The first half of this book argues that physicalism cannot account for consciousness, and hence cannot be true. The second half explores and defends Russellian monism, a radical alternative to both physicalism and dualism. The view that emerges combines panpsychism with the view that the universe as a whole is fundamental.
Using as a starting point recent and apparently incompatible conclusions by Saunders and Knox, I revisit the question of the correct spacetime setting for Newtonian physics. I argue that understood correctly, these two versions of Newtonian physics make the same claims both about the background geometry required to define the theory, and about the inertial structure of the theory. In doing so I illustrate and explore in detail the view—espoused by Knox, and also by Brown —that inertial structure is defined (...) by the dynamics governing subsystems of a larger system. This clarifies some interesting features of Newtonian physics, notably the distinction between using the theory to model subsystems of a larger whole and using it to model complete universes, and the scale-relativity of spacetime structure. _1_ Introduction _2_ Newtonian Mechanics and Galilean Spacetime _3_ Vector Relationism and Maxwellian Spacetime _4_ Recovering the Galilei Group: Dynamics of Subsystems _5_ Knox on Inertial Structure _6_ Connections on Maxwellian Spacetime _7_ Knox on Newtonian Gravity _8_ Vector Relationism and Newton–Cartan Theory _9_ Inertial Structure in Newton–Cartan Gravity _10_ Reconciling Knox and Saunders _11_ Conclusions. (shrink)
A commonly held view is that a central aim of metaphysics is to give a fundamental account of reality which refers only to the fundamental entities. But a puzzle arises. It is at least a working hypothesis for those pursuing the aim that, first, there must be fundamental entities. But, second, it also seems possible that the world has no foundation, with each entity depending on others. These two claims are inconsistent with the widely held third claim that the fundamental (...) just is the foundational. It is tempting to resolve the puzzle by rejecting the first or second claim, perhaps because it is obscure how the third claim might plausibly be challenged. But I develop a new analysis of fundamentality which challenges the third claim by allowing for an entity to be fundamental without being foundational. The analysis, roughly, is that an entity is fundamental just in case not all facts about it are grounded in facts about other entities. The possibility of fundamentality without foundations not only provides for a novel resolution to the puzzle, but has applications to some live debates: for example, it undermines Jonathan Schaffer's modal argument for priority monism. (shrink)
The fundamental principle of the theory of possible worlds is that a proposition p is possible if and only if there is a possible world at which p is true. In this paper we present a valid derivation of this principle from a more general theory in which possible worlds are defined rather than taken as primitive. The general theory uses a primitive modality and axiomatizes abstract objects, properties, and propositions. We then show that this general theory has very small (...) models and hence that its ontological commitments—and, therefore, those of the fundamental principle of world theory—are minimal. (shrink)
A fundamental entity is an entity that is ‘ontologically independent’; it does not depend on anything else for its existence or essence. It seems to follow that a fundamental entity is ‘modally free’ in some sense. This assumption, that fundamentality entails modal freedom (or ‘FEMF’ as I shall label the thesis), is used in the service of other arguments in metaphysics. But as I will argue, the road from fundamentality to modal freedom is not so straightforward. The defender (...) of FEMF should provide positive reasons for believing it, especially in light of recent views that are incompatible with it. I examine both direct and indirect routes to FEMF. (shrink)
Contemporary philosophers commonly suppose that any fundamental entities there may be are maximally determinate. More generally, they commonly suppose that, whether or not there are fundamental entities, any determinable entities there may be are grounded in, hence less fundamental than, more determinate entities. So, for example, Armstrong takes the physical objects constituting the presumed fundamental base to be “determinate in all respects” (1961, 59), and Lewis takes the properties characterizing things “completely and without redundancy” to be “highly specific” (1986, 60). (...) Here I look at the usually cited reasons for these suppositions as directed against the case of determinable properties, in particular, and argue that none is compelling (Sections 1 to 3). The discussion in Section 3 moreover identifies positive reason for taking some determinable properties to be part of a fundamental (or relatively fundamental) base. I close (Section 4) by noting certain questions arising from the possibility of fundamental determinables, as directions for future research. (shrink)
The mathematical structure of realist quantum theories has given rise to a debate about how our ordinary 3-dimensional space is related to the 3N-dimensional configuration space on which the wave function is defined. Which of the two spaces is our (more) fundamental physical space? I review the debate between 3N-Fundamentalists and 3D-Fundamentalists and evaluate it based on three criteria. I argue that when we consider which view leads to a deeper understanding of the physical world, especially given the deeper topological (...) explanation from the unordered configurations to the Symmetrization Postulate, we have strong reasons in favor of 3D-Fundamentalism. I conclude that our evidence favors the view that our fundamental physical space in a quantum world is 3-dimensional rather than 3N-dimensional. I outline lines of future research where the evidential balance can be restored or reversed. Finally, I draw lessons from this case study to the debate about theoretical equivalence. (shrink)
We shall introduce a set of fundamental legal concepts, providing a definition of each of them. This set will include, besides the usual deontic modalities (obligation, prohibition and permission), the following notions: obligative rights (rights related to other’s obligations), permissive rights, erga-omnes rights, normative conditionals, liability rights, different kinds of legal powers, potestative rights (rights to produce legal results), result-declarations (acts intended to produce legal determinations), and sources of the law.
