•  199
    Modal Rationalism
    Dialectica 65 (1): 103-115. 2011.
    Hossack (2007) defends what he calls the rationalist thesis: the thesis that necessity reduces to (or at least always coincides with) a priori knowledge. In this paper I discuss some features of Hossack’s rationalist account of necessity. In the first half, I attempt to fill in a missing link in the rationalist thesis, connecting the notions of primitiveness of facts and a priori modes of presentation. In the second half, I complain that the strategy of dissolving counterexamples is not enough, …Read more
  •  184
    Kant's Modalities of Judgment
    European Journal of Philosophy 20 (2): 260-284. 2012.
    Abstract: This paper proposes a way to understand Kant's modalities of judgment—problematic, assertoric, and apodeictic—in terms of the location of a judgment in an inference. Other interpretations have tended to understand these modalities of judgment in terms of one or other conventional notion of modality. For example, Mattey (1986) argues that we should take them to be connected to notions of epistemic or doxastic modality. I shall argue that this is wrong, and that these kinds of interpreta…Read more
  •  162
    The Varieties of Modality
    Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 97 (2). 2016.
    In ‘The Varieties of Necessity’ Fine presents purported counterexamples to the view that a proposition is a naturally necessary truth if and only if it is logically necessary relative to or conditional upon the basic truths about the status and distribution of natural kinds, properties and relations. The aim of this article is to defend the view that natural necessity is relative necessity, and the general idea that we can define other kinds of necessity as relative, against Fine's criticisms.
  •  122
    Logic and the Laws of Thought
    Philosophers' Imprint 15. 2015.
    An approach to explaining the nature and source of logic and its laws with a rich historical tradition takes the laws of logic to be laws of thought. This view seems intuitively compelling, after all, logic seems to be intimately related with how we think. But how exactly should we understand it? And what arguments can we give in favour? I will propose one line of argument for the claim that the laws of logic are laws of thought. I will motivate the claim that there is a certain phenomenon, name…Read more
  •  119
    One striking contrast that Kant draws between the kind of cognitive capacities that humans have and alternative kinds of intellect concerns modal concepts. Whilst , the very distinction between possibility and actuality would not arise for an intuitive understanding. The aim of this paper is to explore in more detail how the functioning of these cognitive capacities relates to modal concepts, and to provide a model of the intuitive understanding, in order to draw some general lessons for our abi…Read more
  •  117
    An essentialist theory of modality claims that the source of possibility and necessity lies in essence, where essence is then not to be defined in terms of necessity. Hence such theories owe us an account of why it is that the essences of things give rise to necessities in the way required. A new approach to understanding essence in terms of the notion of generalized identity promises to answer this challenge by appeal to the necessity of identity. I explore the prospects for this approach, and …Read more
  •  115
    ‘Creationism’ and the contingenta priori
    Ratio 23 (2): 168-183. 2010.
    Williamson (1986) presents a troublesome example of the contingent a priori ; troublesome, because it does not involve indexicals, and hence cannot be defused via the usual two-dimensional strategies. Here I explore how the example works, via an examination of crucial belief-forming method M, partly in response to Hawthorne (2002) and the questions there raised for 'hyperreliable' belief-forming methods. I suggest that, when used to form a belief, M does its special work through creating a verif…Read more
  •  107
    Relative Necessity Reformulated
    with Bob Hale
    Journal of Philosophical Logic 46 (1): 1-26. 2017.
    This paper discusses some serious difficulties for what we shall call the standard account of various kinds of relative necessity, according to which any given kind of relative necessity may be defined by a strict conditional - necessarily, if C then p - where C is a suitable constant proposition, such as a conjunction of physical laws. We argue, with the help of Humberstone, that the standard account has several unpalatable consequences. We argue that Humberstone’s alternative account has certa…Read more
  •  104
    Potentiality
    Analysis 77 (2): 457-467. 2017.
    Vetter's Potentiality is an exposition and development of a new account of possibility and necessity, given in terms of potentialities. In this critical notice, I give an outline of some of the key claims of the book. I then raise some issues for the extent to which Vetter's view can accommodate genuine de re modalities, especially those of possible existence and non-existence.
  •  103
    Essence and Mere Necessity
    Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 82 309-332. 2018.
