_Personal Identity and Self-Consciousness_ is about persons and personal identity. What are we? And why does personal identity matter? Brian Garrett, using jargon-free language, addresses questions in the metaphysics of personal identity, questions in value theory, and discusses questions about the first person singular. Brian Garrett makes an important contribution to the philosophy of personal identity and mind, and to epistemology.
Why is there something rather than nothing? Does God exist? Does time flow? What are we? Do we have free will? What is truth? Metaphysics is concerned with ourselves and reality, and the most fundamental questions regarding existence. This clear and accessible introduction covers the central topics in metaphysics in a concise but comprehensive way. Brian Garrett discusses the crucial concepts in a highly readable manner, easing the reader in with a look at some important philosophical problems. He addresses key (...) areas of metaphysics: God Existence Modality Universals and particulars Facts Paradoxes of material constitution Causation Time Free will Personal identity Truth. This second edition has been thoroughly revised. Most chapters include substantial amounts of new material, and there are additional chapters on Existence, Modality, Facts and Paradoxes of Material Constitution. _What is this thing called Metaphysics?_ contains many helpful student-friendly features. Each chapter concludes with a useful summary of the main ideas discussed, a glossary of important terms, study questions, annotated further reading, and a guide to web resources. Text boxes provide bite-sized summaries of key concepts and major philosophers, and clear and interesting examples are used throughout. (shrink)
In this discussion note we argue, contrary to the thrust of a recent article by Jenann Ismael, that resolving the paradox of predictability does not require denying the possibility of a natural oracle, and thus stands in no need of the response that she proposes.
In this discussion, I claim that the debate over ‘the bias towards the present’ turns on an axiological question. Is the value of a present experience greater than its value when past? I argue not and hold that our bias towards the present, understood as a pure time preference, is irrational.
In our world we never observe an effect which is earlier than its cause. All of our experience is of future-directed causation. But many have thought that backwards causation is at least logically or metaphysically possible. Max Black famously argued against this thought. I think his argument fails, but it’s still instructive. The correct rejoinder to Black teaches us what backwards causation must be like in a world of free agents, and implies that we can never have reason to bring (...) about past events. (shrink)
In his well-known time travel story, David Lewis claims that there is a sense in which Tim can go back in time and kill his Grandfather and a (more inclusive) sense in which he cannot. Lewis describes Tim’s predicament as semi-fatalist, but holds that this does not compromise Tim’s freedom or his ability to kill Grandfather. I argue that if semi-fatalism is true of Tim, it is true of everyone, and that this is a troubling conclusion.
David Chalmers claims that the logical possibility of ‘zombie worlds’ — worlds physically indiscernible from the actual world, but that lack consciousness — reveal that consciousness is a distinct fact, or property, in addition to the physical facts or properties.The ‘existence’ or possibility of Zombie worlds violates the physicalist demand that consciousness logically supervene upon the physical. On the assumption that the logical supervenience of consciousness upon the physical is, indeed, a necessary entailment of physicalism, the existence of zombie worlds (...) implies the falsity of physicalism. How do we determine the logical possibility of zombie worlds? By conceptual analysis of the concepts involved, keeping empirical facts in mind. (shrink)
I examine the main arguments of Elizabeth Anscombe’s difficult but fecund paper ‘The First Person’. Anscombe argues that the first‐person singular is not a device of reference, and, in particular, that it is not a device of indexical reference. Both arguments fail, but in ways that we can learn from.
The standard bilking argument is well-known and attempts to prove the impossibility of backwards causation. In this discussion note, I identify an epistemic bilking argument, which has not received sufficient attention in the literature, and indicate how best to respond to it. This response involves a parity argument based on a forwards causation case.
My intention in this paper is to outline and criticise some of the main ideas in Michael Dummett’s classic article “Bringing about the Past”. From Dummett’s remarks we can reconstruct two sceptical arguments designed to show that it can never be rational to attempt to bring about past events. Dummett is critical of both arguments. Though happy with Dummett’s reply to the first sceptical argument, I disagree with his reply to the second.
