I explore some of the ways that assumptions about the nature of substance shape metaphysical debates about the structure of Reality. Assumptions about the priority of substance play a role in an argument for monism, are embedded in certain pluralist metaphysical treatments of laws of nature, and are central to discussions of substantivalism and relationalism. I will then argue that we should reject such assumptions and collapse the categorical distinction between substance and property.
Causation is at once familiar and mysterious. Neither common sense nor extensive philosophical debate has led us to anything like agreement on the correct analysis of the concept of causation, or an account of the metaphysical nature of the causal relation. Causation: A User's Guide cuts a clear path through this confusing but vital landscape. L. A. Paul and Ned Hall guide the reader through the most important philosophical treatments of causation, negotiating the terrain by taking a set of (...) examples as landmarks. They clarify the central themes of the debate about causation, and cover questions about causation involving omissions or absences, preemption and other species of redundant causation, and the possibility that causation is not transitive. Along the way, Paul and Hall examine several contemporary proposals for analyzing the nature of causation and assess their merits and overall methodological cogency.The book is designed to be of value both to trained specialists and those coming to the problem of causation for the first time. It provides the reader with a broad and sophisticated view of the metaphysics of the causal relation. (shrink)
The first major treatment of skepticism in Islam, this book explores the critical role of skeptical thinking in the development of theology in Islam. It examines the way key thinkers in classical Islam faced perplexing questions about the nature of God and his relation to the world, all the while walking a fine line between belief in God's message as revealed in the Qur'an, and the power of the mind to discover truths on its own. Skepticism in Classical Islam reveals (...) how doubt was actually an integral part of scholarly life at this time. Skepticism is by no means synonymous with atheism. It is, rather, the admission that one cannot convincingly demonstrate a truth claim with certainty, and Islam's scholars, like their counterparts elsewhere, acknowledged such impasses, only to be inspired to find new ways to resolve the conundrums they faced. Whilst their conundrums were unique, their admission of the limits of knowledge shares much with other scholarly traditions. Seeking to put Islam on the map of the broader study of the history of scepticism, this book will be of interest to scholars and students of Religion, History and Philosophy. (shrink)
Critics of contemporary metaphysics argue that it attempts to do the hard work of science from the ease of the armchair. Physics, not metaphysics, tells us about the fundamental facts of the world, and empirical psychology is best placed to reveal the content of our concepts about the world. Exploring and understanding the world through metaphysical reflection is obsolete. In this paper, I will show why this critique of metaphysics fails, arguing that metaphysical methods used to make claims about the (...) world are similar to scientific methods used to make claims about the world, but that the subjects of metaphysics are not the subjects of science. Those who argue that metaphysics uses a problematic methodology to make claims about subjects better covered by natural science get the situation exactly the wrong way around: metaphysics has a distinctive subject matter, not a distinctive methodology. The questions metaphysicians address are different from those of scientists, but the methods employed to develop and select theories are similar. In the first section of the paper, I will describe the sort of subject matter that metaphysics tends to engage with. In the second section of the paper, I will show how metaphysical theories are classes of models and discuss the roles of experience, common sense and thought experiments in the construction and evaluation of such models. Finally, in the last section I will discuss the way these methodological points help us to understand the metaphysical project. Getting the right account of the metaphysical method allows us to better understand the relationship between science and metaphysics, to explain why doing metaphysics successfully involves having a range of different theories, to understand the role of thought experiments involving fictional worlds, and to situate metaphysical realism in a scientifically realist context. (shrink)
The question I want to explore is whether experience supports an antireductionist ontology of time, that is, whether we should take it to support an ontology that includes a primitive, monadic property of nowness responsible for the special feel of events in the present, and a relation of passage that events instantiate in virtue of literally passing from the future, to the present, and then into the past.
