A version of Bradley's regress can be endorsed in an effort to address the problem of the unity of states of affairs or facts, thereby arriving at a doctrine that I have called fact infinitism . A consequence of it is the denial of the thesis, WF, that all chains of ontological dependence are well-founded or grounded. Cameron has recently rejected fact infinitism by arguing that WF, albeit not necessarily true, is however contingently true. Here fact infinitism is supported by (...) showing that Cameron's argument for the contingent truth of WF is unsuccessful. (shrink)
Typical presentism asserts that whatever exists is present. Moderate presentism more modestly claims that all events are present and thus acknowledges past and future times understood in a substantivalist sense, and past objects understood, following Williamson, as “ex-concrete.” It is argued that moderate presentism retains the most valuable features of typical presentism, while having considerable advantages in dealing with its most prominent difficulties.
States of affairs involving a non-symmetric relation such as loving are said to have a relational order, something that distinguishes, for instance, Romeo’s loving Juliet from Juliet’s loving Romeo. Relational order can be properly understood by appealing to o-roles, i.e., ontological counterparts of what linguists call thematic roles, e.g., agent, patient, instrument, and the like. This move allows us to meet the appropriate desiderata for a theory of relational order. In contrast, the main theories that try to do without o-roles, (...) proposed by philosophers such as Russell, Hochberg, and Fine, are in trouble with one or another of these desiderata. After discussing some alternatives, it is proposed that o-roles are best viewed as very generic properties characterizable as ways in which objects jointly exemplify a relation. This makes for exemplification relations understood as complex entities having o-roles as building blocks. (shrink)
This paper first discusses how Russell and Hochberg have addressed some phenomena of relatedness, notably relational order, in a similarly ‘positionalist’ way, yet by appealing to different sorts of formal relations: “positions” in Russell's case and “ordering relations” in Hochberg's. After pointing out some shortcomings of both approaches, the paper then proposes an alternative view based on ‘o-roles’, which are, roughly speaking, ontological counterparts of the thematic roles postulated in linguistics. It is argued that o-roles are sort of middle-of-the-road entities (...) in the sense that they have the virtues of positions and those of ordering relations, without having their respective vices. Some tentative ideas on which o-roles should be acknowledged are also put forward. (shrink)
Downward causation plays a fundamental role in many theories of metaphysics and philosophy of mind. It is strictly connected with many topics in philosophy, including but not limited to: emergence, mental causation, the nature of causation, the nature of causal powers and dispositions, laws of nature, and the possibility of ontological and epistemic reductions. _Philosophical and Scientific Perspectives on Downward Causation_ brings together experts from different fields—including William Bechtel, Stewart Clark and Tom Lancaster, Carl Gillett, John Heil, Robin F. Hendry, (...) Max Kistler, Stephen Mumford and Rani Lill Anjum—who delve into classic and unexplored lines of philosophical inquiry related to downward causation. It critically assesses the possibility of downward causation given different ontological assumptions and explores the connection between downward causation and the metaphysics of causation and dispositions. Finally, it presents different cases of downward causation in empirical fields such as physics, chemistry, biology and the neurosciences. This volume is both a useful introduction and a collection of original contributions on this fascinating and hotly debated philosophical topic. (shrink)
It is customary in current philosophy of time to distinguish between an A- (or tensed) and a B- (or tenseless) theory of time. It is also customary to distinguish between an old B-theory of time, and a new B-theory of time. We may say that the former holds both semantic atensionalism and ontological atensionalism, whereas the latter gives up semantic atensionalism and retains ontological atensionalism. It is typically assumed that the B-theorists have been induced by advances in the philosophy of (...) language and related A-theorists’ criticisms to acknowledge that semantic atensionalism can hardly stand, but have also maintained that what is essential for the B-theory is ontological atensionalism, which can be independently defended. Here it is argued that the B-theorists have been too quick in abandoning semantic atensionalism: they can still cling to it. (shrink)
A version of Bradley's regress can be endorsed in an effort to address the problem of the unity of states of affairs or facts, thereby arriving at a doctrine that I have called fact infinitism. A consequence of it is the denial of the thesis, WF, that all chains of ontological dependence are well‐founded or grounded. Cameron has recently rejected fact infinitism by arguing that WF, albeit not necessarily true, is however contingently true. Here fact infinitism is supported by showing (...) that Cameron's argument for the contingent truth of WF is unsuccessful. (shrink)
