•  2176
    In defence of error theory
    Philosophical Studies 149 (2): 209-230. 2010.
    Many contemporary philosophers rate error theories poorly. We identify the arguments these philosophers invoke, and expose their deficiencies. We thereby show that the prospects for error theory have been systematically underestimated. By undermining general arguments against all error theories, we leave it open whether any more particular arguments against particular error theories are more successful. The merits of error theories need to be settled on a case-by-case basis: there is no good gen…Read more
  •  732
    Is ontological revisionism uncharitable?
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 46 (3): 405-425. 2016.
    Some philosophers deny the existence of composite material objects. Other philosophers hold that whenever there are some things, they compose something. The purpose of this paper is to scrutinize an objection to these revisionary views: the objection that nihilism and universalism are both unacceptably uncharitable because each of them implies that a great deal of what we ordinarily believe is false. Our main business is to show how nihilism and universalism can be defended against the objection…Read more
  •  661
    Philosophical Studies 156 (3): 321-337. 2011.
    There is a recent and growing trend in philosophy that involves deferring to the claims of certain disciplines outside of philosophy, such as mathematics, the natural sciences, and linguistics. According to this trend— deferentialism , as we will call it—certain disciplines outside of philosophy make claims that have a decisive bearing on philosophical disputes, where those claims are more epistemically justified than any philosophical considerations just because those claims are made by those d…Read more
  •  644
    In defence of existence questions
    Monist 97 (7). 2014.
    Do numbers exist? Do properties? Do possible worlds? Do fictional characters? Many metaphysicians spend time and effort trying to answer these and other questions about the existence of various entities. These inquiries have recently encountered opposition: a group of philosophers, drawing inspiration from Aristotle, have argued that many or all of the existence questions debated by metaphysicians can be answered trivially, and so are not worth debating. Our task is to defend existence questions…Read more
  •  448
    Animalism and Deferentialism
    Dialectica 67 (4): 605-609. 2013.
    Animalism is the theory that we are animals: in other words, that each of us is numerically identical to an animal. An alternative theory maintains that we are not animals but that each of us is constituted by an animal. Call this alternative theory neo-Lockean constitutionalism or Lockeanism for short. Stephan Blatti (2012) offers to advance the debate between animalism and Lockeanism by providing a new argument for animalism. In this note, we present our own objection to Blatti's argument, and…Read more
  •  296
    Moral Error Theory and the Problem of Evil
    European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 1 (2). 2009.
    Moral error theory claims that no moral sentence is (nonvacuously) true. Atheism claims that the existence of evil in the world is incompatible with, or makes improbable, the existence of God. Is moral error theory compatible with atheism? This paper defends the thesis that it is compatible against criticisms by Nicholas Sturgeon
  •  242
    Mathematical explanation and indispensability arguments
    Philosophical Quarterly 59 (237): 641-658. 2009.
    We defend Joseph Melia's thesis that the role of mathematics in scientific theory is to 'index' quantities, and that even if mathematics is indispensable to scientific explanations of concrete phenomena, it does not explain any of those phenomena. This thesis is defended against objections by Mark Colyvan and Alan Baker.
  •  218
    Do object-dependent properties threaten physicalism?
    Journal of Philosophy 107 (11): 610-614. 2010.
    Thomas Hofweber argues that the thesis of direct reference is incompatible with physicalism, the claim that the nonphysical supervenes on the physical. According to Hofweber, direct reference implies that some physical objects have object-dependent properties, such as being Jones’s brother, which depend on particular objects for their existence and identity. Hofweber contends that if some physical objects have object-dependent properties, then Local-Local Supervenience (the physicalist doctrine …Read more
  •  211
    Scepticism about Grounding
    In Fabrice Correia & Benjamin Schnieder (eds.), Metaphysical Grounding: Understanding the Structure of Reality, Cambridge University Press. pp. 81. 2012.
  •  210
    Fictionalism and the attitudes
    Philosophical Studies 139 (3). 2008.
    This paper distinguishes revolutionary fictionalism from other forms of fictionalism and also from other philosophical views. The paper takes fictionalism about mathematical objects and fictionalism about scientific unobservables as illustrations. The paper evaluates arguments that purport to show that this form of fictionalism is incoherent on the grounds that there is no tenable distinction between believing a sentence and taking the fictionalist's distinctive attitude to that sentence. The ar…Read more
  •  186
    The methodology of genuine modal realism
    Synthese 162 (1): 37-52. 2008.
