In "How Do We Know It Is Now Now?" David Braddon-Mitchell (Analysis 2004) develops an objection to the thesis that the past is real but the future is not. He notes my response to this, namely that the past, although real, is lifeless and (a fortiori?) lacking in sentience. He argues, however, that this response, which I call 'the past is dead hypothesis', is not tenable if combined with 'special relativity'. My purpose in this reply is to argue that, on (...) the contrary, 'special relativity' supports the thesis that the future is unreal. (shrink)
The book comprises an enquiry into what quantum theory shows us about the world. Its aim is to sort out which metaphysical speculations are tenable and which are not. After an initial discussion of realism, the author provides a non-technical exposition of quantum theory and a criticism of the proposal that quantum theory should make us revise our beliefs about logic. He then discusses the various problems and puzzles which make quantum theory both interesting and perplexing. The text defends three (...) markedly different speculations. The first of them, the "determinate particle speculation", is shown to involve both a view which proposes determinate locations and velocities for particles and the opposite. With the "wave speculation" particles are seen as different again: here the professor proposes a radically original view of particles as polywaves. In the final chapter, he compares the competing particle theories and shows that two ostensibly opposing views are in fact compatible. He goes on to discuss the implications of quantum theory for our understanding of persons. The work assumes no prior knowledge of quantum theory and confines the necessary mathematical details to end-notes. (shrink)
Typical structural universals are not just the mereological sum of their constituents. Hence, there is the Structure Problem of explaining this non-mereological structure. The Instantiation Problem is that the predicate "U is instantiated by x, y, etc., in that order" is ill-suited to be a primitive, unanalyzed predicate. The proposed solution to these problems is based on the observation that if universal U is said to supervene upon universals V, W, etc., then it is the instantiation of U that supervenes (...) on the instantiation of V, W, etc. Assuming there are few subvenient universals, which is admittedly a speculation, their instantiation may be explained in ways that would be uneconomic if there were too many. (shrink)
In this paper I present the Discrete Space-Time Thesis, in a way which enables me to defend it against various well-known objections, and which extends to the discrete versions of Special and General Relativity with only minor difficulties. The point of this presentation is not to convince readers that space-time really is discrete but rather to convince them that we do not yet know whether or not it is. Having argued that it is an open question whether or not space-time (...) is discrete, I then turn to some possible empirical evidence, which we do not yet have. This evidence is based on some slight differences between commonly occurring differential equations and their discrete analogs. (shrink)
Chris Heathwood requires the sentence 'Caesar was conscious when he crossed the Rubicon' to be made true in much the same way as 'Caesar was wet when he crossed the Rubicon'. Yet because the Growing Block theorist is committed to the zombiedom of the past,the former is not made true by past objects, although the latter is. Heathwood demands a uniform account of the grounding of truths and he will be given a uniform account. But we should exercise care in (...) deciding just what sort of uniformity is appropriate. As Russell so famously pointed out a century ago the subject/predicate form of a sentence can be misleading. Likewise although the two sentences 'Caesar is conscious' and 'Caesar is wet' have similar subject/predicate forms they have, I say, different kinds of truth-conditions and hence their past tense transformations also have different kinds of truth-conditions. The uniformity I endorse is that in both cases the grounds for the past tense transformation are the same as the grounds the present tense versions used to have when they were true. (shrink)
This paper explores the mereology of structural universals, using the structural richness of a non-classical mereology without unique fusions. The paper focuses on a problem posed by David Lewis, who using the example of methane, and assuming classical mereology, argues against any purely mereological theory of structural universals. The problem is that being a methane molecule would have to contain being a hydrogen atom four times over, but mereology does not have the concept of the same part occurring several times. (...) This paper takes up the challenge by providing mereological analysis of three operations sufficient for a theory of structural universals: Reflexive binding, i.e. identifying two of the places of a universal; Existential binding, i.e. the language-independent correlate of an existential quantification; and Conjunction. (shrink)
