•  1113
    The standard view about counterfactuals is that a counterfactual (A > C) is true if and only if the A-worlds most similar to the actual world @ are C-worlds. I argue that the worlds conception of counterfactuals is wrong. I assume that counterfactuals have non-trivial truth-values under physical determinism. I show that the possible-worlds approach cannot explain many embeddings of the form (P > (Q > R)), which intuitively are perfectly assertable, and which must be true if the contingent falsit…Read more
  •  1099
    Semantics without the distinction between sense and force
    In Savas L. Tsohatzidis (ed.), John Searle's Philosophy of Language: Force, Meaning, and Mind, Cambridge University Press. pp. 190-210. 2007.
    At the heart of semantics in the 20th century is Frege’s distinction between sense and force. This is the idea that the content of a self-standing utterance of a sentence S can be divided into two components. One part, the sense, is the proposition that S’s linguistic meaning and context associates with it as its semantic interpretation. The second component is S’s illocutionary force. Illocutionary forces correspond to the three basic kinds of sentential speech acts: assertions, orders, and que…Read more
  •  1077
    The Emperor's New Metaphysics of Powers
    Mind 122 (487): 605-653. 2013.
    This paper argues that the new metaphysics of powers, also known as dispositional essentialism or causal structuralism, is an illusory metaphysics. I argue for this in the following way. I begin by distinguishing three fundamental ways of seeing how facts of physical modality — facts about physical necessitation and possibility, causation, disposition, and chance — are grounded in the world. The first way, call it the first degree, is that the actual world or all worlds, in their entirety, are t…Read more
  •  1026
    Bird argues that Armstrong’s necessitarian conception of physical modality and laws of nature generates a vicious regress with respect to necessitation. We show that precisely the same regress afflicts Bird’s dispositional-monist theory, and indeed, related views, such as that of Mumford & Anjum. We argue that dispositional monism is basically Armstrongian necessitarianism modified to allow for a thesis about property identity
  •  883
    Cognitive Expressivism, Faultless Disagreement, and Absolute but Non-Objective Truth
    Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 110 (2): 183-199. 2010.
    I offer a new theory of faultless disagreement, according to which truth is absolute (non-relative) but can still be non-objective. What's relative is truth-aptness: a sentence like ‘Vegemite is tasty’ (V) can be truth-accessible and bivalent in one context but not in another. Within a context in which V fails to be bivalent, we can affirm that there is no issue of truth or falsity about V, still disputants, affirming and denying V, were not at fault, since, in their context of assertion V was b…Read more
  •  851
    Truth-Bearers and the Unsaid
    In Ken Turner (ed.), Making Semantics Pragmatic, Cambridge University Press. 2011.
    I argue that conventional implicatures embed in logical compounds, and are non-truth-conditional contributors to sentence meaning. This, I argue has significant implications for how we understand truth, truth-conditional content, and truth-bearers.
  •  582
    Expressivism About Making and Truth-Making
    In Fabrice Correia & Benjamin Schnieder (eds.), Metaphysical Grounding: Understanding the Structure of Reality, Cambridge University Press. pp. 272-293. 2012.
    My goal is to illuminate truth-making by way of illuminating the relation of making. My strategy is not to ask what making is, in the hope of a metaphysical theory about is nature. It's rather to look first to the language of making. The metaphor behind making refers to agency. It would be absurd to suggest that claims about making are claims about agency. It is not absurd, however, to propose that the concept of making somehow emerges from some feature to do with agency. That's the contention t…Read more
  •  520
    There is a wide-spread belief amongst theorists of mind and language. This is that in order to understand the relation between language, thought, and reality we need a theory of meaning and content, that is, a normative, formal science of meaning, which is an extension and theoretical deepening of folk ideas about meaning. This book argues that this is false, offering an alternative idea: The form of a theory that illuminates the relation of language, thought, and reality is a theory of language…Read more
  •  507
    Can we believe that there are non-existent entities without commitment to the Meinongian metaphysics? This paper argues we can. What leads us from quantification over non-existent beings to Meinongianism is a general metaphysical assumption about reality at large, and not merely quantification over the non-existent. Broadly speaking, the assumption is that every being we talk about must have a real definition. It’s this assumption that drives us to enquire into the nature of beings like Pegasus,…Read more
  •  486
    Semantic Paradox and Alethic Undecidability
    Analysis 74 (2): 201-209. 2014.
    I use the principle of truth-maker maximalism to provide a new solution to the semantic paradoxes. According to the solution, AUS, its undecidable whether paradoxical sentences are grounded or ungrounded. From this it follows that their alethic status is undecidable. We cannot assert, in principle, whether paradoxical sentences are true, false, either true or false, neither true nor false, both true and false, and so on. AUS involves no ad hoc modification of logic, denial of the T-schema's vali…Read more
  •  474
    I argue that Lewis's counterfactual theory of causation, given his treatment of counterfactuals in terms of world-comparative similarity faces insuperable problems in the form of the problem of effects and the problem of epiphenomena.
