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Folk Mereology is Teleological

Noûs 51 (2):238-270 (2017)

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  1. Counterexamples and Common Sense: When (Not) to Tollens a Ponens.Meg Wallace - 2020 - Analysis 80 (3):544-558.
    Most ordinary folks think that there are ordinary objects such as trees and frogs. They do not think there are extraordinary objects such as the mereological sum of trees and frogs, as the permissivist does. Nor do they deny the existence of ordinary composite objects such as tables, as the eliminativist does. In his recent book, Objects: Nothing Out of the Ordinary, Korman positions himself alongside ordinary folk. He deftly defends the common sense view of ordinary objects, and argues against (...)
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  • Mereological Composition in Analytic and Buddhist Perspective.Nicholaos Jones - 2021 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 7 (2):173-194.
    Comparing Buddhist and contemporary analytic views about mereological composition reveals significant dissimilarities about the purposes that constrain successful answers to mereological questions, the kinds of considerations taken to be probative in justifying those answers, and the value of mereological inquiry. I develop these dissimilarities by examining three questions relevant to those who deny the existence of composite wholes. The first is a question of justification: What justifies denying the existence of composite wholes as more reasonable than affirming their existence? The (...)
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  • How to Be an Uncompromising Revisionary Ontologist.David Mark Kovacs - 2019 - Synthese 198 (3):2129-2152.
    Revisionary ontologies seem to go against our common sense convictions about which material objects exist. These views face the so-called Problem of Reasonableness: they have to explain why reasonable people don’t seem to accept the true ontology. Most approaches to this problem treat the mismatch between the ontological truth and ordinary belief as superficial or not even real. By contrast, I propose what I call the “uncompromising solution”. First, I argue that our beliefs about material objects were influenced by evolutionary (...)
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  • Why compositional nihilism dissolves puzzles.Holly Kantin - 2020 - Synthese 197 (10):4319-4340.
    One of the main motivations for compositional nihilism, the view that there are no composite material objects, concerns the many puzzles and problems associated with them. Nihilists claim that eliminating composites provides a unified solution to a slew of varied, difficult problems. However, numerous philosophers have questioned whether this is really so. While nihilists clearly avoid the usual, composite-featuring formulations of the puzzles, the concern is that the commitments that generate the problems are not eliminated along with composites. If this (...)
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  • Composition as Pattern.Steve Petersen - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (5):1119-1139.
    I argue for patternism, a new answer to the question of when some objects compose a whole. None of the standard principles of composition comfortably capture our natural judgments, such as that my cat exists and my table exists, but there is nothing wholly composed of them. Patternism holds, very roughly, that some things compose a whole whenever together they form a “real pattern”. Plausibly we are inclined to acknowledge the existence of my cat and my table but not of (...)
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  • Empirical Investigations: Reflecting on Turing and Wittgenstein on Thinking Machines.Jonathan Livengood & Justin Sytsma - unknown
    In the opening paragraph of “Computing Machinery and Intelligence” Alan Turing famously notes that “if the meaning of the words ‘machine’ and ‘think’ are to be found by examining how they are commonly used it is difficult to escape the conclusion that the meaning and the answer to the question, ‘Can machines think?’ is to be sought in a statistical survey such as a Gallup poll.” He then immediately responds, “But this is absurd.” But why is this absurd, if indeed (...)
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  • Following the FAD: Folk Attributions and Theories of Actual Causation.Jonathan Livengood, Justin Sytsma & David Rose - 2016
    Using structural equations and directed graphs, Christopher Hitchcock (2007a) proposes a theory specifying the circumstances in which counterfactual dependence of one event e on another event c is necessary and sufficient for c to count as an actual cause of e. In this paper, we argue that Hitchcock is committed to a widely-endorsed folk attribution desideratum (FAD) for theories of actual causation. We then show experimentally that Hitchcock’s theory does not satisfy the FAD, and hence, it is in need of (...)
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  • Teleological Essentialism.David Rose & Shaun Nichols - 2019 - Cognitive Science 43 (4):e12725.
