•  450
    Hume on Substance: A Critique of Locke
    In Paul Lodge & Tom Stoneham (eds.), Locke and Leibniz on Substance, . pp. 45-62. 2015.
    The ancient theory of substance and accident is supposed to make sense of complex unities in a way that respects both their unity and their complexity. On Hume’s view such complex unities are only fictitiously unities. This result follows from his thoroughgoing critique of the theory of substance. I will characterize the theory Hume is critiquing as it is presented in Locke, presupposing what Bennett calls the “Leibnizian interpretation.” Locke uses the word ‘substance’ in two senses. Call subs…Read more
  •  425
    Many-one identity
    Philosophical Papers 17 (3): 193-216. 1988.
    Two things become one thing, something having parts, and something becoming something else, are cases of many things being identical with one thing. This apparent contradiction introduces others concerning transitivity of identity, discernibility of identicals, existence, and vague existence. I resolve the contradictions with a theory that identity, number, and existence are relative to standards for counting. What are many on some standard are one and the same on another. The theory gives a…Read more
  •  298
    Oneness, Aspects, and the Neo-Confucians
    In Philip J. Ivanhoe, Owen Flanagan, Victoria S. Harrison, Hagop Sarkissian & Eric Schwitzgebel (eds.), The Oneness Hypothesis: Beyond the Boundary of Self, Columbia University Press. 2018.
    Confucius gave counsel that is notoriously hard to follow: "What you do not wish for yourself, do not impose on others" (Huang 1997: 15.24). People tend to be concerned with themselves and to be indifferent to most others. We are distinct from others so our self-concern does not include them, or so it seems. Were we to realize this distinctness is merely apparent--that our true self includes others--Confucius's counsel would be easier to follow. Concern for our true self would extend concern bey…Read more
  •  270
    Social Complexes and Aspects
    ProtoSociology 35 155-166. 2018.
    Is a social complex identical to many united people or is it a group entity in addition to the people? For specificity, I will assume that a social complex is a plural subject in Margaret Gilbert’s sense. By appeal to my theory of Aspects, according to which there can be qualitative difference without numerical difference, I give an answer that is a middle way between metaphysical individualism and metaphysical holism. This answer will enable answers to two additional metaphysical questions: (i)…Read more
  •  205
    Instantiation as partial identity
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 79 (4). 2001.
    Construing the instantiation of a universal by a particular in terms of my theory of aspects resolves the basic mystery of this "non-relational tie", and gives theoretical unity to the four characteristics of instantiation discerned by Armstrong. Taking aspects as distinct in a way akin to Scotus's formal distinction, I suggest that instantiation is the sharing of an aspect by a universal and a particular--a kind of partial identity. This approach allows me to address Plato's multiple location a…Read more
  •  201
    Identity in the loose and popular sense
    Mind 97 (388): 575-582. 1988.
    This essay interprets Butler’s distinction between identity in the loose and popular sense and in the strict and philosophical sense. Suppose there are different standards for counting the same things. Then what are two distinct things counting strictly may be one and the same thing counting loosely. Within a given standard identity is one-one. But across standards it is many-one. An alternative interpretation using the parts-whole relation fails, because that relation should be understood …Read more
  •  158
    I argue that an individual has aspects numerically identical with it and each other that nonetheless qualitatively differ from it and each other. This discernibility of identicals does not violate Leibniz's Law, however, which concerns only individuals and is silent about their aspects. They are not in its domain of quantification. To argue that there are aspects I will appeal to the internal conflicts of conscious beings. I do not mean to imply that aspects are confined to such cases, but the b…Read more
  •  152
    Ordinary usage gives a way to think of identity through time: the Pittsburgh of 1946 was the same city as the Pittsburgh of today is--namely Pittsburgh. Problem: The Pittsburgh of 1946 does not exist; Pittsburgh still does. How can they have been identical? I reject the temporal parts view on which they were not but we may speak as though they were. Rather I argue that claiming their identity is not contradictory. I interpret ‘the Pittsburgh of 1946’ as ‘Pittsburgh as it was in 1946’ and …Read more
  •  135
    The Discernibility of Identicals
    Journal of Philosophical Research 24 37-55. 1999.
    I argue via examples that there are cases in which things that are not two distinct things qualitatively differ without contradiction. In other words, there are cases in which something differs from itself. Standard responses to such cases are to divide the thing into distinct parts, or to conceive of the thing under different descriptions, or to appeal to different times, or to deny that the property had is the property lacked. I show these responses to be unsatisfactory. I then gather and syst…Read more
  •  122
    Hume on Space and Time
    In Paul Russell (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of David Hume, Oxford University Press Usa. 2014.
