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Existential relativity

Midwest Studies in Philosophy 23 (1):132–143 (1999)

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  1. 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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  • Temporal Parts.Katherine Hawley - 2004/2010 - Stanford Encylopedia of Philosophy.
    Material objects extend through space by having different spatial parts in different places. But how do they persist through time? According to some philosophers, things have temporal parts as well as spatial parts: accepting this is supposed to help us solve a whole bunch of metaphysical problems, and keep our philosophy in line with modern physics. Other philosophers disagree, arguing that neither metaphysics nor physics give us good reason to believe in temporal parts.
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  • Realism, Truthmakers, and Language: A study in meta-ontology and the relationship between language and metaphysics.J. T. M. Miller - 2014 - Dissertation, Durham University
    Metaphysics has had a long history of debate over its viability, and substantivity. This thesis explores issues connected to the realism question within the domain of metaphysics, ultimately aiming to defend a realist, substantive metaphysics by responding to so-called deflationary approaches, which have become prominent, and well supported within the recent metametaphysical and metaontological literature. To this end, I begin by examining the changing nature of the realism question. I argue that characterising realism and anti-realism through theories of truth unduly (...)
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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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  • Metaontology.Matti Eklund - 2006 - Philosophy Compass 1 (3):317-334.
    Metaontology – the study of the nature of ontological issues – has flourished in recent years. The focus of this summary will be on some views and arguments that are central to today’s debate. One theme will be that of how seriously to take ontology: whether there is reason to take a skeptical or deflationary attitude toward ontological claims, as theorists like Rudolf Carnap, Hilary Putnam, and Eli Hirsch in different ways have urged. The other theme will be that of (...)
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  • Ontological realism.Theodore Sider - 2009 - In Ryan Wasserman, David Manley & David Chalmers (eds.), Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. pp. 384--423.
    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 (...)
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  • Unrestricted Composition and Restricted Quantification.Daniel Z. Korman - 2008 - Philosophical Studies 140 (3):319-334.
    Many of those who accept the universalist thesis that mereological composition is unrestricted also maintain that the folk typically restrict their quantifiers in such a way as to exclude strange fusions when they say things that appear to conflict with universalism. Despite its prima facie implausibility, there are powerful arguments for universalism. By contrast, there is remarkably little evidence for the thesis that strange fusions are excluded from the ordinary domain of quantification. Furthermore, this reconciliatory strategy seems hopeless when applied (...)
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  • Logic and ontology.Thomas Hofweber - 2005 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    A number of important philosophical problems are problems in the overlap of logic and ontology. Both logic and ontology are diverse fields within philosophy, and partly because of this there is not one single philosophical problem about the relation between logic and ontology. In this survey article we will first discuss what different philosophical projects are carried out under the headings of "logic" and "ontology" and then we will look at several areas where logic and ontology overlap.
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  • Physical-object ontology, verbal disputes, and common sense.Eli Hirsch - 2005 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 70 (1):67–97.
    Two main claims are defended in this paper: first, that typical disputes in the literature about the ontology of physical objects are merely verbal; second, that the proper way to resolve these disputes is by appealing to common sense or ordinary language. A verbal dispute is characterized not in terms of private idiolects, but in terms of different linguistic communities representing different positions. If we imagine a community that makes Chisholm's mereological essentialist assertions, and another community that makes Lewis's four-dimensionalist (...)
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  • The non-identity of a material thing and its matter.Kit Fine - 2003 - Mind 112 (446):195-234.
    There is a well-known argument from Leibniz's Law for the view that coincident material things may be distinct. For given that they differ in their properties, then how can they be the same? However, many philosophers have suggested that this apparent difference in properties is the product of a linguistic illusion; there is just one thing out there, but different sorts or guises under which it may be described. I attempt to show that this ‘opacity’ defence has intolerable consequences for (...)
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  • Is Dialetheism an Idealism? The Russellian Fallacy and the Dialetheist’s Dilemma.Francesco Berto - 2007 - Dialectica 61 (2):235–263.
    In his famous work on vagueness, Russell named “fallacy of verbalism” the fallacy that consists in mistaking the properties of words for the properties of things. In this paper, I examine two (clusters of) mainstream paraconsistent logical theories – the non-adjunctive and relevant approaches –, and show that, if they are given a strongly paraconsistent or dialetheic reading, the charge of committing the Russellian Fallacy can be raised against them in a sophisticated way, by appealing to the intuitive reading of (...)
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  • Spatio-temporal coincidence and the grounding problem.Karen Bennett - 2004 - Philosophical Studies 118 (3):339-371.