It seems natural to choose whether to have a child by reflecting on what it would be like to actually have a child. I argue that this natural approach fails. If you choose to become a parent, and your choice is based on projections about what you think it would be like for you to have a child, your choice is not rational. If you choose to remain childless, and your choice is based upon projections about what you think it (...) would be like for you to have a child, your choice is not rational. This suggests we should reject our ordinary conception of how to make this life-changing decision, and raises general questions about how to rationally approach important life choices. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that the spatiotemporalist approach way of modeling the fundamental constituents, structure, and composition of the world has taken a wrong turn. Spatiotemporalist approaches to fundamental structure take the fundamental nature of the world to be spatiotemporal: they take the category of spatiotemporal to be fundamental. I argue that the debates over the nature of the fundamental space in the physics show us that (i) the fact that it is conceivable that the manifest world could be (...) exactly as it appears to us, even though spatiotemporal entities are not fundamental, means that a central premise of spatiotemporalism, that we may assume, given ordinary experience, that the world is fundamentally spatiotemporal, is false. (ii) Spatiotemporalism must be seen as a contingent, a posteriori physical truth. Finally, (iii) I argue that a metaphysically deeper conclusion follows from the debate over the nature of the fundamental space. The debate in physics over which sort of space is the fundamental space suggests that physicists have discovered that, even if a spacetime is an actual constituent of the world-space category, there is a world-space category that is more fundamental than the category of spacetime. (shrink)
A general conceptual framework for large-scale neocortical dynamics based on data from many laboratories is applied to a variety of experimental designs, spatial scales, and brain states. Partly distinct, but interacting local processes (e.g., neural networks) arise from functional segregation. Global processes arise from functional integration and can facilitate (top down) synchronous activity in remote cell groups that function simultaneously at several different spatial scales. Simultaneous local processes may help drive (bottom up) macroscopic global dynamics observed with electroencephalography (EEG) or (...) magnetoencephalography (MEG). A local/global dynamic theory that is consistent with EEG data and the proposed conceptual framework is outlined. This theory is neutral about properties of neural networks embedded in macroscopic fields, but its global component makes several qualitative and semiquantitative predictions about EEG measures of traveling and standing wave phenomena. A more general “metatheory” suggests what large-scale quantitative theories of neocortical dynamics may be like when more accurate treatment of local and nonlinear effects is achieved. The theory describes the dynamics of excitatory and inhibitory synaptic action fields. EEG and MEG provide large-scale estimates of modulation of these synaptic fields around background levels. Brain states are determined by neuromodulatory control parameters. Purely local states are dominated by local feedback gains and rise and decay times of postsynaptic potentials. Dominant local frequencies vary with brain region. Other states are purely global, with moderate to high coherence over large distances. Multiple global mode frequencies arise from a combination of delays in corticocortical axons and neocortical boundary conditions. Global frequencies are identical in all cortical regions, but most states involve dynamic interactions between local networks and the global system. EEG frequencies may involve a “matching” of local resonant frequencies with one or more of the many, closely spaced global frequencies. Key Words: binding problem; cell assemblies; coherence; EEG; limit cycles; neocortical dynamics; pacemakers; phase locking; spatial scale; standing waves; synchronization. Footnotes1 The relationship between the synaptic action fields proposed in the target article and cell assemblies is clarified with Figure R1 (p. 416) of the Response. (This figure was not available to Commentators. (shrink)
I defend a one category ontology: an ontology that denies that we need more than one fundamental category to support the ontological structure of the world. Categorical fundamentality is understood in terms of the metaphysically prior, as that in which everything else in the world consists. One category ontologies are deeply appealing, because their ontological simplicity gives them an unmatched elegance and spareness. I’m a fan of a one category ontology that collapses the distinction between particular and property, replacing it (...) with a single fundamental category of intrinsic characters or qualities. We may describe the qualities as qualitative charactersor as modes, perhaps on the model of Aristotelian qualitative (nonsubstantial) kinds, and I will use the term “properties” interchangeably with “qualities”. The qualities are repeatable and reasonably sparse, although, as I discuss in section 2.6, there are empirical reasons that may suggest, depending on one’s preferred fundamental physical theory, that they include irreducibly intensive qualities. There are no uninstantiated qualities. I also assume that the fundamental qualitative natures are intrinsic, although physics may ultimately suggest that some of them are extrinsic. On my view, matter, concrete objects, abstract objects, and perhaps even spacetime are constructed from mereological fusions of qualities, so the world is simply a vast mixture of qualities, including polyadic properties (i.e., relations). This means that everything there is, including concrete objects like persons or stars, is a quality, a qualitative fusion, or a portion of the extended qualitative fusion that is the worldwhole. I call my view mereological bundle theory. (shrink)
