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  1. Reference for neo-Fregeans.David E. Taylor - 2021 - Synthese 198 (12):11505-11536.
    Neo-Fregeanism is a family of positions in the philosophy of mathematics that combines a certain type of platonism about mathematical abstracta with a certain type of logicism about the foundations and epistemology of mathematics. This paper addresses the following question: what sort of theory of reference can/should NF be committed to? The theory of reference I propose for NF comes in two parts. First, an alethic account of referential success: the fact that a term ‘a’ succeeds in referring to something (...)
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  • Categoricity by convention.Julien Murzi & Brett Topey - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 178 (10):3391-3420.
    On a widespread naturalist view, the meanings of mathematical terms are determined, and can only be determined, by the way we use mathematical language—in particular, by the basic mathematical principles we’re disposed to accept. But it’s mysterious how this can be so, since, as is well known, minimally strong first-order theories are non-categorical and so are compatible with countless non-isomorphic interpretations. As for second-order theories: though they typically enjoy categoricity results—for instance, Dedekind’s categoricity theorem for second-order PA and Zermelo’s quasi-categoricity (...)
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  • In Defence of Metametasemantics.Filip Kawczyński - 2021 - Axiomathes 31 (3):401-418.
    In the paper I defend the idea of metametasemantics against the arguments recently presented by Ori Simchen. Simchen attacks the view, according to which metametasemantics incorporating all possible metasemantic accounts is necessary to protect the metasemantic theories from the notorious problem of inscrutability of reference. Simchen claims that if metametasemantics is allowed it ‘absorbs’ metasemantic theories to the extent that it diminishes their explanatory value. Furthermore, in this way Simchen sets up two main metasemantic paradigms i.e. productivism and interpretationism as (...)
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  • Behavioral Foundations for Expression Meaning.Megan Henricks Stotts - 2021 - Topoi 40 (1):27-42.
    According to a well-established tradition in the philosophy of language, we can understand what makes an arbitrary sound, gesture, or marking into a meaningful linguistic expression only by appealing to mental states, such as beliefs and intentions. In this paper, I explore the contrasting possibility of understanding the meaningfulness of linguistic expressions just in terms of observable linguistic behavior. Specifically, I explore the view that a type of sound becomes a meaningful linguistic expression within a group in virtue of the (...)
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  • On the Indeterminacy of the Meter.Kevin Scharp - 2017 - Synthese:1-31.
    In the International System of Units, ‘meter’ is defined in terms of seconds and the speed of light, and ‘second’ is defined in terms of properties of cesium 133 atoms. I show that one consequence of these definitions is that: if there is a minimal length, then the chances that ‘meter’ is completely determinate are only 1 in 21,413,747. Moreover, we have good reason to believe that there is a minimal length. Thus, it is highly probable that ‘meter’ is indeterminate. (...)
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  • Is Romeo Dead? On the Persistence of Organisms.Rina Tzinman - 2018 - Synthese 195 (9):4081-4105.
    According to a prominent view of organism persistence, organisms cease to exist at death. According to a rival view, organisms can continue to exist as dead organisms. Most of the arguments in favor of the latter view rely on linguistic and common sense intuitions. I propose a new argument for somaticism by appealing to two other sources that have thus far not figured in the debate: the concept of naturalness, and biological descriptions of organisms, in particular in ethology and ecology. (...)
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  • Rule-Following and Charity : Wittgenstein and Davidson on Meaning Determination.Kathrin Glüer-Pagin - 2017 - In Claudine Verheggen (ed.), Wittgenstein and Davidson on Thought, Language, and Action. Cambridge, U.K: Cambridge University Press. pp. 69-96.
    The project of this chapter is to explore some relations between the rule-following considerations and radical interpretation. I spell out the sense in which the rule-following considerations are about meaning determination, and investigate whether the principle of meaning determination used in the early Davidson's account of meaning determination - the principle of charity - provides an answer to what I shall call "Wittgenstein's paradox". More precisely, I am interested in one aspect of the paradox: the "problem of objectivity". My question (...)
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  • Metasemantics Out of Economics?Hattiangadi Anandi - unknown
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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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  • Semantic Deflationism Deflated.Mahrad Almotahari - 2019 - Synthese 196 (6):2435-2454.
    Deflationism is the view that certain metaphysical debates are defective, leaving it open whether the defect is best explained in semantic, conceptual, or epistemic terms. Local semantic deflationism is the thesis that familiar metaphysical debates, which appear to be about the existence and identity of material objects, are merely verbal. It’s a form of local deflationism because it restricts itself to one particular area of metaphysics. It’s a form of semantic deflationism because the defect it purports to identify in these (...)