Russell’s type theory has been the standard property theory for years, relying on rigid type distinctions at the grammatical level to circumvent the paradoxes of predication. In recent years it has been convincingly argued by Bealer, Cochiarella, Turner and others that many linguistic and ontological data are best accounted for by using a type-free property theory. In the spirit of exploring alternatives and “to have as many opportunities as possible for theory comparison”, this paper presents another type-free property theory, to (...) be called P*, intended for applications in Montague-style natural language semantics and formal ontology. The theory is philosophically grounded on Gupta’s and Belnap’s revision theory of definitions and its basic idea is viewing predication (exemplification) as a ‘circular concept’ that can be captured by circular definitions. The paper has the following fourteen sections: (1) Introduction; (2) Formal type-free property theory; (3) Applying RTD [revision theory of definitions] to exemplification; (4) The system P*; (5) Some features of P*; (6) A comparison with Turner’s system; (7) Entailment and P*; (8) P* and natural language semantics; (9) Noun phrases; (10) The need for type-freedom in semantics; (11) Arithmetic in P*; (12) Arithmetic in PN*; (13) Complexity of P*; (14) Conclusion, and acknowledgments. (shrink)
Singular reference is the relation that a singular term has to a corresponding individual. For example, "Obama" singularly refer to the current US president. Descriptivism holds that all singular terms refer by means of a concept associated to the term. The current trend is against this. This book explains in detail why anti-descriptivism became dominant in spite of its weaknesses and how these weaknesses can be overcome by appropriately reviving descriptivism.
Temporal ontology is concerned with the ontological status of the past, the present and the future, with presentism and eternalism as main contenders since the second half of the last century. In recent years several philosophers have argued that the presentism/eternalism dispute is not substantial. They have embraced, one may say, deflationism. Denying or downplaying the meaningfulness of tenseless language and wielding the so-called triviality objection have been their main argumentative tools. Other philosophers have opposed this trend, thereby holding fast (...) to what could be named substantialism. Their leading defensive strategy has consisted in bringing to the fore tenselessness or unrestricted quantification in an attempt to resist the triviality objection. Despite this reaction, the past few years have hosted a new wave of deflationism, wherein the triviality objection and qualms about the legitimacy of tenselessness and unrestricted quantification still loom large. This paper counters this trend, by providing a new clarification of tenseless predication, unrestricted quantifiers and their role in rescuing substantialism from the triviality objection. A crucial ingredient is this: the appeal to unrestricted quantifiers and to tenseless predication are not alternative strategies, but rather two sides of the same coin, since substantialism requires quantifiers that are both tenseless and unrestricted. (shrink)
In truth theory one aims at general formal laws governing the attribution of truth to statements. Gupta’s and Belnap’s revision-theoretic approach provides various well-motivated theories of truth, in particular T* and T#, which tame the Liar and related paradoxes without a Tarskian hierarchy of languages. In property theory, one similarly aims at general formal laws governing the predication of properties. To avoid Russell’s paradox in this area a recourse to type theory is still popular, as testified by recent work in (...) formal metaphysics by Williamson and Hale. There is a contingent Liar that has been taken to be a problem for type theory. But this is because this Liar has been presented without an explicit recourse to a truth predicate. Thus, type theory could avoid this paradox by incorporating such a predicate and accepting an appropriate theory of truth. There is however a contingent paradox of predication that more clearly undermines the viability of type theory. It is then suggested that a type-free property theory is a better option. One can pursue it, by generalizing the revision-theoretic approach to predication, as it has been done by Orilia with his system P*, based on T*. Although Gupta and Belnap do not explicitly declare a preference for T# over T*, they show that the latter has some advantages, such as the recovery of intuitively acceptable principles concerning truth and a better reconstruction of informal arguments involving this notion. A type-free system based on T# rather than T* extends these advantages to predication and thus fares better than P* in the intended applications of property theory. (shrink)