    Understanding Hume’s theory of space and time requires suspending our own. When theorizing, we think of space as one huge array of locations, which external objects might or might not occupy. Time adds another dimension to this vast array. For Hume, in contrast, space is extension in general, where being extended is having parts arranged one right next to the other like the pearls on a necklace. Time is duration in general, where having duration is having parts occurring one aft er another like …Read more
  •  119
    Temporary and Contingent Instantiation as Partial Identity
    International Journal of Philosophical Studies 26 (5): 763-780. 2018.
    ABSTRACT An apparent objection against my theory of instantiation as partial identity is that identity is necessary, yet instantiation is often contingent. To rebut the objection, I show how it can make sense that identity is contingent. I begin by showing how it can make sense that identity is temporary. I rely heavily on Andre Gallois’s formal theory of occasional identity, but argue that there is a gap in his explanation of how his formalisms make sense that needs to be filled by appeal to my…Read more
  •  102
    Free choice
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 67 (1): 12-24. 1989.
    There are two inspirations for the theory presented. One is the Kantian idea that a free choice affects a deterministic sequence of events globally rather than just locally. The second is the Leibnizian idea that God chooses for actuality the possible world he deems best. But instead of God choosing, suppose free agents collectively do. Let actuality be an office which deterministic possible worlds are voted in and not of. In this way free choice can change things even if every event is full…Read more
  •  101
    Altruism, Grief, and Identity
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 70 (2). 2005.
    The divide between oneself and others has made altruism seem irrational to some thinkers, as Sidgwick points out. I use characterizations of grief, especially by St. Augustine, to question the divide, and use a composition-as-identity metaphysics of parts and wholes to make literal sense of those characterizations.
  •  91
    Instantiation as Partial Identity: Replies to Critics (review)
    Axiomathes 23 (2): 291-299. 2013.
    One of the advantages of my account in the essay “Instantiation as Partial Identity” was capturing the contingency of instantiation—something David Armstrong gave up in his experiment with a similar view. What made the contingency possible for me was my own non-standard account of identity, complete with the apparatus of counts and aspects. The need remains to lift some obscurity from the account in order to display its virtues to greater advantage. To that end, I propose to respond to those who…Read more
  •  87
    Hume, Distinctions of Reason, and Differential Resemblance
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 82 (1): 156-182. 2011.
    Hume discusses the distinction of reason to explain how we distinguish things inseparable, and so identical, e.g., the color and figure of a white globe. He says we note the respect in which the globe is similar to a white cube and dissimilar to a black sphere, and the respect in which it is dissimilar to the first and similar to the second. Unfortunately, Hume takes these differing respects of resemblance to be identical with the white globe itself. Contradiction results, undermining his th…Read more
  •  86
    Berkeley, perception, and identity
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 51 (1): 85-98. 1991.
    Berkeley says both that one sometimes immediately perceives the same thing by sight and touch, and that one never does. To solve the contradiction I recommend and explain a distinction Berkeley himself makes—between two uses of ‘same’. This solution unifies two seemingly inconsistent parts of Berkeley’s whole project: He argues both that what we see are bits of light and color organized into a language by which God speaks to us about tactile sensations, and yet that we directly see ordinary o…Read more
  •  82
    A Humean Temporal Logic
    The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy 2000 (Analytic Philosophy and Logic): 209-216. 2000.
    Hume argues that the idea of duration is just the idea of the manner in which several things in succession are arrayed. In other words, the idea of duration is the idea of successiveness. He concludes that all and only successions have duration. Hume also argues that there is such a thing as a steadfast object—something which co-exists with many things in succession, but which is not itself a succession. Thus, it seems that Hume has committed himself to a contradiction: A steadfast object lacks …Read more
  •  79
    Abstraction, inseparability, and identity
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 57 (2): 307-330. 1997.
    Berkeley and Hume object to Locke's account of abstraction. Abstraction is separating in the mind what cannot be separated in reality. Their objection is that if a is inseparable in reality from b, then the idea of a is inseparable from the idea of b. The former inseparability is the reason for the latter. In most interpretations, however, commentators leave the former unexplained in explaining the latter. This article assumes that Berkeley and Hume present a unified front against Locke. Hume su…Read more
  •  78
    Précis of Hume’s difficulty: Time and identity in the TREATISE
    Philosophical Studies 146 (3): 407-411. 2009.
    Despite its central role in his important theories of self and external world, Hume’s account of numerical identity has been neglected or misunderstood. The account is designed as a response to a difficulty concerning identity apparently original with Hume. I argue that the problem is real, crucial, and remains unresolved today. Hume’s response to the difficulty enlists his idiosyncratic, empiricist views on time: time consists of discrete, partless moments, some of which coexist with successio…Read more
  •  75
    Armstrong has loose identity be an equivalence relation, yet in cases of something becoming something else, loose identity is not transitive. My alternate account has an attribution of loose identity be really two: a true attribution of an underlying relation (perhaps not transitive) and a false attribution--a Humean feigning-of strict identity. The feigning may become less appropriate as the underlying relation grows more distant. What makes it appropriate initially is that the underlying relat…Read more
  •  73
    The Problem of Universal and the Asymmetry of Instantiation
    American Philosophical Quarterly 55 (2): 189-202. 2018.