In this dialogue I discuss the connection between eternalism and fatalism. I do not think, as some do, that eternalism implies fatalism, but I do think that eternalists can avoid fatalism only by denying a seemingly intuitive claim about what a traveller to the past cannot do.Export citation.
Farts have not received the metaphysical attention they deserve. Bill Capra has opened the batting in his recent study of this ubiquitous rectal phenomenon. Spurred on by his sterling effort, JJ and I have added our own two bob's worth, disagreeing with much of what Bill says, and defending the buttocks-first conception of farts.
Although many philosophers think backwards causation possible, puzzles arise when we consider worlds containing both backwards causal chains and agents capable of intervening in, and initiating, such chains. In these worlds, agents have the power to bilk, that is, the power to prevent an event from occurring which, had it occurred, would have been the cause of an earlier event. I argue, appealing to Max Black’s example and one other, that this power is absurd and hence that there are no (...) worlds containing both agents and manipulable backwards causal chains. (shrink)
This essay examines some aspects of the early history of the vitalism/mechanism controversies by examining the work of Nehemiah Grew in relation to that of Henry More , Francis Glisson and the more mechanistically inclined members of the Royal Society. I compliment and critically comment on John Henry's exploration of active principles in pre-Newtonian mechanist thought. The postulation of ‘active matter’ can be seen as an important support for the new experimental philosophy, but it has theological drawbacks, allowing for a (...) self-sufficient nature relatively independent of God. Grew resists this view and, like Henry More, advocates the need for a vital principle to direct material nature towards its ends. I illustrate the connection Grew sees between teleology and vitalism and the paper closes with Pierre Bayle's reaction to Grew's attempt to support his religious commitments by appeal to vital principles.So many Arts, hath the Divine Wisdom put together; onlyfor the hull and tackle, of a sensible and Thinking creature.Nehemiah Grew, Cosmologia. (shrink)
Davidson argues that mental properties are causally relevant properties. I argue that Davidson cannot appeal to ceteris paribus causal laws to ensure that these properties are causally relevant, if he wishes to retain his argument for anomalous monism. Second, I argue that the appeal to supervenience cannot, by itself, give us an account of the causal relevancy of mental properties. I argue that, while mental properties may indeed 'make a difference' to the causally efficacious properties of events, this is not (...) sufficient to show that mental properties are causally relevant. (shrink)
I argue that José Luis Bermúdez has not shown that there is a paradox in our concept of self-consciousness. The deflationary theory is not a plausible theory of self-consciousness, so its paradoxicality is irrelevant. A more plausible theory, 'the simple theory', is not paradoxical. However, I do think there is a puzzle about the connection between self-consciousness and 'I'-thoughts.
Resumo Neste texto, o autor concentra-se em dois artigos históricos: o de Max Black “Why cannot an effect precede its cause”? e o de Michael Dummett “Bringing about the Past”. O autor irá mostrar onde falha o “bilking argument” de Black, contra a possibilidade da causalidade invertida. Por conseguinte, o autor irá concordar com Dummett, na possibilidade de um agente actuar a fim de que algo possa ocorrer no passado, contudo, discordando da argumentação de Dummett face a um desafio céptico, (...) que tenta mostrar a inutilidade de afectar o passado. Palavras-chave : Black, causalidade invertida, Dummett, razões, tempoIn this discussion I focus on two classic articles: Max Black’s ‘Why cannot an effect precede its cause?’ and Michael Dummett’s ‘Bringing about the Past’. I argue that Black’s bilking argument against the possibility of backwards causation fails. I agree with Dummett that the idea of an agent acting in order that something should have happened in the past is not absurd, but I disagree with Dummett’s response to a sceptical challenge which attempts to show that it is pointless to attempt to affect the past. Keywords : backwards causation, Black, Dummett, reasons, time. (shrink)
Santayana's epiphenomenalism is best understood as part of his thinking about teleology and final causes. Santayana makes a distinction between final causes, which he rejects, and teleology, which he finds ubiquitous. Mental causation is identified with a doctrine of final causes which he argues is an absurd form of causation. Thus mental causes are rejected and Santayana embraces epiphenomenalism.
