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A Theory of Metaphysical Indeterminacy

In Karen Bennett & Dean W. Zimmerman (eds.), Oxford Studies in Metaphysics volume 6. Oxford University Press. pp. 103-148 (2011)

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  1. Epistemic Modality, Mind, and Mathematics.Hasen Khudairi - 2020 - Dissertation, University of St Andrews
    This book concerns the foundations of epistemic modality. I examine the nature of epistemic modality, when the modal operator is interpreted as concerning both apriority and conceivability, as well as states of knowledge and belief. The book demonstrates how epistemic modality relates to the computational theory of mind; metaphysical modality; deontic modality; the types of mathematical modality; to the epistemic status of undecidable propositions and abstraction principles in the philosophy of mathematics; to the apriori-aposteriori distinction; to the modal profile of (...)
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  • Conceivability and Haecceitism.Hasen Khudairi - manuscript
    This essay aims to redress the contention that epistemic possibility cannot be a guide to the principles of modal metaphysics. I argue that the interaction between the multi-dimensional intensional framework and intensional plural quantification enables epistemic possibilities to target the haecceitistic properties of individuals. I outline the elements of plural logic, and I specify, then, a multi-dimensional intensional formula encoding the relation between the epistemic possibility of haecceity comprehension and its metaphysical possibility. I conclude by addressing objections from the indeterminacy (...)
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  • Quantum metaphysical indeterminacy and worldly incompleteness.Alessandro Torza - 2020 - Synthese 197 (10):4251-4264.
    An influential theory has it that metaphysical indeterminacy occurs just when reality can be made completely precise in multiple ways. That characterization is formulated by employing the modal apparatus of ersatz possible worlds. As quantum physics taught us, reality cannot be made completely precise. I meet the challenge by providing an alternative theory which preserves the use of ersatz worlds but rejects the precisificational view of metaphysical indeterminacy. The upshot of the proposed theory is that it is metaphysically indeterminate whether (...)
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  • How (Not) To Argue Against Vague Object.Ali Abasnezhad - 2016 - Metaphysica 17 (2).
    In a series of papers, Elizabeth Barnes and Robert Williams have developed a theory of metaphysical vagueness in which they argue for legitimacy of vague object and indeterminate identity. In his recent paper, Ken Akiba raises two objections against Barnes-Williams theory, concluding that it is ill-conceived and wrong-headed. In one objection, he argues that the theory implies indeterminate identity between referentially determinate objects to which λ-abstraction is applicable, and hence Evans’ argument ultimately goes through. In the other, he objects that (...)
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  • Duration Enough for Presentism.Robert E. Pezet - 2020 - Axiomathes 30 (4):391-421.
    This paper considers a problem for dynamic presentism that has received little attention: its apparent inability to accommodate the duration of events. After outlining the problem, I defend presentism from it. This defence proceeds in two stages. First, I argue the objection rests on a faulty assumption: that duration is temporal extension. The paper challenges that assumption on several different ways of conceiving of temporal extension. This is the negative case and forms the bulk of the paper. Second, after diagnosing (...)
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  • Future Ontology: Indeterminate Existence or Non-existence?Michael Tze-Sung Longenecker - 2020 - Philosophia 48 (4):1493-1500.
    The Growing Block Theory of time says that the metaphysical openness of the future should be understood in terms of there not being any future objects or events. But in a series of works, Ross Cameron, Elizabeth Barnes, and Robbie Williams have developed a competing view that understands metaphysical openness in terms of it being indeterminate whether there exist future objects or events. I argue that the three reasons they give for preferring their account are not compelling. And since the (...)
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  • The Determinable-Based Account of Metaphysical Indeterminacy and Vague Identity.Radim Belohrad - unknown - Kriterion - Journal of Philosophy (AO):AO.
    This paper focuses on Jessica Wilson’s determinable-based account of metaphysical indeterminacy and its relationship to the concept of vague identity. The determinable-based account comprises a distinction between meta-level and object-level accounts of metaphysical indeterminacy. I first argue that the distinction cannot be clearly applied to some theories. In particular, I argue that even though Wilson categorizes the constitution account of metaphysical indeterminacy as a meta-level account, from one perspective it can be defensibly regarded as an object-level account, because it is (...)