I argue that we can understand the de se by employing the subjective mode of presentation or, if one’s ontology permits it, by defending an abundant ontology of perspectival personal properties or facts. I do this in the context of a discussion of Cappelen and Dever’s recent criticisms of the de se. Then, I discuss the distinctive role of the first personal perspective in discussions about empathy, rational deference, and self-understanding, and develop a way to frame the problem of lacking (...) prospective access to your future self as a problem with your capacity to imaginatively empathize with your future selves. (shrink)
I claim that Mill has a theory of poetry which he uses to reconcile nineteenth century associationist psychology, the tendency of the intellect to dissolve associations, and the need for educated members of society to desire utilitarian ends. The heart of the argument is that Mill thinks reading poetry encourages us to feel the feelings of others, and thus to develop pleasurable associations with the pleasurable feelings of others and painful associations with the painful feelings of others. Once the associations (...) are developed, they are supported and maintained by our natural capacity for sympathy and by external elements in society, and provide motivation for the pursuit of utilitarian ends. Further, the additional support causes the associations to be strengthened to the extent that they come to be seen as ‘natural and necessary’, and as such are immune from the dissolving force of the intellect. (shrink)
In “What you can’t expect when you’re expecting,” I argue that, if you don’t know what it’s like to be a parent, you cannot make this decision rationally—at least, not if your decision is based on what you think it would be like for you to become a parent. My argument hinges on the idea that becoming a parent is a transformative experience. This unique type of experience often transforms people in a deep and personal sense, and in the process, (...) changes their preferences. In section 1, I will explain transformative experience in terms of radical first-personal epistemic and self change. In section 2, I’ll explain the notion of subjective value that I use to develop the decision problem. In section 3, I will discuss the way we ordinarily combine our introspective assessments with testimony and evidence. In section 4, I will discuss the problems for rational decision-making. In section 5, I will explore the problem of first-personally transformed future selves. In section 6, I will engage with the main themes and arguments and ideas of the authors of the papers contributed to this volume. (shrink)
This article motivates a shift in certain strands of the debate over legitimate roles for nonepistemic values in scientific practice from investigating what is involved in taking cognitive attitudes like acceptance toward an empirical hypothesis to looking at a social understanding of assertion, the act of communicating that hypothesis. I argue that speech act theory’s account of assertion as a type of doing makes salient legitimate roles nonepistemic values can play in scientific practice. The article also shows how speech act (...) theory might provide a framework for fruitfully extending aspects of the social and pragmatic turns in the philosophy of science. (shrink)
I address two related questions: first, what is the best theory of how objects have de re modal properties? Second, what is the best defence of essentialism given the variability of our modal intuitions? I critically discuss several theories of how objects have their de re modal properties and address the most threatening antiessentialist objection to essentialism: the variability of our modal intuitions. Drawing on linguistic treatments of vagueness and ambiguity, I show how essentialists can accommodate the variability of modal (...) intuitions while holding that objects have their modal properties independently of contexts. (shrink)
What is the nature of children's trust in testimony? Is it based primarily on evidential correlations between statements and facts, as stated by Hume, or does it derive from an interest in the trustworthiness of particular speakers? In this essay, we explore these questions in an effort to understand the developmental course and cognitive bases of children's extensive reliance on testimony. Recent work shows that, from an early age, children monitor the reliability of particular informants, differentiate between those who make (...) true and false claims and keep that differential accuracy in mind when evaluating new information from these people. We argue that this selective trust is likely to involve the mentalistic appraisal of speakers rather than surface generalizations of their behavior. Finally, we review the significance of children's deference to adult authority on issues of naming and categorization. In addition to challenging a purely inductive account of trust, these and other findings reflect a potentially rich set of tools brought by children to the task of learning from people's testimony. (shrink)
The self can be understood in objective metaphysical terms as a bundle of properties, as a substance, or as some other kind of entity on our metaphysical list of what there is. Such an approach explores the metaphysical nature of the self when regarded from a suitably impersonal, ontological perspective. It explores the nature and structure of the self in objective reality, that is, the nature and structure of the self from without. This is the objective self. I am taking (...) a different approach. In addition to objective reality, which is usually understood and explored from an impersonal, quasi-observational and metaphysically realist perspective, we can also explore the nature and structure of subjective reality. The nature and structure of subjective reality is defined by the nature and structure of first-personal, conscious experience. Subjective reality is as real as objective reality, and a metaphysical realist such as myself can endorse the existence of both kinds of ontology. The mental states that, as experienced from the first-personal or subjective perspective, capture the nature and structure of subjective reality, are included in objective reality. The questions to explore in a subjective ontology of the self concern the nature and structure of the self from the first-personal or subjective perspective, that is, the nature and structure of the self from within. This is the subjective self. (shrink)
