Four- Dimensionalism defends the thesis that the material world is composed of temporal as well as spatial parts. This defense includes a novel account of persistence over time, new arguments in favour of the four-dimensional ontology, and responses to the challenges four- dimensionalism faces." "Theodore Sider pays particular attention to the philosophy of time, including a strong series of arguments against presentism, the thesis that only the present is real. Arguments offered in favour of four- dimensionalism include novel arguments based (...) on time travel, the debate between spacetime substantivalists and relationalists, and vagueness. Also included is a comprehensive discussion of the paradoxes of coinciding material objects, and a novel resolution of those paradoxes based on temporal counterpart theory. In conclusion Sider replies to prominent objections to four- dimensionalism, including discussion of the problem of the rotating homogenous disk. (shrink)
In order to perfectly describe the world, it is not enough to speak truly. One must also use the right concepts - including the right logical concepts. One must use concepts that "carve at the joints", that give the world's "structure". There is an objectively correct way to "write the book of the world". Much of metaphysics, as traditionally conceived, is about the fundamental nature of reality; in the present terms, this is about the world's structure. Metametaphysics - inquiry into (...) the status of metaphysical questions - turns on structure. The question of whether ontological, causal, or modal questions are "substantive" is in large part a question of whether the world has ontological, causal, and modal structure - whether quantifiers, causal relations, and modal operators carve at the joints. (shrink)
Mereological nihilism says that there do not exist (in the fundamental sense) any objects with proper parts. A reason to accept it is that we can thereby eliminate 'part' from fundamental ideology. Many purported reasons to reject it - based on common sense, perception, and the possibility of gunk, for example - are weak. A more powerful reason is that composite objects seem needed for spacetime physics; but sets suffice instead.
There will be a few themes. One to get us going: expansion versus contraction. About an object, o, and the region, R, of space(time) in which o is exactly located,1 we may ask: i) must there exist expansions of o: objects in filled superregions2 of R? ii) must there exist contractions of o: objects in filled subregions of..
One often hears a complaint about “bare particulars”. This complaint has bugged me for years. I know it bugs others too, but no one seems to have vented in print, so that is what I propose to do. (I hope also to say a few constructive things along the way.) The complaint is aimed at the substratum theory, which says that particulars are, in a certain sense, separate from their universals. If universals and particulars are separate, connected to each other (...) only by a relation of instantiation, then, it is said, the nature of these particulars becomes mysterious. In themselves, they do not have any properties at all. They are nothing but a pincushion into which universals may be poked. They are Locke’s “I know not what” (1689, II, xxiii, §2); they are Plato’s receptacles (Timaeus 48c–53c); they are “bare particulars”.1 Against substratum theory there is the bundle theory, according to which particulars are just bundles of universals. The substratum and bundle theories agree on much. They agree that both universals and particulars exist. And they agree that a particular in some sense has universals. (I use phrases like ‘particular P has universal U ’ and ‘particular P ’s universals’ neutrally as between the substratum and bundle theories.) But the bundle theory says that a particular is exhaustively composed of (i.e., is a mereological fusion of) its universals. The substratum theory, on the other hand, denies this. Take a particular, and mereologically subtract away its universals. Is anything left? According to the bundle theory, no. But according to the substratum theory, something is indeed left. Call this remaining something a thin particular. The thin particular does not contain the universals as parts; it instantiates them. (shrink)
The intimate relationship between X and Y consists in the existence of (metaphysically) necessary truths correlating their occurrences/existences/instantiations. E would be in some sense “overdetermined” if caused by both X and Y.2 Some philosophers say this would be bad, that this cannot or does not happen, that we should construct theories ruling it out, at least in certain cases.3 But why? Given the necessary truths correlating objects and their parts, objects and events concerning those objects, physical and supervenient mental properties, (...) and so on, X and Y do both seem to be causes of E. Should we say that a baseball.. (shrink)