    A lot of people believe that distinct objects can occupy precisely the same place for the entire time during which they exist. Such people have to provide an answer to the 'grounding problem' – they have to explain how such things, alike in so many ways, nonetheless manage to fall under different sortals, or have different modal properties. I argue in detail that they cannot say that there is anything in virtue of which spatio-temporally coincident things have those properties. However, (...)
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  • Qua-Objects, (Non-)Derivative Properties and the Consistency of Hylomorphism.Marta Campdelacreu & Sergi Oms - 2023 - Metaphysica 24 (2):323-338.
    Imagine a sculptor who molds a lump of clay to create a statue. Hylomorphism claims that the statue and the lump of clay are two different colocated objects that have different forms, even though they share the same matter. Recently, there has been some discussion on the requirements of consistency for hylomorphist theories. In this paper, we focus on an argument presented by Maegan Fairchild, according to which a minimal version of hylomorphism is inconsistent. We argue that the argument is (...)
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  • Hard Problems in the Philosophy of Mind.Alexandros Syrakos - manuscript
    The mind is our most intimate and familiar element of reality, yet also the most mysterious. Various schools of thought propose interpretations of the mind that are consistent with their worldview, all of which face some problems. Some of these problems can be characterised as ``hard'', not in the sense of being difficult to solve (most problems concerning the mind are difficult), but in the sense of being most likely insurmountable: they bring to the surface logical inconsistencies between the reality (...)
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  • How to Be a Spacetime Substantivalist.Trevor Teitel - 2022 - Journal of Philosophy 119 (5):233-278.
    The consensus among spacetime substantivalists is to respond to Leibniz's classic shift arguments, and their contemporary incarnation in the form of the hole argument, by pruning the allegedly problematic metaphysical possibilities that generate these arguments. Some substantivalists do so by directly appealing to a modal doctrine akin to anti-haecceitism. Other substantivalists do so by appealing to an underlying hyperintensional doctrine that implies some such modal doctrine. My first aim in this paper is to pose a challenge for all extant forms (...)
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  • Arbitrariness and the long road to permissivism.Maegan Fairchild - 2022 - Noûs 56 (3):619-638.
    Radically permissive ontologies like mereological universalism and material plenitude are typically motivated by concerns about arbitrariness or anthropocentrism: it would be objectionably arbitrary, the thought goes, to countenance only those objects that we ordinarily take there to be. Despite the prevalence of this idea, it isn't at all clear what it is for a theory to be “objectionably arbitrary,” or what follows from a commitment to avoiding arbitrariness in metaphysics. This paper aims to clarify both questions, and examines whether arguments (...)
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  • What Counts as a ‘Good’ Metaphysical Language?J. T. M. Miller - 2021 - In James Miller (ed.), The Language of Ontology. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. pp. 102-118.
    The objectively best language is intended to refer to some metaphysically privileged language that ‘carves reality at its joints’ perfectly. That is, it is the kind of language that various ‘metaphysical deflationists’ have argued is impossible. One common line of argument amongst deflationists is that we have no means to compare languages that all express true facts about the world in such a way to decide which is ‘better’. For example, the language is physics is not objectively better than the (...)
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  • Quantification in the Ontology Room.Bradley Rettler - 2019 - Dialectica 73 (4):563-585.
    There is a growing movement towards construing some classic debates in ontology as meaningless, either because the answers seem obvious or the debates seem intractable. In this paper, I respond to this movement. The response has three components: First, the members of the two sides of the ontological debates that dismissivists have targeted are using different quantifiers. Second, the austere ontologist is using a more fundamental quantifier than her opponent. Third, the austere ontologist’s more fundamental quantifier is a restriction of (...)
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  • Some Highs and Lows of Hylomorphism: On a Paradox about Property Abstraction.Teresa Robertson Ishii & Nathan Salmón - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (6):1549-1563.
    We defend hylomorphism against Maegan Fairchild’s purported proof of its inconsistency. We provide a deduction of a contradiction from SH+, which is the combination of “simple hylomorphism” and an innocuous premise. We show that the deduction, reminiscent of Russell’s Paradox, is proof-theoretically valid in classical higher-order logic and invokes an impredicatively defined property. We provide a proof that SH+ is nevertheless consistent in a free higher-order logic. It is shown that the unrestricted comprehension principle of property abstraction on which the (...)
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  • Against Conservatism in Metaphysics.Maegan Fairchild & John Hawthorne - 2018 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 82:45-75.
