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Andrew Brenner
Hong Kong Baptist University
  1. Simplicity as a criterion of theory choice in metaphysics.Andrew Brenner - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (11):2687-2707.
    Metaphysicians frequently appeal to the idea that theoretical simplicity is truth conducive in metaphysics, in the sense that, all other things being equal, simpler metaphysical theories are more likely to be true. In this paper I defend the notion that theoretical simplicity is truth conducive in metaphysics, against several recent objections. I do not give any direct arguments for the thesis that simplicity is truth conducive in metaphysics, since I am aware of no such arguments. I do argue, however, that (...)
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  2. Why Composition Matters.Andrew M. Bailey & Andrew Brenner - 2020 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 50 (8):934-949.
    Many say that ontological disputes are defective because they are unimportant or without substance. In this paper, we defend ontological disputes from the charge, with a special focus on disputes over the existence of composite objects. Disputes over the existence of composite objects, we argue, have a number of substantive implications across a variety of topics in metaphysics, science, philosophical theology, philosophy of mind, and ethics. Since the disputes over the existence of composite objects have these substantive implications, they are (...)
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  3. Mereological Nihilism and Theoretical Unification.Andrew Brenner - 2015 - Analytic Philosophy 56 (4):318-337.
    Mereological nihilism (henceforth just "nihilism") is the thesis that composition never occurs. Nihilism has often been defended on the basis of its theoretical simplicity, including its ontological simplicity and its ideological simplicity (roughly, nihilism's ability to do without primitive mereological predicates). In this paper I defend nihilism on the basis of the theoretical unification conferred by nihilism, which is, roughly, nihilism's capacity to allow us to take fewer phenomena as brute and inexplicable. This represents a respect in which nihilism enjoys (...)
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  4. Mereological nihilism and the special arrangement question.Andrew Brenner - 2015 - Synthese 192 (5):1295-1314.
    Mereological nihilism is the thesis that composite objects—objects with proper parts—do not exist. Nihilists generally paraphrase talk of composite objects F into talk of there being “xs arranged F-wise” . Recently several philosophers have argued that nihilism is defective insofar as nihilists are either unable to say what they mean by such phrases as “there are xs arranged F-wise,” or that nihilists are unable to employ such phrases without incurring significant costs, perhaps even undermining one of the chief motivations for (...)
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  5. Science and the special composition question.Andrew Brenner - 2018 - Synthese 195 (2):657-678.
    Mereological nihilism is the thesis that composition never occurs. Some philosophers have thought that science gives us compelling evidence against nihilism. In this article I respond to this concern. An initial challenge for nihilism stems from the fact that composition is such a ubiquitous feature of scientific theories. In response I motivate a restricted form of scientific anti-realism with respect to those components of scientific theories which make reference to composition. A second scientifically based worry for nihilism is that certain (...)
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  6. Mereology and ideology.Andrew Brenner - 2020 - Synthese 198 (8):7431-7448.
    Mereological nihilism is the thesis that composition never occurs. Sider has defended nihilism on the basis of its relative ideological simplicity. In this paper I develop the argument from ideological simplicity, and defend it from some recent objections. Along the way I discuss the best way to formulate nihilism, what it means for a theory to exhibit lesser or greater degrees of ideological simplicity, the relationship between the parthood relation and the identity relation, and the notion that we should judge (...)
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  7. Metaphysical Foundationalism and Theoretical Unification.Andrew Brenner - 2023 - Erkenntnis 88 (4):1661-1681.
    Some facts ground other facts. Some fact is fundamental iff there are no other facts which partially or fully ground that fact. According to metaphysical foundationalism, every non-fundamental fact is fully grounded by some fundamental fact(s). In this paper I examine and defend some neglected considerations which might be made in favor of metaphysical foundationalism. Building off of work by Ross Cameron, I suggest that foundationalist theories are more unified than, and so in one important respect simpler than, non-foundationalist theories, (...)
