•  1040
    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
  •  796
    Explaining essences
    Philosophical Studies 178 (4): 1043-1064. 2020.
    This paper explores the prospects of combining two views. The first view is metaphysical rationalism : all things have an explanation. The second view is metaphysical essentialism: there are real essences. The exploration is motivated by a conflict between the views. Metaphysical essentialism posits facts about essences. Metaphysical rationalism demands explanations for all facts. But facts about essences appear to resist explanation. I consider two solutions to the conflict. Exemption solutions…Read more
  •  673
    Philosophy Compass 10 (5): 322-333. 2015.
    This essay focuses on a recently prominent notion of ground which is distinctive for how it links metaphysics to explanation. Ground is supposed to serve both as the common factor in diverse in virtue of questions as well as the structuring relation in the project of explaining how some phenomena are “built” from more fundamental phenomena. My aim is to provide an opinionated synopsis of this notion of ground without engaging with others. Ground, so understood, generally resists illumination by …Read more
  •  515
    In Defence of Ground
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 90 (4). 2012.
    I defend (metaphysical) ground against recent, unanswered objections aiming to dismiss it from serious philosophical inquiry. Interest in ground stems from its role in the venerable metaphysical project of identifying which facts hold in virtue of others. Recent work on ground focuses on regimenting it. But many reject ground itself, seeing regimentation as yet another misguided attempt to regiment a bad idea (like phlogiston or astrology). I defend ground directly against objections that it is …Read more
  •  507
    A Puzzle for Social Essences
    Journal of the American Philosophical Association 8 (1): 128-148. 2022.
    The social world contains institutions, groups, objects, and more. This essay explores a puzzle about the essences of social items. There is widespread consensus against social essences because of problematic presuppositions often made about them. But it is argued that essence can be freed from these presuppositions and their problems. Even so, a puzzle still arises. In a Platonic spirit, essences in general seem detached from the world. In an Aristotelian spirit, social essences in particular s…Read more
  •  501
    Cryptographic hash functions based on ALife
    with Mark A. Bedau and Richard Crandall
    Psipress. 2009.
    There is a long history of cryptographic hash functions, i.e. functions mapping variable-length strings to fixed-length strings, and such functions are also expected to enjoy certain security properties. Hash functions can be effected via modular arithmetic, permutation-based schemes, chaotic mixing, and so on. Herein we introduce the notion of an artificial-life (ALife) hash function (ALHF), whereby the requisite mixing action of a good hash function is accomplished via ALife rules that give ri…Read more
  •  389
    Is ground a strict partial order?
    American Philosophical Quarterly 50 (2): 191-199. 2013.
    Interest surges in a distinctively metaphysical notion of ground. But a Schism has emerged between Orthodoxy’s view of ground as inducing a strict partial order structure on reality and Heresy’s rejection of this view. What’s at stake is the structure of reality (for proponents of ground), or even ground itself (for those who think this Schism casts doubt upon its coherence). I defend Orthodoxy against Heresy.
  •  300
    The bases of truths
    Philosophical Studies 180 (7): 2153-2174. 2023.
    This paper concerns a distinction between circumstantial truths that hold because of the circumstances and acircumstantial truths that hold regardless of, or transcend, the circumstances. Previous discussions of the distinction tended to focus on its applications, such as to modality, logical truth, and essence. This paper focuses on developing the distinction largely, but not entirely, in abstraction from its potential applications. As such, the paper’s main contribution is to further clarify t…Read more
  •  290
    The Routledge Handbook of Metaphysical Grounding (edited book)
    Routledge. 2020.
    A collection of 37 essays surveying the state of the art on metaphysical ground. Essay authors are: Fatema Amijee, Ricki Bliss, Amanda Bryant, Margaret Cameron, Phil Corkum, Fabrice Correia, Louis deRosset, Scott Dixon, Tom Donaldson, Nina Emery, Kit Fine, Martin Glazier, Kathrin Koslicki, David Mark Kovacs, Stephan Krämer, Stephanie Leary, Stephan Leuenberger, Jon Litland, Marko Malink, Michaela McSweeney, Kevin Mulligan, Alyssa Ney, Asya Passinsky, Francesca Poggiolesi, Kevin Richardson, Stef…Read more
  •  231
    New work for a theory of ground
    Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 60 (6): 625-655. 2017.