    Placeholder essentialism is the view that there is a causal essence that holds category members together, though we may not know what the essence is. Sometimes the placeholder can be filled in by scientific essences, such as when we acquire scientific knowledge that the atomic weight of gold is 79. We challenge the view that placeholders are elaborated by scientific essences. On our view, if placeholders are elaborated, they are elaborated Aristotelian essences, a telos. Utilizing the same kinds of experiments (...)
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  • The Biology and Evolution of the Three Psychological Tendencies to Anthropomorphize Biology and Evolution.Marco Antonio Correa Varella - 2018 - Frontiers in Psychology 9.
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  • The Lump and the Ledger: Material Coincidence at Little-to-No Cost.Jonah Goldwater - 2021 - Erkenntnis 86 (4):789-812.
    This paper aims to make headway on two related issues—one methodological, the other substantive. The former concerns cost–benefit analyses when applied to metaphysical theory choice. The latter concerns material coincidence, i.e., multiple objects occupying the same space at the same time, such as the statue and the clay from which it’s made. The issues are entwined as many reject coincidence on the grounds that it’s costly. I argue this judgment is unjustified. More generally, I set out and defend a framework (...)
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  • Money as an Institution and Money as an Object.Francesco Guala - 2021 - Journal of Social Ontology 6 (2):265-279.
    The folk conception of money as an object is not a promising starting point to develop general, explanatory metaphysical accounts of the social world. A theory of institutions as rules in equilibrium is more consistent with scientific theories of money, is able to shed light on the folk view, and side-steps some unnecessary puzzles.
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  • Epistemic Anxiety and Adaptive Invariantism.Jennifer Nagel - 2010 - Philosophical Perspectives 24 (1):407-435.
    Do we apply higher epistemic standards to subjects with high stakes? This paper argues that we expect different outward behavior from high-stakes subjects—for example, we expect them to collect more evidence than their low-stakes counterparts—but not because of any change in epistemic standards. Rather, we naturally expect subjects in any condition to think in a roughly adaptive manner, balancing the expected costs of additional evidence collection against the expected value of gains in accuracy. The paper reviews a body of empirical (...)
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  • Methodological Challenges for Empirical Approaches to Ethics.Christopher Shirreff - 2019 - Dissertation, University of Western Ontario
    The central question for this dissertation is, how do we do moral philosophy well from within a broadly naturalist framework? Its main goal is to lay the groundwork for a methodological approach to moral philosophy that integrates traditional, intuition-driven approaches to ethics with empirical approaches that employ empirical data from biology and cognitive science. Specifically, it explores what restrictions are placed on our moral theorizing by findings in evolutionary biology, psychology, neuroscience, and other fields, and how we can integrate this (...)
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  • Artifacts and Mind-Dependence.Tim Juvshik - forthcoming - Synthese:1-24.
    I defend the intention-dependence of artifacts (IDA), which says that something is an artifact of kind K only if it is the successful product of an intention to make an artifact of kind K. I consider objections from two directions. First, that artifacts are often mind- and intention-dependent, but that this isn’t necessary, as shown by swamp cases. I offer various error theories for why someone would have artifact intuitions in such cases. Second, that while artifacts are necessarily mind-dependent, they (...)
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  • Causation, Responsibility, and Typicality.Justin Sytsma - forthcoming - Review of Philosophy and Psychology:1-21.
    There is ample evidence that violations of injunctive norms impact ordinary causal attributions. This has struck some as deeply surprising, taking the ordinary concept of causation to be purely descriptive. Our explanation of the findings—the responsibility view—rejects this: we contend that the concept is in fact partly normative, being akin to concepts like responsibility and accountability. Based on this account, we predicted a very different pattern of results for causal attributions when an agent violates a statistical norm. And this pattern (...)
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  • Intentional Action Without Knowledge.Romy Vekony, Alfred Mele & David Rose - 2020 - Synthese 197:1-13.
    In order to be doing something intentionally, must one know that one is doing it? Some philosophers have answered yes. Our aim is to test a version of this knowledge thesis, what we call the Knowledge/Awareness Thesis, or KAT. KAT states that an agent is doing something intentionally only if he knows that he is doing it or is aware that he is doing it. Here, using vignettes featuring skilled action and vignettes featuring habitual action, we provide evidence that, in (...)
