•  469
    How to endure
    with J. David Velleman
    Philosophical Quarterly 61 (242). 2011.
    The terms `endurance' and `perdurance' are commonly thought to denote distinct ways for an object to persist, but it is surprisingly hard to say what these are. The common approach, defining them in terms of temporal parts, is mistaken, because it does not lead to two coherent philosophical alternatives: endurance so understood becomes conceptually incoherent, while perdurance becomes not just true but a conceptual truth. Instead, we propose a different way to articulate the distinction, in term…Read more
  •  320
    The Meta-Problem of Change
    Noûs 43 (2). 2009.
    The problem of change plays a central role in the metaphysics of time and material objects, and whoever does best in solving this problem has a leg up when it comes to choosing a metaphysics of time and material objects. But whether this central role of the problem of change in metaphysics is legitimate is not at all clear. This is so in part since it is not clear what the problem of change is, and why it is a problem in metaphysics. We will investigate what metaphysical problem the problem of c…Read more
  •  263
    A puzzle about ontology
    Noûs 39 (2). 2005.
    Ontology is the philosophical discipline that tries to find out what there is: what entities make up reality, what is the stuff the world is made from? Thus, ontology is part of metaphysics, and in fact it seems to be about half of all of metaphysics. It tries to establish what (kinds of) things there are, the other half tries to find out what the (general) properties of these things are and what (general) relations they have to each other. Settling questions in ontology would bring with it majo…Read more
  •  190
    Ambitious, yet modest, metaphysics
    In David John Chalmers, David Manley & Ryan Wasserman (eds.), Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology, Oxford University Press. pp. 260--289. 2009.
    There is a long history of worrying about whether or not metaphysics is a legitimate philosophical discipline. Traditionally such worries center around issues of meaning and epistemological concerns. Do the metaphysical questions have any meaning? Can metaphysical methodology lead to knowledge? But these questions are, in my opinion, not as serious as they have sometimes (historically) been taken to be. What is much more concerning is another set of worries about metaphysics, which I take to the…Read more
  •  168
    Logic and ontology
    Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2008.
    A number of important philosophical problems are problems in the overlap of logic and ontology. Both logic and ontology are diverse fields within philosophy, and partly because of this there is not one single philosophical problem about the relation between logic and ontology. In this survey article we will first discuss what different philosophical projects are carried out under the headings of "logic" and "ontology" and then we will look at several areas where logic and ontology overlap.
  •  159
    Inexpressible properties and propositions
    In Dean Zimmerman (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaphysics, Oxford University Press. pp. 155-206. 2005.
    Everyone working on metaphysical questions about properties or propositions knows the reaction that many non-philosophers, even nonmetaphysicians, have to such questions. Even though they agree that Fido is a dog and thus has the property (or feature or characteristic) of being a dog, it seems weird, suspicious, or confused to them to now ask what that thing, the property of being a dog, is. The same reservations do not carry over to asking what this thing, Fido, is. There is a substantial and l…Read more
  •  144
    Number determiners, numbers, and arithmetic
    Philosophical Review 114 (2): 179-225. 2005.
    In his groundbreaking Grundlagen, Frege (1884) pointed out that number words like ‘four’ occur in ordinary language in two quite different ways and that this gives rise to a philosophical puzzle. On the one hand ‘four’ occurs as an adjective, which is to say that it occurs grammatically in sentences in a position that is commonly occupied by adjectives. Frege’s example was (1) Jupiter has four moons, where the occurrence of ‘four’ seems to be just like that of ‘green’ in (2) Jupiter has green mo…Read more
  •  139
    Schiffer’s New Theory of Propositions (review)
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 73 (1). 2006.
