Several philosophers have recently defended Causal Essentialism—the view that every property confers causal powers, and whatever powers it confers, it confers essentially. I argue that on the face of it, Causal Essentialism implies a form of Monism, and in particular, the thesis I call ‘Mereological Monism’: that there is some concretum that is a part of every concretum. However, there are three escape routes, three views which are such that if one of them is true, Causal Essentialism does not imply (...) any form of Monism at all. I survey the costs associated with taking these escape routes along with the costs associated with accepting Mereological Monism. (shrink)
Many contemporary philosophers endorse the Humean-Lewisian Denial of Absolutely Necessary Connections (‘DANC’). Among those philosophers, many deny all or part of the Humean-Lewisian package of views about causation and laws. I argue that they maintain an inconsistent set of views. DANC entails that (1) causal properties and relations are, with a few possible exceptions, always extrinsic to their bearers, (2) nomic properties and relations are, with a few possible exceptions, always extrinsic to their bearers, and (3) causal and nomic properties (...) and relations globally supervene on non-causal, non-nomic properties and relations. Hence, one can’t be a consistent Half-Hearted Humean. Consistency demands giving up the core Humean thesis or facing up to its consequences. The upshot is that we face a stark choice: either there are absolutely necessary connections between distinct existents or it’s "just one damn thing after another.". (shrink)
Classic inductive skepticism–the epistemological claim that we have no good reason to believe that the unobserved resembles the observed–is plausibly everyone’s lot, whether or not they embrace Hume’s metaphysical claim that distinct existents are “entirely loose and separate”. But contemporary advocates of a Humean metaphysic accept a metaphysical claim stronger than Hume’s own. I argue that their view plausibly gives rise to a radical inductive skepticism–according to which we are downright irrational in believing as we do about the unobserved–that we (...) don’t otherwise have reason to accept. The Metaphysical Neo-Humean is in an epistemological quagmire all her own. (shrink)
It is our pleasure to introduce this special issue, devoted to the topic of worship in Jewish analytic theology. Many of the papers published here were presented at one of two summer workshops we ran as part of the John Templeton Foundation sponsored project, “Worship: A Jewish Philosophical Investigation”.
Humean Supervenience is the view that (a) there are a plurality of fundamental beings, (b) there are no inexplicable constraints on modal space, and hence the fundamental nature of each such being is independent of those of all the rest and of the fundamental relations in which it stands to the rest, (c) the fundamental beings stand in no fundamental causal or nomic relations, and hence (d) the distribution of any causal or nomic relations in which they do stand globally (...) supervenes on their fundamental natures and the non‐nomic, non‐causal fundamental relations in which they stand. If Humean Supervenience is true, then as A.J. Ayer put it, it's just one damn thing after another. Radical Pluralism is the view that Humean Supervenience is true, and, moreover, that none of the fundamental beings stands in any fundamental relations at all. If Radical Pluralism is true, then, as William James puts it, the world's pieces are held together by nothing more than conjunction: it's just one damn thing and another. I argue that Radical Pluralism is very likely true, conditional upon Humean Supervenience. Any philosopher pluralist enough to be Humean ought to be radically pluralistic. (shrink)
In this paper I argue for the incompatibility of three claims, each of them quite attractive to a theist. First, the doctrine of deep dependence: the universe depends for its existence, in a non-causal way, on God. Second, the doctrine of true transcendence: the universe is wholly distinct from God; God is separate and apart from the universe in respect of mereology, modes, and mentality. Third, the doctrine of robust creaturely freedom: some creature performs some act such that he could (...) have done other than he in fact did. After laying out the claims, I show that their conjunction has its adherents—most clearly, the medieval Jewish philosopher, Maimonides. I then argue in detail that the claims are in fact incompatible. I conclude with a discussion of which of the claims is best jettisoned, drawing in part on the work of the Absolute Idealist, Mary Calkins. (shrink)
Since the classical period, Jewish scholars have drawn on developments in philosophy to enrich our understanding of Judaism. This methodology reached its pinnacle in the medieval period with figures like Maimonides and continued into the modern period with the likes of Rosenzweig. The explosion of Anglo-American/analytic philosophy in the twentieth century means that there is now a host of material, largely unexplored by Jewish philosophy, with which to explore, analyze, and develop the Jewish tradition. Jewish Philosophy in an Analytic Age (...) features contributions from leading scholars in the field which investigate Jewish texts, traditions, and/or thinkers, in order to showcase what Jewish philosophy can be in an analytic age. United by the new and engaging style of philosophy, the collection explores rabbinic and Talmudic philosophy; Maimonidean philosophy; philosophical theology; and ethics and value theory. (shrink)
In this innovative volume contemporary philosophers respond to classic works of Jewish philosophy. For each of twelve central topics in Jewish philosophy, Jewish philosophical readings, drawn from the medieval period through the twentieth century, appear alongside an invited contribution that engages both the readings and the contemporary philosophical literature in a constructive dialogue. The twelve topics are organized into four sections, and each section commences with an overview of the ensuing dialogue and concludes with a list of further readings. The (...) introduction to the volume assesses the current state of Jewish philosophy and argues for a deeper engagement with analytic philosophy, exemplified by the new contributions. Jewish Philosophy Past and Present: Contemporary Responses to Classical Sources is a cutting edge work of Jewish philosophy, and, at the same time, an engaging introduction to the issues that animated Jewish philosophers for centuries and to the texts that they have produced. It is designed to set the agenda in Jewish philosophy for years to come. (shrink)
Let Essentialism be the view that at least some object has at least some property essentially. And let Relative Essentialism be the view that Essentialism is true, but that for any object that has any property essentially, it has it essentially only relative to the value of some parameter. Meghan Sullivan has recently put forward a promising new version of Relative Essentialism, according to which the relevant parameter is an explanatory framework. We argue that despite its promise, Sullivan's version unfortunately (...) fails, due to the mismatch between the logic of essentiality and the logic of explanation. (shrink)
Paul Churchland argues that Plantinga’s evolutionary argument against naturalism is unsuccessful and so we need not accept its conclusion. In this paper, we respond to Churchland’s argument. After we briefly recapitulate Plantinga’s argument and state Churchland’s argument, we offer three objections to Churchland’s argument: (1) its first premise has little to recommend it, (2) its second premise is false, and (3) its conclusion is consistent with, and indeed entails, the conclusion of Plantinga’s argument.
