•  947
    Temporal Experience
    Journal of Philosophy 107 (7): 333-359. 2010.
    The question I want to explore is whether experience supports an antireductionist ontology of time, that is, whether we should take it to support an ontology that includes a primitive, monadic property of nowness responsible for the special feel of events in the present, and a relation of passage that events instantiate in virtue of literally passing from the future, to the present, and then into the past.
  •  508
    What You Can't Expect When You're Expecting'
    Res Philosophica 92 (2): 1-23. 2015.
    It seems natural to choose whether to have a child by reflecting on what it would be like to actually have a child. I argue that this natural approach fails. If you choose to become a parent, and your choice is based on projections about what you think it would be like for you to have a child, your choice is not rational. If you choose to remain childless, and your choice is based upon projections about what you think it would be like for you to have a child, your choice is not rational. This su…Read more
  •  403
    Metaphysics as modeling: the handmaiden’s tale
    Philosophical Studies 160 (1): 1-29. 2012.
    Critics of contemporary metaphysics argue that it attempts to do the hard work of science from the ease of the armchair. Physics, not metaphysics, tells us about the fundamental facts of the world, and empirical psychology is best placed to reveal the content of our concepts about the world. Exploring and understanding the world through metaphysical reflection is obsolete. In this paper, I will show why this critique of metaphysics fails, arguing that metaphysical methods used to make claims abo…Read more
  •  345
    The Puzzles of Material Constitution
    Philosophy Compass 5 (7): 579-590. 2010.
  •  342
    Building the world from its fundamental constituents
    Philosophical Studies 158 (2): 221-256. 2012.
    In this paper, I argue that the spatiotemporalist approach way of modeling the fundamental constituents, structure, and composition of the world has taken a wrong turn. Spatiotemporalist approaches to fundamental structure take the fundamental nature of the world to be spatiotemporal: they take the category of spatiotemporal to be fundamental. I argue that the debates over the nature of the fundamental space in the physics show us that (i) the fact that it is conceivable that the manifest world …Read more
  •  316
    Mereological bundle theory
    In Hans Burkhardt, Johanna Seibt & Guido Imaguire (eds.), Handbook of Mereology, Philosophia Verlag. forthcoming.
    Bundle theory takes objects to be bundles of properties. Some bundle theorists take objects to be bundles of instantiated universals, and some take objects to be bundles of tropes. Tropes are instances of properties: some take instantiated universals to be tropes, while others deny the existence of universals and take tropes to be ontologically fundamental. Historically, the bundling relation has been taken to be a primitive relation, not analyzable in terms of or ontologically reducible to some…Read more
  •  263
    In defense of essentialism
    Philosophical Perspectives 20 (1). 2006.
    If an object has a property essentially, it has that property in every possible world according to which it exists.2 If an object has a property accidentally, it does not have that property in every possible world according to which it exists. Claims about an object’s essential or accidental properties are de re modal claims, and essential and accidental properties are de re modal properties. Take an object’s modal profile to specify its essential properties and the range of its accidental prope…Read more
  •  220
    Logical parts
    Noûs 36 (4). 2002.
    I argue for a property mereology and for mereological bundle theory. I then apply this theory to the one over many problem (universals) and puzzles concerning persistence and material constitution.
  •  218
    Metaphysically Reductive Causation
    with Ned Hall
    Erkenntnis 78 (1): 9-41. 2013.
    There are, by now, many rival, sophisticated philosophical accounts of causation that qualify as ‘metaphysically reductive’. This is a good thing: these collective efforts have vastly improved our understanding of causation over the last 30 years or so. They also put us in an excellent position to reflect on some central methodological questions: What exactly is the point of offering a metaphysical reduction of causation? What philosophical scruples ought to guide the pursuit of such a reduction…Read more
  •  213
    A New Role for Experimental Work in Metaphysics
    Review of Philosophy and Psychology 1 (3): 461-476. 2010.