    Oliver's and Rodriguez-Pereyra's important interpretation of the problem of universals as one concerning truthmakers neglects something crucial: that there is a numerical identity between numerically distinct particulars. The problem of universals is rather how to resolve the apparent contradiction that the same things are both numerically distinct and numerically identical. Baxter's account of instantiation as partial identity resolves the apparent contradiction. A seeming objection to this acc…Read more
  •  72
    In this volume--the first, focused study of Hume on time and identity--Baxter focuses on Hume’s treatment of the concept of numerical identity, which is central to Hume's famous discussions of the external world and personal identity. Hume raises a long unappreciated, and still unresolved, difficulty with the concept of identity: how to represent something as "a medium betwixt unity and number." Superficial resemblance to Frege’s famous puzzle has kept the difficulty in the shadows. Hume’s way o…Read more
  •  69
    Replies to Perry, Falkenstein, and Garrett (review)
    Philosophical Studies 146 (3). 2009.
    Pace Perry, wondering whether perceived things are identical is thinking about them, for Hume, with no thought of perceptions of them. Hume is not a proto-Fregean; Hume's Difficulty is not a version of Frege's Puzzle. Pace Falkenstein, wondering about an identity is not wondering whether clearly distinct things--stages, surfaces, names--are connected in some way. Pace Garrett, wondering about the identity of an observed object is wondering whether it is really one or two things, not whether …Read more
  •  68
    A Pyrrhonian Interpretation of Hume on Assent
    In Diego E. Machuca & Baron Reed (eds.), Skepticism: From Antiquity to the Present, . pp. 380-394. 2018.
    How is it possible for David Hume to be both withering skeptic and constructive theorist? I recommend an answer like the Pyrrhonian answer to the question how it is possible to suspend all judgment yet engage in active daily life. Sextus Empiricus distinguishes two kinds of assent: one suspended across the board and one involved with daily living. The first is an act of will based on appreciation of reasons; the second is a causal effect of appearances. Hume makes the same distinction, only he e…Read more
  •  67
    Hume's puzzle about identity
    Philosophical Studies 98 (2): 187-201. 2000.
    In discussion of the "Principle of Identity" in the Treatise Hume presents a puzzle about identity - not a puzzle for semantics, like Frege's, but a puzzle for a theory of representation.' In this essay I am less concerned with issues of Hume interpretation and more concerned with the puzzle itself.
  •  63
    Hume's Labyrinth Concerning the Idea of Personal Identity
    Hume Studies 24 (2): 203-233. 1998.
    In the Treatise Hume argues that the self is really many related perceptions, which we represent to ourselves as being one and the same thing. In the Appendix he finds this account inconsistent. Why? The problem arises from Hume's theory that representation requires resemblance. Only a many can represent a many recognized as such, and only a one can represent something as one. So for the many distinct perceptions (recognized as such) to be represented as one and the same, the many distinct ideas…Read more
  •  62
    Composition as Identity (edited book)
    Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2014.
    Composition is the relation between a whole and its parts--the parts are said to compose the whole; the whole is composed of the parts. But is a whole anything distinct from its parts taken collectively? It is often said that 'a whole is nothing over and above its parts'; but what might we mean by that? Could it be that a whole just is its parts?This collection of essays is the first of its kind to focus on the relationship between composition and identity. Twelve original articles--written by i…Read more
  •  56
    Corporeal Substances and True Unities
    The Leibniz Review 4 (2): 9-10. 1994.
    In the correspondence with Arnauld, Leibniz contends that each corporeal substance has a substantial form. In support he argues that to be real a corporeal substance must be one and indivisible, a true unity. I will show how this argument precludes a tempting interpretation of corporeal substances as composite unities. Rather it mandates the interpretation that each corporeal substance is a single monad.
  •  52
    A Defense of Hume on Identity Through Time
    Hume Studies 13 (2): 323-342. 1987.
    Allegedly hume begs the question when explaining the idea of identity through time. I argue that this accusation rests on the false assumption that all perceptions are momentary and so any lengthy perception is rather a number of perceptions in succession. I conclude that the idea of identity is an uneasy combination of a single lengthy idea and a number of ideas in succession. In this way it is a "medium betwixt unity and number."
  •  52
    Hume on Steadfast Objects and Time
    Hume Studies 27 (1): 129-148. 2001.
    Hume argues that there are steadfast objects - objects not themselves successions at all, yet which co-exist with successions. Given Hume's account of moments as abstractions from temporal simples, there being steadfast objects entails there being single moments that co-exist with successions of moments. Thus time is more like a wall of variously sized bricks than like a line. I formalize the assumptions behind this surprising view, in order to make sense of it and in order to show that it is co…Read more