Contemporary Readings in the Foundations of Metaphysics
Laurence (Stephen) & Macdonald (Cynthia), Eds.
This Page provides (where held) the Abstract of the above Book and those of all the Papers contained in it.
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BOOK ABSTRACT:

Back Cover Blurb

  1. The basic tools and concepts of metaphysics are employed in virtually every branch of philosophy, necessitating a basic understanding of metaphysics to completely understand any philosophical work.
  2. This volume is a comprehensive survey of contemporary thought on a wide range of issues and provides students with the basic background to current debates in metaphysics and ontology.
  3. An introductory essay by the editors offers an overview of the volume and introduces students to the major debates that are contained within the main body of the text.
  4. The collection contains classic contemporary papers on topics such as
    • Ontological Commitment and Methodology,
    • Possible Worlds and Possibilia,
    • Properties and Universals1,
    • Substances,
    • Events,
    • Tropes and
    • Mathematical Objects.
  5. It also includes seven newly–commissioned state–of–the–art articles by Van Inwagen, Lycan, Bealer, Loux, Lombard, Macdonald and Field.
  6. The volume is ideal for undergraduate and graduate courses in metaphysics and contemporary philosophy.
  7. Stephen Laurence is a Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Sheffield, England and is co–editor of "Margolis (Eric) & Laurence (Stephen), Eds. - Concepts - Core Readings" (1998).
  8. Cynthia Macdonald is Professor at the University of Canterbury at Christchurch, New Zealand. She is co–author of

BOOK COMMENT:

Blackwell Publishers, 1999 reprint



"Allaire (Edwin B.) - Another Look at Bare Particulars"

Source: Laurence & Macdonald - Contemporary Readings in the Foundations of Metaphysics


Philosophers Index Abstract
  1. The article goes into Vere Chappell's position that the "correct" solution to the "spurious" individuation1 problem does not require bare particulars2.
  2. The author notes that Chappell tries to solve the individuation3 problem by making relations individuate.
  3. In objecting to this view he calls on an argument of Bertrand Russell for support which holds that relation "presuppose" numerical difference, not account for it.
  4. He further argues that the belief that relations individuate derives from confusing numerical difference with qualitative difference.
    → (Staff)



"Allaire (Edwin B.) - Bare Particulars"

Source: Laurence & Macdonald - Contemporary Readings in the Foundations of Metaphysics


Philosophers Index Abstract
    The article goes into the problem of reconciling the principle of acquaintance with a theory of "bare particulars." The author goes into an analysis of what sort of entities individuals are, arguing that they are not rudimentary aristotelian substances, but are the carriers of numerical difference. He holds that this view of individuals allows the singling out of bare particulars without using 'exist' philosophically, and thus avoids the dialectics of the nominalism-realism issue. He concludes that with this view one need not abandon the principle of acquaintance in order to maintain that we are presented with bare particulars. (Staff)


COMMENT: Also in "Loux (Michael), Ed. - Metaphysics - Contemporary Readings".



"Alston (William) - Ontological Commitments"

Source: Laurence & Macdonald - Contemporary Readings in the Foundations of Metaphysics


Philosophers Index Abstract
    This article considers the task of translating linguistic expressions, such as sentences of the form 'there are p's', to sentences of some other form. The author is especially concerned with the view that such translations enable us to avoid "ontological commitments." He takes an example from morton white which allegedly provides a case of a translation which avoids ontological commitments and argues that if the translation is adequate then it is used to make the same assertion as the original and so makes the same commitments. He concludes that those who take avoidance of ontological commitment as the point of linguistic translations are obstructing our view of the real point of such translations. (Staff)



"Bealer (George) - Universals and Properties"

Source: Laurence & Macdonald - Contemporary Readings in the Foundations of Metaphysics


Philosophers Index Abstract
    This paper summarizes and extends the transmodal1 argument for the existence of universals2 (developed in full detail in "Universals3"). This argument establishes not only the existence of universals4, but also that they exist necessarily, thereby confirming the ante rem view against the post rem and in re views (and also anti-existentialism against existentialism). Once summarized, the argument is extended to refute the trope theory of properties and is also shown to succeed even if possibilism is assumed. A nonreductionist theory of universals5 and properties is then outlined, and it is sketched how to reap the benefits of possibilism and Meinongianism in an actualist setting.