    Recent work in philosophy could benefit from paying greater attention to empirical results from cognitive science involving judgments about the nature of our ordinary experience. This paper describes the way that experimental and theoretical results about the nature of ordinary judgments could—and should—inform certain sorts of enquiries in contemporary philosophy, using metaphysics as an exemplar, and hence defines a new way for experimental philosophy and cognitive science to contribute to tra…Read more
  •  211
    Causation and Counterfactuals (edited book)
    MIT Press. 2004.
    Thirty years after Lewis's paper, this book brings together some of the most important recent work connecting—or, in some cases, disputing the connection ...
  •  206
    First personal modes of presentation and the structure of empathy
    Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 60 (3): 189-207. 2017.
    I argue that we can understand the de se by employing the subjective mode of presentation or, if one’s ontology permits it, by defending an abundant ontology of perspectival personal properties or facts. I do this in the context of a discussion of Cappelen and Dever’s recent criticisms of the de se. Then, I discuss the distinctive role of the first personal perspective in discussions about empathy, rational deference, and self-understanding, and develop a way to frame the problem of lacking pros…Read more
  •  200
    Limited realism: Cartwright on natures and laws
    Philosophical Books 43 244-253. 2002.
    A leaf falls to the ground, wafting lazily on the afternoon breeze. Clouds move across the sky, and birds sing. Are these events governed by universal laws of nature, laws that apply everywhere without exception, subsuming events such as the falling of the leaf, the movement of the clouds and the singing of the birds? Are such laws part of a small set of fundamental laws, or descended from such a set, which govern everything there is in the world?
  •  196
    Aspect Causation
    Journal of Philosophy 97 (4): 235. 2000.
    A theory of the causal relate as aspects or property instances is developed. A supposed problem for transitivity is assessed and then resolved with aspects as the causal relata.
  •  187
    A One Category Ontology
    In John A. Keller (ed.), Being, Freedom, and Method: Themes From the Philosophy of Peter van Inwagen, Oxford University Press. forthcoming.
    I defend a one category ontology: an ontology that denies that we need more than one fundamental category to support the ontological structure of the world. Categorical fundamentality is understood in terms of the metaphysically prior, as that in which everything else in the world consists. One category ontologies are deeply appealing, because their ontological simplicity gives them an unmatched elegance and spareness. I’m a fan of a one category ontology that collapses the distinction between p…Read more
  •  186
    Counterfactual analyses of causation can provide elegant analyses of many cases of causation. However, they fail to give intuitively correct analyses of cases involving a commonplace variety of late preemptive causation. I argue that a small emendation can solve the problem.
  •  182
    Coincidence as overlap
    Noûs 40 (4). 2006.
    I discuss puzzles involving coinciding material objects (such as statues and their constitutive lumps of clay) and propose solutions.
  •  164
    Problems with late preemption
    Analysis 58 (1). 1998.
    In response to counterexamples involving late preemption, David Lewis (1986) revised his original (1973) counterfactual analysis of causation to include the notion of quasi-dependence. Jonardon Ganeri, Paul Noordhof and Murali Ramachandran (1998) argue that their ‘PCA*-analysis’ of causation solves the problem of late preemption and is superior to Lewis’s analysis. I show that neither quasi-dependence nor the PCA*-analysis solves the problem of late preemption.
  •  157
    The self can be understood in objective metaphysical terms as a bundle of properties, as a substance, or as some other kind of entity on our metaphysical list of what there is. Such an approach explores the metaphysical nature of the self when regarded from a suitably impersonal, ontological perspective. It explores the nature and structure of the self in objective reality, that is, the nature and structure of the self from without. This is the objective self. I am taking a different approach. I…Read more
  •  144
    II—L. A. Paul: Categorical Priority and Categorical Collapse
    Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 87 (1): 89-113. 2013.
    I explore some of the ways that assumptions about the nature of substance shape metaphysical debates about the structure of Reality. Assumptions about the priority of substance play a role in an argument for monism, are embedded in certain pluralist metaphysical treatments of laws of nature, and are central to discussions of substantivalism and relationalism. I will then argue that we should reject such assumptions and collapse the categorical distinction between substance and property.
