CRISPR germline editing therapies hold unprecedented potential to eradicate hereditary disorders. However, the prospect of altering the human germline has sparked a debate over the safety, efficacy, and morality of CGETs, triggering a funding moratorium by the NIH. There is an urgent need for practical paths for the evaluation of these capabilities. We propose a model regulatory framework for CGET research, clinical development, and distribution. Our model takes advantage of existing legal and regulatory institutions but adds elevated scrutiny at each (...) stage of CGET development to accommodate the unique technical and ethical challenges posed by germline editing. (shrink)
It has been suggested that many philosophical theses—physicalism, normative naturalism, phenomenalism, and so on—should be understood in terms of ground. Against this, Ted Sider (2011) has argued that ground is ill-suited for this purpose. Here I develop Sider’s objection and offer a response. In doing so I develop a view about the role of ground in philosophy, and about the content of these distinctively philosophical theses.
This paper argues that ground is irreducibly plural: a group of facts can be grounded together, as a collective, even though no member of the group has a ground on its own. This kind of plural grounding is applied to the metaphysics of individuals and quantities, yielding a “structuralist” view in each case. Some more general implications of plural grounding are also discussed.
In recent metaphysics, the questions of whether fictional entities exist, what their nature is, and how to explain truths of statements such as “Sherlock Holmes lives at 221B Baker Street” and “Holmes was created by Arthur Conan Doyle” have been subject to much debate. The main aim of my thesis is to wrestle with key proponents of the abstractionist view that fictional entities are abstract objects that exist (van Inwagen 1977, 2018, Thomasson 1999 and Salmon 1998) as well as Walton’s (...) (1990) pretense view, which denies the existence of such entities. In the process, I propose modifications to these views to deal with problems they face and show how the modifications better account for the philosophical data. -/- Key abstractionists (van Inwagen 1977, Thomasson 1999) make a strict distinction between discourse within fiction, in which statements about literary characters cannot be literally true, and discourse about fiction, as it occurs in literary criticism, where statements about fictional characters can be literally true. Fictional objects are postulated to account for the truth of the latter. This runs into trouble because statements thought to be literally true are not literal. (Yagisawa 2001, Friend 2002) I provide a uniform analysis to account for the truth of statements involving fictional characters by appealing to a presupposition involving a metaphor in both contexts. The presupposition is that there is an x such that x is fictional; x is likened to a real person; and x is and ought to be treated/counted as a real person for all relevant intents and purposes. -/- More generally, I adopt Everett and Schroeder’s (2015) realist view that fictional characters are ideas constituted by mental representations. This, to me, better accounts for how fictional characters are created within the world’s causal nexus (unlike non-spatiotemporal entities in abstractionism), among other things. One key challenge they face is to explain how ideas can possess properties such as being a detective. I present a fine-grained version of their view, according to which the mental representations constituting fictional entities encode mind-dependent properties. Moreover, I explain how reference to such representations is possible, using Bencivenga’s (1983) Neo-Kantian view of reference and Karttunen’s (1976) view on discourse referents. Finally, I suggest that the identity of fictional characters is interest-relative. The constant, and sometimes radical, change of properties that, fictional characters can undergo is taken to be a consequence of the fact that unified mental representations are bundles of simpler mental representations. As change occurs, simpler representations are replaced by others. -/- A key theme that runs through the thesis is that neither fictionality nor pretense is relevant to the semantics of fictional sentences—a claim bolstered by Matravers’ (2014) arguments. Whether or not my account works, this claim, as well as the new philosophical data I bring up, are some of the challenges I pose to the heart of established views. (shrink)
The Principle of Sufficient Reason states that everything has an explanation. But different notions of explanation yield different versions of this principle. Here a version is formulated in terms of the notion of a “grounding” explanation. Its consequences are then explored, with particular emphasis on the fact that it implies necessitarianism, the view that every truth is necessarily true. Finally, the principle is defended from a number of objections, including objections to necessitarianism. The result is a defense of a “rationalist” (...) metaphysics, one that constitutes an alternative to the contemporary dogmas that some aspects of the world are “metaphysically brute” and that the world could in so many ways have been different. (shrink)
We naturally think of the material world as being populated by a large number of individuals . These are things, such as my laptop and the particles that compose it, that we describe as being propertied and related in various ways when we describe the material world around us. In this paper I argue that, fundamentally speaking at least, there are no such things as material individuals. I then propose and defend an individual-less view of the material world I call (...) “generalism”. (shrink)
Much recent metaphysics is built around notions such as naturalness, fundamentality, grounding, dependence, essence, and others besides. In this article I raise a problem for this kind of metaphysics, the “problem of missing value.” I survey a number of possible solutions to the problem and find them all wanting. This suggests a return to a kind of Goodmanian view that the world is a structureless mess onto which we project our own categorizations, not something with categories already built in.