Fundamentals of Critical Argumentation presents the basic tools for the identification, analysis, and evaluation of common arguments for beginners. The book teaches by using examples of arguments in dialogues, both in the text itself and in the exercises. Examples of controversial legal, political, and ethical arguments are analyzed. Illustrating the most common kinds of arguments, the book also explains how to evaluate each kind by critical questioning. Douglas Walton shows how arguments can be reasonable under the right dialogue conditions by (...) using critical questions to evaluate them. The book teaches by example, both in the text itself and in exercises, but it is based on methods that have been developed through the author's thirty years of research in argumentation studies. (shrink)
The notion of fundamentality, as it is used in metaphysics, aims to capture the idea that there is something basic or primitive in the world. This metaphysical notion is related to the vernacular use of “fundamental”, but philosophers have also put forward various technical definitions of the notion. Among the most influential of these is the definition of absolute fundamentality in terms of ontological independence or ungroundedness. Accordingly, the notion of fundamentality is often associated with these two (...) other technical notions. (shrink)
In this chapter, a generic definition of fundamentality as an ontological minimality thesis is sought and its applicability examined. Most discussions of fundamentality are focused on a mereological understanding of the hierarchical structure of reality, which may be combined with an atomistic, object-oriented metaphysics. But recent work in structuralism, for instance, calls for an alternative understanding and it is not immediately clear that the conception of fundamentality at work in structuralism is commensurable with the mereological conception. However, (...) it is proposed that once we understand fundamentality as an ontological minimality thesis, these two as well as further conceptions of fundamentality can all be treated on a par, including metaphysical infinitism of the ‘boring’ type, where the same structure repeats infinitely. (shrink)
Quasi-realism aspires to preserve the intelligibility of the realist-sounding moral judgments of ordinary people. These judgments include ones of the form, “I believe that p, but I might be mistaken,” where “p” is some moral content. The orthodox quasi-realist strategy is to understand these in terms of the agent’s worrying that some improving change would lead one to aban-don the relevant moral belief. However, it is unclear whether this strate-gy generalizes to cases in which the agent takes their error to (...) be funda-mental in a sense articulated by Andy Egan. In an influential paper, Egan argues that it does not. Egan suggests that Blackburn’s approach is the only game in town for the quasi-realist when it comes to making sense of judgment of fallibility, and therefore concludes that Blackburn’s ina-bility to handle worries about fundamental moral error refutes quasi-realism tout court. Egan’s challenge has generated considerable discus-sion. However, in my view, we have not yet gotten to the heart of the matter. I argue that what is still needed is a fully general, quasi-realist-friendly theory of the nature of first-person judgments of fallibility, such that these judgments are demonstrably consistent with judging that the belief is stable in Egan’s sense. In this article, I develop and defend a fully general quasi-realist theory of such judgments, which meets this demand. With this theory in hand, I argue that Egan’s challenge can be met. Moreover, my discussion of how the challenge is best met provides an elegant diagnosis of where Egan’s argument against goes wrong. On my account, Egan’s argument equivocates at a key point between a “could” and a “would.”. (shrink)
Since the publication of David Lewis's ''New Work for a Theory of Universals,'' the distinction between properties that are fundamental – or perfectly natural – and those that are not has become a staple of mainstream metaphysics. Plausible candidates for perfect naturalness include the quantitative properties posited by fundamental physics. This paper argues for two claims: (1) the most satisfying account of quantitative properties employs higher-order relations, and (2) these relations must be perfectly natural, for otherwise the perfectly natural properties (...) cannot play the roles in metaphysical theorizing as envisaged by Lewis. (shrink)
