•  881
    Wide Sets, ZFCU, and the Iterative Conception
    Journal of Philosophy 111 (2): 57-83. 2014.
    The iterative conception of set is typically considered to provide the intuitive underpinnings for ZFCU (ZFC+Urelements). It is an easy theorem of ZFCU that all sets have a definite cardinality. But the iterative conception seems to be entirely consistent with the existence of “wide” sets, sets (of, in particular, urelements) that are larger than any cardinal. This paper diagnoses the source of the apparent disconnect here and proposes modifications of the Replacement and Powerset axioms so as t…Read more
  •  689
    Problems with the Bootstrapping Objection to Theistic Activism
    American Philosophical Quarterly 53 (1): 55-68. 2016.
    According to traditional theism, God alone exists a se, independent of all other things, and all other things exist ab alio, i.e., God both creates them and sustains them in existence. On the face of it, divine "aseity" is inconsistent with classical Platonism, i.e., the view that there are objectively existing, abstract objects. For according to the classical Platonist, at least some abstract entities are wholly uncreated, necessary beings and, hence, as such, they also exist a se. The thesis o…Read more
  •  621
    On the iterative explanation of the paradoxes
    Philosophical Studies 49 (1). 1986.
    As the story goes, the source of the paradoxes of naive set theory lies in a conflation of two distinct conceptions of set: the so-called iterative, or mathematical, conception, and the Fregean, or logical, conception. While the latter conception is provably inconsistent, the former, as Godel notes, "has never led to any antinomy whatsoever". More important, the iterative conception explains the paradoxes by showing precisely where the Fregean conception goes wrong by enabling us to distinguish …Read more
  •  571
    Logic, Essence, and Modality — Review of Bob Hale's Necessary Beings (review)
    Philosophia Mathematica 23 (3): 407-428. 2015.
    Bob Hale’s distinguished record of research places him among the most important and influential contemporary analytic metaphysicians. In his deep, wide ranging, yet highly readable book Necessary Beings, Hale draws upon, but substantially integrates and extends, a good deal his past research to produce a sustained and richly textured essay on — as promised in the subtitle — ontology, modality, and the relations between them. I’ve set myself two tasks in this review: first, to provide a reasonabl…Read more
  •  564
    Modal Set Theory
    In Otávio Bueno & Scott Shalkowski (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Modality, Routledge. forthcoming.
    This article presents an overview of the basic philosophical motivations for, and some recent work in, modal set theory.
  •  436
    In defense of the possibilism–actualism distinction
    Philosophical Studies 177 (7): 1971-1997. 2020.
    In Modal Logic as Metaphysics, Timothy Williamson claims that the possibilism-actualism (P-A) distinction is badly muddled. In its place, he introduces a necessitism-contingentism (N-C) distinction that he claims is free of the confusions that purportedly plague the P-A distinction. In this paper I argue first that the P-A distinction, properly understood, is historically well-grounded and entirely coherent. I then look at the two arguments Williamson levels at the P-A distinction and find them …Read more
  •  316
    Actualism is the doctrine that the only things there are, that have being in any sense, are the things that actually exist. In particular, actualism eschews possibilism, the doctrine that there are merely possible objects. It is widely held that one cannot both be an actualist and at the same time take possible world semantics seriously — that is, take it as the basis for a genuine theory of truth for modal languages, or look to it for insight into the modal structure of reality. For possible wo…Read more
  •  297
    Possibilism and object theory
    Philosophical Studies 69 (2-3). 1993.
    A central stream running through the history of philosophy has been the attempt to gather a wide range of ostensibly disparate intuitive phenomena under a small, integrated set of concepts. Edward Zalta’s work is a sustained celebration of this tradition. This paper — part of a symposium on Zalta's work — is a friendly, but critical examination of Zalta's commitment to possibilism and the roles they play in his theory.
  •  285
    Basic semantic integration
    Semantic Interoperability and Integration, Proceedings of Dagstuhl Seminar 04391. 2004.
    The use of highly abstract mathematical frameworks is essential for building the sort of theoretical foundation for semantic integration needed to bring it to the level of a genuine engineering discipline. At the same time, much of the work that has been done by means of these frameworks assumes a certain amount of background knowledge in mathematics that a lot of people working in ontology, even at a fairly high theoretical level, lack. The major purpose of this short paper is provide a (compar…Read more
  •  249
    The Argument from Collections
    In J. Walls & T. Dougherty (eds.), Two Dozen (or so) Arguments for God: The Plantinga Project, Oxford University Press. pp. 29-58. 2018.