    There has been much recent interest in a distinctively metaphysical kind of determinative explanation: ground. This paper concerns various skeptical challenges to ground’s relevance to metaphysics, such as that it is an empty posit, that the work it is supposed to do is appropriated by other notions, and that it is inapt for specific issues it should serve. I argue against these challenges. My strategy is both critical and constructive. Critical because I argue that versions of these challenges …Read more
  •  179
    There is a problem of change
    Philosophical Studies 155 (1): 23-35. 2011.
    Impostors are pseudo-problems masquerading as genuine problems. Impostors should be exposed. The problem of change appears genuine. But some, such as Hofweber ( 2009 ) and Rychter ( 2009 ), have recently denounced it as an impostor. They allege that it is mysterious how to answer the meta - problem of saying what problem it is: for even if any problem is genuinely about change per se, they argue, it is either empirical or trivially dissolved by conceptual analysis. There is indeed an impostor in…Read more
  •  166
    Is Logic Out of This World?
    Journal of Philosophy 117 (10): 557-577. 2020.
    Is logic out of this world? This elusive question reveals a tension in our thinking about the basis of logic: both worldly and unworldly answers get something right and yet they conflict. My aim is to clarify the question and explore a conciliatory answer. I focus on a characterization of unworldliness in terms of ground. This allows for a distinction between proximal and distal unworldliness. That in turn reconfigures our approach to the question. It may now be taken as asking for the proximal …Read more
  •  166
    Can Time Pass at the Rate of 1 Second Per Second?
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89 (3). 2011.
    Some believe reality is dynamic: time passes, not just in our experience of reality, but objectively, in reality itself. There are many objections to this view. I focus on the rate objection: that time passes only if it passes at the rate of 1 second per second, but that it cannot coherently pass at that rate. Existing replies to this objection do not fully engage with its motivation. My aim is to refute the rate objection. Time can coherently pass at the rate of 1 second per second. This does n…Read more
  •  145
    Metaphysical Grounding
    Oxford Bibliographies in Philosophy. 2019.
    An annotated bibliography for metaphysical ground.
  •  136
    Is Lewis's Mixed Theory Mixed Up?
    Theoria 79 (1): 57-75. 2012.
    My aim is to rekindle interest in David Lewis's (1983) infamous but neglected Mixed Theory of mental states. The Mixed Theory is a mix of physicalism and functionalism designed to capture the intuitions that both Martians and abnormal human Madmen can be in pain. The Mixed Theory is widely derided. But I offer a new development of the Mixed Theory immune to its most prominent objections. In doing so, I uncover a new motivation for the Mixed Theory: its unique ability to explain cases in which it…Read more
  •  118
    Kit Fine
    Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2020.
    Kit Fine is an English philosopher who is among the most important philosophers of the turn of the millennium. He is perhaps most influential for reinvigorating a neo-Aristotelian turn within contemporary analytic philosophy. Fine’s prolific work is characterized by a unique blend of logical acumen, respect for appearances, ingenious creativity, and originality. His vast corpus is filled with numerous significant contributions to metaphysics, philosophy of language, logic, philosophy of mathemat…Read more
  •  118
    Physicalism and its Challenges in Social Ontology
    In Stephanie Collins, Brian Epstein, Sally Haslanger & Hans B. Schmid (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Social Ontology, Oxford University Press. forthcoming.
    This chapter will discuss the relation of physicalism to social ontology, and explores problems that social ontology raises for physicalism. Physicalism is often understood to be the view that all facts—the social ones included—are physical facts, or at least are exhaustively determined by physical facts. While this view is widely endorsed, social phenomena challenge physicalism in several ways, both challenging the coherence of claims of physicalism and raising potential counterexamples.