In , Peter van Inwagen asked a good question. (Asking the right question is often the hardest part.) He asked: what do you have to do to some objects to get them to compose something---to bring into existence some further thing made up of those objects? Glue them together or what?1 Some said that you don’t have to do anything.2 No matter what you do to the objects, they’ll always compose something further, no matter how they are arranged. Thus we (...) learned of the fusion of the coins in our pockets and the Eiffel tower. (shrink)
Some philosophers believe that everyday objects are 4-dimensional spacetime worms, that a person (for example) persists through time by having temporal parts, or stages, at each moment of her existence. None of these stages is identical to the person herself; rather, she is the aggregate of all her temporal parts.1 Others accept “three dimensionalism”, rejecting stages in favor of the notion that persons “endure”, or are “wholly present” throughout their lives.2 I aim to defend an apparently radical third view: not (...) only do I accept person stages; I claim that we are stages.3 Likewise for other objects of our everyday ontology: statues are statue-stages, coins are coin-stages, etc. At one level, I accept the ontology of the worm view. I believe in spacetime worms, since I believe in temporal parts and aggregates of things I believe in. I.. (shrink)
Persistence through time is like extension through space. A road has spatial parts in the subregions of the region of space it occupies; likewise, an object that exists in time has temporal parts in the various subregions of the total region of time it occupies. This view — known variously as four dimensionalism, the doctrine of temporal parts, and the theory that objects “perdure” — is opposed to “three dimensionalism”, the doctrine that things “endure”, or are “wholly present”.1 I will (...) attempt to resolve this dispute in favor of four dimensionalism by means of a novel argument based on considerations of vagueness. But before argument in this area can be productive, I believe we must become much clearer than is customary about exactly what the dispute is, for the usual ways of formulating the dispute are flawed, especially where three dimensionalism is concerned. (shrink)
Logic begins but does not end with the study of truth and falsity. Within truth there are the modes of truth, ways of being true: necessary truth and contingent truth. When a proposition is true, we may ask whether it could have been false. If so, then it is contingently true. If not, then it is necessarily true; it must be true; it could not have been false. Falsity has modes as well: a false proposition that could not have been (...) true is impossible or necessarily false; one that could have been true is merely contingently false. The proposition that some humans are over seven feet tall is contingently true; the proposition that all humans over seven feet tall are over six feet tall is necessarily true; the proposition that some humans are over seven feet tall and under six feet tall is impossible, and the proposition that some humans are over nine feet tall is contingently false. Of these four modes of truth, let us focus on necessity, plus a fifth: possibility. A proposition is possible if it is or could have been true; hence propositions that are either necessarily true, contingently true, or contingently false are possible. Notions that are similar to the modes of truth in being concerned with what might have been are called modal. Dispositions are modal notions, for example the disposition of fragility. Relatedly, there are counterfactual conditionals, for example “if this glass were dropped, it would break.” And the notion of supervenience is modal.1 But let us focus here on necessity and possibility. Modal words are notoriously ambiguous (or at least context-sensitive2). I may reply to an invitation to give a talk in England by saying “I can’t come; I have to give a talk in California the day before”. This use of “can’t” is perfectly appropriate. But it would be equally appropriate for me to say that I could cancel my talk in California (although that would be rude) and give the talk in England instead. What I cannot do is give both talks.. (shrink)
In my book Four-dimensionalism (chapter 4, section 9), I argued that fourdimensionalism – the doctrine of temporal parts – follows from several other premises, chief among which is the premise that existence is never vague. Kathrin Koslicki (preceding article) claims that the argument fails since its crucial premise is unsupported, and is dialectically inappropriate to assume in the context of arguing for four-dimensionalism. Since the relationship between four-dimensionalism and the non-vagueness of existence is not perfectly transparent, I think the argument (...) would retain some interest even if the premise were wholly unsupported; it would show that anyone who accepts that premise (which seems reasonable enough to me though perhaps not to others) must accept four-dimensionalism. Still, Koslicki is right that my defense of the premise was thin. So I will now try to do better. The new defense will have further premises, which could ultimately be rejected by opponents of four-dimensionalism, and so the argument retains the form: anyone who thinks certain things (which seem reasonable enough to me though perhaps not to others) must believe four-dimensionalism. But that’s metaphysics for you. I should also say that, in addition to the material on vague existence, there is more in Koslicki’s excellent paper which I cannot discuss here. I agree with much of it;1 and where we disagree there are formidable challenges, some of which I hope to address in the future. (shrink)