    Very broadly, an argument from collections is an argument that purports to show that our beliefs about sets imply — in some sense — the existence of God. Plantinga (2007) first sketched such an argument in “Two Dozen” and filled it out somewhat in his 2011 monograph Where the Conflict Really Lies: Religion, Science, and Naturalism. In this paper I reconstruct what strikes me as the most plausible version of Plantinga’s argument. While it is a good argument in at least a fairly weak sense, it doe…Read more
  •  233
    Temporal actualism and singular foreknowledge
    Philosophical Perspectives 5 475-507. 1991.
    Suppose we believe that God created the world. Then surely we want it to be the case that he intended, in some sense at least, to create THIS world. Moreover, most theists want to hold that God didn't just guess or hope that the world would take one course or another; rather, he KNEW precisely what was going to take place in the world he planned to create. In particular, of each person P, God knew that P was to exist. Call this the "standard" conception. Most theists find the standard conception…Read more
  •  228
    Theism, Platonism, and the Metaphysics of Mathematics
    Faith and Philosophy 4 (4): 365-382. 1987.
    In a previous paper, Thomas V. Morris and I sketched a view on which abstract objects, in particular, properties, relations, and propositions , are created by God no less than contingent, concrete objects. In this paper r suggest a way of extending this account to cover mathematical objects as well. Drawing on some recent work in logic and metaphysics, I also develop a more detailed account of the structure of PRPs in answer to the paradoxes that arise on a naive understanding of the structure o…Read more
  •  204
    The Fundamental Theorem of World Theory
    Journal of Philosophical Logic (2-3): 1-31. 2013.
    The fundamental principle of the theory of possible worlds is that a proposition p is possible if and only if there is a possible world at which p is true. In this paper we present a valid derivation of this principle from a more general theory in which possible worlds are defined rather than taken as primitive. The general theory uses a primitive modality and axiomatizes abstract objects, properties, and propositions. We then show that this general theory has very small models and hence that it…Read more
  •  197
    It is almost universally acknowledged that first-order logic (FOL), with its clean, well-understood syntax and semantics, allows for the clear expression of philosophical arguments and ideas. Indeed, an argument or philosophical theory rendered in FOL is perhaps the cleanest example there is of “representing philosophy”. A number of prominent syntactic and semantic properties of FOL reflect metaphysical presuppositions that stem from its Fregean origins, particularly the idea of an inviolable di…Read more
  •  167
    Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2008.
    To understand the thesis of actualism, consider the following example. Imagine a race of beings — call them ‘Aliens’ — that is very different from any life-form that exists anywhere in the universe; different enough, in fact, that no actually existing thing could have been an Alien, any more than a given gorilla could have been a fruitfly. Now, even though there are no Aliens, it seems intuitively the case that there could have been such things. After all, life might have evolved very differentl…Read more
  •  166
    Cantor and the Burali-Forti Paradox
    The Monist 67 (1): 92-107. 1984.
    In studying the early history of mathematical logic and set theory one typically reads that Georg Cantor discovered the so-called Burali-Forti (BF) paradox sometime in 1895, and that he offered his solution to it in his famous 1899 letter to Dedekind. This account, however, leaves it something of a mystery why Cantor never discussed the paradox in his writings. Far from regarding the foundations of set theory to be shaken, he showed no apparent concern over the paradox and its implications whate…Read more
  •  147
    Sets and worlds again
    Analysis 72 (2): 304-309. 2012.
    Bringsjord (1985) argues that the definition W of possible worlds as maximal possible sets of propositions is incoherent. Menzel (1986a) notes that Bringsjord’s argument depends on the Powerset axiom and that the axiom can be reasonably denied. Grim (1986) counters that W can be proved to be incoherent without Powerset. Grim was right. However, the argument he provided is deeply flawed. The purpose of this note is to detail the problems with Grim’s argument and to present a sound alternative arg…Read more
  •  141
    Worlds and Propositions Set Free
    Erkenntnis 79 (4). 2014.
    The authors provide an object-theoretic analysis of two paradoxes in the theory of possible worlds and propositions stemming from Russell and Kaplan. After laying out the paradoxes, the authors provide a brief overview of object theory and point out how syntactic restrictions that prevent object-theoretic versions of the classical paradoxes are justified philosophically. The authors then trace the origins of the Russell paradox to a problematic application of set theory in the definition of worl…Read more
  •  140
    The objective conception of context and its logic
    Minds and Machines 9 (1): 29-56. 1999.
    In this paper, an objective conception of contexts based loosely upon situation theory is developed and formalized. Unlike subjective conceptions, which take contexts to be something like sets of beliefs, contexts on the objective conception are taken to be complex, structured pieces of the world that (in general) contain individuals, other contexts, and propositions about them. An extended first-order language for this account is developed. The language contains complex terms for propositions, …Read more
  •  136
    Singular Propositions and Modal Logic
    Philosophical Topics 21 (2): 113-148. 1993.