    David Lewis’s genuine modal realism is a controversial thesis in modal metaphysics. Charles Chihara and Ross Cameron have each argued that Lewis’s defence of his thesis involves his committing serious methodological errors; in particular, that his replies to two well-known and important objections are question-begging. Scott Shalkowski has further argued that Lewis’s attempt to analyse modal talk in non-modal terms is viciously circular. This paper considers the methodology which Lewis uses to a…Read more
  •  164
    Acquaintance and de re Thought
    Synthese 156 (1): 79-96. 2007.
  •  147
    What are physical properties?
    Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 79 (3): 196-217. 1998.
  •  132
    Dorr on the language of ontology
    Philosophical Studies 173 (12): 3301-3315. 2016.
    In the ‘ordinary business of life’, everyone makes claims about what there is. For instance, we say things like: ‘There are some beautiful chairs in my favourite furniture shop’. Within the context of philosophical debate, some philosophers also make claims about what there is. For instance, some ontologists claim that there are chairs; other ontologists claim that there are no chairs. What is the relation between ontologists’ philosophical claims about what there is and ordinary claims about wh…Read more
  •  130
    The metaphysics within physics • by Tim Maudlin
    Analysis 69 (2): 374-375. 2009.
    The basic idea of Maudlin's superb book is methodological: ‘metaphysics, insofar as it is concerned with the natural world, can do no better than to reflect on physics. Physical theories provide us with the best handle we have on what there is, and the philosopher's proper task is the interpretation and elucidation of those theories. In particular, when choosing the fundamental posits of one's ontology, one must look to scientific practice rather than to philosophical prejudice’ .The apparently …Read more
  •  127
    Does physicalism need fixing?
    Analysis 55 (3): 135-41. 1995.
  •  123
    In his stimulating new book The Construction of Logical Space , Agustín Rayo offers a new account of mathematics, which he calls ‘Trivialist Platonism’. In this article, we take issue with Rayo’s case for Trivialist Platonism and his claim that the view overcomes Benacerraf’s dilemma. Our conclusion is that Rayo has not shown that Trivialist Platonism has any advantage over nominalism
  •  106
    Two Anti-Platonist Strategies
    Mind 119 (476): 1107-1116. 2010.
    This paper considers two strategies for undermining indispensability arguments for mathematical Platonism. We defend one strategy (the Trivial Strategy) against a criticism by Joseph Melia. In particular, we argue that the key example Melia uses against the Trivial Strategy fails. We then criticize Melia’s chosen strategy (the Weaseling Strategy.) The Weaseling Strategy attempts to show that it is not always inconsistent or irrational knowingly to assert p and deny an implication of p . We argue…Read more
  •  99
    So where's the explanation?
    In Helen Beebee & Julian Dodd (eds.), Truthmakers: The Contemporary Debate, Clarendon Press. pp. 85. 2005.
  •  68
    II—Persistent Philosophical Disagreement
    Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 117 (1): 23-40. 2017.
  •  62
  •  57
    Modality and acquaintance with properties
    The Monist 81 (1): 44--68. 1998.
    What is required for you to know what a certain property is? And what is required for you to have the concept of that property? Hume held that a person who has never tasted a pineapple cannot know what the property tasting like a pineapple is. He also thought that this person cannot have the corresponding concept. A subsequent tradition in empiricism generalises these claims at least to all the so-called "secondary qualities." I will argue that this tradition is mistaken. I will argue that there…Read more
  •  57
    Pluralist metaphysics
    Philosophical Studies 87 (2): 185-206. 1997.
  •  57
    Bait and switch philosophy
    Analysis 75 (3): 372-379. 2015.
    Many philosophers employ an intellectual division of labour. Philosophy tells us what the truth conditions of various philosophically interesting sentences are. For example, atomic sentences containing numerals are sentences containing singular terms putatively referring to numbers; sentences about what could be are sentences quantifying over possible worlds and so on. Some discipline outside of philosophy tells us that certain of these sentences are true. The purported result is that such philo…Read more
  •  54
    Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 94. 19934.
  •  51
    Defending promiscuous realism about natural kinds
    Philosophical Quarterly 46 (185): 496-500. 1996.