In line with much current literature, Bradley’s regress is here discussed as an argument that casts doubt on the existence of states of affairs or facts, understood as complex entities working as truthmakers for true sentences or propositions. One should distinguish two versions of Bradley’s regress, which stem from two different tentative explanations of the unity of states of affairs. The first version actually shows that the corresponding explanation is incoherent; the second one merely points to some prima facie implausible (...) consequences of the explanation it stems from, e.g., that there are infinite explanatory chains and that, for any given fact, there are infinitely many facts involving exemplification relations of increasing levels. But these consequences can be swal- lowed after all, thereby leading to the acceptance of a doctrine which may be called fact infinitism, a doctrine adumbrated in a well-known discussion of relations by Meinong. (shrink)
Dynamic events such as a rolling ball moving from one place to another involve change and time intervals and thus presumably successions of static events occurring one after the other, e.g., the ball’s being at a certain place and then at another place during the interval in question. When dynamic events are experienced they should count as present and thus as existent from a presentist point of view. But this seems to imply the existence of the static events involved in (...) them. This in turn seems to imply that there exist past and perhaps even future static events. Therefore, there is a problem for presentism. A possible way out for the presentist is proposed, based on allowing for time-indexed past-oriented and future-oriented properties. One may raise objections regarding the ontological status of these properties and the commitment to past and future objects and times that they seem to bring with them, but these objections can be put to rest. (shrink)
It is shown that two formally consistent type-free second-order systems, due to Cocchiarella, and based on the notion of homogeneous stratification, are subject to a contingent version of Russell's paradox.
Gupta's and Belnap's Revision Theory of Truth defends the legitimacy of circular definitions. Circularity, however, forces us to reconsider our conception of meaning. A readjustment of some standard theses about meaning is here proposed, by relying on a novel version of the sense-reference distinction.
ABSTRACT The current analytical debate on time is full of attempts to adjudicate from a purely theoretical standpoint among competing temporal ontologies. Little attention has instead been devoted to the existential attitudes -- emotional or ethical -- that may lurk behind, or ensue from, the endorsement of one of them. Some interesting opinions have however been voiced regarding the two most prominent views in the arena, namely eternalism and presentism; it has been said that the former is nourished by a (...) fear of death, or more generally by a desire of preservation for whatever we find precious and valuable, and that the latter is fuelled by a propensity to reap whatever fruits the present brings, as enshrined in the carpe diem motto. This paper explores such a territory by focusing on the reality of past sentience, whether joyful or painful, and on the open future. The first part contrasts the reality of past sentience that comes with eternalism with the denial of this reality that follows from presentism, and argues that from an emotional, or perhaps even moral, standpoint the latter is preferable to the former. The second part clarifies why the eternalist must renounce the open future, whereas presentism is consistent with it, and considers how its rejection or acceptance, as the case may be, could be emotionally, or even morally, significant for our conception of ourselves as free agents. The conclusion offers a tentative proposal regarding which temporal ontology is superior from an existential perspective and some ruminations on the impact that all this may have on the theoretical side of the issue. (shrink)
Konolige''s technical notion of belief based on deduction structures is briefly reviewed and its usefulness for the design of artificial agents with limited representational and deductive capacities is pointed out. The design of artificial agents with more sophisticated representational and deductive capacities is then taken into account. Extended representational capacities require in the first place a solution to the intensional context problems. As an alternative to Konolige''s modal first-order language, an approach based on type-free property theory is proposed. It considers (...) often neglected issues, such as the need for a more general account of thede dicto-de re distinction, and quasi-indicators. Extended deductive capacities require a subdivision of Konolige''s notion of belief into two distinct technical notions,potential anddispositional belief. The former has to do with what an artificial agent could in principle come to actively believe, given enough time and its specific logical competence; the latter with what an agent can be assumed to believe with respect to a specific goal to be fulfilled. (shrink)