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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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  • Sorites On What Matters.Theron Pummer - forthcoming - In Jeff McMahan, Timothy Campbell, Ketan Ramakrishnan & Jimmy Goodrich (eds.), Ethics and Existence: The Legacy of Derek Parfit. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    Ethics in the tradition of Derek Parfit’s Reasons and Persons is riddled with sorites-like arguments, which lead us by what seem innocent steps to seemingly false conclusions. Take, for example, spectrum arguments for the Repugnant Conclusion that appeal to slight differences in quality of life. Several authors have taken the view that, since spectrum arguments are structurally analogous to sorites arguments, the correct response to spectrum arguments is structurally analogous to the correct response to sorites arguments. I argue against this (...)
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  • Fundamental Indeterminacy.Elizabeth Barnes - 2014 - Analytic Philosophy 55 (4):339-362.
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  • Location and Mereology.Cody Gilmore - 2013 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  • How Many there Are Isn’t.Jonah P. B. Goldwater - 2020 - Philosophia 48 (3):1037-1057.
    A world where there exists n concrete things is a count-determinate world. The orthodox view is count-determinacy is necessary; if to be is to be the value of a variable and the domain of quantification is enumerable, count-determinacy follows. Yet I argue how many there are can be indeterminate; count-indeterminacy is metaphysically possible and even likely actual. Notably, my argument includes rebuttals of Evans’ reductio of indeterminate identity and the Lewis/Sider ‘argument from vagueness’. Count-indeterminacy should therefore be recognized as another (...)
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  • Lewis on Reference and Eligibility.J. R. G. Williams - 2015 - In Barry Loewer & Jonathan Schaffer (eds.), A companion to David Lewis. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 367-382.
    This paper outlines Lewis’s favoured foundational account of linguistic representation, and outlines and briefly evaluates variations and modifications. Section 1 gives an opinionated exegesis of Lewis’ work on the foundations of reference—his interpretationism. I look at the way that the metaphysical distinction between natural and non-natural properties came to play a central role in his thinking about language. Lewis’s own deployment of this notion has implausible commitments, so in section 2 I consider variations and alternatives. Section 3 briefly considers a (...)
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  • Vagueness and the Laws of Metaphysics.Ryan Wasserman - 2017 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 95 (1):66-89.
    This is a paper about the nature of metaphysical laws and their relation to the phenomenon of vagueness. Metaphysical laws are introduced as analogous to natural laws, and metaphysical indeterminism is modeled on causal indeterminacy. This kind of indeterminacy is then put to work in developing a novel theory of vagueness and a solution to the sorites paradox.
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  • Two-Dimensional Truthmaker Semantics.Hasen Khudairi - manuscript
    This paper endeavors to establish foundations for the interaction between hyperintensional semantics and multi-dimensional indexing. I examine the significance of the semantics, by developing three, novel interpretations of the framework. The first interpretation provides a characterization of the distinction between fundamental and derivative truths. The interaction between the hyperintensional truthmaker semantics and modal ontology is further examined. The second interpretation demonstrates how the elements of decision theory are definable within the semantics, and provides a novel account of the interaction between (...)
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  • Forms of Luminosity.Hasen Khudairi - 2017
    This dissertation concerns the foundations of epistemic modality. I examine the nature of epistemic modality, when the modal operator is interpreted as concerning both apriority and conceivability, as well as states of knowledge and belief. The dissertation demonstrates how phenomenal consciousness and gradational possible-worlds models in Bayesian perceptual psychology relate to epistemic modal space. The dissertation demonstrates, then, how epistemic modality relates to the computational theory of mind; metaphysical modality; deontic modality; logical modality; the types of mathematical modality; to the (...)
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  • Chance, Determinism, and Unsettledness.Antony Eagle - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (3):781-802.