Symmetries in physics are a guide to reality. That much is well known. But what is less well known is why symmetry is a guide to reality. What justifies inferences that draw conclusions about reality from premises about symmetries? I argue that answering this question reveals that symmetry is an epistemic notion twice over. First, these inferences must proceed via epistemic lemmas: premises about symmetries in the first instance justify epistemic lemmas about our powers of detection, and only from those (...) epistemic lemmas can we draw conclusions about reality. Second, in order to justify those epistemic lemmas, the notion of symmetry must be defined partly in epistemic terms. 1 Symmetry-to-Reality Reasoning1.1 A rough introduction to symmetry1.2 The symmetry-to-reality inference1.3 Two questions1.4 Two answers1.5 Preliminary clarifications2 Against Redundancy2.1 Redundancy2.2 Is absolute velocity redundant?2.3 Some redundancies3 Against Objectivity4 From Symmetry to Detection4.1 The epistemic approach4.2 The Occamist norm4.3 From symmetry to detection5 The Meaning of ‘Symmetry’5.1 A framework5.2 Formal definitions5.3 Ontic definitions6 Epistemic Definitions6.1 Taking observation seriously6.2 How things look6.3 Observation sentences6.4 Observational equivalence7 Symmetry as an Epistemic Notion 7.1 Observational equivalence and metaphysics7.2 The Occamist norm revisted7.3 Consequences8 Conclusion. (shrink)
Sometimes, ignorance is inexpressible. Lewis recognized this when he argued, in “Ramseyan Humility,” that we cannot know which property occupies which causal role. This peculiar state of ignorance arises in a number of other domains too, including ignorance about our position in space and the identities of individuals. In these cases, one does not know something, and yet one cannot give voice to one's ignorance in a certain way. But what does the ignorance in these cases consist in? This essay (...) argues that many standard models of ignorance cannot account for the phenomenon of inexpressible ignorance. It then develops an alternative model that does better, on which the ignorance consists in a failure to identify something by way of its nature or essence. (shrink)
Substantivalism is the view that space exists in addition to any material bodies situated within it. Relationalism is the opposing view that there is no such thing as space; there are just material bodies, spatially related to one another. This paper assesses this issue in the context of classical physics. It starts by describing the bucket argument for substantivalism. It then turns to anti-substantivalist arguments, including Leibniz's classic arguments and their contemporary reincarnation under the guise of ‘symmetry’. It argues that (...) these anti-substantivalist arguments are stronger than is often acknowledged. (shrink)
_Current Controversies in Philosophy of Science_ asks twelve philosophers to debate six questions that are driving contemporary work in this area of philosophy. But each question also leads readers back to more general issues and shows how these general issues play out in contemporary debates. The result is a book that’s perfect for the advanced student, building up her knowledge of the foundations of the field while also engaging with its cutting-edge questions. Preliminary descriptions of each chapter, annotated bibliographies for (...) each controversy, study questions, and a supplemental guide to further controversies in philosophy of science help provide clearer and richer snapshots of active controversies for all readers. (shrink)
This article argues that extended school closures during the Covid-19 pandemic were a moral catastrophe. It focuses on closures in the United States of America and discusses their effect on the pandemic, their harmful effects on children, and other morally relevant factors. It concludes by discussing how these closures came to pass and suggests that the root cause was structural, not individual: the relevant decision-makers were working in an institutional setting that stacked the deck heavily in favor of extended closures.
