Back Cover Blurb
- The papers in this volume address fundamental, and interrelated, philosophical issues concerning modality1 and identity, issues that have not only been pivotal to the development of analytic philosophy in the twentieth century, but remain a key focus of metaphysical debate in the twenty-first.
- How are we to understand the concepts of necessity and possibility? Is chance a basic ingredient of reality? How are we to make sense of claims about personal identity? Do numbers require distinctive identity criteria? Does the capacity to identify an object presuppose an ability to bring it under a sortal2 concept?
- Rather than presenting a single, partisan perspective, Identity and Modality3 enriches our understanding of identity and modality4 by bringing together papers written by leading researchers working in metaphysics, the philosophy of mind, the philosophy of science, and the philosophy of mathematics. The resulting variety of perspectives correspondingly reflects both the breadth and depth of contemporary theorizing about identity and modality5, each paper addressing a particular issue and advancing our knowledge of the area.
- This volume will provide essential reading for graduate students in the subject and professional philosophers.
"MacBride (Fraser) - Identity and Modality: Introduction"
Source: MacBride - Identity and Modality, 2006, Introduction
- The papers in this volume constellate about fundamental philosophical issues concerning modality1' and identity: How are we to understand the concepts of metaphysical necessity and possibility; Is chance a basic ingredient of reality? How are we to make sense of claims about personal identity? Do numbers require distinctive identity criteria: Does the capacity to identify an object presuppose an ability to bring it under a sortal2 concept?
- In order to provide a guide to the reader I will provide3 a brief overview of the content of the papers collected here and some of the interrelations that obtain between them.
In-Page Footnotes ("MacBride (Fraser) - Identity and Modality: Introduction")
Footnote 3: I have cut these out and used them as introductions to the various papers in the collection.
"Rosen (Gideon) - The Limits of Contingency"
Source: MacBride - Identity and Modality, 2006, Chapter 1
- In 'The Limits of Contingency' Gideon Rosen sets out to examine the modal2 status of metaphysical and mathematical propositions.
- Typically such propositions — that, for example, universals3 or aggregates or sets exist — are claimed to be metaphysically necessary. But such claims of metaphysical necessity, Rosen maintains, are inherently deficient. This is because the kinds of elucidation philosophers typically offer of the concept of metaphysical necessity fail to pin down a unique concept of necessity; in fact no conception exactly fits the elucidations given, and at least two conceptions — which Rosen dubs 'Standard' and 'Non-Standard' — fit the elucidations equally well.
- According to the Standard Conception, the synthetic apriori truths of basic ontology are always necessary.
- By contrast, according to the Non-Standard Conception, such truths are sometimes contingent.
- Consider, for example, Armstrong's claim that qualitative similarity between particulars is secured by the recurrence of immanent universals4.
So, if it is true, Armstrong's claim tells us only about how similarity happens to be secured in the actual world; in other possible worlds similarity is secured differently.
- By the lights of the Standard Conception this claim, if it is true, is metaphysically necessary. For whilst it is not a logical or a conceptual necessity — there is no reason to think its denial self-contradictory or otherwise inconceivable — it is not aposteriori either.
- But, by the lights of the Non-Standard Conception, Armstrong's claim is contingent. For other metaphysical accounts that eschew universals5 — in favour, for example, of duplicate tropes — are also compatible with the nature of the similarity relation.
- Since philosophical elucidations of the concept of metaphysical necessity favour neither the Standard nor the Non-Standard Conception Rosen concludes that philosophical discourse about metaphysical necessity is shot through with ambiguity, an ambiguity that we ignore at our peril.
- What is Metaphysical Necessity?
- An Informal Elucidation
- A Question about the Informal Elucidation
- The Standard Conception and the Differential Class
- The Non-Standard Conception
- The Two Conceptions and the Informal Explanation
- Is the Non-Standard Conception Coherent?
