•  1801
    Ready-Mades: Ontology and Aesthetics
    British Journal of Aesthetics 53 (4): 407-423. 2013.
    I explore the interrelations between the ontological and aesthetic issues raised by ready-mades such as Duchamp’s Fountain. I outline a hylomorphic metaphysics which has two central features. First, hylomorphically complex objects have matter to which they are not identical. Secondly, when such objects are artefacts (including artworks), it is essential to them that they are the products of creative work on their matter. Against this background, I suggest that ready-mades are of aesthetic intere…Read more
  •  915
    “But Is It Science Fiction?”: Science Fiction and a Theory of Genre
    Midwest Studies in Philosophy 39 (1): 1-28. 2015.
    If science fiction is a genre, then attempts to think about the nature of science fiction will be affected by one’s understanding of what genres are. I shall examine two approaches to genre, one dominant but inadequate, the other better, but only occasionally making itself seen. I shall then discuss several important, interrelated issues, focusing particularly on science fiction : what it is for a work to belong to a genre, the semantics of genre names, the validity of attempts to define genres,…Read more
  •  332
    I argue for the thesis (UL) that there are certain logical abilities that any rational creature must have. Opposition to UL comes from naturalized epistemologists who hold that it is a purely empirical question which logical abilities a rational creature has. I provide arguments that any creatures meeting certain conditions—plausible necessary conditions on rationality—must have certain specific logical concepts and be able to use them in certain specific ways. For example, I argue that any crea…Read more
  •  261
    In this article I distinguish the notion of there being something it is like to be a certain kind of creature from that of there being something it is like to have a certain kind of experience. Work on consciousness has typically dealt with the latter while employing the language of the former. I propose several ways of analyzing what it is like to be a certain kind of creature and find problems with them all. The upshot is that even if there is something it is like to have certain kinds of expe…Read more
  •  252
    Modal epistemology: Our knowledge of necessity and possibility
    Philosophy Compass 3 (4): 664-684. 2008.
    I survey a number of views about how we can obtain knowledge of modal propositions, propositions about necessity and possibility. One major approach is that whether a proposition or state of affairs is conceivable tells us something about whether it is possible. I examine two quite different positions that fall under this rubric, those of Yablo and Chalmers. One problem for this approach is the existence of necessary a posteriori truths and I deal with some of the ways in which these authors res…Read more
  •  245
    Frege's diatribes against psychologism have often been taken to imply that he thought that logic and thought have nothing to do with each other. I argue against this interpretation and attribute to Frege a view on which the two are tightly connected. The connection, however, derives not from logic's being founded on the empirical laws of thought but rather from thought's depending constitutively on the application to it of logic. I call this view 'psycho-logicism.'
  •  186
    Believing conjunctions
    Synthese 118 (2): 201-227. 1999.
    I argue that it is rational for a person to believe the conjunction of her beliefs. This involves responding to the Lottery and Preface Paradoxes. In addition, I suggest that in normal circumstances, what it is to believe a conjunction just is to believe its conjuncts.
  •  144
    Constitution and qua objects in the ontology of music
    British Journal of Aesthetics 49 (3): 203-217. 2009.
    Musical Platonists identify musical works with abstract sound structures but this implies that they are not created but only discovered. Jerrold Levinson adapts Platonism to allow for creation by identifying musical works with indicated sound structures. In this paper I explore the similarities between Levinson's view and Kit Fine's theory of qua objects. Fine offers the theory of qua objects as an account of constitution, as it obtains, for example, between a statue and the clay the statue is m…Read more
  •  135
    Essentially Contested Concepts and Semantic Externalism
    Journal of the Philosophy of History 8 (1): 118-140. 2014.
    In 1956, W.B. Gallie introduced his idea of essentially contested concepts. In my paper, I offer a novel interpretation of his theory and argue that his theory, thus interpreted, is correct. The key to my interpretation lies in a condition Gallie places on essentially contested concepts that other interpreters downplay or dismiss: that the use of an essentially contested concept must be derived “from an original exemplar whose authority is acknowledged by all the contestant users of the concept.…Read more
  •  126
    Frege on truth, beauty and goodness
    Manuscrito 26 (2): 315-330. 2003.