"Benacerraf (Paul) - What Numbers Could Not Be"

Source: Laurence & Macdonald - Contemporary Readings in the Foundations of Metaphysics


Philosophers Index Abstract
  1. In reviewing the essentials of a logicist analysis of number it is noted that no analysis identifying numbers with particular sets is "correct" to the exclusion of other analyses, which identify the numbers with different sets. But if the sense of, e.g., "Three" determines its reference, and at least two analyses of "three" are equally "correct" but assign it two different sets as its referent, then the condition in the analyses that states that three is a set is a superfluous one, and numbers couldn't be sets at all.
  2. In a final section it is suggested that by substituting the word "object" for the word "set" a similar argument arises which can then be used to refute the identification of numbers with any given system of objects: to characterize the numbers is to characterize not a system of objects but an abstract structure which many systems of objects might exhibit.


COMMENT: Also in:-



"Bigelow (John) & Pargetter (Robert) - A Theory of Structural Universals"

Source: Laurence & Macdonald - Contemporary Readings in the Foundations of Metaphysics



"Campbell (Keith) - The Metaphysic of Abstract Particulars"

Source: Mellor & Oliver - Properties - Oxford Readings


Philosophers Index Abstract
  1. This paper argues that instances or cases of properties (abstract particulars) can be individuals in their own right, and that to take them as the basic category of entities leads to attractive analyses of causation1, perception, and evaluation.
  2. A first philosophy based on abstract particulars can give an elegant account of concrete individuals, and can make some progress with the classic problem of universals2.
  3. The role of space in this metaphysic is discussed, a philosophy of change sketched out, and the system recommended on the ground of its affinity with contemporary cosmology.


COMMENT:



"Cartwright (Richard) - Identity and Substitutivity"

Source: Laurence & Macdonald - Contemporary Readings in the Foundations of Metaphysics



"Chappell (Vere) - Particulars Re-clothed"

Source: Laurence & Macdonald - Contemporary Readings in the Foundations of Metaphysics


Philosophers Index Abstract
    The article goes into Allaire's paper "bare particulars" in which Allaire seeks to reconcile what he calls the "individual-character analysis" of things like colored discs with the Russellian "principle of acquaintance." The author argues that the individual-character analysis is founded on certain views about reference that are either wrong or merely true by definition. Concerning the principle of acquaintance he charges that Allaire makes the false assertion that there is a sense of "know" in which "to know" means "to be acquainted with." He concludes, among other things, that since both views are incorrect the task of reconciling them is no real problem. (Staff)



"Davidson (Donald) - The Individuation of Events"

Source: Davidson - Essays on Actions and Events, Chapter 8

COMMENT:



"Field (Hartry) - Mathematical Objectivity and Mathematical Objects"

Source: Laurence & Macdonald - Contemporary Readings in the Foundations of Metaphysics


Philosophers Index Abstract
    The most objectionable feature of traditional Platonism isn't its assumption of mathematical objects but its assumption that mathematics has a certain kind of objectivity. The objectionable kind of objectivity is the view that any sentence of mathematics has a determinate truth value even if it is undecidable by axioms we accept or are disposed to accept. "Nominalism" or "fictionalism" is simply one form that a properly antiobjectivist philosophy of mathematics can take. The paper also argues that while structuralism contains important insights, the version due to Resnik and Shapiro faces a serious problem in dealing with structures that have symmetries.



"Forrest (Peter) - Ways Worlds Could Be"

Source: Laurence & Macdonald - Contemporary Readings in the Foundations of Metaphysics


Philosophers Index Abstract
    This paper proposes that suitable uninstantiated properties can be used as replacement for merely possible worlds, in a theory of modality1. It discusses the operations on properties required if we are to have enough structural properties to provide a satisfactory theory. And it argues that the theory so obtained conserves more of our modal2 intuitions than its rivals, in particular than david lewis's realism about possible worlds.