If there are fundamental laws of nature, can they fail to be exact? In this paper, I consider the possibility that some fundamental laws are vague. I call this phenomenon 'fundamental nomic vagueness.' I characterize fundamental nomic vagueness as the existence of borderline lawful worlds and the presence of several other accompanying features. Under certain assumptions, such vagueness prevents the fundamental physical theory from being completely expressible in the mathematical language. Moreover, I suggest that such vagueness can be regarded as (...) 'vagueness in the world.' For a case study, we turn to the Past Hypothesis, a postulate that (partially) explains the direction of time in our world. We have reasons to take it seriously as a candidate fundamental law of nature. Yet it is vague: it admits borderline (nomologically) possible worlds. An exact version would lead to an untraceable arbitrariness absent in any other fundamental laws. However, the dilemma between fundamental nomic vagueness and untraceable arbitrariness is dissolved in a new quantum theory of time's arrow. (shrink)
Nihilism is the thesis that no composite objects exist. Some ontologists have advocated abandoning nihilism in favor of deep nihilism, the thesis that composites do not existO, where to existO is to be in the domain of the most fundamental quantifier. By shifting from an existential to an existentialO thesis, the deep nihilist seems to secure all the benefits of a composite-free ontology without running afoul of ordinary belief in the existence of composites. I argue that, while there are well-known (...) reasons for accepting nihilism, there appears to be no reason at all to accept deep nihilism. In particular, deep nihilism draws no support either from the usual arguments for nihilism or from considerations of parsimony. (shrink)
Grounding is claimed to offer a promising characterization of the fundamental as thatwhich is ungrounded. Detractors of this view argue that there can be fundamental and yet mutuallygrounded entities. Such a possibility undermines the denition of the fundamental as theungrounded. I aim to show, however, that the possibility of fundamental mutually grounded entitiesdoes not force us to renounce the prospects of characterizing fundamentality in terms of ground-ing. To accomplish this aim, I defend a grounding-based view that accommodates fundamentalmutually grounded (...) entities straightforwardly. My denition of fundamentality is similar to, butimportantly different from, one that Karen Bennett discusses. I conclude by resisting two objec-tions raised by Jessica Wilson against the Bennettian framework that also target theproposed view. (shrink)
Fundamentality plays a pivotal role in discussions of ontology, supervenience, and possibility, and other key topics in metaphysics. However, there are two different ways of characterising the fundamental: as that which is not grounded, and as that which is the ground of everything else. I show that whether these two characterisations pick out the same property turns on a principle—which I call “Dichotomy”—that is of independent interest in the theory of ground: that everything is either fully grounded or not (...) even partially grounded. I then argue that Dichotomy fails: some facts have partial grounds that cannot be complemented to a full ground. Rejecting Dichotomy opens the door to recognising a bifurcation in our notion of fundamentality. I sketch some of the far-reaching metaphysical consequences this might have, with reference to big-picture views such as Humeanism. Since Dichotomy is entailed by the standard account of partial ground, according to which partial grounds are subpluralities of full grounds, a non-standard account is needed. In a technical “Appendix”, I show that truthmaker semantics furnishes such an account, and identify a semantic condition that corresponds to Dichotomy. (shrink)
Many authors, including Derek Parfit, T. M. Scanlon, and Mark Schroeder, favor a “reasons-first” ontology of normativity, which treats reasons as normatively fundamental. Others, most famously G. E. Moore, favor a “value-first” ontology, which treats value or goodness as normatively fundamental. Chapter 10 argues that both the reasons-first and value-first ontologies should be rejected because neither can account for all of the normative reasons that, intuitively, there are. It advances an ontology of normativity, originally suggested by Franz Brentano and A. (...) C. Ewing, according to which fittingness is normatively fundamental. The normative relation of fittingness is the relation in which a response stands to an object when the object merits—or is worthy of—that response. The author argues that his “fittingness-first” ontology is no less parsimonious than either the reasons- or the value-first ontology, but it can plausibly accommodate the existence of all the normative reasons there are. It therefore provides a superior ontology of normativity. (shrink)