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  • Persistence Through Function Preservation.David Rose - 2015 - Synthese 192 (1):97-146.
    When do the folk think that material objects persist? Many metaphysicians have wanted a view which fits with folk intuitions, yet there is little agreement about what the folk intuit. I provide a range of empirical evidence which suggests that the folk operate with a teleological view of persistence: the folk tend to intuit that a material object survives alterations when its function is preserved. Given that the folk operate with a teleological view of persistence, I argue for a debunking (...)
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  • Teleology Beyond Explanation.Sehrang Joo, Sami Yousif & Joshua Knobe - forthcoming - Mind and Language.
    People often think of and define objects teleologically. For instance, we might understand a hammer in terms of its purpose of driving in nails. Such teleological thinking also influences many further judgments, including of category membership, essence, causation, persistence, and mereology. But how should we understand teleological thinking in the first place? This paper addresses this question by separating two senses of teleological thinking: mere teleology (simply ascribing a telos to an object) and teleological explanation (thinking an object is actually (...)
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  • Debunking Arguments in Metaethics and Metaphysics.Daniel Z. Korman - 2019 - In Alvin Goldman & Brian McLaughlin (eds.), Metaphysics and Cognitive Science. Oxford University Press. pp. 337-363.
    Evolutionary debunking arguments abound, but it is widely assumed that they do not arise for our perceptual beliefs about midsized objects, insofar as the adaptive value of our object beliefs cannot be explained without reference to the objects themselves. I argue that this is a mistake. Just as with moral beliefs, the adaptive value of our object beliefs can be explained without assuming that the beliefs are accurate. I then explore the prospects for other sorts of vindications of our object (...)
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  • Composition.Daniel Z. Korman & Chad Carmichael - 2016 - Oxford Handbooks Online.
    When some objects are the parts of another object, they compose that object and that object is composite. This article is intended as an introduction to the central questions about composition and a highly selective overview of various answers to those questions. In §1, we review some formal features of parthood that are important for understanding the nature of composition. In §2, we consider some answers to the question: which pluralities of objects together compose something? As we will see, the (...)
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  • What Are the Odds That Everyone is Depraved?Scott Hill - 2020 - American Philosophical Quarterly 57 (3):299-308.
    Why does God allow evil? One hypothesis is that God desires the existence and activity of free creatures but He was unable to create a world with such creatures and such activity without also allowing evil. If Molinism is true, what probability should be assigned to this hypothesis? Some philosophers claim that a low probability should be assigned because there are an infinite number of possible people and because we have no reason to suppose that such creatures will choose one (...)
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  • What Do the Folk Think About Composition and Does It Matter?Daniel Z. Korman & Chad Carmichael - 2017 - In David Rose (ed.), Experimental Metaphysics. London: Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 187-206.
    Rose and Schaffer (forthcoming) argue that teleological thinking has a substantial influence on folk intuitions about composition. They take this to show (i) that we should not rely on folk intuitions about composition and (ii) that we therefore should not reject theories of composition on the basis of intuitions about composition. We cast doubt on the teleological interpretation of folk judgments about composition; we show how their debunking argument can be resisted, even on the assumption that folk intuitions have a (...)
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  • Teleological Essentialism: Generalized.David Rose & Shaun Nichols - 2020 - Cognitive Science 44 (3).
    Natural/social kind essentialism is the view that natural kind categories, both living and non-living natural kinds, as well as social kinds (e.g., race, gender), are essentialized. On this view, artifactual kinds are not essentialized. Our view—teleological essentialism—is that a broad range of categories are essentialized in terms of teleology, including artifacts. Utilizing the same kinds of experiments typically used to provide evidence of essentialist thinking—involving superficial change (study 1), transformation of insides (study 2) and inferences about offspring (study 3)—we find (...)
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  • Possible Objects: Topological Approaches to Individuation.Lance J. Rips - 2020 - Cognitive Science 44 (11).
