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Samuel Elgin [17]Samuel Z. Elgin [6]
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Samuel Elgin
University of California, San Diego
  1. The Semantic Foundations of Philosophical Analysis.Samuel Elgin - manuscript
    I provide an analysis of sentences of the form ‘To be F is to be G’ in terms of exact truth-maker semantics—an approach that identifies the meanings of sentences with the states of the world directly responsible for their truth-values. Roughly, I argue that these sentences hold just in case that which makes something F is that which makes it G. This approach is hyperintensional, and possesses desirable logical and modal features. These sentences are reflexive, transitive and symmetric, and, if (...)
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  2.  38
    The Semantic Foundations of Philosophical Analysis.Samuel Z. Elgin - 2023 - Review of Symbolic Logic 16 (2):603-623.
    I provide an analysis of sentences of the form ‘To be F is to be G’ in terms of exact truth-maker semantics—an approach that identifies the meanings of sentences with the states of the world directly responsible for their truth-values. Roughly, I argue that these sentences hold just in case that which makes something F also makes it G. This approach is hyperintensional and possesses desirable logical and modal features. In particular, these sentences are reflexive, transitive, and symmetric, and if (...)
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  3. Physicalism and the Identity of Identity Theories.Samuel Z. Elgin - 2020 - Erkenntnis 87 (1):161-180.
    It is often said that there are two varieties of identity theory. Type-identity theorists interpret physicalism as the claim that every property is identical to a physical property, while token-identity theorists interpret it as the claim that every particular is identical to a physical particular. The aim of this paper is to undermine the distinction between the two. Drawing on recent work connecting generalized identity to truth-maker semantics, I demonstrate that these interpretations are logically equivalent. I then argue that each (...)
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  4. Higher-Order Counterfactual Logic.Samuel Elgin - manuscript
    This paper axiomatizes higher-order counterfactual logic, proves the equivalence of various of its fragments to existing higher-order modal systems, and establishes some of its metaphysically significant implications. Most controversially, it entails that logically equivalent expressions can be substituted in the antecedents of counterfactuals, that all counterpossibles are vacuously true, that the Barcan and Converse Barcan both hold, and that everything necessarily exists.
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  5.  16
    Knowledge is closed under analytic content.Samuel Z. Elgin - 2021 - Synthese 199 (1-2):5339-5353.
    I am concerned with epistemic closure—the phenomenon in which some knowledge requires other knowledge. In particular, I defend a version of the closure principle in terms of analyticity; if an agent S knows that p is true and that q is an analytic part of p, then S knows that q. After targeting the relevant notion of analyticity, I argue that this principle accommodates intuitive cases and possesses the theoretical resources to avoid the preface paradox.
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  6.  46
    Definition.Samuel Elgin - 2022 - Philosophical Studies 179 (9):3019-3036.
    This paper presents a puzzle about the logic of real definition. I demonstrate that five principles concerning definition—that it is coextensional and irreflexive, that it applies to its cases, that it permits expansion, and that it is itself defined—are logically incompatible. I then explore the advantages and disadvantages of each principle—one of which must be rejected to restore consistency.
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  7. Knowledge is Closed Under Analytic Content.Samuel Elgin - manuscript
    I am concerned with epistemic closure—the phenomenon in which some knowledge requires other knowledge. In particular, I defend a version of the closure principle in terms of analyticity; if an agent S knows that p is true, then S knows that all analytic parts of p are true as well. After targeting the relevant notion of analyticity, I argue that this principle accommodates intuitive cases and possesses the theoretical resources to avoid the preface paradox. I close by arguing that contextualists (...)
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  8.  8
    Physicalism and the Identity of Identity Theories.Samuel Z. Elgin - 2020 - Erkenntnis 87 (1):161-180.
    It is often said that there are two varieties of identity theory. Type-identity theorists interpret physicalism as the claim that every property is identical to a physical property, while token-identity theorists interpret it as the claim that every particular is identical to a physical particular. The aim of this paper is to undermine the distinction between the two. Drawing on recent work connecting generalized identity to truth-maker semantics, I demonstrate that these interpretations are logically equivalent. I then argue that each (...)
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  9. Counterfactual Logic and the Necessity of Mathematics.Samuel Elgin - manuscript
    This paper is concerned with counterfactual logic and its implications for the modal status of mathematical claims. It is most directly a response to an ambitious program by Yli-Vakkuri and Hawthorne (2018), who seek to establish that mathematics is committed to its own necessity. I claim that their argument fails to establish this result for two reasons. First, their assumptions force our hand on a controversial debate within counterfactual logic. In particular, they license counterfactual strengthening— the inference from ‘If A (...)
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  10. The Levels of the Empirical Sciences.Samuel Elgin - manuscript
    It is the aim of this paper to develop and defend an interpretation of level of scientific discipline within the truth-maker framework. In particular, I exploit the mereological relation of proper parthood, which is integral to truth-maker semantics, in order to provide an account of scientific level.
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  11.  46
    The Unreliability of Foreseeable Consequences: A Return to the Epistemic Objection.Samuel Elgin - 2015 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 18 (4):759-766.
    Consequentialists maintain that an act is morally right just in case it produces the best consequences of any available alternative. Because agents are ignorant about some of their acts’ consequences, they cannot be certain about which alternative is best. Kagan contends that it is reasonable to assume that unforeseen good and bad consequences roughly balance out and can be largely disregarded. A statistical argument demonstrates that Kagan’s assumption is almost always false. An act’s foreseeable consequences are an extremely poor indicator (...)