Metaphysical views typically draw some distinction between reality and appearance, endorsing realism about some subject matters and antirealism about others. There are different conceptions of how best to construe antirealist theories. A simple view has it that we are antirealists about a subject matter when we believe that this subject matter fails to obtain. This paper discusses an alternative view, which I will call the fundamentality-based conception of antirealism. We are antirealists in this sense when we think that the (...) relevant matter fails to be constitutive of fundamental reality. The following discussion will not rely on any particular understanding of fundamental reality, covering conceptions based on grounding, naturalness and truthmaking, to name three salient ones. This paper argues that there are serious issues with fundamentality-based metaphysics. It will be argued that: the fundamentality-based approach shapes and restricts our realist and antirealist views in unsatisfying ways, that it is unable to handle the conflicting facts that lie across the envisaged ‘layers’ of the metaphysically structured world, and that the methodological reasons for adopting the fundamentality-based approach fail. The paper will conclude with a diagnosis of the discussed issues, identifying a common source. (shrink)
I provide and defend two natural accounts of fundamentality for facts that do justice to the idea that the “degree of fundamentality” enjoyed by a fact is a matter of how far, from a ground-theoretic perspective, the fact is from the ungrounded facts.
This work, the text of Martin Heidegger's lecture course of 1929/30, is crucial for an understanding of Heidegger's transition from the major work of his early years, Being and Time, to his later preoccupations with language, truth, and ...
In this paper I offer a partial defense of a constitutivist view according to which it is possible to defend fundamental requirements of practical reason by appeal to facts about what is constitutive of rational agency. I show how it is possible for that approach to circumvent the ‘is’/’ought’ problem as well as the requirement that it be possible to act contrary to practical reason. But I do not attempt to establish any particular fundamental requirement. The key ideas are that (...) such a requirement is not genuine if it is arbitrary, and that it is arbitrary just in case (a) it needs explanation and (b) that explanation could not, even in principle, be provided. (shrink)
For nearly two thousand years Buddhism has mystified and captivated both lay people and scholars alike. Seen alternately as a path to spiritual enlightenment, an system of ethical and moral rubrics, a cultural tradition, or simply a graceful philosophy of life, Buddhism has produced impassioned followers the world over. The Buddhist saint Nagarjuna, who lived in South India in approximately the first century CE, is undoubtedly the most important, influential, and widely studied Mahayana Buddhist philosopher. His many works include texts (...) addressed to lay audiences, letters of advice to kings, and a set of penetrating metaphysical and epistemological treatises. His greatest philosophical work, the Mulamadhyamikakarika--read and studied by philosophers in all major Buddhist schools of Tibet, China, Japan, and Korea--is one of the most influential works in the history of Indian philosophy. Now, in The Foundations of the Philosophy of the Middle Way, Jay L. Garfield provides a clear and and eminently readable translation of Nagarjuna's seminal work, offering those with little of no prior knowledge of Buddhist philosophy a view into the profound logic of the Mulamadhyamikakarika. Translated from the Tibetan, the tradition through which Nagarjuna's philosophical influence has largely been transmitted, Garfield presents a superb translation of Mulamadhyamikakarika in its entirety. Illuminating the systematic character of Nagarjuna's reasoning, as well as the works profundity, Garfield shows how Nagarjuna develops his doctrine that all phenomena are empty of inherent existence and essenceless. But, he argues, phenomena nonetheless exist conventionaly, and that indeed conventional existence and ultimate emptiness are in fact the same thing. This represents the radical understanding of the Buddhist doctrine of the two truths, or two levels of reality. Nagarjuna reinterprets all of Buddhist metaphysics and epistemology through this analytical framework--"a systematic and beautifully elegant philosophical dissection of reality." In turn, Garfield goes on to offer the only verse-by-verse commentary based upon the Indo-Tibetan Prasangika-Madhyamika reading of Nagarjuna, the school most influential in the development of Mahayana philosophy in Tibet, China, Korea, and Japan. Written specifically for the Western reader, the commentary explains Nagarjuna's positions and arguments in the language of Western metaphysics and epistemology, and connects Nagarjuna's concerns tho those of Western philosophers such as Sextus, Hume, and Wittgenstein. A fascinating and accessible translation of the foundational text for all Mahayana Buddhism text, The Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way will enlighten all those in search of the essence of reality. (shrink)
I present an argument proving that there are no fundamental facts, which is similar to an argument recently presented by Mark Jago for truthmaker maximalism. I suggest that this argument gives us at least some prima facie, defeasible reason to believe that there are no fundamental facts.