Analyses, in the simplest form assertions that aim to capture an intimate link between two concepts, are viewed since Russell's theory of definite descriptions as analyzing descriptions. Analysis therefore has to obey the laws governing definitions including some form of a Substitutivity Principle (SP). Once (SP) is accepted the road to the paradox of analysis is open. Popular reactions to the paradox involve the fundamental assumption (SV) that sentences differing only in containing an analysandum resp. an analysans express the same (...) proposition, because analysandum and analysans are the same entity. Following suggestions of Gupta and Belnap it is argued that (SV) should be rejected. (shrink)
There have been attempts to derive anti-haeccetistic conclusions from the fact that quantum mechanics (QM) appeals to non-standard statistics. Since in fact QM acknowledges two kinds of such statistics, Bose-Einstein and Fermi-Dirac, I argue that we could in the same vein derive the sharper anti-haeccetistic conclusion that bosons are bundles of tropes and fermions are bundles of universals. Moreover, since standard statistics is still appropriate at the macrolevel, we could also venture to say that no anti-haecceitistic conclusion is warranted for (...) ordinary objects, which could then tentatively be identified with substrates. In contrast to this, however, there has been so far no acknowledgement of the possibility of inclusivism, according to which ontological accounts of particulars as widely different as those can possibly coexist in one world picture. The success of the different statistics in physics at least calls for a revision in this respect. (shrink)
I present a formal framework historically faithful to Leibniz's analysis of relational sentences, which: (i) engrafts thematic roles and the non-truth-functional connective insofar as (quatenus) into the monadic fragment of first-order logic; (ii) suggests a plausible ontological picture of thematic roles and relational facts; (iii) supports argument deletion and related inferential patterns that are not taken into account by standard first-order logic.
I assume that the task of natural language semantics is to provide an unambiguous logical language into which natural language can be translated in such a way that the translating expressions display a structure which is isomorphic to the meaning of the translated expressions. Since language is a means of thinking and communicating mental contents, the meanings of singular terms cannot be the individuals of the substratist tradition, because such individuals are not cognizable entities. Thus I propose that the logical (...) language be based on Castaneda's guise theory, according to which singular terms always denote guises, i.e., roughly, bundles of properties. This, I argue, would result in a semantics which is in accordance with projects such as Lakoff's natural logic or Fodor's methodological solipsism. ;I first propose a formal system, GCC, which tries to be as faithful as possible to Castaneda's informal presentation of guise theory. It is therefore characterized by different forms of predication and a distinction between a level of property composition and a level of proposition composition. Such a distinction is dropped in a second system, GF, which presents a more traditional Fregean representation of predication. Yet, GF endorses essential assumptions of guise theory such as the existence of different sameness relations that can provide various interpretations for the English "is". I claim that GF provides more theoretical simplicity than GCC. ;Finally, I show the fruitfulness of the present approach by applying GF to a vast collection of linguistico-philosophical puzzles which includes but is not restricted to those that guise theory was originally designed to address: various versions of Frege's paradox, the paradox of analysis, Quine's puzzle on the number of planets, issues of reidentification and intentional identity, the anaphoric "it" of sentences such as "the lizard's tail fell off but then it grew back," problems connected with the use of "knowing-who ," proper names, indexicals and demonstratives. (shrink)
This paper embeds a theory of proper names in a general approach to singular reference based on type‐free property theory. It is proposed that a proper name “N” is a sortal common noun whose meaning is essentially tied to the linguistic type “N”. Moreover, “N” can be singularly referring insofar as it is elliptical for a definite description of the form the “N” Following Montague, the meaning of a definite description is taken to be a property of properties. The proposed (...) theory fulfils the major desiderata stemming from Kripke's works on proper names. (shrink)
This paper examines the challenge that the argument known as "Bradley's regress" poses to the friends of states of affairs (facts), in its requesting an explanation of the existence of a fact as a unitary whole in addition to its constituents. All the main theoretical options, short of denying that there are facts, are considered. It is argued that only two of them are viable, namely a "Brute fact approach", according to which the existence of a fact cannot be explained (...) with the typical tools of ontologists, and "Fact infinitism", according to which, for any given fact, one should posit for explanatory purposes an infinite number of distinct states of affairs involving exemplification relations of higher and higher levels. Fact infinitism is defended against various objections and it is suggested that it should be preferred to the brute fact approach by those who are not too shy in vindicating for ontology a role, alongside with the empirical sciences, in the task of postulating entities in order to achieve explanations. (shrink)
