•  3423
    Schopenhauer on the Rights of Animals
    European Journal of Philosophy 25 (2): 250-269. 2017.
    I argue that Schopenhauer’s ascription of (moral) rights to animals flows naturally from his distinctive analysis of the concept of a right. In contrast to those who regard rights as fundamental and then cast wrongdoing as a matter of violating rights, he takes wrong (Unrecht) to be the more fundamental notion and defines the concept of a right (Recht) in its terms. He then offers an account of wrongdoing which makes it plausible to suppose that at least many animals can be wronged and thus, by …Read more
  •  1003
    On a Failed Defense of Factory Farming
    with Stijn Bruers and László Erdős
    Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 30 (2): 311-323. 2017.
    Timothy Hsiao attempts to defend industrial animal farming by arguing that it is not inherently cruel. We raise three main objections to his defense. First, his argument rests on a misunderstanding of the nature of cruelty. Second, his conclusion, though technically true, is so weak as to be of virtually no moral significance or interest. Third, his contention that animals lack moral standing, and thus that mistreating them is wrong only insofar as it makes one more disposed to mistreat other hu…Read more
  •  682
    Perception and Representation in Leibniz
    Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. 2006.
    I argue for three main claims about Leibniz. (1) He views representation as a kind of structural correspondence between the representing thing and its target. (2) The primary sense in which he considers a perception or representation distinct, as opposed to confused, concerns the degree to which its structure is explicit or consciously accessible. (3) This is also the sense in which he takes concepts or ideas to be distinct.
  •  410
    Finitism and the Beginning of the Universe
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 92 (4): 619-629. 2014.
    Many philosophers have argued that the past must be finite in duration because otherwise reaching the present moment would have involved something impossible, namely, the sequential occurrence of an actual infinity of events. In reply, some philosophers have objected that there can be nothing amiss in such an occurrence, since actually infinite sequences are ‘traversed’ all the time in nature, for example, whenever an object moves from one location in space to another. This essay focuses on one …Read more
  •  384
    Sentience, Rationality, and Moral Status: A Further Reply to Hsiao
    Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 29 (4): 697-704. 2016.
    Timothy Hsiao argues that animals lack moral status because they lack the capacity for the sort of higher-level rationality required for membership in the moral community. Stijn Bruers and László Erdős have already raised a number of objections to this argument, to which Hsiao has replied with some success. But I think a stronger critique can be made. Here I raise further objections to three aspects of Hsiao's view: his conception of the moral community, his idea of root capacities grounded in o…Read more
  •  316
    Idealism and Scepticism: A Reply to Brueckner
    Theoria 79 (1): 290-293. 2013.
    Anthony Brueckner argues that Berkeleyan idealism lacks anti-sceptical force because of the way Berkeley draws the appearance/reality distinction. But Brueckner's case rests on a misunderstanding of Berkeley's view. Properly understood, Berkeleyan idealism does indeed have anti-sceptical force
  •  280
    Leibniz on the Metaphysics of Color
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 86 (2): 319-346. 2013.
    Drawing on remarks scattered through his writings, I argue that Leibniz has a highly distinctive and interesting theory of color. The central feature of the theory is the way in which it combines a nuanced subjectivism about color with a reductive approach of a sort usually associated with objectivist theories of color. After reconstructing Leibniz's theory and calling attention to some of its most notable attractions, I turn to the apparent incompatibility of its subjective and reductive compon…Read more
  •  244
    Leibnizian Bodies: Phenomena, Aggregates of Monads, or Both?
    The Leibniz Review 26 99-127. 2016.
    I propose a straightforward reconciliation of Leibniz’s conception of bodies as aggregates of simple substances (i.e., monads) with his doctrine that bodies are the phenomena of perceivers, without in the process saddling him with any equivocations. The reconciliation relies on the familiar idea that in Leibniz’s idiolect, an aggregate of Fs is that which immediately presupposes those Fs, or in other words, has those Fs as immediate requisites. But I take this idea in a new direction. Taking not…Read more
  •  224
    Finitism, Divisibilty, and the Beginning of the Universe: Replies to Loke and Dumsday
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 94 (4): 808-813. 2016.
    Some philosophers contend that the past must be finite in duration, because otherwise reaching the present would have involved the sequential occurrence of an actual infinity of events, which they regard as impossible. I recently developed a new objection to this finitist argument, to which Andrew Ter Ern Loke and Travis Dumsday have replied. Here I respond to the three main points raised in their replies.
