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  Subjects -> PHILOSOPHY (Total: 762 journals)
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Metaphysics
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  This is an Open Access Journal Open Access journal
ISSN (Online) 2515-8279
Published by Ubiquity Press Limited Homepage  [40 journals]
  • The Historicity of Artifacts: Use and Counter-Use

    • Abstract: Inspired by Sara Ahmed’s notion of ‘queer use,’ I present and extend a neo-Aristotelian theory of artifacts to capture what I call ‘counter-use.’ The theory of artifacts is based on the idea that what they are, how they come to be, and what their functions are cannot be understood independently from each other. They come to exist when a maker imposes the concept of their substantial kind onto some matter by working on the matter to make an artifact of that kind out of it. The extensions to this core theory that I describe are two. First, I show how using can be a kind of making and how disparate users may form what Benedict Anderson calls an imagined community. Second, I describe what I call an artifact’s historicity and suggest that, like its substantial kind, an artifact’s historicity is essential to it. On this basis, I characterize counter-use as use of an artifact by an imagined community that re-arranges an object’s historicity and hence brings into existence a numerically distinct object. Thus, politically motivated counter-use has genuine ontological implications. Published on 2022-02-04 13:12:31
       
  • Instantiation

    • Abstract: What is it, metaphysically, for a universal to be instantiated in a concrete particular' Philosophical controversy has been ongoing since the beginning of philosophy itself. I here contribute a novel account of instantiation developed on the basis of Aristotelian premises (but departing from the mainstream interpretation according to which Aristotelian universals are instantiated by ‘combining’ hylomorphically with matter). The key stance is that for Aristotle each substance is one, i.e. single (in addition to also being a non-recurrent particular). I show that for Aristotle, the oneness of substances is primitively assumed, and, importantly, cannot be derived from composition of parts, not even holistic composition. Parts undermine oneness. It follows that instantiated properties are not parts of substances. However, if not parts of the substances they are in, what are they' Aristotle shows they are qualifications of the substances they are in. Don’t qualifications undermine the singleness of a substance' I show that Aristotle makes sure they do not. The way he does it is new, then and now. Instantiated properties are ‘hybrid’ entities: they sacrifice their own discreteness qua properties, while adopting the discreteness of the metaphysical subject they qualify, i.e. the substance. But then, how can a universal quality recur in many substances, if, when instantiated, it assimilates the discreteness of each of these substances' This is a key Aristotelian stance: the quality recurs, not its qualifications. Qualities are abstracted from their instances in similar objects, e.g. ‘wisdom’ is abstracted from many ‘wise’ people; ‘wisdom’ is individuated bottom-up from its instances, by abstraction. Published on 2021-12-08 13:00:34
       
  • Words, Species, and Kinds

    • Abstract: It has been widely argued that words are analogous to species such that words, like species, are natural kinds. In this paper, I consider the metaphysics of word-kinds. After arguing against an essentialist approach, I argue that word-kinds are homeostatic property clusters, in line with the dominant approach to other biological and psychological kinds. Published on 2021-11-24 12:00:02
       
  • A New Puzzle About Aristotelian Accidents

    • Abstract: I present a new puzzle that concerns Aristotle’s accidents. This puzzle arises when applying a basic requirement of accidentality to the variety of cases Aristotle provides. In short, Aristotle seems to offer, now the thought that a is accidental to b, and now that b is accidental to a; but if accidentality is asymmetric, as it seems to be, then a’s being accidental to b implies that b is not accidental to a. One might offer a schooled Aristotelian solution, allowing that while a is in a sense accidental to b, b is accidental to a in a quite different sense. But, as I will argue, this solution does not work, for there are cases in which a and b are accidental to each other in the same sense. Ultimately, the solution to the new puzzle relies not on distinguishing between senses of ‘accident,’ but rather on unearthing a new feature of accidentality: accidentality is contextual, in a sense to be defined in the paper. Published on 2021-08-31 12:06:28
       
  • Are Reference Rules Inessential to Meaning'