This paper presents a type-free property-theoretic system in the spirit of a framework proposed by Menzel and then supplements it with a theory of truth and exemplification. The notions of a truth-relevantly complex (simple) sentence and of a truth-relevant subsentence are introduced and then used in order to motivate the proposed theory. Finally, it is shown how the theory avoids Russell's paradox and similar problems. Some potential applications to the foundations of mathematics and to natural language semantics are sketched in (...) the introduction. (shrink)
The standard account of the micro-structure of time is based on Cantor’s conception of continuity and thus views the time line as consisting of undenumerably many instants ordered by the B-theoretic earlier than relation. This may seem problematic for an A-theory of time such as presentism, according to which only what is present exists, for it seems to leave no room for the instants of a Cantorean time line. This paper defends a version of presentism that can accommodate the Cantorean (...) conception and more generally any approach to the micro-structure of time based on durationless instants. (shrink)
This paper outlines a version of instantaneous presentism, according to which the present is a point-like instant, and defends it from two prominent objections. The first one has to do with the difficulty of accounting, from the point of view of instantaneous presentism, for the existence of events that take time, dynamic events, which cannot be confined to a single instant. The second objection is of a Zenonian nature and arises once time is viewed as a continuum that can be (...) subdivided ad infinitum. In response to the first problem, it is argued that the presentist can appeal to past and future instants as long as it is not assumed that there are events that occur at them. Once they are granted, one can then appeal to "past-oriented" and "future-oriented" properties such as *was P at t* (or *will be P at t*), where t is a past or future instant, in order to view dynamic events as occurring at the present instant. In response to the second problem, one must accept the idea that, as a new instant becomes present, there is no preceding instant which is immediately past. There can only be infinitely many past instants with increasingly lower degrees of pastness. (shrink)
I shall explain the notions of propositions and states of affairs as they are understood in the current ontological debate and I shall briefly relate them to similar notions in Aristotle and some Medieval authors. In contrast with the point of view of some philosophers who identify propositions and states of affairs, I shall argue that they need to be sharply distinguished. I shall then move on to a problem for propositions and, above all, states of affairs, known as Bradley’s (...) regress, and hint at discussions of this or analogous puzzles in the philosophical tradition before Bradley. Finally, I shall present my own approach to this issue, Fact Infinitism, focusing on why it would have been hardly acceptable before ontology came to have the Cantorian conception of the infinite at its disposal. (shrink)
Downward causation is a widespread and problematic phenomenon. It is typically defined as the causation of lower-level effects by higher-level entities. Downward causation is widespread, as there are many examples of it across different sciences: a cell constraints what happens to its own constituents; a body regulates its own processes; two atoms, when they are appropriately related, make it the case that their own electrons are distributed in certain ways. However, downward causation is also problematic. Roughly, it seems to be (...) at odds with specific scientific and/or epistemological desiderata: first and foremost, that everything can be reduced (one day or another) to the fundamental, micro-physical constituents and goings-on of the universe, so as to provide a unified explanation of everything and a unification of all the sciences " from the bottom ". Indeed, downward causation (if it is an irreducible phenomenon) introduces special causings not only at the higher levels, but also at the lower ones: if, in principle, we cannot fully understand what happens to the electrons without paying attention to the atoms (at the higher level) and we cannot fully understand what happens to the atoms by only paying attention to the electrons (at the lower level), there is no fully lower-level explanation for both higher-level and lower-level goings-on. In this introduction, we shall try to describe the prospects for downward causation in metaphysics and the philosophy of science. After having delved into the connections between downward causation, emergence and levels (§1), we shall discuss the irreducibility of downward causation (§2). We shall then briefly consider how specific metaphysical and epistemological assumptions bear on our understanding of downward causation and of its possibility (§3) and describe some views according to which downward causation is actually non-causal (or it is a special causal relation) (§4). We shall also mention some problems for the connection between downward causation and mental causation (§5) and some scientific examples of downward causation (§6). Finally, we shall summarize the contents of the contributions in this book (§7). (shrink)