    We think of the world around us as divided into physical objects like toasters and daisies, rather than solely as a smear of properties like yellow and smooth. How do we single out these objects? One theory of object concepts uses part‐of relations and relations of connectedness. According to this proposal, an object is a connected spatial item of maximal extent: Any other connected item that overlaps (i.e., shares a part with) the object must be a part of that object. (...)
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  • Ordinary Objects.Daniel Z. Korman - 2011 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    An encyclopedia entry which covers various revisionary conceptions of which macroscopic objects there are, and the puzzles and arguments that motivate these conceptions: sorites arguments, the argument from vagueness, the puzzles of material constitution, arguments against indeterminate identity, arguments from arbitrariness, debunking arguments, the overdetermination argument, and the problem of the many.
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  • Experimental Philosophy and Causal Attribution.Jonathan Livengood & David Rose - 2016 - In Justin Sytsma & Wesley Buckwalter (eds.), A Companion to Experimental Philosophy. Blackwell.
    Humans often attribute the things that happen to one or another actual cause. In this chapter, we survey some recent philosophical and psychological research on causal attribution. We pay special attention to the relation between graphical causal modeling and theories of causal attribution. We think that the study of causal attribution is one place where formal and experimental techniques nicely complement one another.
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  • Folk teleology drives persistence judgments.David Rose, Jonathan Schaffer & Kevin Tobia - 2020 - Synthese 197 (12):5491-5509.
    Two separate research programs have revealed two different factors that feature in our judgments of whether some entity persists. One program—inspired by Knobe—has found that normative considerations affect persistence judgments. For instance, people are more inclined to view a thing as persisting when the changes it undergoes lead to improvements. The other program—inspired by Kelemen—has found that teleological considerations affect persistence judgments. For instance, people are more inclined to view a thing as persisting when it preserves its purpose. Our goal (...)
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  • Cognitive Metaphysics.Lieven Decock - 2018 - Frontiers in Psychology 11:1700.
    In recent years philosophers have been interested in the methodology of metaphysics. Most of these developments are related to formal work in logic or physics, often against the backdrop of the Carnap-Quine debate on ontology. Drawing on Quine’s later work, I argue that a psychological or cognitive perspective on metaphysical topics may be a valuable addition to contemporary metametaphysics. The method is illustrated by means of cognitive studies of the notions “identity,” “vagueness,” and “object” and is compared to other extant (...)
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  • Consistent Belief in a Good True Self in Misanthropes and Three Interdependent Cultures.Julian De Freitas, Hagop Sarkissian, George E. Newman, Igor Grossmann, Felipe De Brigard, Andres Luco & Joshua Knobe - 2018 - Cognitive Science 42 (S1):134-160.
    People sometimes explain behavior by appealing to an essentialist concept of the self, often referred to as the true self. Existing studies suggest that people tend to believe that the true self is morally virtuous; that is deep inside, every person is motivated to behave in morally good ways. Is this belief particular to individuals with optimistic beliefs or people from Western cultures, or does it reflect a widely held cognitive bias in how people understand the self? To address this (...)
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  • Is Ontological Revisionism Uncharitable?Chris Daly & David Liggins - 2016 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 46 (3):405-425.
    Some philosophers deny the existence of composite material objects. Other philosophers hold that whenever there are some things, they compose something. The purpose of this paper is to scrutinize an objection to these revisionary views: the objection that nihilism and universalism are both unacceptably uncharitable because each of them implies that a great deal of what we ordinarily believe is false. Our main business is to show how nihilism and universalism can be defended against the objection. A secondary point is (...)
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  • The True Self: A Psychological Concept Distinct From the Self.Nina Strohminger, Joshua Knobe & George Newman - forthcoming - Perspectives on Psychological Science.
    A long tradition of psychological research has explored the distinction between characteristics that are part of the self and those that lie outside of it. Recently, a surge of research has begun examining a further distinction. Even among characteristics that are internal to the self, people pick out a subset as belonging to the true self. These factors are judged as making people who they really are, deep down. In this paper, we introduce the concept of the true self and (...)
