•  414
    Self-awareness and self-knowledge
    PSYCHE: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Research On Consciousness 12. 2006.
    Higher-order theories and neo-Brentanian theories of consciousness both consider conscious states to be states of which we have some sort of
  •  390
    The controversy over the existence of ordinary objects
    Philosophy Compass 5 (7): 591-601. 2010.
    The basic philosophical controversy regarding ordinary objects is: Do tables and chairs, sticks and stones, exist? This paper aims to do two things: first, to explain why how this can be a controversy at all, and second, to explain why this controversy has arisen so late in the history of philosophy. Section 1 begins by discussing why the 'obvious' sensory evidence in favor of ordinary objects is not taken to be decisive. It goes on to review the standard arguments against the existence of ordin…Read more
  •  362
    Speaking of fictional characters
    Dialectica 57 (2). 2003.
    The challenge of handling fictional discourse is to find the best way to resolve the apparent inconsistencies in our ways of speaking about fiction. A promising approach is to take at least some such discourse to involve pretense, but does all fictional discourse involve pretense? I will argue that a better, less revisionary, solution is to take internal and fictionalizing discourse to involve pretense, while allowing that in external critical discourse, fictional names are used seriously to ref…Read more
  •  350
    Fictional characters and literary practices
    British Journal of Aesthetics 43 (2): 138-157. 2003.
    I argue that the ontological status of fictional characters is determined by the beliefs and practices of those who competently deal with works of literature, and draw out three important consequences of this. First, heavily revisionary theories cannot be considered as ‘discoveries’ about the ‘true nature’ of fictional characters; any acceptable realist theory of fiction must preserve all or most of the common conception of fictional characters. Second, once we note that the existence conditions…Read more
  •  340
    The easy approach to ontology
    Axiomathes 19 (1): 1-15. 2009.
    This paper defends the view that ontological questions (properly understood) are easy—too easy, in fact, to be subjects of substantive and distinctively philosophical debates. They are easy, roughly, in the sense that they may be resolved straightforwardly—generally by a combination of conceptual and empirical enquiries. After briefly outlining the view and some of its virtues, I turn to examine two central lines of objection. The first is that this ‘easy’ approach is itself committed to substan…Read more
  •  308
    Existence questions
    Philosophical Studies 141 (1). 2008.
    I argue that thinking of existence questions as deep questions to be resolved by a distinctively philosophical discipline of ontology is misguided. I begin by examining how to understand the truth-conditions of existence claims, by way of understanding the rules of use for ‘exists’ and for general noun terms. This yields a straightforward method for resolving existence questions by a combination of conceptual analysis and empirical enquiry. It also provides a blueprint for arguing against most c…Read more
  •  260
    The ontology of social groups
    Synthese 196 (12): 4829-4845. 2019.
    Two major questions have dominated work on the metaphysics of social groups: first, Are there any? And second, What are they? I will begin by arguing that the answer to the ontological question is an easy and obvious ‘yes’. We do better to turn our efforts elsewhere, addressing the question: “What are social groups?” One might worry, however, about this question on grounds that the general term ‘social group’ seems like a term of art—not a well-used concept we can analyze, or can presuppose corr…Read more
  •  258
    Modal Normativism and the Methods of Metaphysics
    Philosophical Topics 35 (1/2): 135-160. 2007.
  •  256
    Foundation for a Social Ontology
    ProtoSociology 18 269-290. 2003.
    The existence of a social world raises both the metaphysical puzzle: how can there be a “reality” of facts and objects that are genuinely created by human intentionality? and the epistemological puzzle: how can such a product of human intentionality include objective facts available for investigation and discovery by the social sciences? I argue that Searle’s story about the creation of social facts in The Construction of Social Reality is too narrow to fully solve either side of the puzzle. By …Read more
  •  246
    Realism and human kinds
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 67 (3). 2003.