Presentism is the doctrine that only the present is real. Since ordinary talk and thought are full of quantification over non-present objects, presentists are in a familiar predicament: in their unreflective moments they apparently commit themselves to far more than their ontological scruples allow. A familiar response is to begin a project of paraphrase. Truths appearing to quantify over problematic entities are shown, on analysis, to not involve quantification over those entities after all. But I think that we might be (...) better off abandoning paraphrase altogether. I suggest a project of discovering “underlying truths” rather than paraphrases. I will explore this strategy as applied to defending presentism, but my hope is that lovers of desert landscapes everywhere will herein find words of comfort. (shrink)
While many are impressed with the utility of possible worlds in linguistics and philosophy, few can accept the modal realism of David Lewis, who regards possible worlds as sui generis entities of a kind with the concrete world we inhabit.1 Not all uses of possible worlds require exotic ontology. Consider, for instance, the use of Kripke models to establish formal results in modal logic. These models contain sets often regarded for heuristic reasons as sets of “possible worlds”. But the “worlds” (...) in these sets can be anything at all; they can be numbers, or people, or sh. The set of worlds, together with the accessibility relation and the rest of the model, is used as a purely formal structure.2 One can even go beyond establishing results about formal systems and apply Kripke models to English, as Charles Chihara has recently argued.3 Chihara shows, for instance, how to use Kripke models (plus primitive modal notions) to give an account of validity for English modal sentences. In other cases worlds are not really needed at all. It is often vivid to give a counterexample thus: “There is a possible world in which P. Since your theory implies that in all worlds, not-P, your theory is wrong.” But the counterexample could just as easily be given using modal operators: “Possibly, P. Since your theory implies that it is necessary that not-P, your theory is wrong.”. (shrink)
The existence and importance of supervenience principles for identity across times and worlds have been noted, but insufficient attention has been paid to their precise nature. Such attention is repaid with philosophical dividends. The issues in the formulation of the supervenience principles are two. The first involves the relevant variety of supervenience: that variety is global, but there are in fact two versions of global supervenience that must be distinguished. The second involves the subject matter: the names “identity over time” (...) and “identity across worlds” are misnomers, for in neither case is identity at issue. The philosophical dividends then follow. Nathan Salmon’s argument that identity over time needs no “grounds” in matters of qualitative fact can be answered, as can an argument offered by many, that coincident objects would require objectionably ungrounded differences in identities across times and worlds. (shrink)
When is there no fact of the matter about a metaphysical question? When multiple candidate meanings are equally eligible, in David Lewis's sense, and fit equally well with ordinary usage. Thus given certain ontological schemes, there is no fact of the matter whether the criterion of personal identity over time is physical or psychological. But given other ontological schemes there is a fact of the matter; and there is a fact of the matter about which ontological scheme is correct.
"Composition as identity" is the radical claim that the whole is identical to the parts - radical because it implies that a single object can be identical to many objects. Composition as identity, together with auxiliary assumptions, implies the principle of "collapse": an object is one of some things if and only it is part of the fusion of those things. Collapse has important implications: the comprehension principle of plural logic must be restricted, plural definite descriptions such as "the Cheerios (...) in the bowl" are empty, Composition as identity does not preclude emergent properties (contrary to what McDaniel has argued), and drastic simplifications of mereological and logical ideology are extensionally available. (shrink)
According to an old and attractive view, vagueness must be eliminated before semantic notions — truth, implication, and so on — may be applied. This view was accepted by Frege, but is rarely defended nowadays.1 This..
