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James Norton
University of Iceland
  1. Grounding: It’s (Probably) All in the Head.Kristie Miller & James Norton - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (12):3059-3081.
    In this paper we provide a psychological explanation for ‘grounding observations’—observations that are thought to provide evidence that there exists a relation of ground. Our explanation does not appeal to the presence of any such relation. Instead, it appeals to certain evolved cognitive mechanisms, along with the traditional modal relations of supervenience, necessitation and entailment. We then consider what, if any, metaphysical conclusions we can draw from the obtaining of such an explanation, and, in particular, if it tells us anything (...)
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  2. An Empirical Investigation of Purported Passage Phenomenology.Andrew James Latham, Kristie Miller & James Norton - 2020 - Journal of Philosophy 117 (7):353-386.
    It has widely been assumed, by philosophers, that most people unambiguously have a phenomenology as of time passing, and that this is a datum that philosophical theories must accommodate. Moreover, it has been assumed that the greater the extent to which people have said phenomenology, the more likely they are to endorse a dynamical theory of time. This paper is the first to empirically test these assumptions. Surprisingly, our results do not support either assumption. One experiment instead found the reverse (...)
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  3. Primitive Directionality and Diachronic Grounding.Naoyuki Kajimoto, Kristie Miller & James Norton - 2019 - Acta Analytica 35 (2):195-211.
    Eternalists believe that there is no ontological difference between the past, present and future. Thus, a challenge arises: in virtue of what does time have a direction? Some eternalists, Oaklander and Tegtmeier ) argue that the direction of time is primitive. A natural response to positing primitive directionality is the suspicion that said posit is too mysterious to do any explanatory work. The aim of this paper is to relieve primitive directionality of some of its mystery by offering a novel (...)
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  4. Is Our Naïve Theory of Time Dynamical?Andrew James Latham, Kristie Miller & James Norton - forthcoming - Synthese.
    We investigated, experimentally, the contention that the folk view, or naïve theory, of time, amongst the population we investigated (i.e. U.S. residents) is dynamical. We found that amongst that population, (i) ~70% have an extant theory of time (the theory they deploy after some reflection, whether it be naïve or sophisticated) that is more similar to a dynamical than a non-dynamical theory, and (ii) ~70% of those who deploy a naïve theory of time (the theory that have on the basis (...)
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  5.  44
    Future Bias in Action: Does the Past Matter More When You Can Affect It?Andrew James Latham, Kristie Miller, James Norton & Christian Tarsney - forthcoming - Synthese:1-23.
    Philosophers have long noted, and empirical psychology has lately confirmed, that most people are ‘biased toward the future’: we prefer to have positive experiences in the future, and negative experiences in the past. At least two explanations have been offered for this bias: (i) belief in temporal passage (or related theses in temporal metaphysics) and (ii) the practical irrelevance of the past resulting from our inability to influence past events. We set out to test the latter explanation. In a large (...)
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  6.  36
    The Rationality of Near Bias Toward Both Future and Past Event.Alex Holcombe, Kristie Miller, James Norton, Preston Greene & Andrew James Latham - manuscript
    In recent years, a disagreement has erupted between two camps of philosophers about the rationality of bias toward the near (“near bias”) and bias toward the future (“future bias”). According to the traditional hybrid view, near bias is rationally impermissible, while future bias is either rationally permissible or obligatory. Time neutralists, meanwhile, argue that the hybrid view is untenable. Time-neutralists argue that those who reject near bias should reject both biases and embrace time-neutrality. To date, experimental work has focused on (...)
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  7.  38
    Why Are People so Darn Past Biased?Preston Greene, Andrew James Latham, Kristie Miller & James Norton - forthcoming - In Christoph Hoerl, Teresa McCormack & Alison Sutton Fernandes (eds.), Temporal Asymmetries in Philosophy and Psychology. OUP.
    Many philosophers have assumed that our preferences regarding hedonic events exhibit a bias toward the future: we prefer positive experiences to be in our future and negative experiences to be in our past. Recent experimental work by Greene et al. (ms) confirmed this assumption. However, they noted a potential for some participants to respond in a deviant manner, and hence for their methodology to underestimate the percentage of people who are time neutral, and overestimate the percentage who are future biased. (...)
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  8.  75
    An Empirical Investigation of the Role of Direction in Our Concept of Time.Andrew James Latham, Kristie Miller & James Norton - forthcoming - Acta Analytica:1-23.
    This paper empirically investigates one aspect of the folk concept of time (amongst US residents), by testing how the presence or absence of directedness impacts judgements about whether there is time in a world. Experiment 1 found that dynamists (those who think the actual world contains an A-series), showed significantly higher levels of agreement that there is time in dynamically directed (growing block) worlds than in non-dynamical non-directed (C-theory) worlds. Comparing our results to those of Latham et al. (ms), we (...)