"Haack (Susan) - Descriptive and Revisionary Metaphysics"

Source: Laurence & Macdonald - Contemporary Readings in the Foundations of Metaphysics



"Haack (Susan) - Quantifiers"

Source: Laurence & Macdonald - Contemporary Readings in the Foundations of Metaphysics

COMMENT: From "Haack (Susan) - Philosophy of Logics"



"Kim (Jaegwon) - Events as Property Exemplifications"

Source: Kim - Supervenience and Mind

COMMENT: Also in



"Laurence (Stephen) & Macdonald (Cynthia) - Metaphysics and Ontology"

Source: Laurence & Macdonald - Contemporary Readings in the Foundations of Metaphysics



"Lewis (David) - Against Structural Universals"

Source: Lewis - Papers in Metaphysics and Epistemology

COMMENT: Also in "Laurence (Stephen) & Macdonald (Cynthia), Eds. - Contemporary Readings in the Foundations of Metaphysics"



"Lewis (David) - New Work for a Theory of Universals"

Source: Lewis - Papers in Metaphysics and Epistemology


Author’s Introduction
  1. D. M. Armstrong offers a theory of universals1 as the only adequate answer to a 'compulsory question' for systematic philosophy: the problem of One over Many2. I find this line of argument unpersuasive. But I think there is more to be said for Armstrong's theory than he himself has said. For as I bear it in mind considering various topics in philosophy, I notice time and again that it offers solutions to my problems. Whatever we may think of the problem of One over Many, universals3 can earn their living doing other much-needed work.
  2. I do not say that they are indispensable. The services they render could be matched using resources that are Nominalistic in letter, if perhaps not in spirit4. But neither do I hold any presumption against universals5, to the effect that they are to be accepted only if we have no alternative. I therefore suspend judgement about universals6 themselves. I only insist that, one way or another, their work must be done.
  3. I shall investigate the benefits of adding universals7 to my own usual ontology. That ontology, though Nominalistic, is in other respects generous. It consists of possibilia — particular, individual things, some of which comprise our actual world and others of which are unactualised8 — together with the iterative hierarchy of classes built up from them. Thus I already have at my disposal a theory of properties as classes of possibilia. Properties, so understood, are not much like universals9. Nor can they, unaided, take over the work of universals10. Nevertheless they will figure importantly in what follows, since for me they are part of the environment in which universals11 might operate.
  4. The friend of universals12 may wonder whether they would be better employed not as an addition to my ontology of possibilia and classes, but rather as a replacement for parts of it. A fair question, and an urgent one; nevertheless, not a question considered in this paper.
  5. In the next section, I shall sketch Armstrong's theory of universals13, contrasting universals14 with properties understood as classes of possibilia.
  6. Then I shall say why I am unconvinced by the One over Many argument.
  7. Then I shall turn to my principal topic: how universals15 could help me in connection with such topics as
    • duplication, supervenience16, and divergent worlds;
    • a minimal form of materialism;
    • laws and causation17; and
    • the content of language and thought.
    Perhaps the list could be extended.


COMMENT:




In-Page Footnotes ("Lewis (David) - New Work for a Theory of Universals")

Footnote 2: Footnote 4: In this paper, I follow Armstrong's traditional terminology:
  • 'Universals' are repeatable entities, wholly present wherever a particular instantiates them;
  • 'Nominalism' is the rejection of such entities.
  • In the conflicting modem terminology of Harvard, classes count as 'universals' and 'Nominalism' is predominantly the rejection of classes.
  • Confusion of the terminologies can result in grave misunderstanding; see "Quine (W.V.) - Soft Impeachment Disowned" (1980).
Footnote 8:
  • Among 'things' I mean to include all the gerrymandered wholes and undemarcated parts admitted by the most permissive sort of mereology.
  • Further, I include such physical objects as spatiotemporal regions and force fields, unless an eliminative reduction of them should prove desirable.
  • Further, I include such nonphysical objects as gods and spooks, though not - I hope - as parts of the same world as us.
  • Worlds themselves need no special treatment. They are things — big ones, for the most part.