    The paper attempts to shed light on Frege's views on the relation of logic to truth by looking at several passages in which he compares it to the relation of ethics to the good and aesthetics to the beautiful. It turns out that Frege makes four distinct points by means of these comparisons only one of which both concerns truth and makes use of distinctive features of ethics and aesthetics. This point is that logic is about reaching truth in the way that ethics is about reaching the good and aest…Read more
  •  97
    Donald Davidson
    Stanford University Press. 1991.
    Donald Davidson is unquestionably one of America's greatest living philosophers. His influence on Anglo-American philosophy over the last twenty years has been enormous, and his work is an unavoidable reference point in current debates in the philosophy of language and the philosophy of mind. This book offers a systematic and accessible introduction to Davidson's work. Evnine begins by discussing Davidson's contribution to the philosophy of mind, including his views on action, events and causati…Read more
  •  96
    This paper offers two new arguments for a version of Reflection, the principle that says, roughly, that if one knew now what one would believe in the future, one ought to believe it now. The most prominent existing argument for the principle is the coherence-based Dutch Strategy argument advanced by Bas van Fraassen (and others). My two arguments are quite different. The first is a truth-based argument. On the basis of two substantive premises, that people’s beliefs generally get better over tim…Read more
  •  83
    A critique of Mark Kaplan's attempt to solve the problem of old evidence by restricting the principle of when something is evidence explicitly to cases in which we are less than certain of it.
  •  73
    The thesis of the paper is that persons are similar to a kind of group: multiple-expert epistemic unities (MEUs). MEUs are groups in which there are multiple experts on whom other members of the group model their opinion. An example would be a group of children playing Telephone. Any child nearer the source is an 'expert' for any child further away. I argue that, with certain important qualifications, it is both rational and necessary for persons to treat their future selves as experts (i.e. to …Read more
  •  73
    Hylomorphically complex objects are things that change their parts or matter or that might have, or have had, different parts or matter. Often ontologists analyze such objects in terms of sets (or functions, understood set-theoretically) or other extensional entities such as mereological fusions or quantities of matter. I urge two reasons for being wary of any such analyses. First, being extensional, such things as sets are ill-suited to capture the characteristic modal and temporal flexibility …Read more
  •  73
    In this paper, I try to understand what Buridan means when he suggests that "every proposition, by its very form, signifies or asserts itself to be true." I show how one way of construing this claim - that every proposition is in fact a conjunction one conjunct of which asserts the truth of the whole conjunction - does lead to a resolution of the Liar paradox, as Buridan says, and moreover is not vulnerable to the criticism on the basis of which Buridan came to reject this view. However, I go on…Read more
  •  69
    Learning from one's mistakes: Epistemic modesty and the nature of belief
    Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 82 (2). 2001.
    I argue that it is not ideally rational to believe that some of one's current beliefs are false, despite the impressive inductive evidence concerning others and our former selves. One's own current beliefs represent a commitment which would be undermined by taking some of them to be false. The nature of this commitment is examined in the light of Nagel's distinction between subjective and objective points of view. Finally, I suggest how we might acknowledge our fallibility consistently with this…Read more
  •  65
    Constitution is the relation between something and what it is made of. Composition is the relation between something and its parts. I examine three different approaches to the relation between constitution and composition. One approach, associated with neo-Aristotelians like Mark Johnston and Kathrin Koslicki, identifies constitution with composition. A second, popular with those sympathetic to classical mereology such as Judith Thomson, defines constitution in terms of parthood. A third, advoca…Read more
  •  65
    A reply to Sean Liam Kelly's analysis of Martial 7.35 in the Fall 1993 issue of Nexus. Although I am in substantial agreement with many parts of Kelly's analysis, one detail of the text which he did not pick up on leads me to offer a different route to Kelly's conclusion that, according to the narrator of the poem, Laecania insults his and his slave's virility, and that in response to this perceived unmanning, he replies with the charge of lesbianism. However, the route I propose introduces into…Read more
  •  59
    Hume, conjectural history, and the uniformity of human nature
    Journal of the History of Philosophy 31 (4): 589-606. 1993.