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  8. Explaining Why There is Something Rather than Nothing.Andrew Brenner - 2022 - Erkenntnis 87 (4):1831-1847.
    It is sometimes supposed that, in principle, we cannot offer an explanation for why there is something rather than nothing. I argue that this supposition is a mistake, and stems from a needlessly myopic conception of the form explanations can legitimately take. After making this more general point, I proceed to offer a speculative suggestion regarding one sort of explanation which can in principle serve as an answer to the question “why is there something rather than nothing?” The suggestion is (...)
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  9. Mereological Nihilism and Personal Ontology.Andrew Brenner - 2017 - Philosophical Quarterly 67 (268).
    Mereological nihilists hold that composition never occurs, so that nothing is ever a proper part of anything else. Substance dualists generally hold that we are each identical with an immaterial soul. In this paper, I argue that every popular objection to substance dualism has a parallel objection to composition. This thesis has some interesting implications. First, many of those who reject composition, but accept substance dualism, or who reject substance dualism and accept composition, have some explaining to do. Secondly, one (...)
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  10. Ontological Pluralism, Abhidharma Metaphysics, and the Two Truths: A Response to Kris McDaniel.Andrew Brenner - 2020 - Philosophy East and West 70 (2):543-557.
    Kris McDaniel has recently proposed an interpretation of the distinction between conventional truth and ultimate truth, as that distinction is made within Abhidharma metaphysics. According to McDaniel's proposal, the distinction between conventional truth and ultimate truth is closely connected with a similar distinction between conventional existence and ultimate existence. What is more, the distinction between conventional existence and ultimate existence should be interpreted along ontological pluralist lines: the difference between things that ultimately exist and things that merely conventionally exist amounts (...)
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  11. Easy ontology, application conditions and infinite regress.Andrew Brenner - 2018 - Analysis 78 (4):605-614.
    In a number of recent publications Thomasson has defended a deflationary approach to ontological disputes, according to which ontological disputes are relatively easy to settle, by either conceptual analysis, or conceptual analysis in conjunction with empirical investigation. Thomasson’s “easy” approach to ontology is intended to derail many prominent ontological disputes. In this paper I present an objection to Thomasson’s approach to ontology. Thomasson’s approach to existence assertions means that she is committed to the view that application conditions associated with any (...)
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  12. What Do We Mean When We Ask “Why is There Something Rather Than Nothing?".Andrew Brenner - 2016 - Erkenntnis 81 (6):1305-1322.
    Let’s call the sentence “why is there something rather than nothing?” the Question. There’s no consensus, of course, regarding which proposed answer to the Question, if any, is correct, but occasionally there’s also controversy regarding the meaning of the Question itself. In this paper I argue that such controversy persists because there just isn’t one unique interpretation of the Question. Rather, the puzzlement expressed by the sentence “why is there something rather than nothing?” varies depending on the ontology implicitly or (...)
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  13. Theoretical virtues and the methodological analogy between science and metaphysics.Andrew Brenner - 2023 - Synthese 201 (2):1-19.
    Metaphysicians often claim that some metaphysical theory should (or shouldn’t) be believed because it exhibits (or fails to exhibit) theoretical virtues such as simplicity. Metaphysicians also sometimes claim that the legitimacy of these sorts of appeals to theoretical virtues are vindicated by the similar appeals to theoretical virtues which scientists make in scientific theory choice. One objection to this methodological move is to claim that the metaphysician misdescribes the role that theoretical virtues play within science. In this paper I defend (...)
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  14. Theism and Explanationist Defenses of Moral Realism.Andrew Brenner - 2018 - Faith and Philosophy 35 (4):447-463.
    Some moral realists have defended moral realism on the basis of the purported fact that moral facts figure as components in some good explanations of non-moral phenomena. In this paper I explore the relationship between theism and this sort of explanationist defense of moral realism. Theistic explanations often make reference to moral facts, and do so in a manner which is ineliminable in an important respect – remove the moral facts from those explanations, and they suffer as a result. In (...)