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  • The Role of Structure: A Critical Notice of Sider’s Writing the Book of the World. [REVIEW]Dana Goswick - 2014 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 44 (1):129-147.
    I critically evaluate the notion of structure Ted Sider presents in Writing the Book of the World. A prerequisite to understanding Sider's notion of structure is understanding Sider's take on ideology and ontology. In Section II, I discuss this. In Section III, I consider arguments in favor of structure. In Section IV, I examine one debate that is considered by Sider to be nonsubstantive: the debate over modality. I conclude, in Section V, by examining the reception Writing the Book of (...)
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  • The Problem with Charlie: Some Remarks on Putnam, Lewis, and Williams.Timothy Bays - 2007 - Philosophical Review 116 (3):401-425.
    In his new paper, “Eligibility and Inscrutability,” J. R. G. Williams presents a surprising new challenge to David Lewis’ theory of interpretation. Although Williams frames this challenge primarily as a response to Lewis’ criticisms of Putnam’s model-theoretic argument, the challenge itself goes to the heart of Lewis’ own account of interpretation. Further, and leaving Lewis’ project aside for a moment, Williams’ argument highlights some important—and some fairly general—points concerning the relationship between model theory and semantic determinacy.
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  • Against Magnetism.Wolfgang Schwarz - 2014 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 92 (1):17-36.
    Magnetism in meta-semantics is the view that the meaning of our words is determined in part by their use and in part by the objective naturalness of candidate meanings. This hypothesis is commonly attributed to David Lewis, and has been put to philosophical work by Brian Weatherson, Ted Sider and others. I argue that there is no evidence that Lewis ever endorsed the view, and that his actual account of language reveals good reasons against it.
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  • Metaphysical Reduction of Necessity : A Modified Account.Pak Him Lai - 2019 - Dissertation, Lingnan University
    This thesis investigates the metaphysical nature of necessity. My study focuses primarily on the reduction of metaphysical necessity and the question of whether a necessary truth can be reductively defined. Theodore Sider develops a new reductive account of metaphysical necessity. Unfortunately, the multiple realizability problem posed by Jonathan Schaffer undermines the credibility of Sider’s account. This underlies my motivation to search for a revised Siderian account of necessity. On this basis, I propose a modified version of Sider’s account and argue (...)
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  • Linguistic Hijacking.Derek Anderson - 2020 - Feminist Philosophy Quarterly 6 (3).
    This paper introduces the concept of linguistic hijacking, the phenomenon wherein politically significant terminology is co-opted by dominant groups in ways that further their dominance over marginalized groups. Here I focus on hijackings of the words “racist” and “racism.” The model of linguistic hijacking developed here, called the semantic corruption model, is inspired by Burge’s social externalism, in which deference plays a key role in determining the semantic properties of expressions. The model describes networks of deference relations, which support competing (...)
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  • Semantic Sovereignty.Stephen Kearns & Ofra Magidor - 2012 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 85 (2):322-350.
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  • Radical Interpretation and Decision Theory.Anandi Hattiangadi & H. Orri Stefánsson - forthcoming - Synthese:1-22.
    This paper takes issue with an influential interpretationist argument for physicalism about intentionality based on the possibility of radical interpretation. The interpretationist defends the physicalist thesis that the intentional truths supervene on the physical truths by arguing that it is possible for a radical interpreter, who knows all of the physical truths, to work out the intentional truths about what an arbitrary agent believes, desires, and means without recourse to any further empirical information. One of the most compelling arguments for (...)
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  • Conciliatory Metaontology, Permissive Ontology, and Nature's Joints.David Mokriski - forthcoming - Synthese.
    According to the conciliatory view in metaontology, there are multiple possible languages corresponding to the popular positions in ontology. In each of these languages, the term ‘exists’ expresses a distinct “existence-like” property, and consequently the claims associated with each of the rival ontological positions come out true in some such language. Species of the conciliatory view can be distinguished based on claims about how the various existence-like properties are related vis-à-vis metaphysical naturalness. On some versions, all of the existence-like properties (...)
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  • Metasemantics and Singular Reference.Ori Simchen - 2017 - Noûs 51 (2):175-195.
    I consider two competing approaches to metasemantics: productivism, whereby endowment with semantic significance emerges directly from conditions surrounding the production or employment of the items semantically endowed; and interpretationism, whereby endowment with semantic significance emerges directly from conditions surrounding the interpretive consumption of such items. Focusing on the version of interpretationism developed by Lewis and his followers, I present a novel argument to the conclusion that such an approach cannot secure determinacy for singular reference. I then draw a larger moral (...)