    A previously unrecognised argument against deterministic chance is introduced. The argument rests on the twin ideas that determined outcomes are settled, while chancy outcomes are unsettled, thus making cases of determined but chancy outcomes impossible. Closer attention to tacit assumptions about settledness makes available some principled lines of resistance to the argument for compatibilists about chance and determinism. Yet the costs of maintaining compatibilism may be higher with respect to this argument than with respect to existing incompatibilist arguments.
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  • Indeterminacy in Causation.Eric Swanson - 2017 - Philosophical Quarterly 67 (268):606–624.
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  • Conditionals, Indeterminacy, and Triviality.Justin Khoo - 2013 - Philosophical Perspectives 27 (1):260-287.
    This paper discusses and relates two puzzles for indicative conditionals: a puzzle about indeterminacy and a puzzle about triviality. Both puzzles arise because of Ramsey's Observation, which states that the probability of a conditional is equal to the conditional probability of its consequent given its antecedent. The puzzle of indeterminacy is the problem of reconciling this fact about conditionals with the fact that they seem to lack truth values at worlds where their antecedents are false. The puzzle of triviality is (...)
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  • Ethical Vagueness and Practical Reasoning.Billy Dunaway - 2017 - Philosophical Quarterly 67 (266):38-60.
    This paper looks at the phenomenon of ethical vagueness by asking the question, how ought one to reason about what to do when confronted with a case of ethical vagueness? I begin by arguing that we must confront this question, since ethical vagueness is inescapable. I then outline one attractive answer to the question: we ought to maximize expected moral value when confronted with ethical vagueness. This idea yields determinate results for what one rationally ought to do in cases of (...)
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  • Vaghezza: Confini, Cumuli E Paradossi.Sebastiano Moruzzi - 2012 - Laterza.
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  • Reference Magnetism and the Reduction of Reference.J. R. G. Williams - manuscript
    *This work has turned into a bigger project, and some of it is published in "Lewis on reference".* Some things, argues Lewis, are just better candidates to be referents than others. Even at the cost of attributing false beliefs, we interpret people as referring to the most interesting kinds in their vicinity. How should this be accounted for? In section 1, I look at Lewis’s interpretationism, and the reference magnetism it builds in (not just for ‘perfectly natural’ properties, but for (...)
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  • Real Acquaintance and Physicalism.Philip Goff - 2015 - In Paul Coates & Sam Coleman (eds.), Phenomenal Qualities: Sense, Perception and Consciousness. Oxford University Press.
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  • Indeterminate Oughts.J. Robert G. Williams - 2017 - Ethics 127 (3):645-673.
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  • Does the Debate About Cinematic Motion Rest on a Mistake?Rafael De Clercq - 2017 - Analysis 77 (3):519-525.
    The debate about cinematic motion revolves around the question of whether the movement of cinematic images is real. That the movement we perceive in film should be construed as the movement of images is taken for granted. But this is a mistake. There is no reason to suppose that cinematic images of moving objects are themselves perceived to be moving. All that is necessary is to perceive these images as continuously changing images of one and the same object.
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  • Classical Indeterminacy.Robert Williams - manuscript
    This is an old draft of a paper that seeks to find the minimum cognitive/practical role for indeterminacy that we get if we assume a fully classical logic and semantics, but reject epistemicism. The ambition is to connect that classical setting to the framework for rational belief and decision I described in "Decision Making under Indeterminacy".
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  • Inderterminacy in Causation.Eric Swanson - 2017 - Philosophical Quarterly 67 (268):606-624.
    I argue that there are some causal relata for which it is indeterminate whether one caused the other. Positing indeterminacy in causation helps us defend contested principles in the logic of causation and makes possible new ways of thinking about the theoretical impact of symmetric causal overdetermination. I close by discussing amendments of current theories of causation that would help explain causal indeterminacy.
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  • Against 'Against 'Against Vague Existence''.Roberto Loss - 2018 - In Karen Bennett & Dean Zimmerman (eds.), Oxford Studies in Metaphysics Volume 11. Oxford University Press. pp. 278-287.