    Recently, a debate has developed between those who claim that essence can be explained in terms of de re modality (modalists), and those who claim that de re modality can be explained in terms of essence (essentialists). The aim of this paper is to suggest that we should reassess. It is assumed that either necessity is to be accounted for in terms of essence, or that essence is to be accounted for in terms of necessity. I will argue that we should assume neither. I discuss what role these key no…Read more
  •  102
    The Normativity of Kant's Logical Laws
    History of Philosophy Quarterly 34 (4). 2017.
    According to received wisdom, Kant takes the laws of logic to be normative laws of thought. This has been challenged by Tolley (2006). In this paper, I defend the received wisdom, but with an important modification: Kant's logical laws are constitutive norms for thought. The laws of logic do tell us what thinking is, not because all thoughts are in conformity with logical laws, but because all thoughts are, by nature, subject to the standard of logic.
  •  93
    Book review of "The Semantics and Metaphysics of Natural Kinds", edited by Helen Beebee and Nigel Sabbarton-Leary (Routledge, 2010).
  •  49
    What is the function of modal judgment? Why do we make judgments of possibility and necessity? Or are such judgments, in fact, dispensable? This paper introduces and develops an answer to these questions based on Kant’s remarks in section 76 of the Critique of Judgment. Here, Kant appears to argue the following: that a capacity to make modal judgments using modal concepts is required for a capacity for objective representation, in light of our split cognitive architecture. This split cognitive a…Read more
  •  47
    Martha Kneale on Why Metaphysical Necessities Are Not A Priori
    Journal of the American Philosophical Association 5 (4): 389-409. 2019.
    In her 1938 paper ‘Logical and Metaphysical Necessity’, Martha Kneale introduces the necessary a posteriori. I present a critical summary of Kneale's argument that so-called ‘metaphysical propositions’ are necessary but not a priori. I argue that Kneale is well placed to offer a template for reconciling conceivability approaches to modal epistemology with the post-Kripkean trend for taking metaphysical necessities to have their source in mind-independent reality.
  •  40
    Properties
    International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 28 (4): 439-442. 2014.
    A book review of "Properties" by Douglas Edwards (Polity Press, 2014).
  •  40
    Baking with Kant and Bradley
    Collingwood and British Idealism Studies 19 (1): 75-94. 2013.
    This paper compares the views of Kant and F.H. Bradley on the nature of judgment or experience. We argue that, while there are many differences between their idealist systems, Kant and Bradley agree on a basic issue: there is a sense in which a whole judgment or experience is prior to its parts. Through the extended metaphor of cake baking, we show that for Kant there is an important sense in which a judgment --in spite of resulting from the synthesis of a manifold --is prior to its parts; and, …Read more
  •  32
    The Mereology of Representation
    Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 116 (2): 205-228. 2016.
    Mental representations—like many other things—seem to have parts. However, it isn’t clear how to properly understand the idea of a part of a representation. In this paper I shed new light on how representations can have a mereology. In particular, it has been recognized that there is a mereological element to Kant’s distinction between two kinds of representations: intuitions and concepts. A concept depends upon its parts, whereas an intuition is prior to its parts. The paper thus focuses on an …Read more
  •  30
    In the Postulates of Empirical Thinking, a section of the Critique of Pure Reason, Kant presents an account of the content and role of our concept of real possibility in terms of formal conditions of experience. However, much later in the Critique he introduces the idea of a material condition of possibility. What is this material condition of possibility, and how does it fit with the conception of possibility in terms of formal conditions? This essay argues that the key to answering these quest…Read more
  •  16
    Carl Stumpf, “Psychologie und Erkenntnistheorie”
    British Journal for the History of Philosophy 28 (6): 1181-1216. 2020.
    by Carl Stumpf. [467] ii When Zeller, iii in the lecture “On the meaning and mission of epistemology”, iv called for a renewed fostering of this science, he designated as its mission the study of t...
  •  15
    What, if any, is the relation between modal judgment and our capacity to make judgments at all? On a plausible interpretation, Kant connects what he calls the modality of a judgment to its location in a course of reasoning: actual inferential relations between that act of judgment and others. There is a puzzling consequence of this interpretation. It is natural to understand Kant as claiming that every judgment has some modality. However, if the modality of a judgment is its location in a course…Read more
  •  12
    Carl Stumpf, “Psychologie und Erkenntnistheorie”
    Tandf: British Journal for the History of Philosophy 1-36. forthcoming.
    .