First published in 1985, D. M. Armstrong's original work on what laws of nature are has continued to be influential in the areas of metaphysics and philosophy of science. Presenting a definitive attack on the sceptical Humean view, that laws are no more than a regularity of coincidence between stances of properties, Armstrong establishes his own theory and defends it concisely and systematically against objections. Presented in a fresh twenty-first-century series livery, and including a specially commissioned preface written by Marc (...) Lange, illuminating its continuing importance and relevance to philosophical enquiry, this influential work is available for a new generation of readers. (shrink)
David Armstrong's book is a contribution to the philosophical discussion about possible worlds. Taking Wittgenstein's Tractatus as his point of departure, Professor Armstrong argues that nonactual possibilities and possible worlds are recombinations of actually existing elements, and as such are useful fictions. There is an extended criticism of the alternative-possible-worlds approach championed by the American philosopher David Lewis. This major work will be read with interest by a wide range of philosophers.
In considering the nature of properties four controversial decisions must be made. (1) Are properties universals or tropes? (2) Are properties attributes of particulars, or are particulars just bundles of properties? (3) Are properties categorical (qualitative) in nature, or are they powers? (4) If a property attaches to a particular, is this predication contingent, or is it necessary? These choices seem to be in a great degree independent of each other. The author indicates his own choices.
The emphasis is always on the arguments used, and the way one position develops from another. By the end of the book the reader is afforded both a grasp of the state of the controversy, and how we got there.
In my reply to michael devitt, It is argued, First, That quine fails to appreciate the force of plato's "one over many" argument for universals. It is argued, Second, That quine's failure springs in part at least from his doctrine of ontological commitment: from the view that predicates need not be treated with ontological seriousness. Finally, An attempt is made to blunt the force of devitt's contention that realists cannot give a coherent explanation of the way that universals stand to (...) particulars. (shrink)
The paper tries to rebut an objection to materialism. Anti-Materialists have argued that mental processes do not appear to be mere physical processes in the brain, And that secondary qualities such as sounds do not appear to be mere vibrations in the air. So materialists must admit that introspection and perception involve at least the illusion of the falsity of materialism. Using the headless woman illusion as a model, It is shown how the illusion is generated, And that it is (...) exactly what we ought to expect even if materialism is true. (shrink)
In this paper I put forward what I think is a new approach to the problem of induction. I sketched the approach in brief sections of a book published in 1983. The same idea had occurred to the English philosopher John Foster and he presented it in a paper at about the same time.
This article examines the historical construction of depression over about a hundred years, employing the social life of methods as an explanatory framework. Specifically, it considers how emerging methodologies in the measurement of psychological constructs contributed to changes in epistemological approaches to mental illness and created the conditions of possibility for major shifts in the construction of depression. While depression was once seen as a feature of psychotic personality, measurement technologies made it possible for it to be reconstructed as changeable (...) and treatable. Different types of scaling techniques enabled the separation of depressive personality from reactive depression, paving the way for measuring the severity and intensity of emotions. Techniques to test sensitivity to change provided a means of demonstrating the efficacy of new psychoactive drug treatments. Later, more advanced techniques of precision scaling enabled the management of a new measurement problem, clinician unreliability, associated with the growing number of professionals involved in mental health care. Through statistical management of unreliability, the construct of depression has dramatically reduced over this period from hundreds of questionnaire items to potentially just two. Exploring the history of depression through this lens produces an alternative narrative to those that have emerged as a result of medicalisation and the actions of individuals and pressure groups. (shrink)
The object of this paper is to argue once again for the combinatorial account of possibility defended in earlier work. But there I failed fully to realise the dialectical advantages that accrue once one begins by assuming the hypothesis of logical atomism, the hypothesis that postulates simple particulars and simple universals at the bottom of the world. Logical atomism is, I incline to think, no better than ‘speculative cosmology’ as opposed to ‘analytic ontology’, to use Donald Williams’ terminology. It is, (...) however, not an implausible hypothesis given the current state of quantum physics. More important for our purposes here, the strictly combinatorial theory that flows rather naturally from the atomist metaphysics shows some promise of continuing to hold in a world that is not an atomist world. (shrink)
A philosophy might take its general inspiration from (1) commonsense; (2) careful observation; (3) philosophical argumentation; (4) the sciences; (5) "higher" sources of illumination. It is argued in this paper that it is bedrock commonsense, and the sciences, which are the most reliable foundations for a philosophy. This result is applied to the discussion and defense of a materialist theory of the mind.