Objects and Persons presents an original theory about what kinds of things exist. Trenton Merricks argues that there are no non-living inanimate macrophysical objects -- no statues or rocks or chairs or stars -- because they would have no causal role over and above the causal role of their microphysical parts. Humans do exist: we have non-redundant causal powers. Along the way, Merricks has interesting things to say about mental causation, free will, and various philosophical puzzles. Anyone working in metaphysics (...) will enjoy this lucid and provocative book. (shrink)
Suppose that time t is just a few moments from now. And suppose that the proposition that Jones sits at t was true a thousand years ago. Does the thousand-years-ago truth of that proposition imply that Jones's upcoming sitting at t will not be free? This article argues that it does not. It also argues that Jones even now has a choice about the thousand-years-ago truth of that Jones sits at t . Those arguments do not require the complex machinery (...) of Ockhamism, with its distinction between hard facts and soft facts; indeed, those arguments do not require any complex machinery at all. Instead, those arguments are built on an uncontroversial understanding of the idea that truth depends on the world. In the final section of the article, those arguments are extended to show that foreknowledge of an action does not threaten that action's freedom. (shrink)
says that there are some composite objects. And it says that some objects jointly compose nothing at all. The main threat to restricted composition is the in.uential and widely defended Vagueness Argument. We shall see that the Vagueness Argument fails. In seeing how this argument fails, we shall discover a new focus for the debate over composition's extent.
The claim that all vagueness must be a feature of language or thought is the current orthodoxy. This is a claim about the “location” of vagueness. “Locating Vagueness” argues that this claim is false, largely by defending the possibility of borderline cases in the absence of language and thought. If the orthodoxy about the location of vagueness is false, then so too is any account of the “nature” of vagueness that implies that orthodoxy. So this paper concludes that various accounts (...) of the nature of vagueness are false. Among such accounts, so this paper argues, are the standard versions of supervaluationism and the standard versions of epistemicism. So I conclude that those accounts are false. Along the way, I present, and uncover ways to motivate, several heretical accounts of the nature of vagueness, including nonstandard versions of both supervaluationism and epistemicism. (shrink)
The bulk of the essay “Truth and Freedom” (Philosophical Review 118 : 29–57) opposes fatalism, which is the claim that if there is a true proposition to the effect that an action A will occur, then A will not be free. But that essay also offers a new way to reconcile divine foreknowledge and human freedom. In “The Truth about Freedom: A Reply to Merricks” (Philosophical Review 120 : 97–115), John Martin Fischer and Patrick Todd raise a number of objections (...) to “Truth and Freedom,” most of which are objections to its treatment of foreknowledge. Their central complaint seems to be that that treatment is, despite its claims to the contrary, merely a form of Ockhamism—and a poorly developed form of Ockhamism at that. This essay replies to Fischer and Todd's specific objections. But, more importantly, it further clarifies the fundamental differences between the way it reconciles divine foreknowledge and human freedom and the Ockhamist's way. In particular, this essay further demonstrates that when it comes to divine foreknowledge's compatibility with human freedom, the fundamental question is not the Ockhamist's question of whether God's beliefs about what an agent will do in the future are “hard facts.” Rather, the fundamental question is whether God's beliefs about what an agent will do in the future depend on what that agent will do in the future. (shrink)
If persons endure, personal identity cannot be analyzed in terms of psychological continuity. That is one conclusion defended in my "Endurance, Psychological Continuity, and the Importance of Personal Identity". Rea and Silver claim that my argument for that conclusion is sound only if a parallel argument is sound. The parallel argument concludes that if persons perdure, personal identity cannot be analyzed in terms of psychological continuity. In this paper, I show that Rea and Silver are mistaken. My argument is sound (...) but the parallel argument is not. (shrink)
According to one account, vagueness is "metaphysical." The friend of metaphysical vagueness believes that, for some object and some property, there can be no determinate fact of the matter whether that object exemplifies that property. A second account maintains that vagueness is due only to ignorance. According to the epistemic account, vagueness is explained completely by and is nothing over and above our not knowing some relevant fact or facts. These are the minority views. The dominant position maintains that there (...) is a third possible variety of vagueness, linguistic vagueness. And, it goes on to insist, all vagueness is of this third variety. I shall argue, however, that linguistic vagueness is not a third variety of vagueness. Either it is a species of metaphysical vagueness or a kind of ignorance. And this, I argue, makes trouble for the claim that all vagueness is linguistic. (shrink)
Trenton Merricks presents an original argument for the existence of propositions, and defends an account of their nature. He draws a variety of controversial conclusions, for instance about supervaluationism, the nature of possible worlds, truths about non-existent entities, and whether and how logical consequence depends on modal facts.
The doctrine of Microphysical Supervenience (MS) states that: Necessarily, if atoms A1 through An compose an object that exemplified intrinsic qualitative properties Q1 through Qn, then atoms like A1 through An (in all their respective intrinsic qualitative properties), related to one another by all the same restricted atom-to-atom relations as A1 through An, compose an object that exemplifies Q1 through Qn. I show that MS entails a contradiction and so must be rejected. And my argument against MS provides the resources (...) to show that Global Microphysical Supervenience (GMS) is false. GMS states that possible worlds qualitatively exactly alike at the microphysical level are qualitatively exactly alike at the macrophysical level. (shrink)
Warrant is that, whatever it is, which makes the difference between knowledge and mere true belief. In "Warrant Entails Truth" (PPR, December 1995), I argued that it is impossible that a false belief be warranted. Sharon Ryan attacked the argument of that paper in her "Does Warrant Entail Truth?" (PPR, March 1996). In "More on Warrant's Entailing Truth" I present arguments for the claim that warrant entails truth that are, I think, significantly more compelling than the arguments of my original (...) "Warrant Entails Truth." This paper responds to Ryan's objections, but it is not merely a reply to Ryan's article. It is, rather, a free-standing defense of warrant's entailing truth that is the product of discussion and argument for over two years with many philosophers, including Ryan, over the arguments contained in my original paper. (shrink)
This paper argues that if persons last over time by “enduring”, then no analysis or reduction of personal identity over time in tenus of any sort of psychological continuity can be correct. In other words, any analysis of personal identity over time in tenus of psychological continuity entails that persons are four-dimensional and have temporal parts. The paper then shows that if we abandon psychological analyses of personal identity---as we must if persons endure---Parfit’s argument for the claim that identity does (...) not matter in survival is easily undenuined. The paper then suggests that this offers support for the claim that persons endure. Along the way the paper tries to clarify the contrast between the doctrine that persons endure and its rival, four-dimensionalism. (shrink)
other things, that the Vagueness Argument for unrestricted composition fails. In ‘Vagueness and Arbitrariness: Merricks on Composition’, Elizabeth Barnes objects to my argument. This paper replies to Barnes, and also offers further support for the views defended in my original paper.