    In his recent book, Daniel Korman contrasts ontological conservatives with permissivists and eliminativists about ontology. Roughly speaking, conservatives admit the existence of ‘ordinary objects' like trees, dogs, and snowballs, but deny the existence of ‘extraordinary objects', like composites of trees and dogs. Eliminativists, on the other hand, deny many or all ordinary objects, while permissivists accept both ordinary and extraordinary objects. Our aim in this paper is to outline some of our reasons for being drawn to permissivism, as well as (...)
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  • The ontological implications of neo-Fregeanism.María de Ponte - 2016 - Daimon: Revista Internacional de Filosofía 69:159-174.
    Neo-Fregeanism is a combination of two ideas: logicism, according to which arithmetic can be derived from logic plus definitions, and Platonism, according to which there are mathematical objects. Neo-Fregeans propose a new interpretation of Frege’s principles of abstraction and of the role of reconceptualization and implicit definition for the introduction of numbers into our ontology. I analyze the ontological implications of neo-Fregeanism, not only for mathematics, but for abstract entities in general. After briefly introducing some of the main elements of (...)
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  • Composition and Identities.Manuel Lechthaler - 2017 - Dissertation, University of Otago
    Composition as Identity is the view that an object is identical to its parts taken collectively. I elaborate and defend a theory based on this idea: composition is a kind of identity. Since this claim is best presented within a plural logic, I develop a formal system of plural logic. The principles of this system differ from the standard views on plural logic because one of my central claims is that identity is a relation which comes in a variety of (...)
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  • Sums and Grounding.Noël B. Saenz - 2017 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 96 (1):102-117.
    As I will use the term, an object is a mereological sum of some things just in case those things compose it simply in virtue of existing. In the first half of this paper, I argue that there are no sums. The key premise for this conclusion relies on a constraint on what, in certain cases, it takes for something to ground, or metaphysically explain, something else. In the second half, I argue that in light of my argument against sums, (...)
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  • A Paradox of Matter and Form.Maegan Fairchild - 2017 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 6 (1):33-42.
    In the face of the puzzles of material constitution, some philosophers have been moved to posit a distinction between an object's matter and its form. A familiar difficulty for contemporary hylomorphism is to say which properties are eligible as forms: for example, it seems that it would be intolerably arbitrary to say that being statue shaped is embodied by some material object, but that other complex shape properties aren't. Anti-arbitrariness concerns lead quickly to a plenitudinous ontology. The usual complaint is (...)
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  • Change, Temporal Parts, and the Argument from Vagueness.Achille C. Varzi - 2005 - Dialectica 59 (4):485-498.
    The so-called ‘argument from vagueness’ is among the most powerful and innovative arguments offered in support of the view that objects are four-dimensional perdurants. The argument is defective – I submit – and in a number of ways that are worth looking into. But each ‘defect’, each gap in the argument, corresponds to a model of change that is independently problematic and that can hardly be built into the common-sense picture of the world. So once all the gaps of the (...)
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  • Statues and Lumps: A Strange Coincidence?Mark Moyer - 2006 - Synthese 148 (2):401-423.
    Puzzles about persistence and change through time, i.e., about identity across time, have foundered on confusion about what it is for ‘two things’ to be have ‘the same thing’ at a time. This is most directly seen in the dispute over whether material objects can occupy exactly the same place at the same time. This paper defends the possibility of such coincidence against several arguments to the contrary. Distinguishing a temporally relative from an absolute sense of ‘the same’, we see (...)
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  • Verbal Disputes and Substantiveness.Brendan Balcerak Jackson - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (S1):31-54.
    One way to challenge the substantiveness of a particular philosophical issue is to argue that those who debate the issue are engaged in a merely verbal dispute. For example, it has been maintained that the apparent disagreement over the mind/brain identity thesis is a merely verbal dispute, and thus that there is no substantive question of whether or not mental properties are identical to neurological properties. The goal of this paper is to help clarify the relationship between mere verbalness and (...)
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  • Introduction : a guided tour of metametaphysics.David Manley - 2009 - In Ryan Wasserman, David Manley & David Chalmers (eds.), Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
    Metaphysics is concerned with the foundations of reality. It asks questions about the nature of the world, such as: Aside from concrete objects, are there also abstract objects like numbers and properties? Does every event have a cause? What is the nature of possibility and necessity? When do several things make up a single bigger thing? Do the past and future exist? And so on. -/- Metametaphysics is concerned with the foundations of metaphysics. It asks: Do the questions of metaphysics (...)
