• This paper explores a PSR-connected trail leading from theistic idealism to a form of substance monism. In particular, I argue that the same style of argument available for a Leibnizian form of metaphysical idealism actually leads beyond idealism to something closer to Spinozistic monism. This path begins with a set of theological commitments about the nature and perfection of God that were widely shared among leading early modern philosophers. From these commitments, there arises an interesting…Read more
  • Explaining contingent facts
    Philosophical Studies. forthcoming.
    I argue against a principle that is widely taken to govern metaphysical explanation. This is the principle that no necessary facts can, on their own, explain a contingent fact. I then show how this result makes available a response to a longstanding objection to the Principle of Sufficient Reason—the objection that the Principle of Sufficient Reason entails that the world could not have been otherwise.
  • Physicalism and the Identity of Identity Theories
    Samuel Elgin
    Erkenntnis 1-20. forthcoming.
    It is often said that there are two varieties of identity theory. Type-identity theorists interpret physicalism as the claim that every property is identical to a physical property, while token-identity theorists interpret it as the claim that every particular is identical to a physical particular. The aim of this paper is to undermine the distinction between the two. Drawing on recent work connecting generalized identity to truth-maker semantics, I demonstrate that these interpretations are log…Read more
  • Metaphysics has shifted ground, moving away from necessity and possibility as the lens through which we look at things. Ted Sider shapes the agenda for the subject by exploring how this shift transforms the project of understanding the objects, properties, and quantities of the universe, and the relations between them, in terms of structures.
  • Varieties of plenitude
    Philosophy Compass 15 (3). 2020.
    Material Plenitude is the view that there is an abundance of coincident objects wherever there is any material object. Although plenitude has garnered increased attention from metaphysicians in recent years, it has yet to be well‐understood beyond its slogan from. The goal of this article is to explore a few places for puzzlement about plenitude; in particular, how we ought to motivate and formulate the target view. I'll suggest along the way that an investigation of plenitude is not merely of i…Read more
  • Counterfactuals, Overdetermination and Mental Causation
    Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 111 (3pt3): 469-477. 2011.
    The Exclusion Problem for mental causation suggests that there is a tension between the claim that the mental causes physical effects, and the claim that the mental does not overdetermine its physical effects. In response, Karen Bennett puts forward an extra necessary condition for overdetermination : if one candidate cause were to occur but the other were not to occur, the effect would still occur. She thus denies one of the assumptions of EP, the assumption that if an effect has two sufficient…Read more
  • Against Parthood
    Oxford Studies in Metaphysics 8. 2013.
    Mereological nihilism says that there do not exist (in the fundamental sense) any objects with proper parts. A reason to accept it is that we can thereby eliminate 'part' from fundamental ideology. Many purported reasons to reject it - based on common sense, perception, and the possibility of gunk, for example - are weak. A more powerful reason is that composite objects seem needed for spacetime physics; but sets suffice instead.
  • Theories as recipes: third-order virtue and vice
    Michaela Markham McSweeney
    Philosophical Studies 177 (2): 391-411. 2020.
    A basic way of evaluating metaphysical theories is to ask whether they give satisfying answers to the questions they set out to resolve. I propose an account of “third-order” virtue that tells us what it takes for certain kinds of metaphysical theories to do so. We should think of these theories as recipes. I identify three good-making features of recipes and show that they translate to third-order theoretical virtues. I apply the view to two theories—mereological universalism and plenitudinous …Read more
  • The Essences of Fundamental Properties
    Metaphysics 2 (1): 40-54. 2019.
    There is a puzzle concerning the essences of fundamental entities that arises from considerations about essence, on one hand, and fundamentality, on the other. The Essence-Dependence Link (EDL) says that if x figures in the essence of y, then y is dependent upon x. EDL is prima facie plausible in many cases, especially those involving derivative entities. But consider the property negative charge. A negatively charged object exhibits certain behaviors that a positively charged object does not: i…Read more
  • How to Be a Substantivalist Without Getting Shifty About It
    Philosophical Issues 27 (1): 223-249. 2017.
    According to substantivalism, spacetime points and regions are real entities whose existence is not dependent on matter. In this paper, I motivate and defend a version of substantivalism which takes the totality of spacetime as fundamental, and show how this position avoids certain problem cases, in particular the objection from static Leibniz shifts, and better conforms to how we think about space in physics. I argue that, even though the static Leibniz shifts do not show ordinary substantivali…Read more
  • Communication and indifference
    Mind and Language. forthcoming.