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  15. Sense Perception and Mereological Nihilism.Andrew Brenner - 2023 - Philosophical Quarterly 74 (1):68-83.
    In the debate over the existence of composite objects, it is sometimes suggested that perceptual evidence justifies belief in composite objects. But it is almost never suggested that we are perceptually justified in believing in composite objects on the basis of the fact that the phenomenology of our perceptual experiences enables us to discriminate between situations where there are composite objects and situations where there are merely simples arranged composite object-wise. But while the thought that the phenomenology of our perceptual (...)
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  16. Rejoinder to Kris McDaniel.Andrew Brenner - 2020 - Philosophy East and West 70 (2):565-569.
    I would like to thank Kris McDaniel for his reply. In my original response to McDaniel I say that, given his interpretation of the distinction between conventional and ultimate truth, we would no longer be able to employ certain powerful arguments in favor of the thesis that persons are merely conventionally existent, and it would turn out that the thesis that persons are merely conventionally existent doesn't have some of the important implications that proponents of that thesis generally take it (...)
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  17. Conditional Probabilities and Symmetric Grounding.Andrew Brenner - forthcoming - Philosophy of Science:1-15.
    I present new counterexamples to the asymmetry of grounding: we have prima facie reason to think that some conditional probabilities partially ground their inverse conditional probabilities, and vice versa. These new counterexamples may require that we reject the asymmetry of grounding, or alternatively may require that we reject one or more of the assumptions which enable the counterexamples. Either way, by reflecting on these purported counterexamples to grounding asymmetry we learn something important, either about the formal properties of grounding, or (...)
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  18. Four-dimensionalism, eternalism, and deprivationist accounts of the evil of death.Andrew Brenner - 2021 - Synthese 199 (5-6):13643-13660.
    Four-dimensionalists think that we persist over time by having different temporal parts at each of the times at which we exist. Eternalists think that all times are equally real. Deprivationists think that death is an evil for the one who dies because it deprives them of something. I argue that four-dimensionalist eternalism, conjoined with a standard deprivationist account of the evil of death, has surprising implications for what we should think about the evil of death. In particular, given these assumptions, (...)
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  19. aquinas On Eternity, Tense, And Temporal Becoming.Andrew Brenner - 2010 - Florida Philosophical Review 10 (1):16-24.
    Thomas Aquinas, along with many other medieval philosophers, believed that God is timeless. Aquinas’s treatment of this doctrine seems to imply a view of time that some commentators have noticed is inescapably tenseless, what we would now call a “B-theory” view of time. This is problematic because Aquinas also seems to affirm that tense and temporal becoming are real, implying that what we would now call an “A-theory” of time is correct. In this essay I attempt to adjudicate this apparent (...)
     
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  20.  23
    Correction to: Explaining Why There is Something Rather than Nothing.Andrew Brenner - 2020 - Erkenntnis:1-1.
    In the original publication of this article, we have missed to include second affiliation of the corresponding author in the online published article. Now the same has been provided in this correction.
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    Correction to: Explaining Why There is Something Rather than Nothing.Andrew Brenner - 2022 - Erkenntnis 87 (5):2517-2517.
    In the original publication of this article, we have missed to include second affiliation of the corresponding author in the online published article. Now the same has been provided in this correction.
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  22.  54
    Personal ontology: mystery and its consequences.Andrew Brenner - 2024 - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    What are we? Are we, for example, souls, organisms, brains, or something else? In this book, Andrew Brenner argues that there are principled obstacles to our discovering the answer to this fundamental metaphysical question. The main competing accounts of personal ontology hold that we are either souls (or composites of soul and body), or we are composite physical objects of some sort, but, as Brenner shows, arguments for either of these options can be parodied and transformed into their opposites. Brenner (...)
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