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  • Change, temporal parts, and the argument from vagueness.Achille C. Varzi - 2005 - Dialectica 59 (4):485–498.
    The so-called "argument from vagueness", the clearest formulation of which is to be found in Ted Sider’s book Four-dimensionalism, is arguably the most powerful and innovative argument recently offered in support of the view that objects are four-dimensional perdurants. The argument is defective--I submit--and in a number of ways that is worth looking into. But each "defect" corresponds to a model of change that is independently problematic and that can hardly be built into the common-sense picture of the world. So (...)
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  • Brouwer's Intuition of Twoity and Constructions in Separable Mathematics.Bruno Bentzen - forthcoming - History and Philosophy of Logic.
    My first aim in this paper is to use time diagrams in the style of Brentano to analyze constructions in Brouwer's separable mathematics more precisely. I argue that constructions must involve not only pairing and projecting as basic operations guaranteed by the intuition of twoity, as sometimes assumed in the literature, but also a recalling operation. My second aim is to argue that Brouwer's views on the intuition of twoity and arithmetic lead to an ontological explosion. Redeveloping the constructions of (...)
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  • How to be a compatibilist in metaphysics: The epistemic strategy.Massimiliano Carrara & Vittorio Morato - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy:1-25.
    Conflicts between our best philosophical theories (BPTs) and our common beliefs are widespread. For example, if eliminativism is our BPT, then our BPT conflicts with common beliefs about the existence of middle-sized composite artifacts. “Compatibilism” is the name usually given to a theoretical attitude, according to which, in the case of a conflict between BPT and a common belief P, we should try to find a reconciliation. The two major variants of compatibilism are “semantic compatibilism” (SC) and “cognitive compatibilism” (CC). (...)
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  • Qua Objects and Their Limits.Annina J. Loets - 2021 - Mind 130 (518):617-638.
    It is both a matter of everyday experience and a tenet of sociological theory that people often occupy a range of social roles and identities, some of which are associated with mutually incompatible properties. But since nothing could have incompatible properties, it is not clear how this is possible. It has been suggested, notably by Kit Fine (1982, 1999, 2006), that the puzzling relation between a person and their various social roles and identities can be explained by admitting an ontology (...)
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  • The Barest Flutter of the Smallest Leaf: Understanding Material Plenitude.Maegan Fairchild - 2019 - Philosophical Review 128 (2):143-178.
    According to material plenitude, every material object coincides with an abundance of other material objects that differ in the properties they have essentially and accidentally. Although this kind of plenitude is becoming increasingly popular, it isn't clear how to make sense of the view beyond its slogan form. As I argue, it turns out to be extraordinarily difficult to do so: straightforward attempts are either inconsistent or fail to capture the target idea. Making progress requires us to engage in more (...)
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  • Why metaphysical debates are not merely verbal.Mark Balaguer - 2020 - Synthese 197 (3):1181-1201.
    A number of philosophers have argued in recent years that certain kinds of metaphysical debates—e.g., debates over the existence of past and future objects, mereological sums, and coincident objects—are merely verbal. It is argued in this paper that metaphysical debates are not merely verbal. The paper proceeds by uncovering and describing a pattern that can be found in a very wide range of philosophical problems and then explaining how, in connection with any problem of this general kind, there is always (...)
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  • Defending coincidence: An explanation of a sort.Mark Moyer - unknown
    Can different material objects have the same parts at all times at which they exist? This paper defends the possibility of such coincidence against the main argument to the contrary, the ‘Indiscernibility Argument’. According to this argument, the modal supervenes on the nonmodal, since, after all, the non-modal is what grounds the modal; hence, it would be utterly mysterious if two objects sharing all parts had different essential properties. The weakness of the argument becomes apparent once we understand how the (...)
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  • Ontological disagreements, reliability, and standoffs: The pluralist option.Delia Belleri - 2021 - Metaphilosophy 52 (3-4):348-362.
    The reliability challenge to ontology can be summarized as the complaint that no satisfying explanation is available of how one can have true ontological beliefs, given that the relevant belief-forming methods are noncausal (for example, not perception based or memory based). This paper first presents a version of the reliability challenge against realist approaches to ontology, put forward by Jared Warren. It then explores a response to the challenge on behalf of the realist that appeals to the use of abduction. (...)
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  • Persistence Egalitarianism.Irem Kurtsal - 2021 - Res Philosophica 98 (1):63-88.