This paper concerns the structure of appearances. I argue that to be appeared to in a certain way is to be aware of one or more universals. Universals therefore function like the sense-data, once highly favoured but now out of fashion. For instance, to be appeared to treely, in a visual way, is to be aware of the complex relation, being tree-shaped and tree-coloured and being in front of, a relation of a kind which could be instantiated by a material (...) object and a perceiver, which is thus instantiated in the veridical case but not in the non-veridical. (shrink)
In his “Are Properties, Particular, Universal, or Neither?” Javier Cumpa argues that science not metaphysics explains how properties are instantiated. I accept this conclusion provided physics can be stated using rather few primitive predicates. In addition, he uses his scientific theory of instantiation to argue for Neutralism, his thesis that the “tie” between properties and their instances implies neither that properties are particular nor that they are universals. Neutralism, I claim, is a thesis that realist about universals have independent reason (...) to accept and their opponents have reason to reject. So, neutralism is not neutral on the topic of whether properties are universals. Nor is Cumpa’s Theory of Instantiation as naturalistic as he claims. I argue that although compatible with Ontological Naturalism, his theory provides a precedent for the non-naturalistic emergence of mental properties. Finally, I argue that because his theory requires a simple physics it presupposes a more rationalist epistemology than that of Methodological Naturalism. (shrink)
Part One of this paper is a case against classical mereology and for Heyting mereology. This case proceeds by first undermining the appeal of classical mereology and then showing how it fails to cohere with our intuitions about a measure of quantity. Part Two shows how Heyting mereology provides an account of sets and classes without resort to any nonmereological primitive.
Introduction -- Overview -- Theism, simplicity, and properly anthropocentric metaphysics -- Materialism and dualism -- The power, knowledge, and motives of the primordial God -- The existence of the primordial God -- God changes -- Understanding evil -- The Trinity -- The Incarnation -- Concluding remarks.
This paper concerns the structure of any spatially extended things, including regions of space or spacetime. I shall use intuitions about the quantity of extended things to argue for a dichotomy: either a given finite extended thing is point-free gunk, that is, it has no points as parts, or it is made of grit, that is there are only finitely many points.
Theism can be defended against the Philosophical Problem of Evil, provided one rejects the Principle of Perfectionism, without relying on the Greater Good Defence or, unless one is a libertarian, the Free-Will Defence.A corollary of the All Good Possible Worlds Defence and the No Best Possible World Defence, is that God’s goodness need not determine God’s choice to create. The reasons, if any, which God has are relevant to the Theological Problem of Evil but not to the Philosophical Problem of (...) Evil. (shrink)
Armstrong holds the Supervenience Theory of instantiation, namely that the instantiation of universals by particulars supervenes upon what particulars and what universals there are, where supervenience is stipulated to be explanatory or dependent supervenience. I begin by rejecting the Supervenience Theory of instantiation. Having done so it is then tempting to take instantiation as primitive. This has, however, an awkward consequence, undermining one of the main advantages universals have over tropes. So I examine another account hinted at by Armstrong. This (...) is the Operator Theory of instantiation, by which I mean the theory that universals are operators, and that a particular instantiates a monadic universal because the universal operates on the particular, resulting in the state of affairs. On this theory the state of affairs supervenes on the instantiation rather than vice versa. In the second part of the paper I develop this theory of universals as operators, including an account of structural universals, which are useful for accounts of modality and of mathematics. (shrink)
