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Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 87, No. 1, March 2009.

Is Vagueness Sui Generis? DAVID BARNETT

On the dominant view of vagueness, if it is vague whether Harry is bald, then it is unsettled, not merely epistemically, but metaphysically, whether Harry is bald. In other words, vagueness is a type of indeterminacy. On the standard alternative, vagueness is a type of ignorance: if it is vague whether Harry is bald, then, even though it is metaphysically settled whether Harry is bald, we cannot know whether Harry is bald. On my view, vagueness is neither a type of indeterminacy nor a type of ignorance. Rather, it is sui generis.

Universalism, Vagueness and Supersubstantivalism, NIKK EFFINGHAM

Sider has a favorable view of supersubstantivalism (the thesis that all material objects are identical to the regions of space time that they occupy). This paper argues that given supersubstantivalism, Sider's argument from vagueness for (mereological) universalism fails. It presents Sider's vagueness argument ([section][section] II-III), and explains why--given supersubstantivalism--some but not all regions must be concrete in order for the argument to work ([section] IV). Given this restriction on what regions can be concrete, it gives a reductio of Sider's argument ([section] V). It concludes with some brief comments on why this is not simply an ad hominem against Sider, and why this incompatibility of supersubstantivalism with the argument from vagueness is of broader interest ([section] VI).

Epistemic and Dialectical Regress, MICHAEL RESCORLA

Dialectical egalitarianism holds that every asserted proposition requires defense when challenged by an interlocutor. This view apparently generates a vicious "regress of justifications," since an interlocutor can challenge the premises through which a speaker defends her original assertion, and so on ad infinitum. To halt the regress, dialectical foundationalists such as Adler, Brandom, Leite, and Williams propose that some propositions require no defense in the light of mere requests for justification. This paper argues that the putative regress is not worrisome and that egalitarianism can handle it quite satisfactorily. It also defends a positive view that combines an antifoundationalist conception of dialectical interaction with a foundationalist conception of epistemic justification.

Actions, Thought-Experiments and the 'Principle of Alternate Possibilities', MARIA ALVAREZ

In 1969 Harry Frankfurt published his hugely influential paper "Alternate Possibilities and Moral Responsibility" in which he claimed to present a counterexample to the so-called "Principle of Alternate Possibilities" ("a person is morally responsible for what he has done only if he could have done otherwise"). The success of Frankfurt-style cases as counterexamples to the Principle has been much debated since. This paper presents an objection to these cases that, in questioning their conceptual cogency, undercuts many of those debates. Such cases all require a counterfactual mechanism that could cause an agent to perform an action that he cannot avoid performing. This essay argues that, given our concept of what it is for someone to act, this requirement is inconsistent. It has recently been argued by John Fischer that a counterexample to the Principle could be a "Fischer-style case," that is, a case where the agent can either perform the action or do nothing else. This paper argues that, although Fischer-style cases do not share the conceptual flaw common to all Frankfurt-style cases, they also fail as counterexamples to the Principle. The paper finishes with a brief discussion of the significance of the Principle of Alternate Possibilities.

Emergentism and Supervenience Physicalism, ROBERT J. HOWELL

A purely metaphysical formulation of physicalism is surprisingly elusive. One popular slogan is, "There is nothing over and above the physical." Problems with this arise on two fronts. First, it is difficult to explain what makes a property "physical" without appealing to the methodology of physics or to particular ways in which properties are known. This obviously introduces epistemic features into the core of a metaphysical issue. Second, it is difficult to cash out "over-and-aboveness" in a way that is rigorous, metaphysically pure, and extensionally apt for the purposes of the debate. This paper considers the claim that supervenience theses cannot define physicalism because they allow classical emergentist dualism through the physicalist door (Horgan 1993, Kim 1998, Wilson 2005). It argues that when the relevant supervenience thesis is metaphysical, emergentism is excluded. Against recent arguments to the contrary, the paper maintains that this is the case even given necessitarianism about natural laws (Wilson 2005). Further, it argues that a necessitarian with emergentist sympathies will be forced either into a type of quasipanpsychism, where our basic physical properties contain the illicit seeds of mentality at their core, or into admitting that emergence laws are not necessary after all. Either way, the combination of necessitarianism and emergentism does not provide a counterexample to supervenience physicalism.

Senses for Senses, BRAD THOMPSON

If two subjects have phenomenally identical experiences, there is an important sense in which the way the world appears to them is precisely the same. How, then, are we to understand this notion of "ways of appearing"? Most philosophers who have acknowledged the existence of phenomenal content have held that the way something appears is simply a matter of the properties something appears to have. On this view, the way something appears is simply the way something appears to be. This identification supports a Russellian theory of phenomenal content, according to which phenomenal content is exhausted by facts about what specific properties are represented by an experience. The present paper motivates and develops an alternative Fregean theory of phenomenal color content. According to Fregean theories, the phenomenal content that is shared by any two phenomenally identical experiences is a matter of how the world is represented, and need not involve sameness in what is represented. It is argued that ways of appearing are modes of presentations of external properties and objects, and a detailed theory is presented about the nature of the modes of presentation involved in color experience.

The Return of Taylor's Putnam, ADAM KOVACH

This essay argues that the version of Hilary Putnam's model-theoretic argument developed by Barry Taylor in Models, Truth and Realism poses no threat to the realist claim that an ideal theory may be false.

Monism and Intrinsicality, KELLY TROGDON

Central to the program of sparse ontology is a hierarchical view of reality; the basic entities form the sparse structure of being, while the derivative entities form the abundant superstructure. Priority pluralism and priority monism are both theses of sparse ontology. Roughly speaking, the priority pluralist claims that wholes and their properties ontologically depend on parts and their properties, while the priority monist claims that it goes the other way around. This paper focuses on Ted Sider's recent argument that priority monism is probably false because it is incompatible with our best account of intrinsicality. In response it proposes an account of intrinsicality that is compatible with both priority monism and priority pluralism. I argue that the account, in addition to having the virtue of being neutral between priority monism and priority pluralism, is independently plausible.
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Title Annotation:PHILOSOPHICAL ABSTRACTS
Publication:The Review of Metaphysics
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Jun 1, 2009
Words:1141
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