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  • The Price of Inscrutability.J. R. G. Williams - 2008 - Noûs 42 (4):600 - 641.
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  • Language Without Information Exchange.Jessica Keiser - forthcoming - Mind and Language.
    This paper attempts to revive a once-lively program in the philosophy of language—that of reducing linguistic phenomena to facts about mental states and actions. I argue that recent skepticism toward this project is generated by features of traditional implementations of the project, rather than the project itself. A picture of language as essentially a mechanism for cooperative information exchange attracted theorists to metasemantic accounts grounding language use in illocutionary action (roughly, using an utterance to elicit a propositional attitude). When this (...)
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  • Representational Scepticism: The Bubble Puzzle.J. Robert G. Williams - 2016 - Philosophical Perspectives 30 (1):419-442.
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  • How to Find an Attractive Solution to the Liar Paradox.Mark Pinder - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (7):1661-1680.
    The general thesis of this paper is that metasemantic theories can play a central role in determining the correct solution to the liar paradox. I argue for the thesis by providing a specific example. I show how Lewis’s reference-magnetic metasemantic theory may decide between two of the most influential solutions to the liar paradox: Kripke’s minimal fixed point theory of truth and Gupta and Belnap’s revision theory of truth. In particular, I suggest that Lewis’s metasemantic theory favours Kripke’s solution to (...)
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  • Inscrutability and Ontological Commitment.Berit Brogaard - 2008 - Philosophical Studies 141 (1):21 - 42.
    There are two doctrines for which Quine is particularly well known: the doctrine of ontological commitment and the inscrutability thesis—the thesis that reference and quantification are inscrutable. At first glance, the two doctrines are squarely at odds. If there is no fact of the matter as to what our expressions refer to, then it would appear that no determinate commitments can be read off of our best theories. We argue here that the appearance of a clash between the two doctrines (...)
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  • Justification Magnets.C. S. I. Jenkins - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 164 (1):93-111.
    David Lewis is associated with the controversial thesis that some properties are more eligible than others to be the referents of our predicates solely in virtue of those properties’ being more natural; independently, that is, of anything to do with our patterns of usage of the relevant predicates. On such a view, the natural properties act as ‘reference magnets’. In this paper I explore (though I do not endorse) a related thesis in epistemology: that some propositions are ‘justification magnets’. According (...)
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  • An Alternative Approach to Existence Monism: An Interpretation of Truisms Using Linguistic Ontology and the One as Semantic Glue.Masahiro Takatori - 2020 - Annals of the Japan Association for Philosophy of Science 29:75-91.
    Existence monism (EM) is a metaphysical view asserting the existence of only one concrete object. EM is well known for its radicalness, and encounters difficulty in terms of its prima facie inconsistency with truisms. This paper aims to propose an alternative (and somewhat easy) way to overcome this difficulty and indicate another means by which the possibility of EM can be defended. I will present a package of theses that are intended to be combined with EM, which I call Linguistic (...)
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  • No Work For a Theory of Universals.M. Eddon & Christopher J. G. Meacham - 2015 - In Jonathan Schaffer & Barry Loewer (eds.), A Companion to David Lewis. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 116-137.
    Several variants of Lewis's Best System Account of Lawhood have been proposed that avoid its commitment to perfectly natural properties. There has been little discussion of the relative merits of these proposals, and little discussion of how one might extend this strategy to provide natural property-free variants of Lewis's other accounts, such as his accounts of duplication, intrinsicality, causation, counterfactuals, and reference. We undertake these projects in this paper. We begin by providing a framework for classifying and assessing the variants (...)
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  • Conceptual Engineering and the Implementation Problem.Sigurd Jorem - 2021 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 64 (1-2):186-211.
    Conceptual engineers seek to revise or replace the devices we use to speak and think. If this amounts to an effort to change what natural language expressions mean, conceptual engineers will have a hard time. It is largely unfeasible to change the meaning of e.g. ‘cause’ in English. Conceptual engineers may therefore seem unable to make the changes they aim to make. This is what I call ‘the implementation problem’. In this paper, I argue that the implementation problem dissolves if (...)
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  • The Methodological Implications of Reference Magnetism on Moral Twin Earth.David Mokriski - 2020 - Metaphilosophy 51 (5):702-726.