As a preliminary, I shall clarify the kenotic position by arguing that a position which is often called kenotic is actually a quasi-kenotic version of the classical account, according to which Jesus had normal divine powers but chose not to exercise them. After this preliminary, I discuss three problems with the strict kenotic account. The first is that kenosis conflicts with the standard list of attributes considered essential to God. The second problem is posed by the Exaltation, namely the resumption (...) by Jesus of normal divine powers after his life on Earth. Finally there is the problem of how it was possible for Jesus to be the same person as the pre-incarnate Word. My solutions to these problems constitute my defence of a strict kenotic account of the Incarnation. (shrink)
My enquiry will be within the scope of two suppositions. The first is that Space is continuous, not discrete. The second is that we are to adopt realism about either points or regions or both. That does not, however, preclude a choice of categories—substance or property—for these entities. Thus we could think of either regions or points as properties of the things in those regions or at those points. Alternatively, we could think of regions or points as substances which themselves (...) have properties. (shrink)
According to a number of popular intentionalist theories in philosophy of mind, phenomenology is essentially and intrinsically intentional: phenomenal properties are identical to intentional properties of a certain type, or at least, the phenomenal character of an experience necessarily fixes a type of intentional content. These views are attractive, but it is questionable whether the reasons for accepting them generalize from sensory-perceptual experience to other kinds of experience: for example, agentive, moral, aesthetic, or cognitive experience. Meanwhile, a number of philosophers (...) have argued for the existence of a proprietary phenomenology of thought, so-called cognitive phenomenology. There are different ways of understanding the relevant sense of “proprietary,” but on one natural interpretation, phenomenology is proprietary to thought just in case enjoying an experience with that phenomenal character is inseparable from thinking an occurrent, conscious thought. While one may have instances of thought without CP experience, one will never find CP independent of thought. So the former justifiably can be said to “belong to” the latter. The purpose of this paper is to argue that these intentionalist and cognitive phenomenology views make surprisingly uncomfortable bedfellows. I contend that the combination of the two views is incompatible with our best theories of how our concepts are structured. So cognitive phenomenology cannot determine the contents of our thoughts. (shrink)
In this chapter I assume that we accept, perhaps reluctantly, general facts, that is states of affairs corresponding to universal generalizations. I then argue that, without any addition, this ontology provides us with physical necessities, and moreover with various grades of physical necessity, including the strongest grade, which I call absolute physical necessity. In addition there are consequences for our understanding of time. For this account, which I call the Mortmain Theory, provides a defence of No Futurism against an otherwise (...) serious objection due to David Armstrong. In addition the Mortmain theory enables me to argue against the ‘‘Parmenidean’’ or Block Universe position that future and past are both real. (shrink)
Contemporary epistemology of religion may conveniently be treated as adebate over whether evidentialism applies to thebelief-component of religious faith, or whether we should insteadadopt a more permissive epistemology. Here evidentialism is theinitially plausible position that a belief is justified only if``it is proportioned to the evidence''. For example, supposea local weather forecaster has noticed that over the two hundred yearssince records began a wetter than average Winter is followed in 85% ofcases by a hotter than average Summer. Then, assuming for (...) simplicitythat the records are reliable, the forecaster is justified in believingwith less than full confidence that this Winter, which is wetter thanaverage, will be followed by a hotter than average Summer. Butevidentialism implies that it would not be justified to have fullbelief, that is belief with 100% confidence. Again, consider someonewho has a hunch that this Summer will be hotter than averagebut cannot justify that hunch further. Hunches are not consideredevidence, so the belief is not considered justified. If, however, thehuncher can cite a good track record of hunches about the weather thathave turned out correct then the belief would be consideredjustified. For although hunches are not considered evidence, memoriesabout past hunches are, as are the observations that corroborated thepast hunches. (shrink)