Many faces of consciousness -- Ethics, religion, and the identity of self -- States of mind -- Why hearts don't love and brains don't pump -- EEG : a window on the mind -- Dynamic patterns as shadows of thought -- Networks, waves, and resonant binding -- The limits of science : What do we really know? -- Modern physics, cosmology, and consciousness -- The weird behavior of quantum systems -- Ontological interpretations of quantum mechanics -- Does the brain create (...) the mind? (shrink)
A commitment to truth requires that you are open to receiving new evidence, even if that evidence contradicts your current beliefs. You should be open to changing your mind. However, this truism gives rise to the paradox of empathy. The paradox arises with the possibility of mental corruption through transformative change, and has consequences for how we should understand tolerance, disagreement, and the ability to have an open mind. I close with a discussion of how understanding this paradox provides a (...) new explanation for a certain kind of standoff between the believer and the skeptic with regard to religious belief. (shrink)
Recent work in the history of philosophy of science details the Kantianism of philosophers often thought opposed to one another, e.g., Hans Reichenbach, C.I. Lewis, Rudolf Carnap, and Thomas Kuhn. Historians of philosophy of science in the last two decades have been particularly interested in the Kantianism of Reichenbach, Carnap, and Kuhn, and more recently, of Lewis. While recent historical work focuses on recovering the threatened-to-be-forgotten Kantian themes of early twentieth-century philosophy of science, we should not elide the differences between (...) the Kantian strands running throughout this work. In this paper, I disentangle a few of these strands in the work of Reichenbach and Lewis focusing especially on their theories of relativized, constitutive a priori principles in empirical knowledge. In particular, I highlight three related differences between Reichenbach and Lewis concerning their motivations in analyzing scientific knowledge and scientific practice, their differing conceptions of constitutivity, and their relativization of constitutive a priori principles. In light of these differences, I argue Lewis’s Kantianism is more similar to Kuhn’s Kantianism than Reichenbach’s, and so might be of more contemporary relevance to social and practice-based approaches to the philosophy of science. (shrink)
I summarize the main argument of Transformative Experience (OUP 2014). The book develops familiar examples from classical philosophical debates, as well as original examples, to argue that an agent’s decision to undergo a transformative experience—an experience constituted by radical personal and epistemic change for the agent—must either be authentic or irrational, but not both. The Precis of Transformative Experience walks the reader through the main ideas involved in epistemically and personally transformative experiences, the problems they pose for rational decision-making, and (...) discusses a number of key original examples of transformative experiences. (shrink)
: Skepticism as doubts about religious knowledge played a significant role in the intellectual reflection of the fourth and fifth Islamic centuries, a period of considerable plurality within Islam on many levels. Such skepticism was directed at revealed knowledge that spelled out the customs and norms particular to the Islamic way of life. Doubts were pushed by theologians who, themselves caught within a web of "parity of evidence" between the various schools of Islam, saw little hope of verifying the superiority (...) of Muslim ways over those of other communities, and Muslim intellectuals who viewed the particular religio-moral practices of Islam as shamefully atavistic and primitive, seeking instead to table "visible" religion for an esoterically conceived one. Against such detractors, a significant scholar of the period, Abū l-Hasan al-'Āmirī, constructed a philosophical defense of exoteric Islam, arguing in Aristotelian terms for the superiority of religio-moral knowledge over philosophical knowledge in light of the greater benefit of the former to the welfare of society and the superiority of Islamic religio-moral knowledge, since, he claims, it squares with logic more than any other communal way of life. The argument, one of many seeking to come to terms with the intellectual vagaries of the day, demonstrates how skepticism pushed scholars to explore more profoundly the nature of religion. In al-'Āmirī's case, his argument, metaphysically based with mystical inclinations, set the stage for later articulations of Islamic religiosity that integrated the human mind into the arena of Islam's revealed way of life. (shrink)
Recent work in philosophy could benefit from paying greater attention to empirical results from cognitive science involving judgments about the nature of our ordinary experience. This paper describes the way that experimental and theoretical results about the nature of ordinary judgments could—and should—inform certain sorts of enquiries in contemporary philosophy, using metaphysics as an exemplar, and hence defines a new way for experimental philosophy and cognitive science to contribute to traditional philosophical debates.