    Modal Plenitude—the view that, for every empirically adequate modal profile, there is an object whose modal profile it is—is held to be consistent with each of endurantist and perdurantist (three- and four-dimensionalist) views of persistence. Here I show that, because “endurer” and “perdurer” are two substantially different kinds of entity, compossible with each other and consistent with empirical data, Modal Plenitude actually entails a third view about persistence that I call “Persistence Egalitarianism.” In every non-empty spacetime region there are two (...)
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  • The Lump and the Ledger: Material Coincidence at Little-to-No Cost.Jonah Goldwater - 2019 - 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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  • Ontological disputes and the phenomenon of metalinguistic negotiation: Charting the territory.Delia Belleri - 2020 - Philosophy Compass 15 (7):e12684.
    Paradigmatic cases of ontological disputes are taken to concern whether or not certain objects exist. Some theorists, however, prefer to view ontologists as really debating about what we should mean with the term “exist” (or other cognate terms). This implies interpreting ontological disputes as metalinguistic negotiations, in keeping with a recent trend to interpret other philosophical disputes along these lines (Plunkett and Sundell. Philosopher's Imprint; 2013;13:1–37). A number of issues arise from such proposal. The first is what counts as evidence (...)
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  • The limits of Humeanism.Jesse M. Mulder - 2018 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 8 (3):671-687.
    Humeans take reality to be devoid of ‘necessary connections’: things just happen. Laws of nature are to be understood in terms of what ‘just happens’, not vice versa. Here the Humean needs some conception of what it is that ‘just happens’ – a conception of the Humean mosaic. Lewis’s Humeanism incorporates such a conception in the form of a Lewis-style metaphysics of objects, properties, and modality. Newer versions of Humeanism about laws of nature, such as the Better Best Systems approach, (...)
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  • The nature of intuitions and their role in material object metaphysics.Andrew Higgins - 2014 - Dissertation, University of Illinois
    I argue for three central theses: ‘intuition’ is ambiguous, in material object metaphysics ‘intuition’ refers to pre-theoretical beliefs, and these pre-theoretical beliefs are generated by an innate physical reasoning system. I begin by outlining the relevant background discussions on the nature of intuitions and their role in philosophy to motivate the need for a more careful investigation of the meaning of ‘intuition’ and the role of intuitions in specific sub-disciplines of philosophy. In chapters one and two I argue that ‘intuition’ (...)
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  • Essentialist Plenitude and the Semantics of Proper Names.Uriah Kriegel - 2019 - Metaphysics 2 (1):16-25.
    A number of prominent metaphysicians have recently defended a set of ideas which I will call ‘essentialist plenitude.’ Very roughly, and to a first approximation, essentialist plenitude says that wherever there is an object with properties P1, …, Pn there is in fact a plenitude of coincident objects that differ only in the distribution of essentiality and accidentality across P1, …, Pn (§1). The main purpose of this paper is to arouse the suspicion that essentialist plenitude may have far-reaching consequences (...)
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  • Disagreement in Scientific Ontologies.David Ludwig - 2013 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie (1):1-13.
    The aim of this article is to discuss the nature of disagreement in scientific ontologies in the light of case studies from biology and cognitive science. I argue that disagreements in scientific ontologies are usually not about purely factual issues but involve both verbal and normative aspects. Furthermore, I try to show that this partly non-factual character of disagreement in scientific ontologies does not lead to a radical deflationism but is compatible with a “normative ontological realism.” Finally, I argue that (...)
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  • Beyond Physicalism and Dualism? Putnam’s Pragmatic Pluralism and the Philosophy of Mind.David Ludwig - 2011 - European Journal of Pragmatism and American Philosophy 3 (1):245-257.
    Although Hilary Putnam has played a significant role in shaping contemporary philosophy of mind, he has more recently criticised its metaphysical foundations as fun-damentally flawed. According to Putnam, the standard positions in the philosophy of mind rest on dubious ontological assumptions which are challenged by his “pragmatic pluralism” and the idea that we can always describe reality in different but equally fun-damental ways. Putnam considers this pluralism about conceptual resources as an alterna-tive to both physicalism and dualism. Contrary to physicalism, (...)
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  • Time, objects, and identity.Ian Gibson - unknown
    This is a copy of my DPhil thesis, the abstract for which is as follows: The first third of this thesis argues for a B-theoretic conception of time according to which all times exist equally and the present is in no way privileged. I distinguish "ontological" A-theories from "non-ontological" ones, arguing that the latter are experientially unmotivated and barely coherent. With regard to the former, I focus mainly on presentism. After some remarks on how to formulate this (and eternalism) non-trivially, (...)
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