- Objections to the Standard Conception
- Physical Necessity Reconsidered
In-Page Footnotes ("Rosen (Gideon) - The Limits of Contingency")
"Sturgeon (Scott) - Modal Infallibilism and Basic Truth"
Source: MacBride - Identity and Modality, 2006, Chapter 2
- In 'Modal2 Infallibilism and Basic Truth' Scott Sturgeon investigates further3 the relationship between metaphysical possibility and intelligibility.
- Most philosophers agree that apriori reflection provides at best a fallible guide to genuine possibility. The schema (L) that says: if a proposition is intelligible then it is genuinely possible, is generally recognized not to be valid.
- Nevertheless, Sturgeon argues, philosophers have frequently failed to practise what they preach. They have been led by (L) to advance contradictory claims about the fundamental structure of reality.
- Sturgeon provides as a representative example of the capacity of (L) to mislead, a battery of six basic metaphysical claims about change and identity that Lewis has advanced but together generate contradiction. They generate contradiction because. Sturgeon maintains, Lewis accepts at least one instance of (L), inferring from the intelligibility of objects that endure identically through time — Sturgeon calls these 'enduring runabouts' — that such objects are genuinely possible.
- The contradiction Sturgeon uncovers suggests that (L), if it is true at all, must be significantly qualified. But, Sturgeon argues, there is no restricted reading of (L) that is valid either.
- The first restriction Sturgeon considers qualifies (L) to accommodate Kripke's insight that there are intelligible propositions that fail to mark genuine possibility because the negations of these propositions are aposteriori necessary.
- Sturgeon rejects (L) so qualified because there is at least one intelligible proposition P whose equally intelligible negation not-P fails to be aposteriori necessary but nevertheless it cannot be the case that P and not-P are both genuinely possible.
- Sturgeon provides as an example of such a P the Lewisian proposition that concrete possible worlds are the truth-makers for claims of genuine possibility.
- After considering yet further unsatisfactory qualifications to (L) Sturgeon concludes that philosophers have been misled by the 'ep-&-met tendency', the human tendency to fuse epistemic and metaphysical matters; what is required is to recognize where this tendency misleads us whilst — and this is where the task becomes almost insuperably difficult — continuing to respect the fact that it is a cornerstone of our modal4 practice that intelligibility defeasibly marks genuine possibility.
- Six Claims of Basic Metaphysics
- Two Problems
In-Page Footnotes ("Sturgeon (Scott) - Modal Infallibilism and Basic Truth")
Footnote 1: Footnote 3: Further, that is, to "Rosen (Gideon) - The Limits of Contingency".
"Divers (John) & Hagen (Jason) - The Modal Fictionalist Predicament"
Source: MacBride - Identity and Modality, 2006, Chapter 3
- In 'The Modal2 Fictionalist Predicament', John Divers and Jason Hagen turn to consider the metaphysics of modality3 itself.
- According to 'genuine modal4 realism', the metaphysical status of modal5 statements is rendered perspicuous by translating claims about what is possible into (counterpart- theoretic) claims about possible worlds. But the doctrine that there really are such outlandish entities as possible worlds encounters familiar metaphysical and epistemological difficulties.
- However the adherents of 'modal6 fictionalism7' maintain that the benefits of possible worlds discourse may be secured without these associated costs. They attempt to achieve this by conceiving of possible worlds discourse as itself just an immensely useful fiction that does not commit us to the existence of possible worlds.
- Part of what makes modal8 fictionalism9 plausible is what Divers has called a 'safety result': the result that translating our ordinary modal10 claims in and out of the fictional discourse of possible worlds will never lead us astray.
- However Divers and Hagen question whether the modal11 fictionalist is in a position to take advantage of this result. Two objections to modal12 fictionalism13 have arisen over the decade since the doctrine was first advanced.
- According to the first objection, modal14 fictionalism15, despite surface appearances, is committed to the existence of a plurality of possible worlds.
- According to the second objection modal16 fictionalism17 is not even consistent; its acceptance results in modal18 collapse, so that for any modal19 claim X, both X and not-X are true.
- Divers and Hagen argue that each objection may be avoided by deft handling of the doctrine. But what, they maintain, modal20 fictionalists cannot do is to avoid one or other of these objections whilst maintaining a right to the safety result that makes modal21 fictionalism22 plausible in the first place.