    Every fifteen years or so Stephen Schiffer writes a state of the art book on the philosophy of language, with special emphasis on belief ascriptions, meaning, and propositions. The latest is his terrific new book The Things we Mean. It is again full of ideas, insights, arguments, expositions, and theories. For us, however, who believe that that-clauses are first and foremost clauses, not referring expressions, and that they thus do not refer to propositions or anything else, The Things we Mean b…Read more
  •  128
    One puzzling feature of talk about properties, propositions and natural numbers is that statements that are explicitly about them can be introduced apparently without change of truth conditions from statements that don't mention them at all. Thus it seems that the existence of numbers, properties and propositions can be established`from nothing'. This metaphysical puzzle is tied to a series of syntactic and semantic puzzles about the relationship between ordinary, metaphysically innocent stateme…Read more
  •  118
    Idealism and the Harmony of Thought and Reality
    Mind 128 (511): 699-734. 2019.
    Although idealism was widely defended in the history of philosophy, it is nowadays almost universally considered a non-starter. This holds in particular for a strong form of idealism, which asserts that not just minds or the mental in general, but our human minds in particular are metaphysically central to reality. Such a view seems to be excessively anthropocentric and contrary to what we by now know about our place in the universe. Nonetheless, there is reason to think that such a strong form …Read more
  •  112
    Inferential Role and the Ideal of Deductive Logic
    The Baltic International Yearbook of Cognition, Logic and Communication 5
    Although there is a prima facie strong case for a close connection between the meaning and inferential role of certain expressions, this connection seems seriously threatened by the semantic and logical paradoxes which rely on these inferential roles. Some philosophers have drawn radical conclusions from the paradoxes for the theory of meaning in general, and for which sentences in our language are true. I criticize these overreactions, and instead propose to distinguish two conceptions of infer…Read more
  •  106
    Supervenience and Object-Dependant Properties
    Journal of Philosophy 102 (1): 5-32. 2005.
    I argue that the semantic thesis of direct reference and the meta- physical thesis of the supervenience of the non-physical on the physical cannot both be true. The argument first develops a necessary condition for supervenience, a so-called conditional locality requirement, which is then shown to be incompatible with some physical object having object dependent properties, which in turn is required for the thesis of direct reference to be true. We apply this argument to formulate a new argument …Read more
  •  106
    Ontology and objectivity
    Dissertation, Stanford University. 1999.
    Ontology is the study of what there is, what kinds of things make up reality. Ontology seems to be a very difficult, rather speculative discipline. However, it is trivial to conclude that there are properties, propositions and numbers, starting from only necessarily true or analytic premises. This gives rise to a puzzle about how hard ontological questions are, and relates to a puzzle about how important they are. And it produces the ontologyobjectivity dilemma: either (certain) ontological ques…Read more
  •  104
    Conceptual idealism without ontological idealism: why idealism is true after all
    In Tyron Goldschmidt & Kenneth Pearce (eds.), Idealism: new essays in metaphysics, Oxford University Press. forthcoming.
  •  101
    Fine’s Fragmentalist Interpretation of Special Relativity
    with Marc Lange
    Noûs 51 (4): 871-883. 2017.
    In “Tense and Reality”, Kit Fine () proposed a novel way to think about realism about tense in the metaphysics of time. In particular, he explored two non-standard forms of realism about tense, arguing that they are to be preferred over standard forms of realism. In the process of defending his own preferred view, fragmentalism, he proposed a fragmentalist interpretation of the special theory of relativity, which will be our focus in this paper. After presenting Fine's position, we will raise a …Read more
  •  94
    Proof-theoretic reduction as a philosopher's tool
    Erkenntnis 53 (1-2): 127-146. 2000.
    Hilbert’s program in the philosophy of mathematics comes in two parts. One part is a technical part. To carry out this part of the program one has to prove a certain technical result. The other part of the program is a philosophical part. It is concerned with philosophical questions that are the real aim of the program. To carry out this part one, basically, has to show why the technical part answers the philosophical questions one wanted to have answered. Hilbert probably thought that he had co…Read more
  •  88
    How metaphysics is special: comments on Bennett
    Philosophical Studies 173 (1): 39-48. 2016.