In this paper I offer a partial defense of a constitutivist view according to which it is possible to defend fundamental requirements of practical reason by appeal to facts about what is constitutive of rational agency. I show how it is possible for that approach to circumvent the ‘is’/’ought’ problem as well as the requirement that it be possible to act contrary to practical reason. But I do not attempt to establish any particular fundamental requirement. The key ideas are that (...) such a requirement is not genuine if it is arbitrary, and that it is arbitrary just in case it needs explanation and that explanation could not, even in principle, be provided. (shrink)
The current paper synthesizes theory and data from the field of life history (LH) evolution to advance a new developmental theory of variation in human LH strategies. The theory posits that clusters of correlated LH traits (e.g., timing of puberty, age at sexual debut and first birth, parental investment strategies) lie on a slow-to-fast continuum; that harshness (externally caused levels of morbidity-mortality) and unpredictability (spatial-temporal variation in harshness) are the most fundamental environmental influences on the evolution and development of LH (...) strategies; and that these influences depend on population densities and related levels of intraspecific competition and resource scarcity, on age schedules of mortality, on the sensitivity of morbidity-mortality to the organism’s resource-allocation decisions, and on the extent to which environmental fluctuations affect individuals versus populations over short versus long timescales. These interrelated factors operate at evolutionary and developmental levels and should be distinguished because they exert distinctive effects on LH traits and are hierarchically operative in terms of primacy of influence. Although converging lines of evidence support core assumptions of the theory, many questions remain unanswered. This review demonstrates the value of applying a multilevel evolutionary-developmental approach to the analysis of a central feature of human phenotypic variation: LH strategy. (shrink)
This article investigates the claim that some truths are fundamentally or really true — and that other truths are not. Such a distinction can help us reconcile radically minimal metaphysical views with the verities of common sense. I develop an understanding of the distinction whereby Fundamentality is not itself a metaphysical distinction, but rather a device that must be presupposed to express metaphysical distinctions. Drawing on recent work by Rayo on anti-Quinean theories of ontological commitments, I formulate a rigourous (...) theory of the notion. In the final sections, I show how this package dovetails with ' interpretationist' theories of meaning to give sober content to thought that some things — perhaps sets, or gerrymandered mereological sums — can be 'postulated into existence'. (shrink)
This article considers the question ‘What makes hope rational?’ We take Adrienne Martin’s recent incorporation analysis of hope as representative of a tradition that views the rationality of hope as a matter of instrumental reasons. Against this tradition, we argue that an important subset of hope, ‘fundamental hope’, is not governed by instrumental rationality. Rather, people have reason to endorse or reject such hope in virtue of the contribution of the relevant attitudes to the integrity of their practical identity, which (...) makes the relevant hope not instrumentally but intrinsically valuable. This argument also allows for a new analysis of the reasons people have to abandon hope and for a better understanding of non-fundamental, ‘prosaic’ hopes. (shrink)
This essay has three goals. The first is to introduce the notion of fundamentality and to argue that physicalism can usefully be conceived of as a thesis about fundamentality. The second is to argue (i) for the advantages of fundamentality physicalism over modal formulations and (ii) that fundamentality physicalism is what many who endorse modal formulations of physicalism had in mind all along. Third, I describe what I take to be the main obstacle for a (...) class='Hi'>fundamentality-oriented formulation of physicalism: "the problem of abstracta", which asks how physical can accommodate phenomena such as mathematics and universals, and which modal formulations do not face. I canvas three solutions: the inapt for ground solution, the concrete restriction, and the contingency restriction. (shrink)