    It is often noted that institutional objects and artifacts depend on human beliefs and intentions and so fail to meet the realist paradigm of mind-independent objects. In this paper I draw out exactly in what ways the thesis of mind-independence fails, and show that it has some surprising consequences. For the specific forms of mind-dependence involved entail that we have certain forms of epistemic privilege with regard to our own institutional and artifactual kinds, protecting us from certain p…Read more
  •  242
    Ordinary Objects (edited book)
    Oxford University Press. 2007.
    Arguments that ordinary inanimate objects such as tables and chairs, sticks and stones, simply do not exist have become increasingly common and increasingly prominent. Some are based on demands for parsimony or for a non-arbitrary answer to the special composition question; others arise from prohibitions against causal redundancy, ontological vagueness, or co-location; and others still come from worries that a common sense ontology would be a rival to a scientific one. Until now, little has been…Read more
  •  226
    Fictionalism versus Deflationism
    Mind 122 (488): 1023-1051. 2013.
    Fictionalism has long presented an attractive alternative to both heavy-duty realist and simple eliminativist views about entities such as properties, propositions, numbers, and possible worlds. More recently, a different alternative to these traditional views has been gaining popularity: a form of deflationism that holds that trivial arguments may lead us from uncontroversial premisses to conclude that the relevant entities exist — but where commitment to the entities is a trivial consequence o…Read more
  •  223
    Metaphysical Arguments against Ordinary Objects
    Philosophical Quarterly 56 (224). 2006.
    Several prominent attacks on the objects of 'folk ontology' argue that these would be omitted from a scientific ontology, or would be 'rivals' of scientific objects for their claims to be efficacious, occupy space, be composed of parts, or possess a range of other properties. I examine causal redundancy and overdetermination arguments, 'nothing over and above' appeals, and arguments based on problems with collocation and with property additivity. I argue that these share a common problem: applyi…Read more
  •  221
    Fiction and Metaphysics
    Cambridge University Press. 1998.
    This challenging study places fiction squarely at the centre of the discussion of metaphysics. Philosophers have traditionally treated fiction as involving a set of narrow problems in logic or the philosophy of language. By contrast Amie Thomasson argues that fiction has far-reaching implications for central problems of metaphysics. The book develops an 'artifactual' theory of fiction, whereby fictional characters are abstract artifacts as ordinary as laws or symphonies or works of literature. B…Read more
  •  209
    Non-Descriptivism About Modality. A Brief History And Revival
    The Baltic International Yearbook of Cognition, Logic and Communication 4 8. 2008.
    Despite the otherwise-dominant trends towards physicalism and naturalism in philosophy, it has become increasingly common for metaphysicians to accept the existence either of modal facts and properties, or of Lewisian possible worlds. This paper raises the historical question: why did these heavyweight realist views come into prominence? The answer is that they have arisen in response to the demand to find truthmakers for our modal statements. But this demand presupposes that modal statements ar…Read more
  •  189
    Debates about the Ontology of Art: What are We Doing Here?
    Philosophy Compass 1 (3): 245-255. 2006.
    Philosophy Compass, Volume 1. Oxford: Blackwell, 2006
  •  183
    The ontology of art and knowledge in aesthetics
    Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 63 (3). 2005.
  •  171
    Norms and Necessity
    Southern Journal of Philosophy 51 (2): 143-160. 2013.
    Modality presents notorious philosophical problems, including the epistemic problem of how we could come to know modal facts and metaphysical problems about how to place modal facts in the natural world. These problems arise from thinking of modal claims as attempts to describe modal features of this world that explain what makes them true. Here I propose a different view of modal discourse in which talk about what is “metaphysically necessary” does not aim to describe modal features of the worl…Read more
  •  169
    First-person knowledge in phenomenology
    In David Woodruff Smith & Amie L. Thomasson (eds.), Phenomenology and Philosophy of Mind, Oxford: Clarendon Press. pp. 115-138. 2005.