    In this paper I argue that, in at least two cases - his discussions of the temporal precedence o f polytheism over monotheism and of the origins of civil society - we see Hume consigning to historical development certain aspects of reason which, as a comparison with Locke will show, have sometimes been held to be uniform. In the first of these cases Hume has recourse to claims about the general historical development of human thought. In the second case, the origin of the civil institution of ju…Read more
  •  58
    Epistemic unities
    Erkenntnis 59 (3). 2003.
    I bring together social ontology and social epistemology by consideringsocial entities (``epistemic unities'') that are constituted by the holdingof epistemic relations between their members. In particular, I focus onthe relation of taking someone as an expert. Among the types of structuresexamined are ones with a single expert and one or more non-experts whomay or may not know of each other's situation; and ones with more thanone expert, including cases in which the relation between the experts…Read more
  •  52
    Understanding madness?
    Ratio 2 (1): 1-18. 1989.
    The paper contrasts two ways of understanding the apparently strange assertions of mad persons, finds them both problematic, and proposes an alternative. The first approach, exemplified by R.D. Laing, is to suppose that the beliefs of the mad person are ordinary but expressed in terms that make them appear irrational. The other approach, advocated by Silvano Arieti, is to take the words at face value but to attribute to the mad person a kind of deviant logic. I suggest, on the basis of a Davidso…Read more
  •  49
    An examination of some of the abuses of philosophical technique in Steven Katz's book _The Holocaust in Historical Context_.
  •  44
    (No abstract is available for this citation)
  •  37
    The Anonymity of a Murmur: Internet Memes
    British Journal of Aesthetics 58 (3): 303-318. 2018.
    Memes, of the kind found often on the internet, are an increasingly significant medium of expressive activity. I develop a theory of their ontological nature and, in parallel, an analysis of the concept meme. On my view, memes are abstract artifacts made out of norms for production of instances. The norms say things like ‘use a certain image; add text of a certain kind; the text should be delivered in two chunks, one at the top of the image, one at the bottom, etc.’ Instances of these memes are …Read more
  •  34
    Epistemic Dimensions of Personhood
    Oxford University Press. 2008.
    Simon Evnine examines various epistemic aspects of what it is to be a person. Persons are defined as finite beings that have beliefs, including second-order beliefs about their own and others' beliefs, and are agents, capable of making long-term plans. It is argued that for any being meeting these conditions, a number of epistemic consequences obtain. First, all such beings must have certain logical concepts and be able to use them in certain ways. Secondly, there are at least two principles gov…Read more
  •  34
    Much of traditional rabbinic hermeneutics, what I call "midrashic interpretation," appears to be of such a bizarre nature as to require some sort of explanation, or even justification. This essay attempts to provide a philosophical foundation for midrashic interpretation by placing it in the context of the idea (vaguely neo-platonic) that God is only fully realized as the result of a certain process, a process of which midrashic interpretation is an essential part. In the final section I attempt…Read more
  •  32
    This critical notice describes some of Thomas Sattig’s book The Double Lives of Objects: An Essay in the Metaphysics of the Ordinary World and raises several critical issues about it.
  •  30
    Freud's Ambiguous Concepts
    Journal of Speculative Philosophy 3 (2). 1989.
    In this paper I propose to say something about why certain key psychoanalytic concepts, particularly that of the unconscious, are special because of a studied, and therapeutically important, ambiguity or paradoxicality which affects them. Before I examine these concepts, however, the first section of this paper discusses some of Sartre's views on psychological explanation. On the one hand, this gives me a way of introducing the dichotomy of self-evident irreducibility and existential lucidity wh…Read more