    Alessandro Torza argues that Ted Sider’s Lewisian argument against vague existence is insufficient to rule out the possibility of what he calls ‘super-vague existence’, that is the idea that existence is higher-order vague, for all orders. In this chapter it is argued that the possibility of super-vague existence is ineffective against the conclusion of Sider’s argument since super-vague existence cannot be consistently claimed to be a kind of linguistic vagueness. Torza’s idea of super-vague existence seems to be better suited to (...)
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  • Tenable Conditionals.J. Robert G. Williams - manuscript
    *This is a project I hope to come back to one day. It stalled, a bit, on the absence of a positive theory of update I could be satisfied with* When should we believe a indicative conditional, and how much confidence in it should we have? Here’s one proposal: one supposes actual the antecedent; and sees under that supposition what credence attaches to the consequent. Thus we suppose that Oswald did not shot Kennedy; and note that under this assumption, Kennedy (...)
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  • Combining Minds: A Defence of the Possibility of Experiential Combination.Luke Roelofs - 2015 - Dissertation, University of Toronto
    This thesis explores the possibility of composite consciousness: phenomenally conscious states belonging to a composite being in virtue of the consciousness of, and relations among, its parts. We have no trouble accepting that a composite being has physical properties entirely in virtue of the physical properties of, and relations among, its parts. But a long­standing intuition holds that consciousness is different: my consciousness cannot be understood as a complex of interacting component consciousnesses belonging to parts of me. I ask why: (...)
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  • Objective Probability in Everettian Quantum Mechanics.A. Wilson - 2013 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 64 (4):709-737.
    David Wallace has given a decision-theoretic argument for the Born Rule in the context of Everettian quantum mechanics. This approach promises to resolve some long-standing problems with probability in EQM, but it has faced plenty of resistance. One kind of objection charges that the requisite notion of decision-theoretic uncertainty is unavailable in the Everettian picture, so that the argument cannot gain any traction; another kind of objection grants the proof’s applicability and targets the premises. In this article I propose some (...)
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  • The Existence of the Past.Joseph Diekemper - 2014 - Synthese 191 (6):1085-1104.
    My goal in this paper is to address what I call the ‘Incoherence’ objection to the growing universe theory of time. At the root of the objection is the thought that one cannot wed objective temporal becoming with the existence of a tenseless past—which is apparently what the growing universe theorist tries to do. To do so, however, is to attribute both dynamic and static aspects to time, and, given the mutual exclusivity of these two aspects—so the thought goes—incoherence results. (...)
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  • Vague Objects and the Problem of the Many.Thomas Sattig - 2013 - Metaphysica 14 (2):211-223.
    The problem of the many poses the task of explaining mereological indeterminacy of ordinary objects in a way that sustains our familiar practice of counting these objects. The aim of this essay is to develop a solution to the problem of the many that is based on an account of mereological indeterminacy as having its source in how ordinary objects are, independently of how we represent them. At the center of the account stands a quasi-hylomorphic ontology of ordinary objects as (...)
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  • Modelling Deep Indeterminacy.George Darby & Martin Pickup - 2019 - Synthese:1-26.
    This paper constructs a model of metaphysical indeterminacy that can accommodate a kind of ‘deep’ worldly indeterminacy that arguably arises in quantum mechanics via the Kochen-Specker theorem, and that is incompatible with prominent theories of metaphysical indeterminacy such as that in Barnes and Williams (2011). We construct a variant of Barnes and Williams's theory that avoids this problem. Our version builds on situation semantics and uses incomplete, local situations rather than possible worlds to build a model. We evaluate the resulting (...)
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  • Ontologia del temps: dos debats en la tradició analítica.Joan Ferrarons-Llagostera - 2012 - Alia: Revista de Estudios Transversales 1:67-80.
    En aquest article es presenten dues teories sobre la naturalesa del temps i s’analitzen objeccions que s’hi han presentat els darrers anys en el marc de la filosofia analítica. La primera sosté que el passat i el futur no són reals, i presenta el problema de com es poden expressar proposicions veritables sobre temps no presents. D’acord amb la segona teoria, per contra, tots els temps —present, passat i futur— són igual de reals, però això sembla implicar que el futur (...)
