Against its prominent compatiblist and libertarian opponents, I defend Galen Strawson’s Basic Argument for the impossibility of moral responsibility. Against John Martin Fischer, I argue that the Basic Argument does not rely on the premise that an agent can be responsible for an action only if he is responsible for every factor contributing to that action. Against Alfred Mele and Randolph Clarke, I argue that it is absurd to believe that an agent can be responsible for an action when no (...) factor contributing to that action is up to that agent. Against Derk Pereboom and Clarke, I argue that the versions of agent-causal libertarianism they claim can immunize the agent to the Basic Argument actually fail to do so. Against Robert Kane, I argue that the Basic Argument does not rely on the premise that simply the presence of indeterministic factors in the process of bringing an action about is itself what rules out the agent’s chance for being responsible for that action. (shrink)
In this paper I attempt to show, against certain versions of trope theory, that properties with analyzable particularity cannot be merely exactly similar: such properties are either particularized properties (tropes) that are dissimilar to every any other trope, or else universalized properties (universals). I argue that each of the most viable standard and nonstandard particularizers that can be employed to secure the numerical difference between exactly similar properties can only succeed in grounding the particularity of properties, that is, in having (...) properties be tropes, at the expense of ruling out the possibility of their exact similarity. Here are the four nonstandard particularizers that I examine: the genealogy of a property, the history of a property, the causal effects of a property, and the duration of a property. And here are the two standard particularizers that I examine: the bearer of a property, by which I mean either a bare particular or a spatiotemporal location, and the property itself, by which I mean that the property is self-particularized. In my concluding remarks, I explain that the only remaining hope for preserving the possibility of exactly similar tropes is regarding properties as primitively particular, and that this must mean not that properties are self-particularized but that they are particularized due to nothing. I close by arguing that this may not help trope theory after all. (shrink)
Integrating cosmological and ontological lines of reasoning, I argue that there is a self-necessary being that (a) serves as the sufficient condition for everything, that (b) has the most perfect collection of whatever attributes of perfection there might be, and that (c) is an independent, eternal, unique, simple, indivisible, immutable, all-actual, all-free, all-present, all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good, personal creator of every expression of itself that everything is. My cosmo-ontological case for such a being, an everything-maker with the core features ascribed to (...) the God of classical theism, addresses the standard worries plaguing these lines of reasoning: (1) the richness required of such a being dissolves it into many beings; (2) the metaphysical possibility of such a being is assumed on insufficient grounds; (3) the features we ascribe to such a being are mere human-all-too-human projections. (shrink)
This paper engages the controversy as to whether there is a link between Berkeley’s refutation of abstraction and his refutation of materialism. I argue that there is a strong link. In the opening paragraph I show that materialism being true requires and is required by the possibility of abstraction, and that the obviousness of this fact suggests that the real controversy is whether there is a link between Berkeley’s refutation of materialism and his refutation of the possibility of framing abstract (...) incomplete ideas and abstract general ideas. Although Berkeley can still defeat materialism without relying on his arguments that directly refute the possibility of framing abstract incomplete ideas and abstract general ideas, I contend that there is still a strong link between his refutation of materialism and his refutation of the possibility of framing these ideas. First, I show that the truth of the canonic version of materialism, according to which primary qualities are mindindependent and inhere in material substances, requires the possibility of the mind framing both of these ideas. Second, I show that there is a sense in which the truth of materialism is required by the possibility of either of these ideas. (shrink)
My general aim is to clarify the foundational difference between Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Dawkins concerning what biological entities are the units of selection in the process of evolution by natural selection. First, I recapitulate Gould’s central objection to Dawkins’s view that genes are the exclusive units of selection. According to Gould, it is absurd for Dawkins to think that genes are the exclusive units of selection when, after all, genes are not the exclusive interactors: those agents directly engaged (...) with, directly impacted by, environmental pressures. Second, I argue that Gould’s objection still goes through even when we take into consideration Sterelny and Kitcher’s defense of gene selectionism in their admirable paper “The Return of the Gene.” Third, I propose a strategy for defending Dawkins that I believe obviates Gould’s objection. Drawing upon Elisabeth Lloyd’s careful taxonomy of the various understandings of the unit of selection at play in the philosophy of biology literature, my proposal involves realizing that Dawkins endorses a different understanding of the unit of selection than Gould holds him to, an understanding that does not require genes to be the exclusive interactors. (shrink)
This paper is intended primarily as a reference tool for participants in the debate between realism and nominalism concerning universals. It provides an exhaustive catalogue of the basic analyses of an entity being charactered that nominalists can employ in both a constituent and nonconstituent ontology.
EXCERPT.--With exception to early essays by George von Glahn and Mark Sanders, serious critical scholarship on the writings of Ted Kooser began after the 1980 release of the now-classic Sure Signs, Kooser’s fifth major collection of poems. Looking back over the thirty-plus years since then, only about a dozen or so significant studies—none of which book-length—currently boulder out against the relative flatscape of secondary materials constituted mostly by quick and dirty reviews. Aside from the essays by Wes Mantooth, Allan Benn, (...) and Mary K. Stillwell in this special issue of Midwestern Miscellany, the following works particularly stand out and, in my view, must be consulted by the Kooser scholar: David Baker’s “Ted’s Box”; William Barillas’s Chapter 7 of The Midwestern Pastoral; Victor Contoski’s “Words and Raincoats”; Dana Gioia’s “The Anonymity of the Regional Poet”; Jeff Gundy’s “Among the Erratics”; Jonathan Holden’s “The Chekov of American Poetry”; Denise Low’s “Sight in Motion”; David Mason’s “Introducing Ted Kooser”; and both Mary K. Stillwell’s “The ‘In Between’” and her “When a Walk is a Poem.”. (shrink)
My aim is to figure out whether Aristotle’s response to the argument for fatalism in De Interpretatione 9 is successful. By “response” here I mean not simply the reasons he offers to highlight why fatalism does not accord with how we conduct our lives, but also the solution he devises to block the argument he provides for it. Achieving my aim hence demands that I figure out what exactly is the argument for fatalism he voices, what exactly is his solution, (...) whether his solution is coherent, and whether it does indeed succeed. I find that the argument is essentially bivalence plus that the truth of a proposition stating that an event will happen in the future entails that this event will necessarily happen, that Aristotle’s solution is to restrict bivalence when it comes to propositions about contingent future events, that this solution is coherent, and that while it does not rule out the possibility of fatalism, it does succeed in blocking the argument for fatalism offered within chapter 9. (shrink)