  •  379
    Can hybridism about moral claims be made to work? I argue it can if we accept the conventional implicature approach developed in Barker (Analysis 2000). However, this kind of hybrid expressivism is only acceptable if we can make sense of conventional implicature, the kind of meaning carried by operators like ‘even’, ‘but’, etc. Conventional implictures are a form of pragmatic presupposition, which involves an unsaid mode of delivery of content. I argue that we can make sense of conventional impl…Read more
  •  307
    Truth and conventional implicature
    Mind 112 (445): 1-34. 2003.
    Are all instances of the T-schema assertable? I argue that they are not. The reason is the presence of conventional implicature in a language. Conventional implicature is meant to be a component of the rule-based content that a sentence can have, but it makes no contribution to the sentence's truth-conditions. One might think that a conventional implicature is like a force operator. But it is not, since it can enter into the scope of logical operators. It follows that the semantic content of a s…Read more
  •  244
    Material Objects and Essential Bundle Theory
    with Mark Jago
    Philosophical Studies 175 (12): 2969-2986. 2018.
    In this paper we present a new metaphysical theory of material objects. On our theory, objects are bundles of property instances, where those properties give the nature or essence of that object. We call the theory essential bundle theory. Property possession is not analysed as bundle-membership, as in traditional bundle theories, since accidental properties are not included in the object’s bundle. We have a different story to tell about accidental property possession. This move reaps many benef…Read more
  •  216
    Endurance is paradoxical
    with Phil Dowe
    Analysis 65 (1): 69-74. 2005.
  •  207
    A dilemma for the counterfactual analysis of causation
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 81 (1). 2003.
    If we seek to analyse causation in terms of counterfactual conditionals then we must assume that there is a class of counterfactuals whose members (i) are all and only those we need to support our judgements of causation, (ii) have truth-conditions specifiable without any irreducible appeal to causation. I argue that (i) and (ii) are unlikely to be met by any counterfactual analysis of causation. I demonstrate this by isolating a class of counterfactuals called non-projective counterfactuals, or…Read more
  •  189
    Paradoxes of multi-location
    with Phil Dowe
    Analysis 63 (2). 2003.
  •  180
    Truth and the expressing in expressivism
    In Terry Horgan & Mark Timmons (eds.), Metaethics After Moore, Oxford University Press. pp. 299. 2006.
  •  179
    Let us call dispositional monism the view that all natural properties have their identities fixed purely by their dispositional features, that is, by the patterns of stimulus and response in which they participate. DM implies that natural properties are pure powers: things whose natures are fully identified by their roles in determining the potentialities of events to cause or be caused. As pure powers, properties are meant to lack quiddities in Black's sense. A property possesses a quiddity jus…Read more
  •  149
    It seems to be generally accepted that (a) counterfactual conditionals are to be analysed in terms of possible worlds and inter-world relations of similarity and (b) causation is conceptually prior to counterfactuals. I argue here that both (a) and (b) are false. The argument against (a) is not a general metaphysical or epistemological one but simply that, structurally speaking, possible worlds theories are wrong: this is revealed when we try to extend them to cover the case of probabilistic cou…Read more
  •  91
    Troubles with Horgan and Timmons' nondescriptivist cognitivism
    Grazer Philosophische Studien 63 (1): 235-255. 2002.
    Emotivist, or non-descriptivist metaethical theories hold that value-statements do not function by describing special value-facts, but are the mere expressions of naturalistically describable motivational states of (valuing) agents. Non-descriptivism has typically been combined with the claim that value-statements are non-cognitive: they are not the manifestations of genuine belief states. However, all the linguistic, logical and phenomenological evidence indicates that value-statements are cogn…Read more
  •  82
    Even, still and counterfactuals
    Linguistics and Philosophy 14 (1). 1991.
  •  79
    This book develops an alternative approach to sentence- and word-meaning, which I dub the speech-act theoretic approach, or STA. Instead of employing the syntactic and semantic forms of modern logic–principally, quantification theory–to construct semantic theories, STA employs speech-act structures. The structures it employs are those postulated by a novel theory of speech-acts. STA develops a compositional semantics in which surface grammar is integrated with semantic interpretation in a way no…Read more
  •  71
    Figurative Speech: Pointing a Poisoned Arrow at the Heart of Semantics
    Philosophical Studies 174 (1): 123-140. 2017.
    I argue that figurative speech, and irony in particular, presents a deep challenge to the orthodox view about sentence content. The standard view is that sentence contents are, at their core, propositional contents: truth-conditional contents. Moreover, the only component of a sentence’s content that embeds in compound sentences, like belief reports or conditionals, is the propositional content. I argue that a careful analysis of irony shows this view cannot be maintained. Irony is a purely prag…Read more
  •  69
    Material implication and general indicative conditionals
    Philosophical Quarterly 47 (187): 195-211. 1997.
    This paper falls into two parts. In the first part, I argue that consideration of general indicative conditionals, e.g., sentences like If a donkey brays it is beaten, provides a powerful argument that a pure material implication analysis of indicative if p, q is correct. In the second part I argue, opposing writers like Jackson, that a Gricean style theory of pragmatics can explain the manifest assertability conditions of if p, q in terms of its conventional content – assumed to be merely (p⊃q)…Read more