as it suggests that we should distinguish dependence from other cognate notions, e.g. grounding. Once this distinction is made, I suggest we should also distinguish between two different notions of fundamentality that might turn out to be not-coextensive. (shrink)
Russellian monism offers a distinctive perspective on the relationship between the physical and the phenomenal. For example, on one version of the view, phenomenal properties are the categorical bases of fundamental physical properties, such as mass and charge, which are dispositional. Russellian monism has prominent supporters, such as Bertrand Russell, Grover Maxwell, Michael Lockwood, and David Chalmers. But its strengths and shortcomings are often misunderstood. In this paper we try to eliminate confusions about the view and defend it (...) from criticisms. We present its core and distinguish different versions of it. We then compare these versions with traditional theories, such as physicalism, dualism, and idealism. We also argue that the knowledge argument and the conceivability argument are consistent with Russellian monism and that existing arguments against the view, such as the argument from weirdness, are not decisive. We conclude that Russellian monism is an attractive view that deserves serious consideration. (shrink)
A growing movement in contemporary philosophy of mind is looking back on Indian thought to gain new insights into the problem of consciousness. This paper weighs the prospects of thinking about mentality through the lenses of Śaṅkaran Advaita Vedānta. To start, I outline micropsychist and cosmopsychist accounts of consciousness, introduce Śaṅkaran monism, and describe a potential reason of attraction of the framework over micropsychist and cosmopsychist alternatives. I then show that the eliminativist commitments of the view threaten to yield (...) a self-defeating account of ordinary experience, and that Advaitins took the accommodation of the issue to be beyond the reach of rational inquiry. Finally, I discuss how the analytical debate over Śaṅkaran monism might proceed based on these premises. (shrink)
Davidson’s anomalous monism, his argument for the identity between mental and physical event tokens, has been frequently attacked, usually demanding a higher degree of physicalist commitment. My objection runs in the opposite direction: the identities inferred by Davidson from mental causation, the nomological character of causality and the anomaly of the mental are philosophically problematic and, more dramatically, incompatible with his famous argument against the third dogma of empiricism, the separation of content from conceptual scheme. Given the anomaly of (...) the mental and the absence of psychophysical laws, there are no conceptual resources to relate mental and physical predicates. We fall in the third dogma if we claim that the very same token event is mental and physical. One of the premises must be rejected: I will claim that we do not need a law to subsume cause and effect to be entitled to speak of causation. Davidson has never offered an argument to back this premise. Against such a dogma I will sketch some ideas pointing towards a different conception of causality, singularist and undetachable from explanatory practices. (shrink)
Exotic ontologies are all the rage. Distant from common sense and often science as well, views like mereological essentialism, nihilism, and fourdimensionalism appeal to our desire to avoid arbitrariness, anthropocentrism, and metaphysical conundrums.1 Such views are defensible only if they are materially adequate, only if they can “reconstruct” the world of common sense and science. (No disrespect to the heroic metaphysicians of antiquity, but this world is not just an illusion.) In the world of common sense and science, bicycles survive (...) changes in their parts, billiard balls strike one another, and nothing travels faster than light. The mereological essentialist denies the rst, but offers this replacement: “there exist successions of numerically distinct, but appropriately related, bicycles with different parts” (Chisholm, , chapter ). The nihilist denies the second, but offers this replacement: “there exist X s and Y s such that the X s are arranged billiard-ball-wise, the Y s are also arranged billiard-ball-wise, and the X s strike the Y s”.2 The four-dimensionalist denies the third, but offers this replacement: “no sequences of matter-stages that are related by genidentity travel faster than light”.3 There is room for disagreement over what exactly “reconstruction” amounts to, but at a minimum: when a metaphysical theory reconstructs ordinary sentences φ1. . . as replacement sentences ψ1. . . , ordinary and scienti c evidence must not refute the view that, strictly speaking, it is ψ1. . . rather than φ1. . . that are true. The metaphysician needs reconstruction in order to face the tribunal of experience. An intriguing newcomer to the contemporary scene is the ancient doctrine of monism, the claim that “reality is one”.4 I will argue that, contrary to.. (shrink)
Three basic positions regarding the nature of fundamental properties are: dispositional monism, categorical monism and the mixed view. Dispositional monism apparently involves a regress or circularity, while an unpalatable consequence of categorical monism and the mixed view is that they are committed to quidditism. I discuss Alexander Bird's defence of dispositional monism based on the structuralist approach to identity. I argue that his solution does not help standard dispositional essentialism, as it admits the possibility that (...) two distinct dispositional properties can possess the same stimuli and manifestations. Moreover, Bird's argument can be used to support the mixed view by relieving it of its commitment to quidditism. I briefly analyse an alternative defence of dispositional essentialism based on Leon Horsten's approach to the problem of circularity and impredicativity. I conclude that the best option is to choose Bird's solution but amend the dispositional perspective on properties. According to my proposal, the essences of dispositions are determined not directly by their stimuli and manifestations but by the role each property plays in the structure formed by the stimulus/manifestation relations. (shrink)
According to Existence Monism, there is only one concrete object in existence—the world. This view is to be contrasted with Existence Pluralism, which posits multiple concrete objects. In a recent Analysis paper, Sider (Analysis 2007; 67:1–7) presents arguments against Existence Monism claiming that there are evident features of statespace, which the monist is at a loss to explain. Given that the pluralist can give plausible and satisfying explanations of these features, we have good reason to favor pluralism over (...)monism, or so Sider supposes. This article constitutes a response to Sider’s claims. I will show how, by appealing to the world’s properties as opposed to the world’s parts, the monist is able to explain these features of statespace perfectly well. (shrink)