Shamik Dasgupta has argued that realists about natural properties (and laws, grounding, etc.) cannot account for their epistemic value. For "properties are cheap": in addition to natural properties and any value the realist might attach to them, there are also "shmatural" properties (standing to natural properties like charge and mass as Goodman's grue and bleen stand to green and blue) and a corresponding "shmvalue" of theorizing in terms of them. Dasgupta's challenge is one of objectivity: the existence of the (...) "shmamiked" network of concepts threatens the objectivity of facts stated using the unshmamiked network. But the challenge can be repelled given a proper understanding of objectivity itself. (shrink)
Shamik Dasgupta (2016) proposes to tame the Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR) to apply to only non-autonomous facts, which are facts that are apt for explanation. Call this strategy to tame the PSR the taming strategy. In a recent paper, Della Rocca (2020a) argues that proponents of the taming strategy, in attempting to formulate a restricted version of the PSR, nevertheless find themselves committed to endorsing a form of radical monism, which, in turn, leads right back to an untamed-PSR. (...) Suppose, for the sake of argument, that Della Rocca is right. My question is this: Is there reason to believe the principle of sufficient reason (in its untamed version)? In this paper, I argue that it is impossible for there to be a reason to believe the untamed-PSR. (shrink)
This paper provides an exposition of the structuralist approach to underdetermination, which aims to resolve the underdetermination of theories by identifying their common theoretical structure. Applications of the structuralist approach can be found in many areas of philosophy. I present a schema of the structuralist approach, which conceptually unifies such applications in different subject matters. It is argued that two classic arguments in the literature, Paul Benacerraf’s argument on natural numbers and W. V. O. Quine’s argument for the indeterminacy of (...) translation, can be analyzed as instances of the structuralist schema. These two applications illustrate different kinds of conclusions that can be drawn through the structuralist approach; Benacerraf’s argument shows that we can derive an ontological conclusion about the given subject matter, while Quine’s structuralist approach leads to a semantic conclusion about how to determine linguistic meanings given radical translation. Then, as a case study, I review a recent debate in metaphysics between Shamik Dasgupta, Jason Turner, and Catharine Diehl to consider the extent to which different instances of the structuralist schema are conceptually unified. Both sides of the debate can be interpreted as utilizing the structuralist approach; one side uses the structuralist approach for an ontological conclusion, while the other side relies on a semantic conclusion. I argue that this has a strong dialectical consequence, which sheds light on the conceptual unity of the structuralist approach. (shrink)
Lynne Baker’s case for the incompatibility of naturalism with the first-person perspective raises a range of questions about the relationship between naturalism and the various properties involved in first-person perspectives. After arguing that non-qualitative properties—most notably, haecceities like being Lynne Baker—are ineliminably tied to first-person perspectives, this paper considers whether naturalism and non-qualitative properties are, in fact, compatible. In doing so, the discussion focus on Shamik Dasupgta’s argument against individuals and, in turn, non-qualitative properties. Several strategies for undermining Dasgupta's (...) argument are considered, drawing on de re laws and haecceitistic possibilities. Finally, an analogy is drawn between naturalism and platonism regarding mathematical entities and naturalism's parallel commitment to individuals. I conclude that naturalists are obliged to posit non-qualitative properties. (shrink)