Many authors, including Derek Parfit, T.M. Scanlon, and Mark Schroeder, favor a “reasons-first” ontology of normativity, which treats reasons as normatively fundamental. Others, most famously G.E. Moore, favor a “value-first” ontology, which treats value or goodness as normatively fundamental. I argue that both the reasons-first and value-first ontologies should be rejected because neither can account for all of the normative reasons that, intuitively, there are. I advance an ontology of normativity, originally suggested by Franz Brentano and A.C. Ewing, according to (...) which fittingness is normatively fundamental. The normative relation of fittingness is the relation in which a response stands to an object when the object merits—or is worthy of—that response. I argue that my “fittingness-first” ontology is no less parsimonious than either the reasons- or the value-first ontology, but it can plausibly accommodate the existence of all the normative reasons there are. It therefore provides a superior ontology of normativity. (shrink)
Principles are central to physical reasoning, particularly in the search for a theory of quantum gravity, where novel empirical data are lacking. One principle widely adopted in the search for QG is ultraviolet completion: the idea that a theory should hold up to all possible high energies. We argue— contra standard scientific practice—that UV-completion is poorly motivated as a guiding principle in theory-construction, and cannot be used as a criterion of theory-justification in the search for QG. For this, we explore (...) the reasons for expecting, or desiring, a UV-complete theory, as well as analyse how UV-completion is used, and how it should be used, in various specific approaches to QG. 1Introduction 1.1Principles in theory development and evaluation 2Primer on UV-Completion, Renormalizability, and All That 2.1Renormalizability and UV-completion 2.2Other forms of UV-completion 3Why Should QG Be UV-Complete? 3.1UV-completion and fundamentality 3.2UV-completion and minimal length 4UV-Completion in Different Approaches to QG 4.1String theory 4.2Asymptotic safety 4.3Causal dynamical triangulation 4.4Higher derivative approaches 4.5Supergravity 4.6Causal set theory 4.7Canonical QG 4.8Loop quantum gravity 4.9Approaches based on alternative gravitational theories 4.10Emergent gravity approaches 5UV-Completion as a Guiding Principle in QG 6Conclusion. (shrink)
This is the first part of a two-tier overview article on fundamentality in metaphysics and the philosophy of physics. It provides an introduction to the notion of fundamentality in metaphysics, as well as to several related concepts. The key issues in the contemporary debate on the topic are summarised, making systematic reference to the most relevant literature. In particular, various ways in which the fundamental entities and the fundamental structure of reality may be conceived are illustrated and discussed. (...) A final brief section looks at the methodological issue of naturalism, paving the way for the survey of fundamentality in the philosophy of physics, which is carried out in the second part. (shrink)
Principles are central to physical reasoning, particularly in the search for a theory of quantum gravity (QG), where novel empirical data is lacking. One principle widely adopted in the search for QG is UV completion: the idea that a theory should (formally) hold up to all possible high energies. We argue---/contra/ standard scientific practice---that UV-completion is poorly-motivated as a guiding principle in theory-construction, and cannot be used as a criterion of theory-justification in the search for QG. For this, we explore (...) the reasons for expecting, or desiring, a UV-complete theory, as well as analyse how UV completion is used, and how it should be used, in various specific approaches to QG. (shrink)
The relation of being more fundamental than, as well as the Finean notion of partial grounding, are widely taken to be irreflexive, transitive, and asymmetric. However, certain time-travel cases that have been used to raise worries about the irreflexivity, transitivity, and asymmetry of proper part of can also be used to argue that more fundamental than and partially grounds do not have these formal properties. I present this worry and discuss several responses to it, with the aim of showing that (...) the problem is harder to address when applied to fundamentality and partial grounding than it was when merely applied to proper parthood. (shrink)
Aulis Aarnio addresses the question of how legal interpretations should be justified. Aarnio considers a justification to be rational only if the justification process has been conducted in a rational way, and if the final result of this process is acceptable to the legal community. According to Aarnio, a theory concerning the justification of legal interpretations should contain a procedural component specifying the conditions of rationality for legal discussions, and a substantial component specifying the material conditions of acceptability for the (...) final result. The procedural component of Aarnio’s theory formulates rules for the rationality of legal discussions. The substantial component specifies when the result of a legal interpretation can be called acceptable. Aarnio considers such a result acceptable if it is acceptable to a particular legal community in which there is consensus with respect to certain norms and values. (shrink)