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  • Intuitions About Objects: From Teleology to Elimination.David Mark Kovacs - forthcoming - Mind:fzz071.
    In a series of recent papers, David Rose and Jonathan Schaffer use a number of experiments to show that folk intuitions about composition and persistence are driven by pre-scientific teleological tendencies. They argue that these intuitions are fit for debunking and that the playing field for competing accounts of composition and persistence should therefore be considered even: no view draws more support from folk intuitions than its rivals, and the choice between them should be made exclusively on the basis of (...)
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  • Cognitive Science for the Revisionary Metaphysician.David Rose - forthcoming - In Alvin Goldman & Brian P. McLaughlin (eds.), Cognitive Science and Metaphysics. Oxford University Press.
    Many philosophers insist that the revisionary metaphysician—i.e., the metaphysician who offers a metaphysical theory which conflicts with folk intuitions—bears a special burden to explain why certain folk intuitions are mistaken. I show how evidence from cognitive science can help revisionist discharge this explanatory burden. Focusing on composition and persistence, I argue that empirical evidence indicates that the folk operate with a promiscuous teleomentalist view of composition and persistence. The folk view, I argue, deserves to be debunked. In this way, I (...)
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  • Actual Causation and Compositionality.Jonathan Livengood & Justin Sytsma - 2020 - Philosophy of Science 87 (1):43-69.
    Many theories of actual causation implicitly endorse the claim that if c is an actual cause of e, then either c causes e directly or every intermediary by which c indirectly causes e is itself both an actual cause of e and also an actual effect of c. We think this compositionality constraint is plausible. However, as we show, it is not always satisfied by the causal attributions ordinary people make. We conclude by considering what philosophers working on causation should (...)
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  • Personal Identity.David Shoemaker & Kevin P. Tobia - forthcoming - In Oxford Handbook of Moral Psychology. Oxford:
    Our aim in this entry is to articulate the state of the art in the moral psychology of personal identity. We begin by discussing the major philosophical theories of personal identity, including their shortcomings. We then turn to recent psychological work on personal identity and the self, investigations that often illuminate our person-related normative concerns. We conclude by discussing the implications of this psychological work for some contemporary philosophical theories and suggesting fruitful areas for future work on personal identity.
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  • Counting Experiments.Jonathan Livengood - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (1):175-195.
    In this paper, I show how one might resist two influential arguments for the Likelihood Principle by appealing to the ontological significance of creative intentions. The first argument for the Likelihood Principle that I consider is the argument from intentions. After clarifying the argument, I show how the key premiss in the argument may be resisted by maintaining that creative intentions sometimes independently matter to what experiments exist. The second argument that I consider is Gandenberger’s :475–503, 2015) rehabilitation of Birnbaum’s (...)
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  • Debunking Arguments.Daniel Z. Korman - 2019 - Philosophy Compass 14 (12).
    Debunking arguments—also known as etiological arguments, genealogical arguments, access problems, isolation objec- tions, and reliability challenges—arise in philosophical debates about a diverse range of topics, including causation, chance, color, consciousness, epistemic reasons, free will, grounding, laws of nature, logic, mathematics, modality, morality, natural kinds, ordinary objects, religion, and time. What unifies the arguments is the transition from a premise about what does or doesn't explain why we have certain mental states to a negative assessment of their epistemic status. I examine (...)
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  • Empirical tests of interest-relative invariantism.Chandra Sekhar Sripada & Jason Stanley - 2012 - Episteme 9 (1):3-26.
    According to Interest-Relative Invariantism, whether an agent knows that p, or possesses other sorts of epistemic properties or relations, is in part determined by the practical costs of being wrong about p. Recent studies in experimental philosophy have tested the claims of IRI. After critically discussing prior studies, we present the results of our own experiments that provide strong support for IRI. We discuss our results in light of complementary findings by other theorists, and address the challenge posed by a (...)
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  • Daniel Z. Korman, Objects: Nothing Out of the Ordinary. [REVIEW]Asya Passinsky - 2019 - Philosophical Review 128 (2):241-245.
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