  •  221
    Frege on Vagueness and Ordinary Language
    Philosophical Quarterly 63 (250): 120-140. 2013.
    Frege, we are told, believes that vague predicates have no referent (Bedeutung). But given other things he evidently believes, such a position would seem to commit him to a suspect nihilism according to which assertoric sentences containing vague predicates are neither true nor false. I argue that we have good reason to resist ascribing to Frege the view that vague predicates have no Bedeutung and thus good reason to resist seeing him as committed to the suspect nihilism. In the process, I call …Read more
  •  211
    Motion in Leibniz's Middle Years: A Compatibilist Approach
    Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy 6 135-170. 2013.
    In the texts of the middle years (roughly, the 1680s and 90s), Leibniz appears to endorse two incompatible approaches to motion, one a realist approach, the other a phenomenalist approach. I argue that once we attend to certain nuances in his account we can see that in fact he has only one, coherent approach to motion during this period. I conclude by considering whether the view of motion I want to impute to Leibniz during his middle years ranks as a kind of realism or rather as some kind of ph…Read more
  •  199
    I argue that Leibniz's rejection of the hypothesis of thinking matter on grounds of unintelligibility conflicts with his position on sensible qualities such as color. In the former case, he argues that thought must be a modification of something immaterial because we cannot explain thought in mechanical terms. In the latter case, however, he (rightly) grants that we cannot explain sensible qualities in mechanical terms, that is, cannot explain why a certain complex mechanical quality gives rise …Read more
  •  191
    Paul Lodge’s excellent new contribution to the Yale Leibniz series collects together the entirety of the Leibniz-De Volder correspondence, totaling some thirty-three letters, together with a generous selection of relevant excerpts from Leibniz’s concurrent correspondence with Bernoulli, which Lodge has helpfully interspersed throughout. As with previous volumes in the series, the texts appear in the original language, in this case Latin, together with an English translation on opposing pages. Lo…Read more
  •  176
    I argue that Leibniz's treatment of void or empty space in the appendix to his fourth letter to Clarke conflicts with the way he elsewhere treats (metaphysical) evil, insofar as he allows that God has created a world with the one kind of privation (evil), while insisting that God would not have created a world with the other kind of privation (void). I consider three respects in which the moral case might be thought to differ relevantly from the physical one, and argue that none of them succeed …Read more
  •  161
    Was Leibniz Confused about Confusion?
    The Leibniz Review 15 95-124. 2005.
    Leibniz’s mechanistic reduction of colors and other sensible qualities commits him to two theses about our knowledge of those qualities: first, that we can acquire ideas of sensible qualities apart from any direct acquaintance with the qualities themselves; second, that we can acquire distinct (i.e., non-confused) ideas of such qualities through the development of physical-theoretical accounts. According to some commentators, however, Leibniz frequently denies both claims. His views on the subje…Read more
  •  140
    Leibniz on the Nature of Phenomena
    In Wenchao Li (ed.), Für unser Glück oder das Glück anderer, Georg Olms. pp. 169-177. 2016.
    I argue that Leibniz consistently subscribes to the view that phenomena (thus bodies) have their being in perceiving substances. I then argue that this mentalistic conception of phenomenon coheres with three of his doctrines of body: (1) that bodies presuppose the unities or simple substances on which they are founded; (2) that bodies are aggregates of those substances; and (3) that bodies derive or borrow their reality from their simple constituents.
  •  129
    Unconscious Conceiving and Leibniz's Argument for Primitive Concepts
    with Paul Lodge
    Studia Leibnitiana 38 (2): 177-196. 2006.
    In a recent paper, Dennis Plaisted examines an important argument that Leibniz gives for the existence of primitive concepts. After sketching a natural reading of this argument, Plaisted observes that the argument appears to imply something clearly inconsistent with Leibniz’s other views. To save Leibniz from contradiction, Plaisted offers a revision. However, his account faces a number of serious difficulties and therefore does not successfully eliminate the inconsistency. We explain these diff…Read more
  •  127
    Monadic Interaction
    British Journal for the History of Philosophy 18 (5): 763-796. 2010.