Bundle theory takes objects to be bundles of properties. Some bundle theorists take objects to be bundles of instantiated universals, and some take objects to be bundles of tropes. Tropes are instances of properties: some take instantiated universals to be tropes, while others deny the existence of universals and take tropes to be ontologically fundamental. Historically, the bundling relation has been taken to be a primitive relation, not analyzable in terms of or ontologically reducible to some other relation, and has (...) been variously characterized as, e.g., “compresence,” “concurrence,” or “consubstantiation.” Bertrand Russell (1940) defends compresence of universals, and Hector-Neri Castañeda (1974) defends consubstantiation of universals. John Bacon (1995) defends concurrent tropes and Keith Campbell (1990) defends compresent tropes. Jonathan Schaffer (2001) bucks this trend, endorsing compresence understood as co-location in spacetime, but this brings with it undesireable consequences such as the impossibility of distinguishing between objects (such as electrons or other microentities) with the same location. Mereological bundle theory improves upon traditional bundle theory by taking the primitive relation of bundling to be the more familiar relation of fusing or composing, such that objects are fusions of properties or fusions of property instances. Hence, mereological bundle theorists endorse a property mereology: a mereology where properties or property instances can be parts of objects. An advantage of the approach derives from the fact that standard mereologies take composition to be primitive or define it using a different primitive mereological notion (such as primitive parthood). Thus, taking the basic primitive of bundle theory to be composition can reduce the need for.. (shrink)
Children learn about the world from the testimony of other people, often coming to accept what they are told about a variety of unobservable and indeed counter-intuitive phenomena. However, research on children’s learning from testimony has paid limited attention to the foundations of that capacity. We ask whether those foundations can be observed in infancy. We review evidence from two areas of research: infants’ sensitivity to the emotional expressions of other people; and their capacity to understand the exchange of information (...) through non-verbal gestures and vocalization. We conclude that a grasp of the bi-directional exchange of information is present early in the second year. We discuss the implications for future research, especially across different cultural settings. (shrink)
Children's utterances from late infancy to 3 years of age were examined to infer their conception of knowledge. In Study 1, the utterances of two English-speaking children were analysed and in Study 2, the utterances of a Mandarin-speaking child were analysed – in both studies, for their use of the verb know. Both studies confirmed that know and not know were used to affirm, query or deny knowledge, especially concerning an ongoing topic of conversation. References to a third party were (...) rare. By implication, 2-year-olds have a conception of knowledge that underpins their exchange of information in conversation. Implications for the child's developing theory of mind are discussed. (shrink)
In recent discussions concerning the definition of argument, it has been maintained that the word ‘argument’ exhibits the process-product ambiguity, or an act/object ambigu-ity. Drawing on literature on lexical ambiguity we argue that ‘argument’ is not ambiguous. The term ‘argu-ment’ refers to an object, not to a speech act. We also examine some of the important implications of our argument by considering the question: what sort of abstract objects are arguments?
Our best philosophical and scientific pictures of the world organize material objects into a hierarchy or levels or layers- microparticles at the bottom, molecules, cells, and persons at higher layers. Are objects at higher layers identical to the sums of objects at lower layers that constitute them? (Note that this question is different from the question of whether composition- as opposed to constitution- is identity.).
Counterfactual analyses of causation can provide elegant analyses of many cases of causation. However, they fail to give intuitively correct analyses of cases involving a commonplace variety of late preemptive causation. I argue that a small emendation can solve the problem.
In claiming the independence of theology from science, Ernan McMullin nevertheless saw the danger of separating these disciplines on questions of mutual significance, as his accompanying article “Biology and the Theology of the Human” in this edition of Zygon shows. This paper analyzes McMullin's adoption of emergence as a qualified endorsement of a view that avoids the excesses of both dualism and materialism. I argue that McMullin's distinctive contribution is the conceptual clarification of emergence in the light of a precise (...) understanding of matter, in light of Aristotelian metaphysics and Darwinian theory. As applied to human nature, McMullin retains an Augustinian outlook that sees spirit as emergent in the human body and which posits a credible biblical hermeneutic. I indicate briefly how McMullin's perspective could be fortified by a fuller natural theology. (shrink)
Quentin Smith has argued that the new tenseless theory of time is faced with insurmountable problems and should be abandoned in favour of the tensed theory of time. Smith;s main argument attacks the fundamental premise of the tenseless theory: that tenseless truth conditions for tokens of tensed sentences adequately capture the meaning of tensed sentences. His position is that tenseless truth conditions cannot explain the logical relations between tensed sentences, thus the tensed theory must be accepted. Against Smith, this paper (...) adopts an alternative approach to the explanation of the entailment relations between sentences which contain indexicals. The approach drops the reliance upon tokens and instead relies on the evaluation of sentence types with respect to a context rather than upon actual or possible utterances of tokens of the types. This (new) version of the tenseless theory of time can adequately explain the relevant entailment relations between tensed sentences. (shrink)