    The Moral Twin Earth challenge to ethical naturalism threatens to undermine an otherwise promising metaethical view by showing that typical, naturalist-friendly theories of reference determination predict diverging reference in Twin Earth scenarios, making it difficult to account for substantive moral disagreement. Several theorists have recently invoked David Lewis’s doctrine of reference magnetism as a solution, claiming that a highly elite moral property—a moral “joint in nature”—could secure shared reference between ourselves and our twins on Twin Earth, despite our diverging usages (...)
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  • The Role of Naturalness in Lewis's Theory of Meaning.Brian Weatherson - 2013 - Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy 1 (10).
    Many writers have held that in his later work, David Lewis adopted a theory of predicate meaning such that the meaning of a predicate is the most natural property that is (mostly) consistent with the way the predicate is used. That orthodox interpretation is shared by both supporters and critics of Lewis's theory of meaning, but it has recently been strongly criticised by Wolfgang Schwarz. In this paper, I accept many of Schwarze's criticisms of the orthodox interpretation, and add some (...)
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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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  • 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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  • Requirements on Reality.J. Robert G. Williams - 2012 - In Fabrice Correia Benjamin Schnieder (ed.), Metaphysical Grounding: Understanding the Structure of Reality. Cambridge University Press. pp. 165-185.
    There are advantages to thrift over honest toil. If we can make do without numbers we avoid challenging questions over the metaphysics and epistemology of such entities; and we have a good idea, I think, of what a nominalistic metaphysics should look like. But minimizing ontology brings its own problems; for it seems to lead to error theory— saying that large swathes of common-sense and best science are false. Should recherche philosophical arguments really convince us to give all this up? (...)
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  • Stage Universalism, Voints and Sorts.Marta Campdelacreu - 2010 - Disputatio 3 (28):293-307.
    In the current debate on how ordinary objects persist through time, more than one philosopher has endorsed the following two theses: stage theory and diachronic universalism. In this paper, I would like to offer a solution to the problem that Balashov poses to the joint acceptance of these theses. I will also offer a number of reasons why, even if it is not necessary to undermine Balashov’s counterexamples, stage theorists can, without making their theory less appealing, reject Balashov’s understanding of (...)
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  • Abstraction Reconceived.J. P. Studd - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (2):579-615.
    Neologicists have sought to ground mathematical knowledge in abstraction. One especially obstinate problem for this account is the bad company problem. The leading neologicist strategy for resolving this problem is to attempt to sift the good abstraction principles from the bad. This response faces a dilemma: the system of ‘good’ abstraction principles either falls foul of the Scylla of inconsistency or the Charybdis of being unable to recover a modest portion of Zermelo–Fraenkel set theory with its intended generality. This article (...)
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  • The Eligibility of Rule Utilitarianism.David Mokriski - 2020 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 17 (3).
    According to the eligibility theory of meaning, often attributed to David Lewis, the referent of a predicate is the property that best balances the twin constraints of charity and eligibility, where eligibility is a function of metaphysical naturalness. This sort of metasemantics, which is motivated by its ability to resolve problems of indeterminacy and secure shared reference between disputing parties, can be somewhat friendly towards revisionary theories, since highly natural properties can act as “reference magnets,” securing our reference despite some (...)
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  • Non-Naturalism and Reference.Jussi Suikkanen - 2017 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 11 (2):1-24.
    Metaethical realists disagree about the nature of normative properties. Naturalists think that they are ordinary natural properties: causally efficacious, a posteriori knowable, and usable in the best explanations of natural and social sciences. Non-naturalist realists, in contrast, argue that they are sui generis: causally inert, a priori knowable and not a part of the subject matter of sciences. It has been assumed so far that naturalists can explain causally how the normative predicates manage to refer to normative properties, whereas non-naturalists (...)
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  • Radical Interpretation and The Aggregation Problem.Anandi Hattiangadi - 2020 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 101 (2):283-303.
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, EarlyView.
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  • Descriptivism About the Reference of Set-Theoretic Expressions: Revisiting Putnam’s Model-Theoretic Arguments.Zeynep Soysal - 2020 - The Monist 103 (4):442-454.
    Putnam’s model-theoretic arguments for the indeterminacy of reference have been taken to pose a special problem for mathematical languages. In this paper, I argue that if one accepts that there are theory-external constraints on the reference of at least some expressions of ordinary language, then Putnam’s model-theoretic arguments for mathematical languages don’t go through. In particular, I argue for a kind of descriptivism about mathematical expressions according to which their reference is “anchored” in the reference of expressions of ordinary language. (...)
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  • Fundamental and Derivative Truths.J. R. G. Williams - 2010 - Mind 119 (473):103 - 141.