Kim has argued that in the layered model of reality shared by nonreductive physicalism and by emergentism, the assumed dependence of the mental level on the physical level leaves no room for downward causation. In his analysis Kim assumes that causal relata are events, conceived of as exemplifications of properties by particulars at a certain time. But if causal relata are conceived of in different ways and causation is appropriately understood, one can find room in the layered model for downward (...) causation with different degrees of strength. A mild form of downward causation somehow arises from the identification of causal relata with tropes. A stronger form comes from an appeal to generic events as causal relata. Finally, an even stronger form emerges from causal relata understood as free exercisings of powers to will. (shrink)
This original and enticing book provides a fresh, unifying perspective on many old and new logico-philosophical conundrums. Its basic thesis is that many concepts central in ordinary and philosophical discourse are inherently circular and thus cannot be fully understood as long as one remains within the confines of a standard theory of definitions. As an alternative, the authors develop a revision theory of definitions, which allows definitions to be circular without this giving rise to contradiction (but, at worst, to “vacuous” (...) uses of definienda). The theory is applied with varying levels of detail to a circular analysis of concepts as diverse as truth, predication, necessity, physical object, etc. The focus is on truth, and hope is expressed that a deeper understanding of the Liar and related paradoxes has been provided: “We have tried to show that once the circularity of truth is recognized, a great deal of its behavior begins to make sense. In particular, from this viewpoint, the existence of the paradoxes seems as natural as the existence of the eclipses” (p. 142). We think that this hope is fully justified, although some problems remain that future research in this field should take into account. (shrink)
The type-free property-theoretic system EC, based on the mediation view of predication, is presented. According to the mediation view, the copula or exemplification is a necessary component of every proposition. It is explained how the system EC relates to Bradley's Regress regarding predication. Finally, the system EC is applied to the Meinong-Russell debate on non-existent objects and it is shown how EC allows us to preserve some important intuitions of both Meinong and Russell.
The hierarchical analysis of existence attribution is Fregean in its endorsement of senses, understood as guises. Furthermore, the hierarchical analysis makes an essential use of the Russellian analysis (9′) as a means to understand what it is for a sense to present a given entity (cf. biconditional (11) above). The hierarchical analysis, on the other hand, is more general than the Russellian one and hence - in accordance with natural language usage - allows for a wider range of applications.
This collection focuses on the ontology of space and time. It is centred on the idea that the issues typically encountered in this area must be tackled from a multifarious perspective, paying attention to both a priori and a posteriori considerations. Several experts in this area contribute to this volume: G. Landini discusses how Russell’s conception of time features in his general philosophical perspective;D. Dieks proposes a middle course between substantivalist and relationist accounts of space-time;P. Graziani argues that it is (...) necessary to provide an account of the “synthetic procedures” implicit in the recourse to diagrams in Euclid’s Elements, while E. Mares comes to the conclusion that in Euclid’s Elements we should treat the parallel postulate as empirical and the postulate that space is continuous as a priori. M. Arsenijevi?/M. Adži? present an important formal result concerning two theories of the infinite two-dimensional continua, which sheds new light on the current dispute between gunkologists and pointilists; F. Orilia discusses two problems for presentism, one regarding the duration of the present and the other related to Zeno’s paradoxes. A. Iacona delves deep into logical matters by focusing on the so-called T×W modal frames in order to deal with the deteterminism-indeterminism controversy. D. Mancuso outlines a non-standard temporal model compatible with time travel, andV. Fano/G. Macchia discuss time travels in the light of an important foundational principle of modern cosmology, Weyl’s Principle. (shrink)
Table of Contents; Introduction by Francesco Orilia and Simone Gozzano; Modes and Mind by John Heil; Does Ontology Matter? by Anna-Sofia Maurin; Basic Ontology, Multiple Realizability and Mental Causation by Francesco Orilia; The “Supervenience Argument”:Kim’s Challenge to Nonreductive Physicalism by Ausonio Marras and Juhani Yli-Vakkuri; Tropes’ Simplicity and Mental Causation by Simone Gozzano; Zombies from Below by David Robb; Tropes and Perception by E. Jonathan Lowe; About the authors.