THE ARTICLE IS AN ATTACK ON THE MYSTERY OR REDUCTION DILEMMA FOR SUPERVENIENCE. THIS IS THE DILEMMA THAT EITHER SUPERVENIENCE IS MYSTERIOUS OR THE SUPERVENIENT IS REDUCIBLE TO THE SUBVENIENT. A NONMYSTERIOUS, NONREDUCTIVE ACCOUNT OF SUPERVENIENCE IS PROPOSED, BASED ON THE METAPHYSICAL SPECULATION THAT SUPERVENIENT TERMS AND PHRASES APPLY TO OBJECTS WHOSE INTRINSIC NATURES THEMSELVES HAVE AN APPROPRIATE PROPERTY. SINCE THIS IS A PROPERTY OF A NATURE IT IS A PROPERTY OF A PROPERTY, THAT IS, A GRAND-PROPERTY. SUPERVENIENCE FOLLOWS FROM (...) THIS HYPOTHESIS QUITE NONMYSTERIOUSLY, BY APPEAL TO THE INDISCERNIBILITY OF IDENTICALS. THE METAPHYSICAL SPECULATIONS REQUIRED MIGHT SEEM EXTRAVAGANT. A LARGE PART OF THE PAPER IS DESIGNED TO SHOW THAT THEY ARE NOT EXTRAVAGANT. (shrink)
As part of his Constructive Empiricism, Van Fraassen commends agnosticism about the existence of the unobservable entities posited by the physical sciences. This position of Scientific Agnosticism is compatible with the acceptance, in his sense, of Science. For to accept Science is, he says, to accept it as empirically adequate, but to refrain from deciding between the realistically interpreted theory and the as-if variant, according to which the observations are as if the theory is correct but the theory is not (...) correct. My purpose in this paper is to argue, against van Fraassen, that we—or at least most of us—should embrace Scientific Realism not Scientific Agnosticism. (shrink)
Consider the things that exist—the entities—and let us suppose they are mereologically structured, that is, some are parts of others. The project of ontology within the bounds of bare mereology use this structure to say which of these entities belong to various ontological kinds, such as properties and particulars. My purpose in this paper is to defend the most radical section of the project, the mereological theory of the exemplification of universals. Along the way I help myself to several hypotheses: (...) the existence of merely possible worlds; that particulars have thisnesses; and that mereology is far from classical. Moreover, the way I characterize instantiation might be judged too complicated to be plausible. At the end of the paper, I reply to these objections based on complexity. (shrink)
This paper is a contribution to the programme of moderating Social Trinitarianism to achieve a fairly orthodox result. I follow Swinburne in relying heavily on divine thisnessless and in the important speculation that the Trinity arose from a primordial 'unitarian' God. In this paper I explain why I disagree with Swinburnes's account of how the Trinity came into being and I propose an alternative in which the primordial God fissions into three divine persons for the sake of a loving community.
The book is drawn from the Tarner lectures, delivered in Cambridge in 1993. It is concerned with the ultimate nature of reality, and how this is revealed by modern physical theories such as relativity and quantum theory. The objectivity and rationality of science are defended against the views of relativists and social constructionists. It is claimed that modern physics gives us a tentative and fallible, but nevertheless rational, approach to the nature of physical reality. The role of subjectivity in science (...) is examined in the fields of relativity theory, statistical mechanics and quantum theory, and recent claims of an essential role for human consciousness in physics are rejected. Prospects for a 'Theory of Everything' are considered, and the related question of how to assess scientific progress is carefully examined. (shrink)
Mereotopology is that branch of the theory of regions concerned with topological properties such as connectedness. It is usually developed by considering the parthood relation that characterizes the, perhaps non-classical, mereology of Space (or Spacetime, or a substance filling Space or Spacetime) and then considering an extra primitive relation. My preferred choice of mereotopological primitive is interior parthood . This choice will have the advantage that filters may be defined with respect to it, constructing “points”, as Peter Roeper has done (...) (“Region-based topology”, Journal of Philosophical Logic , 26 (1997), 25–309). This paper generalizes Roeper’s result, relying only on mereotopological axioms, not requiring an underlying classical mereology, and not assuming the Axiom of Choice. I call the resulting mathematical system an approximate lattice , because although meets and joins are not assumed they are approximated. Theorems are proven establishing the existence and uniqueness of representations of approximate lattices, in which their members, the regions, are represented by sets of “points” in a topological “space”. (shrink)
