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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 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Chance, Determinism, and Unsettledness.Antony Eagle - 2018 - 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Quantum Mechanics and Metaphysical Indeterminacy.George Darby - 2010 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 88 (2):227-245.
    There has been recent interest in formulating theories of non-representational indeterminacy. The aim of this paper is to clarify the relevance of quantum mechanics to this project. Quantum-mechanical examples of vague objects have been offered by various authors, displaying indeterminate identity, in the face of the famous Evans argument that such an idea is incoherent. It has also been suggested that the quantum-mechanical treatment of state-dependent properties exhibits metaphysical indeterminacy. In both cases it is important to consider the details of (...)
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  • Metaphysical Indeterminacy, Properties, and Quantum Theory.Alisa Bokulich - 2014 - Res Philosophica 91 (3):449-475.
    It has frequently been suggested that quantum mechanics may provide a genuine case of ontic vagueness or metaphysical indeterminacy. However, discussions of quantum theory in the vagueness literature are often cursory and, as I shall argue, have in some respects been misguided. Hitherto much of the debate over ontic vagueness and quantum theory has centered on the “indeterminate identity” construal of ontic vagueness, and whether the quantum phenomenon of entanglement produces particles whose identity is indeterminate. I argue that this way (...)
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  • How 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Indeterminacy in Causation.Eric Swanson - 2017 - Philosophical Quarterly 67 (268):606–624.
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  • How Many There Are Isn’T.Jonah P. B. Goldwater - forthcoming - Philosophia:1-21.
    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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  • 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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  • Causal and Moral Indeterminacy.Sara Bernstein - 2016 - Ratio 29 (4):434-447.
    This paper argues that several sorts of metaphysical and semantic indeterminacy afflict the causal relation. If, as it is plausible to hold, there is a relationship between causation and moral responsibility, then indeterminacy in the causal relation results in indeterminacy of moral responsibility more generally.
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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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  • 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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  • Against Quantum Indeterminacy.David Glick - 2017 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 6 (3):204-213.
    A growing literature is premised on the claim that quantum mechanics provides evidence for metaphysical indeterminacy. But does it? None of the currently fashionable realist interpretations involve fundamental indeterminacy and the ‘standard interpretation’, to the extent that it can be made out, doesn't require indeterminacy either.
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  • Conceivability, Plural Quantification, 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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  • Vaghezza: Confini, Cumuli E Paradossi.Sebastiano Moruzzi - 2012 - Laterza.
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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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  • Indeterminate Oughts.J. Robert G. Williams - 2017 - Ethics 127 (3):645-673.
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  • Degree Supervaluational Logic.J. Robert G. Williams - 2011 - Review of Symbolic Logic 4 (1):130-149.
    Supervaluationism is often described as the most popular semantic treatment of indeterminacy. There???s little consensus, however, about how to fill out the bare-bones idea to include a characterization of logical consequence. The paper explores one methodology for choosing between the logics: pick a logic that norms belief as classical consequence is standardly thought to do. The main focus of the paper considers a variant of standard supervaluational, on which we can characterize degrees of determinacy. It applies the methodology above to (...)
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  • Response to Eklund.Elizabeth Barnes & J. Robert G. Williams - 2011 - In Karen Bennett & Dean W. Zimmerman (eds.), Oxford Studies in Metaphysics Volume 6. Oxford University Press.
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  • Vagueness and Degrees of Truth, by Nicholas J. J. Smith. [REVIEW]Robert Williams - 2011 - Mind 120 (480):1297-1305.
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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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Epistemic Modality, Mind, and Mathematics.Hasen Khudairi - 2017 - Gutenberg.
    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 phenomenal consciousness and gradational possible-worlds models in Bayesian perceptual psychology relate to epistemic modal space. The book 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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  • Transcendental Ethics: Hyperintensional Foundations of Value Theory.Hasen Khudairi - 2017 - Gutenberg.
    This book concerns the modal and hyperintensional foundations of ethics. The book provides three metaphysical frameworks in which to examine the nature of ethical value, obligation, cognition, and consciousness. The first framework is an algebraic semantics, and provides support for the claim that truths about modality are metaphysically fundamental. The second framework is a multi-dimensional hyperintensional semantics, and is shown to provide a natural setting in which to address issues both in decision theory and which concern intentional action. The third (...)
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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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Trenton Merricks' Truth and Ontology. [REVIEW]Kristopher McDaniel - 2011 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 83 (1):203-211.
    This is my contribution to an author-meets-critics session on Truth and Ontology.
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  • Ontic Vagueness: A Guide for the Perplexed.Elizabeth Barnes - 2010 - Noûs 44 (4):601-627.
    In this paper I develop a framework for understanding ontic vagueness. The project of the paper is two-fold. I first outline a definitional account of ontic vagueness – one that I think is an improvement on previous attempts because it remains neutral on other, independent metaphysical issues. I then develop one potential manifestation of that basic definitional structure. This is a more robust (and much less neutral) account which gives a fully classical explication of ontic vagueness via modal concepts. The (...)
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  • Emerging Determinacy.Benjamin Eva - 2018 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 7 (1):31-39.
    In recent years, a number of authors have defended the coherence and philosophical utility of the notion of metaphysical indeterminacy. Concurrently, the idea that reality can be stratified into more or less fundamental ‘levels’ has gained significant traction in the literature. Here, I examine the relationship between these two notions. Specifically, I consider the question of what metaphysical determinacy at one level of reality tells us about the possibility of metaphysical determinacy at other more or less fundamental levels. Towards this (...)
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  • Vagueness and Quantification.Andrea Iacona - 2015 - Journal of Philosophical Logic (5):1-24.
    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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  • Part and Whole, Again1.Karen Bennett - 2017 - Philosophical Issues 27 (1):7-25.
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