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  9. Can Time Flow at Different Rates? The Differential Passage of A-Ness.Kristie Miller & James Norton - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-26.
    According to the No Alternate Possibilities (NAP) argument, (1) if time passes then the rate at which it passes could be different but (2) time cannot pass at different rates, and hence (3) time cannot pass. Typically, defenders of the NAP argument have focussed on defending premise (1), and have taken the truth of (2) for granted: they accept the orthodox view of rate necessitarianism. In this paper we argue that the defender of the NAP argument needs to turn her (...)
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  10. If Time Can Pass, Time Can Pass at Different Rates.Kristie Miller & James Norton - forthcoming - Analytic Philosophy.
    According to the No Alternate Possibilities argument, if time passes then the rate at which it passes could be different. Thus, time cannot pass, since if time passes, then necessarily it passes at a rate of 1 second per second. One response to this argument is to posit hypertime, and to argue that at different worlds, time passes at different rates when measured against hypertime. Since many A-theorists think we can make sense of temporal passage without positing hypertime, we pursue (...)
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  11. If Time Travel to Our Location is Possible, We Do Not Live in a Branching Universe.James Norton - 2018 - Analysis 78 (2):260-266.
    This paper argues for the following disjunction: either we do not live in a world with a branching temporal structure, or backwards time travel is nomologically impossible, given the initial state of the universe, or backwards time travel to our space-time location is impossible given large-scale facts about space and time. A fortiori, if backwards time travel to our location is possible, we do not live in a branching universe.
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  12. Is Grounding a Hyperintensional Phenomenon?Michael Duncan, Kristie Miller & James Norton - 2017 - Analytic Philosophy 58 (4):297-329.
    It is widely thought that grounding is a hyperintensional phenomenon. Unfortunately, the term ‘hyperintensionality’ has been doing double-duty, picking out two distinct phenomena. This paper clears up this conceptual confusion. We call the two resulting notions hyperintensionalityGRND and hyperintensionalityTRAD. While it is clear that grounding is hyperintensionalGRND, the interesting question is whether it is hyperintensionalTRAD. We argue that given well-accepted constraints on the logical form of grounding, to wit, that grounding is irreflexive and asymmetric, grounding is hyperintensionalTRAD only if one (...)
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  13. A Psychologistic Theory of Metaphysical Explanation.Kristie Miller & James Norton - 2019 - Synthese 196 (7):2777-2802.
    Many think that sentences about what metaphysically explains what are true iff there exist grounding relations. This suggests that sceptics about grounding should be error theorists about metaphysical explanation. We think there is a better option: a theory of metaphysical explanation which offers truth conditions for claims about what metaphysically explains what that are not couched in terms of grounding relations, but are instead couched in terms of, inter alia, psychological facts. We do not argue that our account is superior (...)
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  14. Metaphysical Explanation: The Kitcher Picture.Sam Baron & James Norton - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-21.
    This paper offers a new account of metaphysical explanation. The account is modelled on Kitcher’s (1981/1989) unificationist approach to scientific explanation. We begin, in Section Two, by briefly introducing the notion of metaphysical explanation and outlining the target of analysis. After that, we introduce a unificationist account of metaphysical explanation (Section Three) before arguing that such an account is capable of capturing four core features of metaphysical explanations: (i) irreflexivity, (ii) non-monotonicity, (iii) asymmetry and (iv) relevance. Since the unificationist theory (...)
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  15. Do the Folk Represent Time as Essentially Dynamical?Andrew James Latham, Kristie Miller & James Norton - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
    Recent research (Latham, Miller and Norton, forthcoming) reveals that a majority of people represent actual time as dynamical. But do they, as suggested by McTaggart and Gödel, represent time as essentially dynamical? This paper distinguishes three interrelated questions. We ask (a) whether the folk representation of time is sensitive or insensitive: i.e., does what satisfies the folk representation of time in counterfactual worlds depend on what satisfies it actually—sensitive—or does is not depend on what satisfies it actually—insensitive, and (b) do (...)
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  16. Ontology Without Hierarchy.Kristie Miller, Michael J. Duncan & James Norton - forthcoming - In Javier Cumpa (ed.), The Question of Ontology: The Contemporary Debate. Oxford University Press.
    It has recently become popular to suggest that questions of ontology ought be settled by determining, first, which fundamental things exist, and second, which derivative things depend on, or are grounded by, those fundamental things. This methodology typically leads to a hierarchical view of ontology according to which there are chains of entities, each dependent on the next, all the way down to a fundamental base. In this paper we defend an alternative ontological picture according to which there is no (...)
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  17. Hedonic and Non-Hedonic Bias Towards the Future.Preston Greene, Andrew James Latham, Kristie Miller & James Norton - forthcoming - Australasian Journal of Philosophy:1-16.
