•  2959
    Toward a Commonsense Answer to the Special Composition Question
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 93 (3): 475-490. 2015.
    The special composition question is the question, ‘When do some things compose something?’ The answers to this question in the literature have largely been at odds with common sense, either by allowing that any two things compose something, or by denying the existence of most ordinary composite objects. I propose a new ‘series-style’ answer to the special composition question that accords much more closely with common sense, and I defend this answer from van Inwagen's objections. Specifically, I…Read more
  •  1881
    with Daniel Z. Korman
    Oxford Handbooks Online. 2016.
    When some objects are the parts of another object, they compose that object and that object is composite. This article is intended as an introduction to the central questions about composition and a highly selective overview of various answers to those questions. In §1, we review some formal features of parthood that are important for understanding the nature of composition. In §2, we consider some answers to the question: which pluralities of objects together compose something? As we will see, …Read more
  •  1613
    Philosophical Studies 150 (3): 373-389. 2010.
    In this paper, I argue that there are universals. I begin (Sect. 1) by proposing a sufficient condition for a thing’s being a universal. I then argue (Sect. 2) that some truths exist necessarily. Finally, I argue (Sects. 3 and 4) that these truths are structured entities having constituents that meet the proposed sufficient condition for being universals.
  •  1563
    Vague Composition Without Vague Existence
    Noûs 45 (2): 315-327. 2011.
    David Lewis (1986) criticizes moderate views of composition on the grounds that a restriction on composition must be vague, and vague composition leads, via a precisificational theory of vagueness, to an absurd vagueness of existence. I show how to resist this argument. Unlike the usual resistance, however, I do not jettison precisificational views of vagueness. Instead, I blur the connection between composition and existence that Lewis assumes. On the resulting view, in troublesome cases of vag…Read more
  •  1514
    Deep Platonism
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 92 (2): 307-328. 2016.
    According to the traditional bundle theory, particulars are bundles of compresent universals. I think we should reject the bundle theory for a variety of reasons. But I will argue for the thesis at the core of the bundle theory: that all the facts about particulars are grounded in facts about universals. I begin by showing how to meet the main objection to this thesis (which is also the main objection to the bundle theory): that it is inconsistent with the possibility of distinct qualitative ind…Read more
  •  1493
    This book serves as a concise introduction to some main topics in modern formal logic for undergraduates who already have some familiarity with formal languages. There are chapters on sentential and quantificational logic, modal logic, elementary set theory, a brief introduction to the incompleteness theorem, and a modern development of traditional Aristotelian Logic.
  •  1134
    What Do the Folk Think about Composition and Does it Matter?
    with Daniel Z. Korman
    In David Rose (ed.), Experimental Metaphysics, Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 187-206. 2017.
    Rose and Schaffer (forthcoming) argue that teleological thinking has a substantial influence on folk intuitions about composition. They take this to show (i) that we should not rely on folk intuitions about composition and (ii) that we therefore should not reject theories of composition on the basis of intuitions about composition. We cast doubt on the teleological interpretation of folk judgments about composition; we show how their debunking argument can be resisted, even on the assumption tha…Read more
  •  926
    Quantification and Conversation
    In Joseph Keim Campbell, Michael O'Rourke & Harry S. Silverstein (eds.), Reference and Referring: Topics in Contemporary Philosophy, Mit Press. pp. 305-323. 2012.
    Relative to an ordinary context, an utterance of the sentence ‘Everything is in the car’ communicates a proposition about a restricted domain. But how does this work? One possibility is that quantifier expressions like 'everything' are context sensitive and range over different domains in different contexts. Another possibility is that quantifier expressions are not context sensitive, but have a fixed, absolutely general meaning, and ordinary utterances communicate a restricted content via Grice…Read more
  •  707
    The ancient puzzle of Dion and Theon has given rise to a surprising array of apparently implausible views. For example, in order to solve the puzzle, several philosophers have been led to deny the existence of their own feet, others have denied that objects can gain and lose parts, and large numbers of philosophers have embraced the thesis that distinct objects can occupy the same space, having all their material parts in common. In this paper, I argue for an alternative approach: I claim that h…Read more
  •  332
    The Universe As We Find It, by John Heil (review)
    Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2013. 2013.
    In this ambitious work, John Heil presents a fundamental ontology (chapters 1-8) consisting of finitely many substances and their properties (which he thinks of as particular, trope-like things), together with an account of causation, truthmaking, and a chapter on relations generally. He then applies this ontology (chapters 9-12) to a number of outstanding problems about reductionism, kinds, essences, emergence, consciousness, cognition, and much else. A final chapter reprises the main points ab…Read more
  •  300
    Ontology and the Ambitions of Metaphysics, by Thomas Hofweber (review)
    Review of Metaphysics 71 (4): 810-812. 2018.
    A review of Thomas Hofweber's book, Ontology and the Ambitions of Metaphysics.
  •  61
    A New Problem for Internalism
    Synthese. forthcoming.
    I will argue that internalism about justification entails the apparently absurd conclusion that it is possible to know specific facts about the external world—for example, that there is a tree in the quad—on the basis of introspection and a priori reflection. After a brief characterization of internalism (§1), I will set out the problem (§2). I will then discuss three replies: one that denies the form of doxastic voluntarism involved in the problem (§3), one that denies that knowledge of higher-…Read more