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  • Fictional Realism and Metaphysically Indeterminate Identity.Wouter A. Cohen - 2017 - Analysis 77 (3):511-519.
    Fictional realists maintain that fictional characters are part of the world’s ontology. In an influential article, Anthony Everett argues that the fictional realist is thereby committing herself to problematic entities. Among these are entities that are indeterminately identical. Recently, Ross Cameron and Richard Woodward have answered Everett’s worry using the same strategy. They argue that the fictional realist can bypass the problematic identities by contending that they are merely semantically indeterminate. This paper concisely surveys Everett’s original argument, Cameron’s and Woodward’s (...)
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  • Will Done Better: Selection Semantics, Future Credence, and Indeterminacy.Fabrizio Cariani & Paolo Santorio - 2018 - Mind 127 (505):129-165.
    Statements about the future are central in everyday conversation and reasoning. How should we understand their meaning? The received view among philosophers treats will as a tense: in ‘Cynthia will pass her exam’, will shifts the reference time forward. Linguists, however, have produced substantial evidence for the view that will is a modal, on a par with must and would. The different accounts are designed to satisfy different theoretical constraints, apparently pulling in opposite directions. We show that these constraints are (...)
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  • Quantum Metaphysical Indeterminacy.Claudio Calosi & Jessica Wilson - 2018 - Philosophical Studies:1-29.
    On many currently live interpretations, quantum mechanics violates the classical supposition of value definiteness, according to which the properties of a given particle or system have precise values at all times. Here we consider whether either metaphysical supervaluationist or determinable-based approaches to metaphysical indeterminacy can accommodate quantum metaphysical indeterminacy (QMI). We start by discussing the standard theoretical indicator of QMI, and distinguishing three seemingly different sources of QMI (S1). We then show that previous arguments for the conclusion that metaphysical supervaluationism (...)
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  • A Determinable-Based Account of Metaphysical Indeterminacy.Jessica M. Wilson - 2013 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 56 (4):359-385.
    ABSTRACT Many phenomena appear to be indeterminate, including material macro-object boundaries and certain open future claims. Here I provide an account of indeterminacy in metaphysical, rather than semantic or epistemic, terms. Previous accounts of metaphysical indeterminacy have typically taken this to involve its being indeterminate which of various determinate states of affairs obtain. On my alternative account, MI involves its being determinate that an indeterminate state of affairs obtains. I more specifically suggest that MI involves an object's having a determinable (...)
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  • Must Strong Emergence Collapse?Umut Baysan & Jessica Wilson - 2017 - Philosophica 91:49--104.
    Some claim that the notion of strong emergence as involving ontological or causal novelty makes no sense, on grounds that any purportedly strongly emergent features or associated powers 'collapse', one way or another, into the lower-level base features upon which they depend. Here we argue that there are several independently motivated and defensible means of preventing the collapse of strongly emergent features or powers into their lower-level bases, as directed against a conception of strongly emergent features as having fundamentally novel (...)
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  • Deep Metaphysical Indeterminacy.Bradford Skow - 2010 - Philosophical Quarterly 60 (241):851 - 858.
    A recent theory of metaphysical indeterminacy says that metaphysical indeterminacy is multiple actuality: there is metaphysical indeterminacy when there are many 'complete precisifications of reality'. But it is possible for there to be metaphysical indeterminacy even when it is impossible to precisify reality completely. The orthodox interpretation of quantum mechanics illustrates this possibility. So this theory of metaphysical indeterminacy is not adequate.
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  • Arguing About Realism: Adjudicating the Putnam-Devitt Dispute.Fletcher Jade - 2016 - European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 12 (2):39-53.
    In this paper I want to adjudicate the dispute between those philosophers who do and those who do not think that the philosophy of language can illuminate metaphysical questions. To this end, I take the debate between Devitt and Putnam as a case study and diagnose what I take to be illuminating about their disagreement over metaphysical realism. I argue that both Putnam and Devitt are incorrect in their assessment of the significance of the model theoretic argument for realism. That, (...)