    Karen Bennett argues that there is no distinct problem with metaphysics, and she proposes a disjunctive conception of the subject matter of metaphysics. This paper critically examines her arguments and positive view. I defend that metaphysics prima facie is distinctly problematic, and I raise some questions about Bennett’s disjunctive conception of the subject matter of metaphysics and the a priori aspect of its methodology
  •  84
    Infinitesimal Chances
    Philosophers' Imprint 14. 2014.
    It is natural to think that questions in the metaphysics of chance are independent of the mathematical representation of chance in probability theory. After all, chance is a feature of events that comes in degrees and the mathematical representation of chance concerns these degrees but leaves the nature of chance open. The mathematical representation of chance could thus, un-controversially, be taken to be what it is commonly taken to be: a probability measure satisfying Kolmogorov’s axioms. The…Read more
  •  79
    forthcoming in Meanings and other Things: essays on Stephen Schiffer Gary Ostertag (ed.) MIT Press 2007. Schiffer substantially changed his view about propositions and that-clauses somewhere between his two most recent books: Remnants of Meaning and The Things We Mean. I look at what problems his earlier view had, and what reason Schiffer gives for giving it up in favor of his more recent view. I argue that Schiffer’s reasons are not very good reasons, and that instead the problems for Remnants …Read more
  •  72
    The relevant alternatives approach in epistemology1 arose some years ago partly out of the hope to be able to reconcile our ordinary claims of knowledge with our inability to answer the skeptic. It was supposed to give rise to an account of knowledge according to which our ordinary claims of knowledge are true, even though the claims about our lack of knowledge that the skeptics make in one of their more persuasive moments are also true. To know, according to such an account, is to have evidence…Read more
  •  64
    Cardinality Arguments Against Regular Probability Measures
    Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 3 (2): 166-175. 2014.
    Cardinality arguments against regular probability measures aim to show that no matter which ordered field ℍ we select as the measures for probability, we can find some event space F of sufficiently large cardinality such that there can be no regular probability measure from F into ℍ. In particular, taking ℍ to be hyperreal numbers won't help to guarantee that probability measures can always be regular. I argue that such cardinality arguments fail, since they rely on the wrong conception of the r…Read more
  •  59
    How to Endure
    with J. David Velleman
  •  56
    Encuneral noun phrases
    with Jeff Pelletier
    The semantics of noun phrases (NPs) is of crucial importance for both philosophy and linguistics. Throughout much of the history of the debate about the semantics of noun phrases there has been an implicit assumption about how they are to be understood. Basically, it is the assumption that NPs come only in two kinds. In this paper we would like to make that assumption explicit and discuss it and its status in the semantics of natural language. We will have a look at how the assumption is to be u…Read more
  •  54
    I express my dissatisfaction with the common ways to treat the semantic paradoxes. Not only do they give rise to revenge paradoxes, they ignore the wisdom contained in the ordinary reaction to paradoxes. I instead propose an account that vindicates the ordinary reaction to paradox by putting the blame on us philosophers. It is the wrong conception of what a valid inference is, one that is central to “the ideal of deductive logic” that gives rise to the problem. The solution outlined gives us a n…Read more
  •  49
    Rayo’s The Construction of Logical Space
    Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 57 (4): 442-454. 2014.
    I wonder which one in a series of characters Agustín Rayo really is, with an emphasis on objective correctness and semantics.
  •  48
    Amie L. Thomasson: Ontology Made Easy
    Journal of Philosophy 114 (9): 498-502. 2017.
  •  46
    An under-explored intermediate position between traditional materialism and traditional idealism is the view that although the spatiotemporal world is purely material, minds nonetheless have a metaphysically special place in it. One such intermediate position is that minds must exist, by metaphysical necessity, in any material world, and thus a mindless material world is impossible. This position, labeled The Subjectivity Thesis by Anton Friedrich Koch, was defended by him with an intriguing, pu…Read more