    Mind & Language, EarlyView.
  • The Truth About Deception
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 98 (1): 147-166. 2019.
    The prohibition on lying is often thought to be very stringent. Some have even been tempted to think that it is absolute. In contrast, the prohibition on other forms of deception seems to be looser. This paper explores the relationship between the duty not to deceive and the duty not to lie. This discussion is situated in the context of a broadly Kantian account of morality. Kant himself infamously claimed that one ought not lie to a murderer at the door about the location of his intended victim…Read more
  • Fundamentality without Foundations
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 93 (3): 607-626. 2016.
    A commonly held view is that a central aim of metaphysics is to give a fundamental account of reality which refers only to the fundamental entities. But a puzzle arises. It is at least a working hypothesis for those pursuing the aim that, first, there must be fundamental entities. But, second, it also seems possible that the world has no foundation, with each entity depending on others. These two claims are inconsistent with the widely held third claim that the fundamental just is the foundation…Read more
  • Against Conservatism in Metaphysics
    Maegan Fairchild and John Hawthorne
    Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 82 45-75. 2018.
    In his recent book, Daniel Korman contrasts ontological conservatives with permissivists and eliminativists about ontology. Roughly speaking, conservatives admit the existence of ‘ordinary objects' like trees, dogs, and snowballs, but deny the existence of ‘extraordinary objects', like composites of trees and dogs. Eliminativists, on the other hand, deny many or all ordinary objects, while permissivists accept both ordinary and extraordinary objects. Our aim in this paper is to outline some of o…Read more
  • Debunking Logical Ground: Distinguishing Metaphysics from Semantics
    Journal of the American Philosophical Association 6 (2): 156-170. 2020.
    Many philosophers take purportedly logical cases of ground ) to be obvious cases, and indeed such cases have been used to motivate the existence of and importance of ground. I argue against this. I do so by motivating two kinds of semantic determination relations. Intuitions of logical ground track these semantic relations. Moreover, our knowledge of semantics for first order logic can explain why we have such intuitions. And, I argue, neither semantic relation can be a species of ground even on…Read more
  • Sideways music
    Analysis (1). 2019.
    There is a popular theory in the metaphysics of time according to which time is one of four similar dimensions that make up a single manifold that is appropriately called spacetime. One consequence of this thesis is that changing an object’s orientation in the manifold does not change its intrinsic features. In this paper I offer a new argument against this popular theory. I claim that an especially good performance of a particularly beautiful piece of music, when oriented within the manifold in…Read more
  • A short argument for truthmaker maximalism
    Analysis 80 (1): 40-44. 2020.
    Each truth has a truthmaker: an entity in virtue of whose existence that truth is true. So say truthmaker maximalists. Arguments for maximalism are hard to find, whereas those against are legion. Most accept that maximalism comes at a significant cost, which many judge to be too high. The scales would seem to be balanced against maximalism. Yet, as I show here, maximalism can be derived from an acceptable premise which many will pre-theoretically accept.
  • Gonzalo Rodriguez-Pereyra presents an original study of the place and role of the Identity of Indiscernibles in Leibniz's philosophy. The Principle of the Identity of Indiscernibles rules out numerically distinct but perfectly similar things; Leibniz derived it from more basic principles and used it to establish important philosophical theses. Rodriguez-Pereyra aims to establish what Leibniz meant by the Principle of Identity of Indiscernibles, what his arguments for and from it were, and to ass…Read more
  • Logic Through a Leibnizian Lens
    Philosophers' Imprint 19. 2019.
    Leibniz's conceptual containment theory says that singular propositions of the form a is F are true when the complete concept of being a contains the concept of being F. In this paper, I provide a new semantics for first-order logic built around this idea. The semantics resolves longstanding problems for Leibniz's theory and can represent, without possible worlds, both hyperintensional distinctions among properties and a certain kind of presumably impossible situation that standard approaches ca…Read more
  • Logic for Philosophy
    Oxford University Press. 2010.
    Logic for Philosophy is an introduction to logic for students of contemporary philosophy. It is suitable both for advanced undergraduates and for beginning graduate students in philosophy. It covers (i) basic approaches to logic, including proof theory and especially model theory, (ii) extensions of standard logic that are important in philosophy, and (iii) some elementary philosophy of logic. It emphasizes breadth rather than depth. For example, it discusses modal logic and counterfactuals, but…Read more
  • Communication and Variance
    Martín Abreu Zavaleta
    Topoi 1-23. forthcoming.