    According to many actualists, propositions, singular propositions in particular, are structurally complex, that is, roughly, (i) they have, in some sense, an internal structure that corresponds rather directly to the syntactic structure of the sentences that express them, and (ii) the metaphysical components, or constituents, of that structure are the semantic values — the meanings — of the corresponding syntactic components of those sentences. Given that reference is "direct", i.e., that the me…Read more
  •  134
    The true modal logic
    Journal of Philosophical Logic 20 (4). 1991.
    This paper traces the course of Prior’s struggles with the concepts and phenomena of modality, and the reasoning that led him to his own rather peculiar modal logic Q. I find myself in almost complete agreement with Prior’s intuitions and the arguments that rest upon them. However, I argue that those intuitions do not of themselves lead to Q, but that one must also accept a certain picture of what it is for a proposition to be possible. That picture. though, is not inevitable. Rather, implicit i…Read more
  •  133
    Possible Worlds
    Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2013.
    This article includes a basic overview of possible world semantics and a relatively comprehensive overview of three central philosophical conceptions of possible worlds: Concretism (represented chiefly by Lewis), Abstractionism (represented chiefly by Plantinga), and Combinatorialism (represented chiefly by Armstrong).
  •  124
  •  123
    Logical form
    In Edward Craig (ed.), Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Routledge. 1998.
    Consider the following argument: All men are mortal; Socrates is a man; therefore, Socrates is mortal. Intuitively, what makes this a valid argument has nothing to do with Socrates, men, or mortality. Rather, each sentence in the argument exhibits a certain logical form, which, together with the forms of the other two, constitute a pattern that, of itself, guarantees the truth of the conclusion given the truth of the premises. More generally, then, the logical form of a sentence of natural langu…Read more
  •  111
    On Set Theoretic Possible Worlds
    Analysis 46 (2). 1986.
    In his paper "Are There Set Theoretic Possible Worlds?", Selmer Bringsjord argued that the set theoretic definition of possible worlds proffered by, among others, Robert Adams and Alvin Plantinga is incoherent. It is the purpose of this note to evaluate that argument. The upshot: these set theoretic accounts can be preserved, but only by abandoning the power set axiom.
  •  103
    The IDEF family of languages
    In Peter Bernus, Kai Mertins & Günter J. Schmidt (eds.), Handbook on Architectures of Information Systems, Springer-verlag. pp. 209-241. 1998.
    Summary. The purpose of this article is to serve as a clear introduction to the modeling languages of the three most widely used IDEF methods: IDEF0, IDEF1X, and IDEF3. Each language is presented in turn, beginning with a discussion of the underlying “ontology” the language purports to describe, followed by presentations of the syntax of the language — particularly the notion of a model for the language — and the semantical rules that determine how models are to be interpreted. The level of deta…Read more
  •  101
    The proper treatment of predication in fine-grained intensional logic
    Philosophical Perspectives 7 61-87. 1993.
    In this paper I rehearse two central failings of traditional possible world semantics. I then present a much more robust framework for intensional logic and semantics based liberally on the work of George Bealer in his book Quality and Concept. Certain expressive limitations of Bealer's approach, however, lead me to extend the framework in a particularly natural and useful way. This extension, in turn, brings to light associated limitations of Bealer's account of predication. In response, I deve…Read more
  •  72
    On an unsound proof of the existence of possible worlds
    Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic 30 (4): 598-603. 1989.
    In this paper, an argument of Alvin Plantinga's for the existence of abstract possible worlds is shown to be unsound. The argument is based on a principle Plantinga calls "Quasicompactness", due to its structural similarity to the notion of compactness in first-order logic. The principle is shown to be false.
  •  70
    Haecceities and Mathematical Structuralism
    Philosophia Mathematica 84-111. 2018.
    Recent work in the philosophy of mathematics has suggested that mathematical structuralism is not committed to a strong form of the Identity of Indiscernibles (II). José Bermúdez demurs, and argues that a strong form of II can be warranted on structuralist grounds by countenancing identity properties, or haecceities, as legitimately structural. Typically, structuralists dismiss such properties as obviously non-structural. I will argue to the contrary that haecceities can be viewed as structural …Read more
  •  66
    The Process Specification Language: Theory and Applications
    with Michael Grüninger
    AI Magazine 24 (3): 63-74. 2003.
    The Process Specification Language (PSL) has been designed to facilitate correct and complete exchange of process information among manufacturing systems, such as scheduling, process modeling, process planning, production planning, simulation, project management, work flow, and business process reengineering. We given an overview of the theories with the PSL ontology, discuss some of the design principles for the ontology, and finish with examples of process specifications that are based on the …Read more