  •  133
    Constitutive Overdetermination
    In J. K. Campbell, M. O'Rourke & H. S. Silverstein (eds.), Causation and Explanation, Mit Press. pp. 4--265. 2007.
    Our best philosophical and scientific pictures of the world organize material objects into a hierarchy or levels or layers- microparticles at the bottom, molecules, cells, and persons at higher layers. Are objects at higher layers identical to the sums of objects at lower layers that constitute them? (Note that this question is different from the question of whether composition- as opposed to constitution- is identity.)
  •  121
    Causation and preemption
    with Ned Hall
    In Peter Clark & Katherine Hawley (eds.), Philosophy of Science Today, Oxford University Press. 2003.
  •  110
    Précis of Transformative Experience
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 91 (3): 760-765. 2015.
    I summarize the main argument of Transformative Experience (OUP 2014). The book develops familiar examples from classical philosophical debates, as well as original examples, to argue that an agent’s decision to undergo a transformative experience—an experience constituted by radical personal and epistemic change for the agent—must either be authentic or irrational, but not both. The Precis of Transformative Experience walks the reader through the main ideas involved in epistemically and persona…Read more
  •  109
    I claim that Mill has a theory of poetry which he uses to reconcile nineteenth century associationist psychology, the tendency of the intellect to dissolve associations, and the need for educated members of society to desire utilitarian ends. The heart of the argument is that Mill thinks reading poetry encourages us to feel the feelings of others, and thus to develop pleasurable associations with the pleasurable feelings of others and painful associations with the painful feelings of others. Onc…Read more
  •  97
    Transformative Experience: Replies to Pettigrew, Barnes and Campbell
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 91 (3): 794-813. 2015.
    Summary of Transformative Experience by L.A. Paul and replies to symposiasts. Discussion of undefined values, preference change, authenticity, experiential value, collective minds, mind control.
  •  90
    Transformative Experience
    Oxford University Press. 2014.
    How should we make choices when we know so little about our futures? L. A. Paul argues that we must view life decisions as choices to make discoveries about the nature of experience. Her account of transformative experience holds that part of the value of living authentically is to experience our lives and preferences in whatever ways they evolve.
  •  83
    Real world problems
    Episteme 15 (3): 363-382. 2018.
  •  73
    Transformative Choice: Discussion and Replies
    Res Philosophica 92 (2): 473-545. 2015.
    In “What you can’t expect when you’re expecting,” I argue that, if you don’t know what it’s like to be a parent, you cannot make this decision rationally—at least, not if your decision is based on what you think it would be like for you to become a parent. My argument hinges on the idea that becoming a parent is a transformative experience. This unique type of experience often transforms people in a deep and personal sense, and in the process, changes their preferences. In section 1, I will expl…Read more
  •  69
    Realism about Structure and Kinds
    In Stephen Mumford & Matthew Tugby (eds.), Metaphysics and Science, Oxford University Press. 2013.
    In 1976, Hilary Putnam set forth his model-theoretic argument, claiming that it showed that the semantic realist’s program1 was ‘unintelligible’, since it implied, contra the realist view, that reference is radically indeterminate. Although I find the conclusion that reference is indeterminate unattractive, I argue that the descriptivist position needs to be supplemented with a premise about the sorts of kinds or structure that our world includes. The need for this premise gives a counterintuiti…Read more
  •  53
    Transformative Treatments
    Noûs 320-335. 2017.
    Contemporary social-scientific research seeks to identify specific causal mechanisms for outcomes of theoretical interest. Experiments that randomize populations to treatment and control conditions are the “gold standard” for causal inference. We identify, describe, and analyze the problem posed by transformative treatments. Such treatments radically change treated individuals in a way that creates a mismatch in populations, but this mismatch is not empirically detectable at the level of counter…Read more