    It has widely been assumed, by philosophers, that our first-person preferences regarding pleasurable and painful experiences exhibit a bias toward the future (positive and negative hedonic future-bias), and that our preferences regarding non-hedonic events (both positive and negative) exhibit no such bias (non-hedonic time-neutrality). Further, it has been assumed that our third-person preferences are always time-neutral. Some have attempted to use these (presumed) differential patterns of future-bias—different across kinds of events and perspectives—to argue for the irrationality of hedonic future-bias. This (...)
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  18.  32
    On Preferring That Overall, Things Are Worse: Future-Bias and Unequal Payoffs.Preston Greene, Andrew James Latham, Kristie Miller & James Norton - manuscript
    Philosophers working on time-biases assume that people are hedonically biased toward the future. A hedonically future-biased agent prefers pleasurable experiences to be future instead of past, and painful experiences to be past instead of future. Philosophers further predict that this bias is strong enough to apply to unequal payoffs: people often prefer less pleasurable future experiences to more pleasurable past ones, and more painful past experiences to less painful future ones. In addition, philosophers have predicted that future-bias is restricted to (...)
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  19. Forgiveness: From Conceptual Pluralism to Conceptual Ethics.Andrew James Latham, Kristie Miller, James Norton & Luke Russell - forthcoming - In Court Lewis (ed.), The Philosophy of Forgiveness, Volume V. Vernon.
    Forgiveness theorists focus a good deal on explicating the content of what they take to be a shared folk concept of forgiveness. Our empirical research, however, suggests that there is a range of concepts of forgiveness present in the population, and therefore that we should be folk conceptual pluralists about forgiveness. We suggest two possible responses on the part of forgiveness theorists: (1) to deny folk conceptual pluralism by arguing that forgiveness is a functional concept and (2) to accept folk (...)
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  20. Philosophical Methodology and Conceptions of Evil Action.Andrew James Latham, Kristie Miller & James Norton - 2019 - Metaphilosophy 50 (3):296-315.
    There is considerable philosophical dispute about what it takes for an action to be evil. The methodological assumption underlying this dispute is that there is a single, shared folk conception of evil action deployed amongst culturally similar people. Empirical research we undertook suggests that this assumption is false. There exist, amongst the folk, numerous conceptions of evil action. Hence, we argue, philosophical research is most profitably spent in two endeavours. First, in determining which (if any) conception of evil action we (...)
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  21. Much Ado About Aboutness.Sam Baron, Reginald Mary Chua, Kristie Miller & James Norton - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy:1-29.
    Strong non-maximalism holds that some truths require no ontological ground of any sort. Strong non-maximalism allows one to accept that some propositions are true without being forced to endorse any corresponding ontological commitments. We show that there is a version of truthmaker theory available—anti-aboutness truthmaking—that enjoys the dialectical benefits of the strong non-maximalist’s position. According to anti-aboutness truthmaking, all truths require grounds, but a proposition need not be grounded in the very thing(s) that the proposition is about. We argue that (...)
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  22. Ditching Dependence and Determination: Or, How to Wear the Crazy Trousers.Michael J. Duncan, Kristie Miller & James Norton - forthcoming - Synthese.
    This paper defends Flatland—the view that there exist neither determination nor dependence relations, and that everything is therefore fundamental—from the objection from explanatory inefficacy. According to that objection, Flatland is unattractive because it is unable to explain either the appearance as of there being determination relations, or the appearance as of there being dependence relations. We show how the Flatlander can meet the first challenge by offering four strategies—reducing, eliminating, untangling and omnizing—which, jointly, explain the appearance as of there being (...)
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  23. Groundless Truth.Sam Baron, Kristie Miller & James Norton - 2014 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 57 (2):175-195.
    We defend two claims: (1) if one is attracted to a strong non-maximalist view about truthmaking, then it is natural to construe this as the view that there exist fundamental truths; (2) despite considerable aversion to fundamental truths, there is as yet no viable independent argument against them. That is, there is no argument against the existence of fundamental truths that is independent of any more specific arguments against the ontology accepted by the strong non-maximalist. Thus there is no argument (...)
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  24. On the Dispensability of Grounding: Ground-Breaking Work on Metaphysical Explanation.James Norton - 2017 - Dissertation, The University of Sydney
    Primitive, unanalysable grounding relations are considered by many to be indispensable constituents of the metaphysician’s toolkit. Yet, as a primitive ontological posit, grounding must earn its keep by explaining features of the world not explained by other tools already at our disposal. Those who defend grounding contend that grounding is required to play two interconnected roles: accounting for widespread intuitions regarding what is ontologically prior to what, and forming the backbone of a theory of metaphysical explanation, in much the same (...)
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