  •  117
    Simon Evnine’s Making Objects and Events: A Hylomorphic Theory of Artifacts develops amorphic hylomorphism. I critically discuss three of its main themes. One theme is its attempt to do the work of form without forms. A second theme is the requirement that hylomorphs have ‘metabolisms at work’. A third theme is the use of artifacts as the paradigms for hylomorphs. I will raise some criticisms of each of these themes. Although the themes might at first appear disconnected, I believe the third und…Read more
  •  100
    A Problem for Immanent Universals in States of Affairs
    American Philosophical Quarterly 59 (1): 1-9. 2022.
    This paper raises a problem for the pair of views that universals are immanent in their instantiations and that these instantiations, or states of affairs, are somehow constructed from the instantiated universals. It is argued that the pair is inconsistent. The first view implies that universals are prior to states of affairs, whereas the second view implies that states of affairs are prior to universals. This paper does not attempt to solve this problem, but rather to formulate it precisely. Th…Read more
  •  95
    Subjectivism is Pointless
    Logos and Episteme 4 (1): 733-748. 2013.
    Epistemic objectivists and epistemic subjectivists might agree that inquiry pursues epistemic virtues (truth, knowledge, reason, or rationality) while disagreeing over their objectivity. Objectivists will evaluate this disagreement in terms of the epistemic virtues objectively construed, while subjectivists will not. This raises a rhetorical problem: objectivists will fault subjectivism for lacking some objective epistemic virtue, whereas subjectivists, by rejecting objectivity, won’t see this a…Read more
  •  95
    Problems for testimonial acquaintance
    Noûs 42 (4): 727-745. 2008.
    We think about and refer to things that we’ve never perceived or experienced. This paper bears on how this could be. Someone is testimonially acquainted with something just in case the explanation of one’s ability to think de re thoughts about it essentially appeals to communication with others who already have that ability. The main motivation for the claim that testimonial acquaintance is possible is that it best explains how we can think de re about and refer to things we’ve never perceived o…Read more
  •  75
    Essences have been assigned important but controversial explanatory roles in philosophical, scientific, and social theorizing. Is it possible for the same organism to be first a caterpillar and then a butterfly? Is it impossible for a human being to transform into an insect like Gregor Samsa does in Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis? Is it impossible for Lot’s wife to survive being turned into a pillar of salt? Traditionally, essences (or natures) have been thought to help answer such central ques…Read more
  •  75
    What Physicalism Could Be
    Analytic Philosophy. forthcoming.
    The physicalist credo is that the world is physical. But some phenomena, such as minds, morals, and mathematics, appear to be nonphysical. While an uncompromising physicalism would reject these, a conciliatory physicalism needn’t if it can account for them in terms of an underlying physical basis. Any such account must refer to the nonphysical. But won’t this unavoidable reference to the nonphysical conflict with the physicalist credo? This essay aims to clarify this problem and introduce a nove…Read more
  •  70
    Review of Metaphysical Grounding (review)
    Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews. 2013.
  •  59
    Attesting the Aristotelian Future
    Philosophia 39 (4): 751-757. 2011.
    Aristotelian relativism about the future (as recently defended by MacFarlane ( 2003 )) claims that a prediction made on Monday, such as ‘It will rain’, can be indeterminate on Monday but determinate on Tuesday. A serious objection to this intuitively appealing view is that it cannot coherently be attested: for if it is attested on Monday, then our blindness to what the future holds precludes attesting that the prediction is determinate on Tuesday, and if it is attested on Tuesday (when, suppose,…Read more
  •  51
    Collective Intelligence of the Artificial Life Community on Its Own Successes, Failures, and Future
    with Steen Rasmussen, Gordon N. Keating, and Mark A. Bedau
    Artificial Life 9 207-235. 2003.
    We describe a novel Internet-based method for building consensus and clarifying con icts in large stakeholder groups facing complex issues, and we use the method to survey and map the scienti c and organizational perspectives of the arti cial life community during the Seventh International Conference on Arti cial Life (summer 2000). The issues addressed in this survey included arti cial life’s main successes, main failures, main open scienti c questions, and main strategies for the future, as we…Read more
  •  44
    Chalmers, Manley, and Wasserman's "Metametaphysics" anthology is reviewed.