    According to standard assumptions in semantics, ordinary users of a language have implicit beliefs about the truth-conditions of sentences in that language, and they often agree on those beliefs. For example, it is assumed that if Anna and John are both competent users of English and the former utters ‘grass is green’ in conversation with the latter, they will both believe that that sentence is true if and only if grass is green. These assumptions play an important role in an intuitively compell…Read more
  • The main goal of this paper is to investigate the relation between the meaning of a sentence and its truth conditions. We report on a comprehension experiment on counterfactual conditionals, based on a context in which a light is controlled by two switches. Our main finding is that the truth-conditionally equivalent clauses (i) "switch A or switch B is down" and (ii) "switch A and switch B are not both up" make different semantic contributions when embedded in a conditional antecedent. Assuming …Read more
  • I introduce a proof system for the logic of relative fundamentality, as well as a natural semantics with respect to which the system is both sound and complete. I then “modalise” the logic, and finally I discuss the properties of grounding given a suggested account of this notion in terms of necessity and relative fundamentality.
  • The question of what exists is often seen as one of the metaphysician’s primary concerns—an ontological stance is a central and basic component of a great many positions in metaphysics. Consider, in particular, the debate surrounding the metaphysics of time: the question of whether non-present entities exist is typically thought of as one of the fundamental issues at stake in the debate, with each position on the nature of time consisting in part of an answer to this question of ontology. My pur…Read more
  • This paper aims to draw attention to an explanatory problem posed by the existence of multiply realized or universal behavior exhibited by certain physical systems. The problem is to explain how it is possible that systems radically distinct at lower-scales can nevertheless exhibit identical or nearly identical behavior at upper-scales. Theoretically this is reflected by the fact that continuum theories such as fluid mechanics are spectacularly successful at predicting, describing, and explainin…Read more
  • Robert Batterman examines a form of scientific reasoning called asymptotic reasoning, arguing that it has important consequences for our understanding of the scientific process as a whole. He maintains that asymptotic reasoning is essential for explaining what physicists call universal behavior. With clarity and rigor, he simplifies complex questions about universal behavior, demonstrating a profound understanding of the underlying structures that ground them. This book introduces a valuable new…Read more
  • Form and inheritance in Aristotle's embryology
    Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 39 183-212. 2010.
    This article argues for an interpretation of Aristotle’s biological account of familial resemblance that allows us to read Aristotle’s embryology as employing the same concept of “form” as he employs in his Metaphysics. The dominant view for the last several decades has been that in order to account for the phenomenon of inherited characteristics, Aristotle’s biology must appeal to a “sub-specific” form, one that includes all of the traits that parents pass on to their offspring. That view, howe…Read more
  • Aristotle on Essence and Habitat
    Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 48 267-293. 2015.
    Despite his awareness that organisms are well suited to the habitats they are typically found in, Aristotle nowhere tries to explain this. It is unlikely that he thinks this “fit” (as I call it) between organisms and their habitats is simply a lucky coincidence, given how vehemently he rejects that as an explanation of the fit between organisms’ various body parts. But it is quite puzzling that Aristotle never explicitly addresses this, since it is a question that seemed so pressing to later phi…Read more
  • Belief and Indeterminacy
    Philosophical Review 121 (1): 1-54. 2012.
    An attractive approach to the semantic paradoxes holds that cases of semantic pathology give rise to indeterminacy. What attitude should a rational agent have toward a proposition that it takes to be indeterminate in this sense? Orthodoxy holds that rationality requires that an agent disbelieve such a proposition. I argue that a rational agent should be such that it is indeterminate whether it believes the proposition in question. For rational agents, indeterminacy in the objects of their attitu…Read more
  • Vagueness and semantic indiscriminability
    Philosophical Studies 160 (3): 365-377. 2012.
    I argue, pace Timothy Williamson, that one cannot provide an adequate account of what it is for a case to be borderline by appealing to facts about our inability to discriminate our actual situation from nearby counterfactual situations in which our language use differs in subtle ways. I consider the two most natural ways of using such resources to provide an account of what it is for a case to be borderline and argue that both face crippling defects. I argue that the problems faced by these two…Read more