We often speak of an object being composed of various other objects. We say that the deck is composed of the cards, that a road is the sum total of its sections, that a house is composed of its walls, ceilings, floors, doors, etc. Suppose we have some material objects. Here is a philosophical question: what conditions must obtain for those objects to compose something? In his recent book Material Beings, Peter van Inwagen addresses this question, which he calls the (...) ‘special composition question’; his answer is:1 (1) For any material objects X , the X s compose something iff the activity of the X s constitutes a life, or there is only one of the Xs. Additionally, he accepts a simpler thesis that follows from (1):2 (2) Every material object is either a mereological atom or a living thing, where a mereological atom is an object lacking proper parts. (2) may seem radical. If it is true then there are no tables, chairs, planets, protons, galaxies, gas stations, etc. But van Inwagen does not hold it lightly— there are serious difficulties with alternate views. Moreover, he claims that.. (shrink)
Eternalists say that non-present entities (for instance dinosaurs) exist; presentists say that they do not. But some sceptics deny that this debate is genuine, claiming that presentists simply represent eternalists' quantifiers over non-present entities in different notation. This scepticism may be refuted on purely logical grounds: one of the leading candidate ‘presentist quantifiers’ over non-present things has the inferential role of a quantifier. The dispute over whether non-present objects exist is as genuine and non-verbal as the dispute over whether there (...) is life on other planets. (shrink)
Nonreductive materialism is the dominant position in the philosophy of mind. The global supervenience of the mental on the physical has been thought by some to capture the central idea of nonreductive materialism: that mental properties are ultimately dependent on, but irreducible to, physical properties. But Jaegwon Kim has argued that global psychophysical supervenience does not provide the materialist with the desired dependence of the mental on the physical, and in general that global supervenience is too weak to be an (...) interesting dependence relation. We argue that these arguments are unsound. Along the way, we clarify the relationship between global and strong supervenience, and show clearly what sort of dependence global supervenience provides. (shrink)
Think of “locations” very abstractly, as positions in a space, any space. Temporal locations are positions in time; spatial locations are positions in (physical) space; particulars are locations in quality space. Should we reify locations? Are locations entities? Spatiotemporal relation- alists say there are no such things as spatiotemporal locations; the fundamental spatial and temporal facts involve no locations as objects, only the instantiation of spatial and temporal relations. The denial of locations in quality space is the bundle theory, according (...) to which particulars do not exist; facts apparently about particulars really concern relations between universals. A “space”, in our abstract sense, consists of a set of objects, together with properties and relations defined on those objects. The objects are the locations of the space, and the distribution of the properties and relations over the locations defines the space’s structure. All spaces are thus quality spaces; when the relations are thought of as spatiotemporal then the space is also a spatiotemporal space. By not reifying locations one denies that these abstract spaces isomorphically represent the real world. The real world does in some sense have a structure that can be non-isomorphically represented by a space (or, more likely, a class of spaces), but the locations in those spaces do not correspond to anything real. We will examine modal considerations on reifying locations. Denying the existence of spatiotemporal locations excludes certain possibilities for spatiotemporal reality. Denying the existence of qualitative locations excludes certain possibilities for qualitative space. In each case the excluded possibilities are pre-analytically possible. Some of the possibilities can be reinstated by modifying the locationless theories, but at the cost of an unattractive holism. Do these modal considerations mandate postulating locations? That depends on whether modal intuition can teach us about the actual world.. (shrink)
NeoFregeanism is an intriguing but elusive philosophy of mathematical existence. At crucial points, it goes cryptic and metaphorical. I want to put forward an interpretation of neoFregeanism—perhaps not one that actual neoFregeans will embrace—that makes sense of much of what they say. NeoFregeans should embrace quantifier variance.
In "Sider on Existence" (Nous, 2007), David Liebesman and Matti Eklund argue that my "indeterminacy argument", according to which quantifiers are never vague, clashes with my "naturalness argument", according to which quantifiers "carve at the joints". There is, I argue, no outright inconsistency. But Liebesman and Eklund have shown that my arguments are not as independent as it may have appeared. The best defense of the indeterminacy argument is via the naturalness argument.
A property, F, is maximal i?, roughly, large parts of an F are not themselves Fs. Maximal properties are typically extrinsic, for their instantiation by x depends on what larger things x is part of. This makes trouble for a recent argument against microphysical superve- nience by Trenton Merricks. The argument assumes that conscious- ness is an intrinsic property, whereas consciousness is in fact maximal and extrinsic.
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.