Global metaphysical skepticism is the view that we have no knowledge of any substantive metaphysical thesis. Various reasons have been provided in support of global metaphysical skepticism. I provide a new one. The reason, very roughly, is this. Metaphysical theses come together as packages. Such packages are very different from each other. Because the packages are so different, we cannot know of any one of the packages that it isn't true. And because we cannot know of any one of them (...) that it isn't true, we cannot know any substantive metaphysical thesis at all. My paper makes this argument much more precise and defends each of the premises in detail. (shrink)
I suggest a way in which metaphysics might cure us of our desire for immortality. Supposing that time is composed of instants, or even that time could be composed of instants, leads to the conclusion that there is nothing good that immortality offers, nothing we might reasonably want, that is in principle unavailable to a mere mortal. My argument proceeds in three stages. First, I suggest a necessary condition for a feature to ground the desirability of a life or a (...) portion thereof. Second, after distinguishing between three different features that could plausibly be meant by ’immortality’, I argue that if time could be composed of instants, only one of those features satisfies the necessary condition, and it evidently fails to ground the desirability of a life. Third, I argue that no feature that entails any of the three features grounds the desirability of a life either. I conclude with reflections on what this means for our longing for immortality. (shrink)
Pythagoreanism, the claim that ‘all is number’, is rarely taken seriously these days as a candidate for the sober metaphysical truth. This is a mistake. I distinguish various versions of Pythagoreanism. Some such versions are unmotivated, some are subject to serious objections, and some are both. But, I argue, there is a robust version of Pythagoreanism—according to which there is a true theory whose ontology and ideology are wholly mathematical from which every truth follows—that is both well-motivated and not subject (...) to any serious objection. Given that fact, Pythagoreanism ought to be a serious metaphysical contender. (shrink)
Moses Maimonides' Guide of the Perplexed is the greatest and most influential text in the history of Jewish philosophy. Controversial in its day, the Guide directly influenced Aquinas, Spinoza, and Leibniz, and the history of Jewish philosophy took a decisive turn after its appearance. While there continues to be keen interest in Maimonides and his philosophy, this is the first scholarly collection in English devoted specifically to the Guide. It includes contributions from an international team of scholars addressing the most (...) important philosophical themes that range over the three parts of this sprawling work - including topics in the philosophy of language, metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of law, ethics, and political philosophy. There are also essays on the Guide's hermeneutic puzzles, and on its overall structure and philosophical trajectory. The volume will be of interest to philosophers, Judaists, theologians, and medievalists. (shrink)
Are we made entirely of matter, like sticks and stones? Or do we have a soul—a nonphysical entity—where our mental lives take place? -/- The authors Eric T. Olson and Aaron Segal begin this accessible and wide-ranging debate by looking at the often-overlooked question of whether we appear in ordinary experience to be material things. Olson then argues that the dependence of our mental lives on the condition of our brains—the fact that general anesthesia causes complete unconsciousness, for instance—is best (...) explained by saying that our mental lives are physical activities in our brains rather than nonphysical activities in the soul. Segal objects that this view is incompatible with two obvious and important facts about ourselves: that there is only one of you rather than trillions of almost identical beings now thinking your thoughts, and that we exist and remain conscious for more than an instant. These facts, he claims, are presupposed in our practical and moral judgments—but they require us to be immaterial things. Olson is forced to concede that there is no easy and uncontroversial answer to these objections but doubts whether taking us to be immaterial would be any help. The debate takes in large philosophical questions extending well beyond dualism and materialism. -/- The book features clear statements of each argument, responses to counter-arguments, in-text definitions, a glossary of key terms, and section summaries. Scholars and students alike will find it easy to follow the debate and learn the key concepts from metaphysics, philosophy of mind, and other areas necessary to understand each position. (shrink)