This paper explores the impact of quantification into predicate position on the metaphysics of properties, arguing that two familiar debates about properties are fundamentally altered by recasting them in a second-order setting. Two theories of properties are outlined, differing over whether the existence of properties is expressed using first-order or second-order quantifiers. It is argued that the second-order theory: provides good reason to regard debate about the locations of properties as contentless; resolves debate about whether properties are particulars or universals (...) in favour of universals. (shrink)
There are two broad approaches to theorizing about ontological categories. Quineans use first-order quantifiers to generalize over entities of each category, whereas type theorists use quantification on variables of different semantic types to generalize over different categories. Does anything of import turn on the difference between these approaches? If so, are there good reasons to go type-theoretic? I argue for positive answers to both questions concerning the category of propositions. I also discuss two prominent arguments for a Quinean conception of (...) propositions, concerning their role in natural language semantics and apparent quantification over propositions within natural language. It will emerge that even if these arguments are sound, there need be no deep question about Quinean propositions’ true nature, contrary to much recent work on the metaphysics of propositions. (shrink)
This paper evaluates the argument for the contradictoriness of unity, that be- gins Priest’s recent book One. The argument is seen to fail because it does not adequately differentiate between different forms of unity. This diagnosis of the argument’s failure is used as a basis for two consistent accounts of unity. The paper concludes by arguing that reality contains two absolutely fundamental and unanalysable forms of unity, which are in principle presupposed by any theory of anything. These fundamental forms of (...) unity are closely related to the unity of propositions and facts. (shrink)
This paper outlines a novel solution to the problem of the many and a conception of ordinary objects that implies it. The solution is that many collections of particles can simultaneously constitute a single object. The proposed conception of ordinary objects maintains that they are fundamentally subjects of change: the changes an object is able to survive explain its constitution.
This paper uses the resources of higher-order logic to articulate a Fregean conception of predicate reference, and of word-world relations more generally, that is immune to the concept horse problem. The paper then addresses a prominent style of expressibility problem for views of broadly this kind, versions of which are due to Linnebo, Hale, and Wright.
Unger has recently argued that if you are the only thinking and experiencing subject in your chair, then you are not a material object. This leads Unger to endorse a version of Substance Dualism according to which we are immaterial souls. This paper argues that this is an overreaction. We argue that the specifically Dualist elements of Unger’s view play no role in his response to the problem; only the view’s structure is required, and that is available to Unger’s opponents. (...) We outline one such non-Dualist view, suggest how to resolve the dispute, respond to some objections, and argue that ours is but one of many views that survive Unger’s challenge. All these views are incompatible with microphysicalism. So Unger’s discussion does contain an insight: if you are the only conscious subject in your chair, then microphsyicalism is false. Unger’s mistake was to infer Substance Dualism from this; for microphysicalism is not the only alternative to Dualism. (shrink)
Semantic theories based on a hierarchy of types have prominently been used to defend the possibility of unrestricted quantification. However, they also pose a prima facie problem for it: each quantifier ranges over at most one level of the hierarchy and is therefore not unrestricted. It is difficult to evaluate this problem without a principled account of what it is for a quantifier to be unrestricted. Drawing on an insight of Russell’s about the relationship between quantification and the structure of (...) predication, we offer such an account. We use this account to examine the problem in three different type-theoretic settings, which are increasingly permissive with respect to predication. We conclude that unrestricted quantification is available in all but the most permissive kind of type theory. (shrink)
This chapter outlines a novel solution to the problem of the many, according to which objects can be simultaneously constituted by many collections of particles. To support this proposal, it develops a conception of objects that implies it. On this view, objects are fundamentally subjects of change: the changes an object can survive are explanatorily prior to its constitution. From this perspective, PM arises, and objects are multiply constituted because the changes that objects survive are too coarse-grained to distinguish among (...) the many different collections of particles that are candidates for constituting the relevant object. (shrink)
Humans have a much longer juvenile period (weaning to first reproduction, 14 or more years) than their closest relatives (chimpanzees, 8 years). Three explanations are prominent in the literature. (a) Humans need the extra time to learn their complex subsistence techniques. (b) Among mammals, since length of the juvenile period bears a constant relationship to adult lifespan, the human juvenile period is just as expected. We therefore only need to explain the elongated adult lifespan, which can be explained by the (...) opportunity for older individuals to increase their fitness by providing for grandchildren. (c) The recent model by Kaplan and colleagues suggests that longevity and investment in "embodied capital" will coevolve, and that the need to learn subsistence technology contributed to selection for our extended lifespan.We report experiments designed to test the first explanation: human subsistence technology takes many years to learn, and spending more time learning it gives reproductive benefits that outweight lost time. Taking away some of this time should lead to deficits in efficiency. We paid Hadza foragers to participate in tests of important subsistence skills. We compared efficiency of males and females at digging tubers. They differ greatly in time spent practicing digging but show no difference in efficiency. Children who lost "bush experience" by spending years in boarding school performed no worse at digging tubers or target archery than those who had spent their entire lives in the bush. Climbing baobab trees, an important and dangerous skill, showed no change with age among those who attempted it. We could show no effects of practice time.These findings do not support what we label "the practice theory," but we discuss ways in which the theory could be defended; for example, some as-yet-untested skill may be greatly impaired by loss of a few years of the juvenile period. Our data also show that it is not safe to assume that increases in skill with age are entirely due to learning or practice; they may instead be due to increases in size and strength. (shrink)
This paper evaluates Stalnaker’s recent attempt to outline a realist interpretation of possible worlds semantics that lacks substantive metaphysical commitments. The limitations of his approach are used to draw some more general lessons about the non-representational artefacts of formal representations. Three key conclusions are drawn. Stalnaker’s account of possible worlds semantics’ non-representational artefacts does not cohere with his modal metaphysics. Invariance-based analyses of non-representational artefacts cannot capture a certain kind of artefact. Stalnaker must treat instrumentally those aspects of possible worlds (...) formalism governing the interaction between quantification and modality, under any analysis whatsoever of non-representational artefacts. (shrink)
This paper outlines a heterodox and largely unexplored conception of objecthood according to which the notion of an individual object is a determinable. §1 outlines the view. §2 argues that the view is incompatible with a natural analysis of kind membership and, as a consequence, undermines the Quinean distinction between ontology and ideology. The view is then used to alleviate one source of Quinean hostility towards non-trivial restrictions on de re possibility in §3, and to elucidate Fine’s neo-Aristoteltian, non-modal conception (...) of essence in §4. §5 concludes. (shrink)
Central to discussion of supervaluationist accounts of vagueness is the extent to which they require revisions of classical logic and if so, whether those revisions are objectionable. In an important recent Journal of Philosophy article, J.R.G. Williams presents a powerful challenge to the orthodox view that supervaluationism is objectionably revisionary. Williams argues both that supervaluationism is non-revisionary and that even if it were, those revisions would be unobjectionable. This note shows that his arguments for both claims fail.
According to one prominent strand of mainstream logic and metaphysics, identity is indistinguishability. Priest has recently argued that this permits counterexamples to the transitivity and substitutivity of identity within dialetheic metaphysics, even in paradigmatically extensional contexts. This paper investigates two alternative regimentations of indistinguishability. Although classically equivalent to the standard regimentation on which Priest focuses, these alternatives are strictly stronger than it in dialetheic settings. Both regimentations are transitive, and one satisfies substitutivity. It is argued that both regimentations provide better (...) candidates to occupy the core theoretical role of numerical identity than does the standard regimentation. (shrink)