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  12.  63
    Resolution by Proxy.Samuel Elgin - manuscript
    I show that the theory of definition in Definition by Proxy can consistently embrace the principles I show to be inconsistent in Definition.
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  13.  48
    Counterfactual Logic and the Necessity of Mathematics.Samuel Z. Elgin - 2020 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 50 (1):97-115.
    This paper is concerned with counterfactual logic and its implications for the modal status of mathematical claims. It is most directly a response to an ambitious program by Yli-Vakkuri and Hawthorne, who seek to establish that mathematics is committed to its own necessity. I demonstrate that their assumptions collapse the counterfactual conditional into the material conditional. This collapse entails the success of counterfactual strengthening, which is controversial within counterfactual logic, and which has counterexamples within pure and applied mathematics. I close (...)
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  14.  39
    Merely partial definition and the analysis of knowledge.Samuel Z. Elgin - 2018 - Synthese 198 (Suppl 7):1481-1505.
    Two families of positions dominate debates over a metaphysically reductive analysis of knowledge. Traditionalism holds that knowledge has a complete, uniquely identifying analysis, while knowledge-first epistemology contends that knowledge is primitive—admitting of no reductive analysis whatsoever. Drawing on recent work in metaphysics, I argue that these alternatives fail to exhaust the available possibilities. Knowledge may have a merely partial analysis: a real definition that distinguishes it from some, but not all other things. I demonstrate that this position is attractive; it (...)
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  15. Problems for Propositions.Samuel Elgin - manuscript
    This paper consists of an investigation of three debates concerning propositional identity: the tension between structured propositions and higher-order logic, the principle Only Logical Circles, and Kaplan’s Paradox. The literature at large has mistaken the consequences of each of these debates. Structuralists are not committed to the claim that identical properties have different extensions; rather, they are committed to existence monism. Only Logical Circles does not preclude the identification of green in terms of grue; some further (and, as of yet, (...)
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  16. The Epistemology of Identity.Samuel Elgin - manuscript
    The subject of this paper is the epistemology of identity: a general theory of knowledge, evidence and justification for the claim that one thing is identical to another. Although identity figures significantly in our epistemic lives, this is a topic that, to the best of my knowledge, has gone entirely unexplored. Initial attempts to integrate such an epistemology into existing theories of evidence---many of which are tailor-made for contingent propositions---are confounded by the necessity of identity. I defend a restricted form (...)
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  17. Definition by Proxy.Samuel Elgin - manuscript
    I take some initial steps toward a theory of real definition, drawing upon recent developments in higher-order logic. The resulting account allows for extremely fine- grained distinctions (i.e., it can distinguish between any relata that differ in their syntactic structure, while avoiding the Russell-Myhill problem). It is the first account that can consistently embrace three desirable logical principles that initially appear to be incompatible: the Identification Hypothesis (if F is, by definition, G then F is the same as G), Irreflexivity (...)
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  18. Essence, Modality and Identity.Samuel Elgin - manuscript
    Many metaphysicians maintain that there is a close connection between essence and modality; if an object a necessarily bears property F , then it is metaphysically necessary that Fa (or, perhaps, it is metaphysically necessary that Fa if a exists). Recently, Leech (Forthcoming) has argued that this connection lacks an adequate explanation. In particular, she argues that identity doesn't explain the link between essence and modality. In contrast, I argue that identity provides the resources to undermine Leech’s explanatory demand.
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  19. Definition.Samuel Elgin - manuscript
    This paper presents a puzzle about the logic of real definition. In particular, I demonstrate that five principles concerning definition (that it is coextensional and irreflexive, that it applies to its cases, that it permits expansion and that it is itself defined) are incompatible. I then explore the advantages and disadvantages of each principle—one of which must be rejected to restore consistency.
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  20. There Are no Metaphysical Primitives.Samuel Elgin - manuscript
    Many metaphysicians posit primitives. These vary with respect to the theoretical work that they perform, but are all undefinable in more basic terms. I argue against the existence of metaphysical primitives on the grounds that, if they existed, they would be essentially primitive. However, if primitives were essentially primitive, then they would have an essence. Because they are primitive, they lack an essence, which undermines the original supposition that they are primitive. I close by mentioning some implications this has both (...)
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  21.  82
    Compliance and Conjunction.Samuel Elgin - manuscript
    I provide counterexamples to Kit Fine's semantics for imperative and deontic modals. In particular, I argue that the semantics fails to provide necessary conditions for conjunctive imperatives.
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  22. The Triviality of the Identity of Indiscernibles.Samuel Elgin - manuscript
    The Identity of Indiscernibles is the principle that objects cannot differ only numerically. It is widely held that one interpretation of this principle is trivially true: the claim that objects that bear all of the same properties are identical. This triviality ostensibly arises from haecceities (properties like \textit{is identical to a}). I argue that this is not the case; we do not trivialize the Identity of Indiscernibles with haecceities, because it is impossible to express the haecceities of indiscernible objects. I (...)
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  23.  2
    Shottenkirk, Dena. Nominalism And Its Aftermath : The Philosophy Of Nelson Goodman. [REVIEW]Samuel Elgin - 2012 - Enrahonar: Quaderns de Filosofía 49:155-159.
    SHOTTENKIRK, Dena (2009).Nominalism and Its Aftermath : the Philosophy of Nelson Goodman Dordrecht: Springer, IX, 170 p.
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