    Leibniz has almost universally been represented as denying that created substances, including human minds and the souls of animals, can causally interact either with one another or with bodies. Yet he frequently claims that such substances are capable of interacting in the special sense of what he calls 'ideal' interaction. In order to reconcile these claims with their favored interpretation, proponents of the traditional reading often suppose that ideal action is not in fact a genuine form of c…Read more
  •  114
    Daniel Garber, Leibniz: Body, Substance, Monad (review)
    Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2010 (8). 2010.
    Questions about Leibniz's views on the ontological status of the corporeal world have been at the center of debate in Leibniz scholarship for more than two decades. One of the major players in these debates has been Daniel Garber. Having sketched his influential position in a number of articles over the years, he now gives full expression to his view in this highly anticipated and long-awaited book.
  •  90
    In this work Thomas surveys the contributions of (pre-Kantian) early modern philosophy to our understanding of the mind. She focuses on the six canonical figures of the period -- Descartes, Spinoza, Locke, Leibniz, Berkeley, and Hume -- and asks what each has to say about five topics within the philosophy of mind. The topics are (1) the ontological status of mind, (2) the scope and nature of self-knowledge, (3) the nature of consciousness, (4) the problem of mental causation, and (5) the nature …Read more
  •  88
    Despite holding that all concepts are strictly speaking innate, Leibniz attempts to accommodate the common belief that at least some concepts are adventitious by appealing to his theory of ideal action. The essential idea is that an innate concept can be considered adventitious, in a sense, just in case its ideal cause is to be found outside the mind of the one who possesses the concept. I explore this attempt at accommodation and argue that it fails. [See external link for English draft.]
  •  76
    Leibniz's Alleged Ambivalence About Sensible Qualities
    Studia Leibnitiana 44 (2): 229-245. 2012.
    Leibniz has been accused of being ambivalent about the nature of sensible qualities such as color, heat, and sound. According to the critics, he unwittingly vacillates between the view that these qualities are really just complex mechanical qualities of bodies and the competing view that they are something like the perceptions or experiences that confusedly represent these mechanical qualities. Against this, I argue that the evidence for ascribing the first approach to Leibniz is rather strong, …Read more
  •  70
    In Part 1 of this short book, Rescher provides an overview of the nature and source of Leibniz’s interest in the theory and practice of cryptanalysis, including his unsuccessful bid to secure an apprentice for John Wallis (1616-1703) with a view to perpetuating the Englishman’s remarkable deciphering abilities. In Part 2, perhaps the most interesting part of the book, Rescher offers his account of the inner workings of Leibniz’s cipher machine. Part 3 provides a brief pictorial history of such m…Read more
  •  39
    Consent by Residence: A Defense
    European Journal of Political Theory 18 1-18. forthcoming.
    The traditional view according to which we adults tacitly consent to a state’s lawful actions just by living within its borders—the residence theory—is now widely rejected by political philosophers. According to the critics, this theory fails because consent must be (i) intentional, (ii) informed, and (iii) voluntary, whereas one’s continued residence within a state is typically none of these things. Few people intend to remain within the state in which they find themselves, and few realize that…Read more
  •  34
    The Logic of Leibniz’s Borrowed Reality Argument
    Philosophical Quarterly 70 (279): 350-370. 2020.
    Leibniz argues that there must be a fundamental level of simple substances because composites borrow their reality from their constituents and not all reality can be borrowed. I contend that the underlying logic of this ‘borrowed reality argument’ has been misunderstood, particularly the rationale for the key premise that not all reality can be borrowed. Contrary to what has been suggested, the rationale turns neither on the alleged viciousness of an unending regress of reality borrowers nor on …Read more
  •  30
    Chihara seeks to avoid commitment to mathematical objects by replacing traditional assertions of the existence of mathematical objects with assertions about possibilities of constructing certain open-sentence tokens. I argue that Chihara's project can be defended against several important objections, but that it is no less epistemologically problematic than its platonistic competitors.
  •  24
    Monads, Composition, and Force. Ariadnean Threads Through Leibniz's Labyrinth by Richard T. W. Arthur (review)
    Journal of the History of Philosophy 57 (4): 761-762. 2019.
    Leibniz describes the problem of the composition of the continuum as one of the two famous labyrinths of the human mind. The problem is in brief that matter and motion appear to be continuous and thus would seem to be composed of an infinity of spatial or temporal points, which is absurd. Leibniz's strategy for escaping from this labyrinth involves distinguishing the realm of the real or actual from that of the ideal. In the former there is composition from parts but no continuity: everything is…Read more