Fundamental Causation addresses issues in the metaphysics of deterministic singular causation, the metaphysics of events, property instances, facts, preventions, and omissions, as well as the debate between causal reductionists and causal anti-reductionists. The book also pays special attention to causation and causal structure in physics. Weaver argues that causation is a multigrade obtaining relation that is transitive, irreflexive, and asymmetric. When causation is singular, deterministic and such that it relates purely contingent events, the relation is also universal, intrinsic, and well-founded. (...) He shows that proper causal relata are events understood as states of substances at ontological indices. He then proves that causation cannot be reduced to some non-causal base, and that the best account of that relation should be unashamedly primitivist about the dependence relation that underwrites its very nature. The book demonstrates a distinctive realist and anti-reductionist account of causation by detailing precisely how the account outperforms reductionist and competing anti-reductionist accounts in that it handles all of the difficult cases while overcoming all of the general objections to anti-reductionism upon which other anti-reductionist accounts falter. This book offers an original and interesting view of causation and will appeal to scholars and advanced students in the areas of metaphysics, philosophy of science, and philosophy of physics. (shrink)
This paper distinguishes bruteness from fundamentality by developing a theory of stochastic grounding that makes room for non-fundamental bruteness. Stochastic grounding relations, which only underwrite incomplete explanations, arise when the fundamental level underdetermines derivative levels. The framework is applied to fission cases, showing how one can break symmetries and mitigate bruteness whilst avoiding arbitrariness and hypersensitivity.
The distribution of matter in our universe is strikingly time asymmetric. Most famously, the Second Law of Thermodynamics says that entropy tends to increase toward the future but not toward the past. But what explains this time-asymmetric distribution of matter? In this paper, I explore the idea that time itself has a direction by drawing from recent work on grounding and metaphysical fundamentality. I will argue that positing such a direction of time, in addition to time-asymmetric boundary conditions, enables (...) a better explanation of the thermodynamic asymmetry than is available otherwise. (shrink)
In recent years, a hierarchical view of reality has become extremely influential. In order to understand the world as a whole, on this view, we need to understand the nature of the fundamental constituents of the world. We also need to understand the relations that build the world up from these fundamental constituents. Building pluralism is the view that there are at least two equally fundamental relations that together build the world. It has been widely, though tacitly, assumed in a (...) variety of important metaphysical debates. However, my primary aim in this paper is to argue that this has been a mistake. I will show that serious problems concerning the relationship between building and fundamentality afflict pluralism and are likely fatal to it. I claim that, for better or worse, our best hope is building singularism, the view that there is a single most fundamental building relation. I conclude by examining the advantage that singularist accounts enjoy over their pluralist rivals. (shrink)
How can the world we live in and see, touch, hear, and smell, the world of living things, people, consciousness, free will, meaning, and value - how can all of this exist and flourish embedded as it is in the physical universe, made up of nothing but physical entities such as electrons and quarks? How can anything be of value if everything in the universe is, ultimately, just physics? In Our Fundamental Problem Nicholas Maxwell argues that this problem of reconciling (...) the human and physical worlds needs to take centre stage in our thinking, so that our best ideas about it interact with our attempts to solve even more important specialized problems of thought and life. When we explore this fundamental problem, Maxwell argues, revolutionary answers emerge for a wide range of questions arising in philosophy, science, social inquiry, academic inquiry as a whole, and - most important of all - our capacity to solve the global problems that threaten our future: climate change, habitat destruction, extinction of species, inequality, war, pollution of earth, sea, and air. An unorthodox introduction to philosophy, Our Fundamental Problem brings philosophy down to earth and demonstrates its vital importance for science, scholarship, education, life, and the fate of the world. (shrink)
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