Conceivability is, I say, prima facie evidence for possibility. Hence, we may count the cost of theories about possibility by listing the ways in which, according to the theory in question, something conceivable is said nonetheless to be impossible. More succinctly we may state a principle, Hume's razor to put alongside Ockham's. Hume's razor says that necessities are not to be multiplied more than necessary. In this paper I count the cost of David Lewis's modal realism, showing that many of (...) the objections are replied to by Lewis only at the cost of multiplying necessities. (shrink)
Several authors, including Stephen Law in this journal, have argued that the case for an evil God is (about) as strong as for a good God. In this article I take up the challenge on behalf of theists who, like Richard Swinburne, argue for an agent of unrestricted power and knowledge as the ultimate explanation of all contingent truths. I shall argue that an evil God is much less probable than a good one. I do so by (1) distinguishing the (...) analogical predication of 'good' or 'evil' of God from the literal predication, (2) interpreting 'acting in a morally good way' to mean 'acting like a good consequentialist', and (3) relying on an axiarchist thesis about agency that is congenial to theists and perhaps even presupposed by theism. (shrink)
In his recent paper in Sophia , ‘Theodicy: The Solution to the Problem of Evil, or Part of the Problem?’ Nick Trakakis endorses the position that theodicy, whether intellectually successful or not, is a morally obnoxious enterprise. My aim in this paper is to defend theodicy from this accusation. I concede that God the Creator is a moral monster by human standards and neither to be likened to a loving parent nor imitated. Nonetheless, God is morally perfect. What is abhorrent (...) is not tough-minded theodicy but the hubris of imitating God. I further claim that it is no accident that the same sort of objection is made to act utilitarianism as to tough-minded theodicy if the latter is misinterpreted as implying a guide for human action. (shrink)
In this paper I argue against Realism about Possible Worlds by showing how it leads to a counter-intuitive scepticism about the rationality of Occam’s razor. This can be thought of as a transcendental argument from Logic to Metaphysics. It should be contrasted with a straightforward application of Logic to Metaphysics, as when we apply Occam’s razor to reject a category of entities which we judge to be redundant.
Reality and Humean Supervenience confronts the reader with central aspects in the philosophy of David Lewis, whose work in ontology, metaphysics, logic, probability, philosophy of mind, and language articulates a unique and systematic foundation for modern physicalism.
Does contemporary science tend to favour pantheism over its rivals or vice versa? Here I take the rivals to be the other members of a five-point spectrum: atheism, polytheism, pantheism, panentheism, and transcendent theism. And the features of contemporary science that I shall consider are: that the Universe has only existed for a finite time; that the Universe is expanding; that there are ubiquitous and pervasive laws of nature; and the ‘fine tuning’ required for life.
In this paper I have had two aims. One was to describe a number of pantheist or near pantheist religious attitudes, including the influence of many worlds theories. The other was to indicate some of the ways we might arrive at Pantheism.One final remark: when assessing religious positions the intellectual grounds for accepting or rejecting them should, I suggest, be whether they make sense of things, that is, enable us to understand. The ways to Pantheism, or to near Pantheism, should (...) therefore be interpreted as part of a comparison between ways of understanding. (shrink)
In this paper I provide an ontology for the co‐variant vectors, contra‐variant vectors and tensors that are familiar from General Relativity. This ontology is developed in response to a problem that Timothy Maudlin uses to argue against universals in the interpretation of physics. The problem is that if vector quantities are universals then there should be a way of identifying the same vector quantity at two different places, but there is no absolute identification of vector quantities, merely a path‐relative one.My (...) solution to the problem is to use the mathematical characterization of vectors as differential operators on scalar fields. On the proposed hypothesis a scalar field is a conjunctive state of affairs, and vector and tensor fields are relations instantiated by scalar fields. (shrink)