In this discussion piece, I argue that David Lewis fails to support his claim that time-travelling Tim cannot kill his Grandfather in 1921. This result, in turn, undermines Lewis’s contextualist solution to the Grandfather Paradox—i.e. conceding that Tim can and cannot kill Grandfather, but relative to different contexts in each case.
In ‘Bringing about the Past’ Michael Dummett attempted to defend the coherence of the idea of bringing about the past. I agree that bringing about the past is conceptually no more problematic than bringing about the future, but argue, against Dummett, that there is no need to restrict the scope of an agent’s knowledge in order to make sense of intentionally bringing about past events.
In this discussion paper, I evaluate some arguments of Mark Johnston's which appear in his articles «Fission and the Facts» and «Reasons and Reductionism» . My primary concern is with his description of fission cases, and his assessment of the implications of such cases for value theory. In particular, Johnston advances the following three claims:Rejecting the intrinsicness of identity is an arbitrary response to the paradox of fission;Fission cases involve indeterminate identity;Contra Parfit, fission cases have no implications for value theory (...) in the actual world.I argue that and are false, and that , if true, is not true for any reason that Johnston gives. (shrink)
My aim in this thesis is to explain how a non-reductionist metaphysics can accommodate the causal relevance of the psychological and of the special sciences generally. According to physicalism, all behavior is caused by brain-states; given "folk-psychology", behavior is caused by some psychological state. If psychological states are distinct from brain states, then our behavior is overdetermined and this, it is claimed, is unacceptable. I argue that this consequence is not unacceptable. I claim that our explanatory practice should guide our (...) ontological commitment. If we can offer true explanations that appeal to more than one event, then we are committed to overdetermination for the event explained. I argue that accepting overdetermination is not absurd and that we can give an adequate account of causal relevance for psychological and other supervenient properties. The result is a partial defense of both property and event pluralism. Recent work by Davidson, Fodor, Jackson, Kim, Pettit and Yablo receives explicit and critical discussion. (shrink)
Elementary Logic explains what logic is, how it is done, and why it can be exciting. The book covers the central part of logic that all students have to learn: propositional logic. It aims to provide a crystal-clear introduction to what is often regarded as the most technically difficult area in philosophy. The book opens with an explanation of what logic is and how it is constructed. Subsequent chapters take the reader step-by-step through all aspects of elementary logic. Throughout, ideas (...) are explained simply and directly, with the chapters packed with overviews, illustrative examples, and summaries. Each chapter builds on previous explanation and example, with the final chapters presenting more advanced methods. After a discussion of meta-logic and logical systems, the book closes with an exploration of how paradoxes can exist in the world of logic. Elementary Logic's clarity and engagement make it ideal for any reader studying logic for the first time. (shrink)
Kim's exclusion argument threatens to show that irreducible constituted objects are epiphenomenal. Kim's arguments are examined and found to be unconvincing; that a constituted cause requires its constituent to be a cause is not an adequate reason to reject the causation of the constituted object (event or property-instance). However, I introduce and argue for, the Causal Power Uniqueness Condition (CPUC). I argue that CPUC and the causal closure of the physical, implies that constituted objects or property-instances are not novel causal (...) powers. (shrink)
In this note, I argue that knowledge of an action’s effect undermines an agent’s reason to act. This undermining occurs in some cases of bringing about the past, but also in some cases of forwards causation. I consider the suggestion that it is not knowledge but truth that undermines reasons to act, giving rise to the spectre of fatalism. Thankfully, this spectre can be banished.
Daniel Dennett has claimed that if Chalmers' argument for the irreducibility of consciousness were to succeed, an analogous argument would establish the truth of Vitalism. Chalmers denies that there is such an analogy. I argue that the analogy does have merit and that skepticism is called for.