Statues and lumps of clay are said by some to coincide - to be numerically distinct despite being made up of the same parts. They are said to be numerically distinct because they differ modally. Coincident objects would be non-modally indiscernible, and thus appear to violate the supervenience of modal properties on nonmodal properties. But coincidence and supervenience are in fact consistent if the most fundamental modal features are not properties, but are rather relations that are symmetric as between coincident (...) entities, relations such as "opposite-possibly surviving being squashed". (shrink)
In no possible world does a time traveler succeed in killing herearlier self before she ever enters a time machine. So if many,many time travelers went back in time trying to kill theirunprotected former selves, the time travelers would fail inmany strange, coincidental ways, slipping on bananapeels, killing the wrong victim, and so on. Such cases producedoubts about time travel. How could ``coincidences'' beguaranteed to happen? And wouldn't the certainty of coincidentalfailure imply that time travelers are not free to killtheir (...) earlier selves? But if so, what would inhibit theirfreedom? Despite initial appearances, these and other doubtsmay be answered: the possibility of time travel survives yetanother challenge. (shrink)
An intrinsic property, as David Lewis puts it, is a property "which things have in virtue of the way they themselves are", as opposed to an extrinsic property, which things have "in virtue of their relations or lack of relations to other things".1 Having long hair is an intrinsic property; having a long-haired brother is not. Intuitive as this notion is (and valuable in doing philosophy, I might add), it seems to resist analysis. Analysis, that is, to “quasi-logical” notions such (...) as necessity, spatiotemporal location: using stronger tools, Lewis has given an analysis of intrinsicality that I take to be roughly correct. Lewis initially described intrinsic properties in his 1983 paper "Extrinsic Properties" as follows. (shrink)
According to four dimensionalism, the material world is divided into momentary stages. In a four-dimensional world, which objects are the ordinary things, the things we normally name and quantify over? Aggregates of stages, according to most four-dimensionalists, but according to stage theorists (or exdurantists), ordinary objects are instead to be identified with the stages themselves. (A temporal counterpart theoretic account of de re temporal predication is then given.) This paper argues that a stage theorist is best positioned to accept David (...) Lewis's argument from temporary intrinsics for four-dimensionalism, since stage theorists are the only four-dimensionalists who attribute monadic temporary intrinsic properties to ordinary things. (shrink)
In the past fifteen years or so there has been a lot of attention paid to theories of “sparse” universals, particularly because of the work of D. M. Armstrong. These theories are of particular interest to those of us concerned with the distinction between natural and non-natural properties, since, as David Lewis has observed, it seems possible to analyze naturalness in terms of sparse universals. Moreover, Armstrong claims that we should conceive of universals as being “immanent” as opposed to “transcendent”, (...) and if universals are immanent then, as we will see, there is pressure to admit they are sparse as well. But I will argue that neither of these alleged reasons to accept a sparse conception of universals succeeds: the outlook for a fully general analysis of naturalness in terms of universals is not good, and the apparent advantages of immanence over transcendence are illusory. (shrink)
Eli Hirsch has argued in many places that non-commonsensical ontological claims just couldn't be true, since there is strong metasemantic pressure to charitably interpret natural language---correct interpretations must, unless all else is highly unequal, count a sentence (especially a perceptual sentence) as true if ordinary speakers regard it as being obviously true. In previous work I replied that ontologists can stipulatively introduce a new language, "Ontologese", that is exempt from this pressure toward charity. Hirsch has recently objected to this proposal; (...) this paper is my reply. (shrink)
Logic for Philosophy is an introduction to logic for students of contemporary philosophy. It is suitable both for advanced undergraduates and for beginning graduate students in philosophy. It covers (i) basic approaches to logic, including proof theory and especially model theory, (ii) extensions of standard logic that are important in philosophy, and (iii) some elementary philosophy of logic. It emphasizes breadth rather than depth. For example, it discusses modal logic and counterfactuals, but does not prove the central metalogical results for (...) predicate logic (completeness, undecidability, etc.) Its goal is to introduce students to the logic they need to know in order to read contemporary philosophical work. It is very user-friendly for students without an extensive background in mathematics. In short, this book gives you the understanding of logic that you need to do philosophy. (shrink)