"Lewis (David) - Possible Worlds"

Source: Laurence & Macdonald - Contemporary Readings in the Foundations of Metaphysics

COMMENT:



"Lombard (Lawrence B.) - Ontologies of Events"

Source: Laurence & Macdonald - Contemporary Readings in the Foundations of Metaphysics



"Loux (Michael) - Beyond Substrata and Bundles: A Prolegomenon to a Substance Ontology"

Source: Laurence & Macdonald - Contemporary Readings in the Foundations of Metaphysics



"Lycan (William) - Possible Worlds and Possibilia"

Source: Laurence & Macdonald - Contemporary Readings in the Foundations of Metaphysics


Philosophers Index Abstract
    This is a survey of metaphysical theories of nonactual entities: Meinongianism, David Lewis' concretism, ersatsism of several kinds, etc.


COMMENT: Photocopy filed in "Various - Papers on Logic & Metaphysics Boxes: Vol 2 (F-N)".



"MacDonald (Cynthia) - Tropes and Other Things"

Source: Laurence & Macdonald - Contemporary Readings in the Foundations of Metaphysics


Philosophers Index Abstract
    What is it for an object to have a property? And what is the relation between an object and its properties? This article briefly outlines some classic answers to these questions and the difficulties associated with them, in order to provide a basis on which to discuss the view that, at root, reality consists of individual, particularized qualities known as tropes. This view has been thought by many to offer an important and ultimately more satisfactory answer to the two questions just posed than the other classic positions described. The article explores the prospects for trope theory.



"Putnam (Hilary) - On Properties"

Source: Putnam - Philosophical Papers 1 - Mathematics, Matter and Method

COMMENT: Also in "Laurence (Stephen) & Macdonald (Cynthia), Eds. - Contemporary Readings in the Foundations of Metaphysics"



"Putnam (Hilary) - Philosophy of Logic"

Source: Putnam - Philosophical Papers 1 - Mathematics, Matter and Method


Philosophers Index Abstract
    This monograph raises the nominalist-realist issue in connection with the question of the indispensability of quantification over abstract entities such as sets. It is argued that quantification is necessary for science and that acceptance of quantification commits us to acceptance of the existence of the mathematical entities involved. Nominalism is rejected as in principle inadequate to the language of physics; and other objections to the indispensability argument, such as linguistic purism, conventionalism, and fictionalism, are disposed of in turn. (Bp)


COMMENT: Also in "Laurence (Stephen) & Macdonald (Cynthia), Eds. - Contemporary Readings in the Foundations of Metaphysics"



"Quine (W.V.) - On What There Is"

Source: Quine - From a Logical Point of View


Frazer MacBride’s Notes on W.V.O. Quine "On What There Is" (MPhil Stud Seminar, Birkbeck, 3rd October 2005)

Fundamental Point: "To be assumed as an entity is, purely and simply, to be reckoned as the value of a variable.... We are convicted of a particular ontological presupposition if, and only if, the alleged presuppositum has to be reckoned among the entities over which our variables range in order to render one of our affirmations true" (OWI: 13).

Structure of paper
  1. Plato's Beard—unsatisfactory responses to the Puzzle of Non-Being (OWI: 1-5)
  2. Untangling the Beard using Russell's Theory of Descriptions (OWI: 5-9)
  3. The Problem of Universals1—there are no universals2 (OWI: 9-15)
  4. Ontological Methodology—how to adjudicate between rival ontologies (OWI: 15-19)
Analysis
  1. Plato's Beard: Does Pegasus exist? If he doesn't then what am I denying the existence of?
    • a) McX3 identifies Pegasus with a mental idea but Pegasus no more an idea than the Parthenon.
    • b) Wyman4 identifies Pegasus with an un-actualised possibility but such entities are unduly mysterious and there also non-existent things which could not exist (e.g. the round square cupola).
  2. Untangling the Beard
    There's no necessity to admit non-existent objects because
    • (c) Russell's theory of descriptions and
    • (d) Frege's distinction between sense and reference
    show that being meaningful and naming are different things.
      (TD5): The F Gs ↔ (∃xFx & (∀yFy → x=y)) & Gx
  3. The Problem of Universals6
    There is no need to admit mysterious entities like being red any more than non-existent things like Pegasus because
    • (e) the semantic role of a predicate is simply to be true or false of an entity picked out by a name,
    • (f) expressions can be meaningful without there being meanings and
    • (g) we do not quantify over predicate expressions.
    Clarifying ontological commitment by comparison with philosophy of mathematics:
      realism—logicism, conceptualism—intuitionism, nominalism—formalism.
  4. Ontological Methodology
    A criterion of ontological commitment does not tell us what there is, but what someone says there is; whether we accept what someone says is guided by the general ideals of theory construction; a choice of ontology is determined by the over-all conceptual scheme that accommodates science in the broadest sense.