Oxford Studies in Metaphysics is dedicated to the timely publication of new work in metaphysics, broadly construed. These volumes provide a forum for the best new work in this flourishing field. They offer a broad view of the subject, featuring not only the traditionally central topics such as existence, identity, modality, time, and causation, but also the rich clusters of metaphysical questions in neighbouring fields, such as philosophy of mind and philosophy of science. This book is the eighth volume in (...) the series. It contains essays by Cian Dorr and John Hawthorne, Maya Eddon, Shamik Dasgupta, Bill Dunaway, Cody Gilmore, Ted Sider, Aaron Cotnoir, Katherine Hawley, Frabrice Correia and Sven Rosencrantz, David Braddon-Mitchell, and Ross Cameron. (shrink)
From the cutting edge of science and living spirituality: a guide to understanding our identity and purpose in the world • Outlines the new understanding of matter and mind coming to light at the cutting edge of physics and consciousness research • Explains how we can evolve consciously, become connected with each other, and flourish on this planet • Includes contributions from Maria Sagi, Kingsley L. Dennis, Emanuel Kuntzelman, Dawna Jones, Shamik Desai, Garry Jacobs, and John R. Audette For (...) the outdated mainstream paradigm the world is a giant mechanism functioning in accordance with known and knowable laws and regularities. The new paradigm emerging in science offers a different concept: The world is an interconnected, coherent whole, and it is informed by a cosmic intelligence. This is not a finite, mechanistic-material world. It is a consciousness-infused whole-system world. We are conscious beings who emerge and co-evolve as complex, cosmic-intelligence in-formed vibrations in the Akashic Field of the universe. Ervin Laszlo and his collaborators from the forefront of science, cosmology, and spirituality show how the re-discovery of who we are and why we are here integrates seamlessly with the wisdom traditions as well as with the new emerging worldview in the sciences, revealing a way forward for humanity on this planet. They explain how we have reached a point of critical incoherence and tell us that to save ourselves, our environment, and society, we need a critical mass of people to consciously evolve a new thinking. Offering a guidepost to orient this evolution, Laszlo examines the nature of consciousness in the universe, showing how our bodies and minds act as transmitters of consciousness from the intelligence of the cosmos and how understanding science’s new concept of the world enables us to re-discover our identity and our purpose in our world. With bold vision and forward thinking, Laszlo and his contributors Maria Sagi, Kingsley L. Dennis, Emanuel Kuntzelman, Dawna Jones, Shamik Desai, Garry Jacobs, and John R. Audette outline the new idea of the world and of ourselves in the world. They help us discover how we can overcome these divisive times and blossom into a new era of peace, coherence, connection, and global wellbeing. (shrink)
This paper critically examines a prominent and perennial strategy—found in thinkers as diverse as Kant and Shamik Dasgupta—of simultaneously embracing the Principle of Sufficient Reason and also limiting it so as to avoid certain apparently negative consequences of an unrestricted PSR. I will argue that this strategy of taming the PSR faces significant challenges and may even be incoherent. And for my purposes, I will enlist a generally derided argument by Leibniz for the PSR which will help us to (...) see the connections between the PSR and a radical form of monism. (shrink)
In Writing the Book of the World, Ted Sider argues that David Lewis’s distinction between those predicates which are ‘perfectly natural’ and those which are not can be extended so that it applies to words of all semantic types. Just as there are perfectly natural predicates, there may be perfectly natural connectives, operators, singular terms and so on. According to Sider, one of our goals as metaphysicians should be to identify the perfectly natural words. Sider claims that there is a (...) perfectly natural first-order quantifier. I argue that this claim is not justified. Quine has shown that we can dispense with first-order quantifiers, by using a family of ‘predicate functors’ instead. I argue that we have no reason to think that it is the first-order quantifiers, rather than Quine’s predicate functors, which are perfectly natural. The discussion of quantification is used to provide some motivation for a general scepticism about Sider’s project. Shamik Dasgupta’s ‘generalism’ and Jason Turner’s critique of ‘ontological nihilism’ are also discussed. (shrink)