Some say that presentism precludes time travel into the past since it implies that the past does not exist, but this is a bad argument. Presentism says that only currently existing entities exist, and that the only properties and relations those entities instantiate are those that they currently instantiate. This does in a sense imply that the past does not exist. But if that precluded time travel into the past, it would also preclude the one-second-per-second “time travel” into the future (...) that is ordinary persistence, for presentism accords the future the same ontological status as the past. Instead of quantifying over past and future objects and events, presentists speak a tensed language, regimented with primitive sentential tense operators. For a presentist, a persisting person is one who did exist, and who will exist. Regimented, these claims become: it was the case that she exists, and it will be the case that she exists. The presentist may then apply the same strategy to time travel proper. Suppose Katy travels back to the time of the dinosaurs. The presentist can say that it was the case two hundred million years ago that Katy exists. This claim, which consists of a present-tense statement “Katy exists” embedded within the past tense operator it was the case two hundred million years ago that, is exactly the sort of statement about time that a presentist is free to accept. This has all been made clear by Simon Keller and Michael Nelson ( ). In addition to rebutting the bad argument against the consistency of presentism and time travel, Keller and Nelson argue positively in favor of consistency by showing how to translate David Lewis’s ( ) account of time travel into the presentist’s tensed language. The appearance of con ict between presentism and time travel, they argue, is due only to the fact that most defenders of time travel (for example Lewis) have tended to phrase their defenses in nonpresentist terms. As much as I applaud their rebuttal of the bad argument, I wish to sound a note of caution.. (shrink)
I defend counterpart theory against post-Kripkean objections. Trenton Merricks objects that no construction of ersatz counterparts is uniquely and intrinsically suitable; I reply that metaphysical constructions need not have these features. Sarah Moss refutes my solution (from "All the world's a stage") to the problem of timeless counting for temporal counterpart theory; I offer a new solution. Hazen, Fara, Williamson, and others have objected that counterpart theory generates an unacceptable logic for an actuality operator; I attempt to give a better (...) semantics. (shrink)
Millianism says that the semantic content of a name (or indexical) is simply its referent. This thesis arises within a general, powerful research program, the propositionalist approach to semantics, which sets as a goal for philosophical semantics an assignment of entities – semantic contents – to bits of language, culminating in the assignment of propositions to sentences. Communication, linguistic competence, truth conditions, and other semantic phenomena are ultimately explained in terms of semantic contents.
According to Timothy Williamson, we should accept the simplest and most powerful second-order modal logic, and as a result accept an ontology of "bare possibilia". This general method for extracting ontology from logic is salutary, but its application in this case depends on a questionable assumption: that modality is a fundamental feature of the world.
Elizabeth Barnes and Mari Mikkola raise the important question of whether certain recent approaches to metaphysics exclude feminist metaphysics. My own approach does not, or so I argue. I do define “substantive” questions in terms of fundamentality; and the concepts of feminist metaphysics are nonfundamental. But my definition does not count a question as being nonsubstantive simply because it involves nonfundamental concepts. Questions about the causal structure of the world, including the causal structure of the social world, are generally substantive (...) because their answers are not sensitive to any alternate, equally good conceptual choices we could have made. I also argue that such questions are substantive regardless of the ontology of social kinds. (shrink)
Some contemporary Russellians, defenders of the view that the semantic content of a proper name, demonstrative or indexical is simply its referent, are prepared to accept that view’s most infamous apparent consequence: that coreferential names, demonstratives, indexicals, etc. are intersubstitutable salva veritate, even in intentional contexts. Nathan Salmon and Scott Soames argue that our recalcitrant intuitions with respect to the famous apparent counterexamples are not semantic intuitions, but rather pragmatic intuitions. Strictly and literally speaking, Lois Lane believes, and even knows (...) that Clark Kent is identical to Superman, since she believes and knows that Superman is identical to Superman. Salmon and Soames attempt to soften our reaction to this shocker by allowing that it is typically misleading to utter the sentence ‘Lois Lane knows that Clark Kent is identical to Superman’, since it pragmatically implicates, without semantically entailing, that Lois Lane would accept the sentence ‘Clark Kent is identical to Superman’. Our compulsive tendency to claim that ‘Lois Lane knows that Clark Kent is Superman’ is false, rather than merely misleading, is due to a confusion between semantics and pragmatics, between truth conditions and conditions of appropriateness of utterance.1 It is probably fair to say that the common reaction to this move in defense of Russellianism is negative. Mark Richard says the following. (shrink)
The core idea of David Armstrong’s combinatorial theory of possibility is attractive. Rearrangement is the key to modality; possible worlds result from scrambling bits and pieces of other possible worlds. Yet I encounter great difficulty when trying to formulate the theory rigorously, and my best attempts are vulnerable to counterexamples. The Leibnizian biconditionals relate possibility and necessity to possible world and true in.