- Divers and Hagen conclude that modal23 fictionalism24 is in a serious predicament. Modal25 fictionalism26 must be rescued from this predicament if it is to be considered a genuine competitor to genuine modal27 realism.
- Two Objections and One Benefit
- The First Development
- The Second Development
In-Page Footnotes ("Divers (John) & Hagen (Jason) - The Modal Fictionalist Predicament")
"Percival (Philip) - On Realism about Chance"
Source: MacBride - Identity and Modality, 2006, Chapter 4
- Philip Percival's 'On Realism about Chance' considers the metaphysical status of another modal2 notion, namely chance.
- Chance, as Percival conceives it, is a single-case (applying to individual events), temporally relative (liable to change over time), objective probability (existing independently of what anyone thinks about it) towards which our cognitive attitudes are normatively constrained.
- Percival construes the question of whether chance exists as the question of whether there are objectively true statements of the form 'the chance at time t of event E is r'.
- Famously, Lewis has advanced realism about chance but Percival takes issue with this assessment, arguing for scepticism about the kinds of reason one might give for realism about chance.
- One common reason for affirming realism about chance is that chance may be used to explain statistical phenomena or the warrantedness of certain credences. But, Percival argues, the notion of chance cannot perform this kind of explanatory role. Consequently, an inference to the best explanation of (e.g.) statistical phenomena cannot be employed to ground realism about chance.
- Another reason commonly offered for affirming realism about chance is that chance may be analysed in terms of non-chance. If chance is analysable then either chance supervenes3 (relatively) locally upon non-chance or chance supervenes4 globally upon non-chance. But however chance supervenes5, Percival argues, no extant analysis — including Lewis's 'best-system' analysis—succeeds.
- Percival concludes upon the sceptical reflection that there is little prospect of a correct analysis of chance being forthcoming in the future that vindicates realism about chance.
- Chance and Inference to the Best Explanation
- 1.1 Statistical Phenomena
- 1.2 Temporally Relative Warrant
- Analyses of Chance
- 2.1 Frequentist Analyses
- 2.2 Lewis’s “Best System” Analysis of Chance
- 2.3 The Problem of Fit
- 2.4 “Fit” as a Primitive?
In-Page Footnotes ("Percival (Philip) - On Realism about Chance")
"Shapiro (Stewart) - Structure and Identity"
Source: MacBride - Identity and Modality, 2006, Chapter 5
- In his 'Structure and Identity' Stewart Shapiro reflects upon the doctrine (advanced in his Philosophy of Mathematics: Structure and Ontology (Oxford: OUP, 1997)) that mathematical objects are places in structures where the latter are conceived as ante rem universals2.
- This doctrine — that Shapiro dubs 'ante rem structuralism' — suggests that there is no more to a mathematical object than the (structural) relations it bears to the other objects within the structure to which it belongs.
- However, as Shapiro recognizes, when conceived in this way ante rem structuralism is open to a variety of criticisms. This is because there appears to be more to a mathematical object than the relations it bears to other objects within its parent structure.
- Mathematical objects enjoy relations to
This makes it appear that ante rem structuralism is committed to the absurdity of identifying these objects.
- (i) items outside the mathematical realm (e.g. the concrete objects they are used to measure or count) and
- (ii) objects that belong to other structures inside the mathematical realm.
- Moreover, (iii) there are mathematical objects (e.g. points in a Euclidean plane) that are indiscernible with respect to their (structural) relations but nevertheless distinct.
- Shapiro seeks to overcome these difficulties by a series of interlocking manoeuvres.
- First, he seeks to overturn the metaphysical tradition about numbers, suggesting that it may be contingent whether a given mathematical object is abstract or concrete.
- Second, Shapiro questions whether mathematical discourse is semantically determinate.
- Finally, Shapiro rejects the requirement that ante rem structuralism provide for the non-trivial individuation3 of mathematical objects.
- The purpose of this paper is to further articulate my preferred version of mathematical structuralism … ante rem structuralism, the thesis that mathematical structures exist prior to, and independent of, any exemplifications they may have in the non-mathematical world.