    An account of the source of first-person knowledge is essential not just for phenomenology, but for anyone who takes seriously the apparent evidence that we each have a distinctive access to knowing what we experience. One standard way to account for the source of first-person knowledge is by appeal to a kind of inner observation of the passing contents of one’s own mind, and phenomenology is often thought to rely on introspection. I argue, however, that Husserl’s method of phenomenological reduct…Read more
  •  166
    A nonreductivist solution to mental causation
    Philosophical Studies 89 (2-3): 181-95. 1998.
    Nonreductive physicalism provides an appealing solution to the nature of mental properties. But its success as a theory of mental properties has been called into doubt by claims that it cannot adequately handle the problems of mental causation, as it leads either to epiphenomenalism or to thoroughgoing overdetermination. I argue that these apparent problems for the nonreductivist are based in fundamental confusion about causation and explanation. I distinguish two different types of explanation …Read more
  •  145
    Metaphysical Disputes and Metalinguistic Negotiation
    Analytic Philosophy 57 (4): 1-28. 2016.
  •  145
    Ontological Minimalism
    American Philosophical Quarterly 38 (4). 2001.
    A minimalist or “pleonastic” ontology is supposed to provide a “cheap ontology” of languagecreated entities to serve as relatively innocuous referents for singular terms for such entities as properties, propositions, events, meanings, and fictional characters. This paper investigates the very idea of ontological minimalism, its source, and its potential applications. Certain puzzles and paradoxes arise in the idea of ontological minimalism; the article argues that these result from the fact that…Read more
  •  141
    Metaphysical Disputes and Metalinguistic Negotiation
    Analytic Philosophy 58 (1): 1-28. 2017.
  •  136
    Phenomenology and Philosophy of Mind (edited book)
    Oxford: Clarendon Press. 2005.
    Philosophical work on the mind flowed in two streams through the 20th century: phenomenology and analytic philosophy. This volume aims to bring them together again, by demonstrating how work in phenomenology may lead to significant progress on problems central to current analytic research, and how analytical philosophy of mind may shed light on phenomenological concerns. Leading figures from both traditions contribute specially written essays on such central topics as consciousness, intentionali…Read more
  •  134
    Quizzical Ontology and Easy Ontology
    Journal of Philosophy 111 (9-10): 502-528. 2014.
    This paper examines what’s at stake in which form of metaontological deflationism we adopt. Stephen Yablo has argued for a ‘quizzicalist’ approach, holding that many ontological questions are ‘moot’ in the sense that there is simply nothing to settle them. Defenders of the ‘easy approach’ to ontology, by contrast, think not that these questions are unsettled, but that they are very easily settled by trivial inferences from uncontroversial premises—so obviously and easily settled that there is no…Read more
  •  133
    Metaphysics and Conceptual Negotiation
    Philosophical Issues 27 (1): 364-382. 2017.
  •  128
    Ontology Made Easy
    Oup Usa. 2014.
    Existence questions have been topics for heated debates in metaphysics, but this book argues that they can often be answered easily, by trivial inferences from uncontroversial premises. This 'easy' approach to ontology leads to realism about disputed entities, and to the view that metaphysical disputes about existence questions are misguided.
  •  124
    How can we come to know metaphysical modal truths?
    Synthese 198 (Suppl 8): 2077-2106. 2018.
    Those who aim to give an account of modal knowledge face two challenges: the integration challenge of reconciling an account of what is involved in knowing modal truths with a plausible story about how we can come to know them, and the reliability challenge of giving a plausible account of how we could have evolved a reliable capacity to acquire modal knowledge. I argue that recent counterfactual and dispositional accounts of modal knowledge cannot solve these problems regarding specifically met…Read more
  •  124
    Introspection and phenomenological method
    Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 2 (3): 239-254. 2003.
    It is argued that the work of Husserl offers a model for self-knowledge that avoids the disadvantages of standard introspectionist accounts and of a Sellarsian view of the relation between our perceptual judgements and derived judgements about appearances. Self-knowledge is based on externally directed knowledge of the world that is then subjected to a cognitive transformation analogous to the move from a statement to the activity of stating. Appearance talk is (contra Sellars) not an epistemica…Read more