COMMENT: Required reading for Birkbeck MPhil Stud Seminar 03/10/2005; Also in:- Photocopy filed in "Various - Heythrop Essays & Supporting Material (Boxes)". Note - see "Funkhouser (Eric) - Notes on Quine, “On What There Is”".




In-Page Footnotes ("Quine (W.V.) - On What There Is")

Footnote 3: TT: Presumably McTaggart.

Footnote 4: TT: Presumably Meinong.

Footnote 5: TD = “(Russell’s) Theory of Descriptions.” For helpful HTML tags for logical connectives, see Link.



"Simons (Peter) - Particulars in Particular Clothing: Three Trope Theories of Substance"

Source: Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Vol. 54, No. 3 (Sep., 1994), pp. 553-575


Philosophers Index Abstract
    If the attributes of concrete individuals (substances) are tropes, particular instances, what are the substances? Are they bundles of tropes related by compresence, or is there a non- trope bearer or substratum? Both theories have their drawbacks. This paper proposes a third, "nuclear" theory, according to which substances have an inner bundle or nucleus of essential tropes tied by strong ontological dependence, and an outer swarm of generically necessary and optional tropes. The theory's flexibility is tested by examining the differences between fermions and bosons considered as trope bundles.


COMMENT: Also in "Hales (Steven D.), Ed. - Metaphysics: Contemporary Readings".



"Stalnaker (Robert) - Possible Worlds"

Source: Stalnaker - Ways a World Might Be, Chapter 1


Philosophers Index Abstract
  1. This paper explores David Lewis's four theses1 on possible worlds.
  2. It is argued that these constitute a doctrine called extreme realism about possible worlds, which is deemed false.
  3. However, these theses need not be accepted or rejected as a package.
  4. The independence of the more plausible parts of the package is shown to defend the coherence of a more moderate form of realism about possible worlds, one that may be justified by common modal2 opinions and defended as a foundation for a theory about the activities of rational agents.


COMMENT:




In-Page Footnotes ("Stalnaker (Robert) - Possible Worlds")

Footnote 1: Stalnaker gives these as:-
  • 1. Possible worlds exist.
  • 2. Other possible worlds are things of the same sort as the actual world.
  • 3. The indexical analysis of the adjective “actual” is the correct analysis.
  • 4. Possible worlds cannot be reduced to something more basic.



"Van Cleve (James) - Three Versions of the Bundle Theory"

Source: Philosophical Studies, Vol. 47, No. 1 (Jan., 1985), pp. 95-107


Author’s Abstract
  1. 'A thing (individual, concrete particular) is nothing but a bundle of properties'. If we take it as it stands, this traditional metaphysical view is open to several familiar and, to my mind, decisive objections.
  2. Sophisticated upholders of the tradition, such as Russell and Castaneda, do not take it as it stands, but I shall argue that even their version of it remains open to some of the same objections.
  3. Then I shall suggest a third version of the view that avoids all the standard objections, but only at a price I think most people would be unwilling to pay.


COMMENT: Also in



"Van Inwagen (Peter) - The Nature of Metaphysics"

Source: Laurence & Macdonald - Contemporary Readings in the Foundations of Metaphysics



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