    This article investigates the claim that some truths are fundamentally or really true — and that other truths are not. Such a distinction can help us reconcile radically minimal metaphysical views with the verities of common sense. I develop an understanding of the distinction whereby Fundamentality is not itself a metaphysical distinction, but rather a device that must be presupposed to express metaphysical distinctions. Drawing on recent work by Rayo on anti-Quinean theories of ontological commitments, I formulate a rigourous theory (...)
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  • David Lewis.Brian Weatherson - 2009 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  • Naturalness of Properties and Simplicity of Theories.Matej Drobňák - 2019 - Teorie Vědy / Theory of Science 41 (1):3-19.
    In this paper, I discuss a specific approach to measuring and comparing the simplicity of theories that is based on Lewis’s notion of fundamental properties. In particular, I discuss the criterion of simplicity as stated by Williams. According to Williams, the best candidate for a theory is the one which has the shortest definition in terms of fundamental properties. The aim of this paper is to show that the criterion thus specified has two constraints. First, the criterion is not applicable (...)
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  • Epistemological Naturalness: What is a Good Heuristic Strategy Good For?Matej Drobňák - 2018 - Logic and Logical Philosophy 27 (1):85-104.
    According to the standard interpretation of Lewis’s theory of predicate meaning (the U&N theory), the naturalness of meaning candidates should be stated metaphysically - as a length of definition in terms of fundamental properties. Recently, Weatherson has criticized the U&N theory and argued that the criterion of naturalness should be stated epistemologically - as the amount of evidence needed to form a belief. Despite the criticism, his attitude towards the U&N theory is quite relaxed. According to Weatherson, the U&N theory (...)
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  • Gavagai Again.Robert Williams - 2008 - Synthese 164 (2):235 - 259.
    Quine (1960, "Word and object". Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, ch. 2) claims that there are a variety of equally good schemes for translating or interpreting ordinary talk. 'Rabbit' might be taken to divide its reference over rabbits, over temporal slices of rabbits, or undetached parts of rabbits, without significantly affecting which sentences get classified as true and which as false. This is the basis of his famous 'argument from below' to the conclusion that there can be no fact of the (...)
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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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  • Moral Realism and Semantic Plasticity.David Manley - manuscript
    Are moral terms semantically plastic—that is, would very slight changes in our patterns of use have shifted their meanings? This is a delicate question for moral realists. A 'yes' answer seems to conflict with the sorts of intuitions that support realism; but a 'no' answer seems to require a semantics that involves hefty metaphysical commitments. This tension can be illustrated by thinking about how standard accounts of vagueness can be applied to the case of moral terms, and also by considering (...)
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  • Dimensions: A New Ontology of Properties.Xi-Yang Guo - 2017 - Dissertation, University of Durham
    This thesis advances and defends a novel two-category ontology of objects and dimensions, latterly conceived as respects of comparability. The proposed 'dimensionist' ontology is set out and brought to bear on discussions of determinables and determinates, the problem of universals, fact ontologies, and nomic governance. Dimensionism is argued to fare well in comparison to a range of rival ontological accounts of property possession. A metametaphysical framework is set out to undergird the discussion, which draws on both realist and pragmatist resources.
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  • Logically Simple Properties and Relations.Jan Plate - 2016 - Philosophers' Imprint 16:1-40.
    This paper presents an account of what it is for a property or relation (or ‘attribute’ for short) to be logically simple. Based on this account, it is shown, among other things, that the logically simple attributes are in at least one important way sparse. This in turn lends support to the view that the concept of a logically simple attribute can be regarded as a promising substitute for Lewis’s concept of a perfectly natural attribute. At least in part, the (...)
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  • A Reconsideration of the Harsanyi–Sen–Weymark Debate on Utilitarianism.Hilary Greaves - 2016 - Utilitas:1-39.
    Harsanyi claimed that his Aggregation and Impartial Observer Theorems provide a justification for utilitarianism. This claim has been strongly resisted, notably by Sen and Weymark, who argue that while Harsanyi has perhaps shown that overall good is a linear sum of individuals’ von Neumann-Morgenstern utilities, he has done nothing to establish any con- nection between the notion of von Neumann-Morgenstern utility and that of well-being, and hence that utilitarianism does not follow. The present article defends Harsanyi against the Sen-Weymark cri- (...)
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  • Davidson on Reference.Robert Williams - 2013 - In Ernie LePore & Kurt Ludwig (eds.), Blackwell Companion to Donald Davidson. Blackwell.
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