    • Abstract: This article responds to a case-based argument by Mark Richard that rule of reference is not essential to meaning. It objects that the argument requires shifting between understanding the relevant term in the case, ‘marriage,’ as a determinable, in order to support one premise, and a determinate, in order to support another. On no univocal interpretation can both premises be made true. Published on 2020-12-03 11:27:34
       
  • The Identity of Social Groups

    • Abstract: I apply the theory of embodiment to various questions concerning the identity of social groups. Published on 2020-12-03 11:13:52
       
  • Is Reference Essential to Meaning'

    • Abstract: Most linguists and philosophers will tell you that whatever meaning is, it determines the reference of names, the satisfaction conditions of nouns and verbs, the truth conditions of sentences; in linguist speak, meaning determines semantic value. So a change in semantic value implies a change in meaning. So the semantic value a meaning determines is essential to that meaning: holding contributions from context constant, if two words have different semantic values they cannot mean the same thing. If this is correct, then in a fairly straightforward sense reference is essential to meaning. In this paper I argue that reference is not essential to meaning by giving an example in which groups in different circumstances use a phrase with the same meaning but a different reference. Published on 2020-12-03 10:46:17
       
  • Against Social Kind Anti-Realism

    • Abstract: The view that social kinds (e.g., money, migrant, marriage) are mind-dependent is a prominent one in the social ontology literature. However, in addition to the claim that social kinds are mind-dependent, it is often asserted that social kinds are not real because they are mind-dependent. Call this view social kind anti-realism. To defend their view, social kind anti-realists must accomplish two tasks. First, they must identify a dependence relation that obtains between social kinds and our mental states. Call this the Dependence Task. Second, they must show that social kinds are not real because they are mind-dependent. Call this the Anti-Realist Task. In this paper, I consider several different ways of defining the relation that is supposed to obtain between social kinds and our mental states. With respect to each relation, I argue that either it fails to accomplish the Dependence Task, or it fails to accomplish the Anti-Realist Task. As such, anyone who wishes to defend social kind anti-realism must provide an alternative explanation of how social kinds depend on our mental states in a way that impugns their reality. In the absence of such an explanation, there is no reason to endorse social kind anti-realism. Published on 2020-10-20 09:36:51
       
  • Metaphysical Explanations for Modal Normativists

    • Abstract: I expand modal normativism, a theory of metaphysical modality, to give a normativist account of metaphysical explanation. According to modal normativism, basic modal claims do not have a descriptive function, but instead have the normative function of enabling language users to express semantic rules that govern the use of ordinary non-modal vocabulary. However, a worry for modal normativism is that it doesn’t keep up with all of the important and interesting metaphysics we can do by giving and evaluating metaphysical explanations. So, I advance modal normativism by arguing that metaphysical explanations also have a normative rather than descriptive function. In particular, non-causal explanatory claims have formal and semantic properties that make them expressively stricter than basic modal claims and so are better suited to express fine-grained aspects of semantic rules. A major payoff of my normativist account of metaphysical explanations is that it yields a plausible story about how we come to evaluate and know metaphysical explanations—we do this primarily by conceptual analysis. I also respond to a number of objections, including the objection that the epistemic payoffs of my view are not worth the metaphysical costs. Published on 2020-09-14 10:29:36
       
  • A Modal Account of Essence

    • Abstract: According to the simple modal account of essence, an object has a property essentially just in case it has it in every world in which it exists. As many have observed, the simple modal account is implausible for a number of reasons. This has led to various proposals for strengthening the account, for example, by adding a restriction to the intrinsic or sparse properties. I argue, however, that these amendments to the simple modal account themselves fail. Drawing on lessons from these failures, I propose a new version of a modal account, inspired by Ruth Barcan Marcus’s defense of the coherence of quantified modal logic, according to which an object has a property essentially just in case (i) it has it in every world in which it exists, (ii) the property is discriminating (or non-trivial), and (iii) the property is qualitative. The resulting account of essence does not face any of the standard objections other accounts face, and I defend it from other potential objections. Published on 2020-09-07 11:42:30
       
 
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