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  • Vagueness and Quantification.Andrea Iacona - 2016 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 45 (5):579-602.
    This paper deals with the question of what it is for a quantifier expression to be vague. First it draws a distinction between two senses in which quantifier expressions may be said to be vague, and provides an account of the distinction which rests on independently grounded assumptions. Then it suggests that, if some further assumptions are granted, the difference between the two senses considered can be represented at the formal level. Finally, it outlines some implications of the account provided (...)
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  • Epistemic dilemmas and rational indeterminacy.Nick Leonard - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (3):573-596.
    This paper is about epistemic dilemmas, i.e., cases in which one is doomed to have a doxastic attitude that is rationally impermissible no matter what. My aim is to develop and defend a position according to which there can be genuine rational indeterminacy; that is, it can be indeterminate which principles of rationality one should satisfy and thus indeterminate which doxastic attitudes one is permitted or required to have. I am going to argue that this view can resolve epistemic dilemmas (...)
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  • Spin as a Determinable.Johanna Wolff - 2015 - Topoi 34 (2):379-386.
    In this paper I aim to answer two questions: Can spin be treated as a determinable? Can a treatment of spin as a determinable be used to understand quantum indeterminacy? In response to the first question I show that the relations among spin number, spin components and spin values cannot be captured by a single determination relation; instead we need to look at spin number and spin value separately. In response to the second question I discuss three ways in which (...)
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  • Metaphysically Indeterminate Existence.Elizabeth Barnes - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 166 (3):495-510.
    Sider (Four-dimensionalism 2001; Philos Stud 114:135–146, 2003; Nous 43:557–567, 2009) has developed an influential argument against indeterminacy in existence. In what follows, I argue that the defender of metaphysical forms of indeterminate existence has a unique way of responding to Sider’s argument. The response I’ll offer is interesting not only for its applicability to Sider’s argument, but also for its broader implications; responding to Sider helps to show both how we should think about precisification in the context of metaphysical indeterminacy (...)
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  • Tensed Mereology.Paul Hovda - 2013 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 42 (2):241-283.
    Classical mereology (CM) is usually taken to be formulated in a tenseless language, and is therefore associated with a four-dimensionalist metaphysics. This paper presents three ways one might integrate the core idea of flat plenitude, i.e., that every suitable condition or property has exactly one mereological fusion, with a tensed logical setting. All require a revised notion of mereological fusion. The candidates differ over how they conceive parthood to interact with existence in time, which connects to the distinction between endurance (...)
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  • Against the Modal Argument.Christopher S. Gifford - 2013 - Erkenntnis 78 (3):627-646.
    The relationship between alethic modality and indeterminacy is yet to be clarified. A modal argument—an argument that appeals to alethic modality—against vague objects given by Joseph Moore offers a potential clarification of the relationship; it is proposed that there are cases for which the following holds: if it is indeterminate whether A = B then it is possible that it is determinate that A = B. However, the argument faces three problems. The problems remove the argument’s threat against vague objects (...)
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  • Vagueness & Modality—An Ecumenical Approach.Jon Erling Litland & Juhani Yli-Vakkuri - 2016 - Philosophical Perspectives 30 (1):229-269.
    How does vagueness interact with metaphysical modality and with restrictions of it, such as nomological modality? In particular, how do definiteness, necessity (understood as restricted in some way or not), and actuality interact? This paper proposes a model-theoretic framework for investigating the logic and semantics of that interaction. The framework is put forward in an ecumenical spirit: it is intended to be applicable to all theories of vagueness that express vagueness using a definiteness (or: determinacy) operator. We will show how (...)
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  • Vagueness and Naturalness.Ross P. Cameron - 2010 - Erkenntnis 72 (2):281-293.
    I attempt to accommodate the phenomenon of vagueness with classical logic and bivalence. I hold that for any vague predicate there is a sharp cut-off between the things that satisfy it and the things that do not; I claim that this is due to the greater naturalness of one of the candidate meanings of that predicate. I extend the thought to the problem of the many and Benacerraf cases. I go on to explore the idea that it is ontically indeterminate (...)
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