This dissertation explores the concepts of naturalness, intrinsicality, and duplication. An intrinsic property is had by an object purely in virtue of the way that object is considered in itself. Duplicate objects are exactly similar, considered as they are in themselves. The perfectly natural properties are the most fundamental properties of the world, upon which the nature of the world depends. In this dissertation I develop a theory of intrinsicality, naturalness, and duplication and explore their philosophical applications. Chapter 1 introduces (...) the notions, gives a preliminary survey of some proposed conceptual connections between the notions, and sketches some of their proposed applications. Chapter 2 gives my background assumptions and introduces notational conventions. In chapter 3 I present a theory of naturalness. Although I take ‘natural’ as a primitive, I clarify this notion by distinguishing and explicating various conceptions of naturalness. In chapter 4 I give a theory of various notions related to naturalness, especially intrinsicality and duplication. I show that ‘intrinsic’ and ‘duplicate’ are interde nable, and then give analyses of these and other notions in terms of naturalness. If, as I think likely, naturalness cannot be analyzed, then what is the proper response? David Lewis suggests: accept naturalness as a primitive. I am sympathetic to this proposal, but not to the form Lewis gives it: chapter 5 contains an argument against Lewis’s theory of naturalness. In chapter 6 I reject the idea that naturalness is analyzable in terms of immanent universals. I focus on the work of D. M. Armstrong. I also criticize Armstrong’s arguments against transcendent universals. (shrink)
For most us, learning which quantum theory correctly describes human bodies will not affect our attitudes towards our loved ones. On the other hand, a child’s discovery of the nature of meat (or an adult’s discovery of the nature of soylent green) can have a great effect. In still other cases, it is hard to say how one would, or should, react to new information about the underlying nature of what we value—think of how mixed our reactions are to evidence (...) of cultural determinism or atheism, or of how mixed our reactions would be to learning that we all live in the Matrix. (Indeed, maybe there is no objective fact about how we should react. Derek Parfit’s (1984, section 95) fear of death diminished when he became convinced of certain theses about the metaphysics of personal identity. Perhaps there is no objective fact of the matter as to whether this was rational; perhaps it was rational for him but would not be for others.) What can metaphysics contribute to the question of the evil of death? It cannot, on its own, settle the question, since there is no simple rule telling us how to adjust value in light of new information about underlying nature. Given a clear view of the nature of death, there will remain the question of its disvalue. However, metaphysics can help us attain this clear view. Moreover, a clear conception of what metaphysical positions do and don’t say, and a clear conception of how metaphysics works in general, can remove impediments to a rational appraisal of the evil of death. (shrink)
Sometimes we give truth-conditions for sentences of a discourse in other terms. According to Agustín Rayo, when doing so it is sometimes legitimate to use the terms of that very discourse, so long as the terms do not occur in the truth-conditions themselves. I argue that giving truth-conditions in this "outscoping" way prevents one from answering "discourse threat" (for example, the threat of indeterminacy).
Locke’s view that continuants are numerically distinct from their constituting hunks of matter is popular enough to be called the “standard account”.1 It was given its definitive contemporary statement by David Wiggins in Sameness and Substance2, and has been defended by many since. Baker’s interesting book contributes new arguments for this view, a new definition of ‘constitution’, and a sustained application to persons and human animals. Much of what she says develops this view in new and important ways. But in (...) some cases she does not advance the position, and in others she takes steps backwards. According to Baker, a person is numerically distinct from her constituting animal. One of Baker’s leading arguments is surprisingly unconvincing. Persons differ in important ways from non-human animals. Only persons are moral agents, modify their goals, have wars, culture, etc. If persons were identical to animals—if we were “nothing but animals”, as she puts it—then the manifest discontinuity between humans and non-human animals would be located “within the domain of biology”. “But from a biological point of view, human animals…are biologically continuous with non-human animals.” (p. 17) The argument fails: why should identifying persons with animals preclude saying that these particular animals have radically distinctive features that are of little interest to biologists? The traditional case for non-identity (which Baker accepts) is more powerful: a person and her constituting animal differ by having different persistence conditions. If my memories were transferred to a new body and my old body destroyed, I the person might survive, but the human animal who constituted me would perish. Therefore, before the transfer, I and the animal that constituted me would be numerically distinct but extremely similar things located in exactly the same place. This consequence—the central thesis of the Wiggins view—is surprising: so surprising that some reject the Wiggins view on that basis.. (shrink)