- The contrast is with an approach that either adopts an Aristotelian in re view that a given structure exists only in the systems that exemplify it or the more common eliminative thesis that structures do not exist at all – talk of structures is to be paraphrased away.
- What is (Ante Rem) Structuralism?
- Cross-Structural Identity
- Identity and Indiscernibility
In-Page Footnotes ("Shapiro (Stewart) - Structure and Identity")
"Keranen (Jukka) - The Identity Problem for Realist Structuralism II: A Reply to Shapiro"
Source: MacBride - Identity and Modality, 2006, Chapter 6
- In 'The Identity Problem for Realist Stucturalism II: A Reply to Shapiro' Jukka Keranen argues that Shapiro2 nevertheless fails to provide an adequate account of the identity of numbers conceived as places in structures.
- According to Keranen, it is an adequacy constraint upon the introduction of a type of object that some account be given of the kinds of fact that metaphysically underwrite the sameness and difference of objects of this type. More specifically, Keranen favours the view that facts about the sameness and difference of objects must be underwritten by facts about the properties they possess or relations they stand in.
- He holds up set theory as an exemplar of a theory that meets this adequacy constraint, grounding the identity of sets — via the Axiom of Extensionality — in facts about their members.
- Keranen doubts, however, whether ante rem structuralism can meet this adequacy constraint because there are no structural properties or relations that can be used to distinguish between (e.g.) the structurally indiscernible points in a Euclidean plane.
- Of course, the structuralist can meet the constraint by force majeure, positing a supply of haecceitistic properties to distinguish between structurally indiscernible objects. But, as Keranen reflects, the positing of haecceities opens up the possibility of indiscernible structures that differ only haecceitisticallv.
- Since mathematical discourse lacks the descriptive resources to distinguish between these structures, this manoeuvre on the part of the structuralist threatens to render reference to mathematical objects deeply inscrutable.
- Keranen concludes that the particular difficulties encountered by ante rem structuralism in particular reflect deep difficulties for ontological realism in general.
- Identity and Individuation3
- The Trivializing Objection
- The Leibniz Principle
- The ‘Trivial’ Accounts of Identity
- Realist Structuralism Reconsidered
- Conclusion: The Identity Problem for Realism
In-Page Footnotes ("Keranen (Jukka) - The Identity Problem for Realist Structuralism II: A Reply to Shapiro")
Footnote 1: Footnote 2: In "Shapiro (Stewart) - Structure and Identity".
"Shapiro (Stewart) - The Governance of Identity"
Source: MacBride - Identity and Modality, 2006, Chapter 7
- 'The Governance of Identity' is Shapiro's response to Keranen2.
- Shapiro first concedes, for the sake of argument, the adequacy constraint on the introduction of a type of object Keranen imposes.
- Shapiro then argues that indiscernible objects within a structure S may be distinguished by embedding S within a larger structure S* whose positions are discernible.
- Later, lifting the concession, Shapiro questions whether it is necessary to supply non-trivial identity conditions for a type of object introduced.
- He concludes rather that identity must be taken as primitive.
In-Page Footnotes ("Shapiro (Stewart) - The Governance of Identity")
Footnote 1: Footnote 2: Ie. to "Keranen (Jukka) - The Identity Problem for Realist Structuralism II: A Reply to Shapiro".
"MacBride (Fraser) - The Julius Caesar Objection: More Problematic than Ever"
Source: MacBride - Identity and Modality, 2006, Chapter 8
Editor’s / Author’s Introduction1
- In 'The Julius Caesar Objection: More Problematic than Ever' Fraser MacBride further explores issues surrounding the identity and individuation2 of numbers from a Fregean point of view.
- According to Frege it is a requirement upon the introduction of a range of objects into discourse that identity criteria are supplied for them — criteria that determine whether it is appropriate to label and then relabel an object on a different occasion as the same again.
- In order to introduce cardinal numbers into discourse Frege therefore proposed the following principle — Hume's Principle that specifies necessary and sufficient conditions for the identity of cardinal numbers: the number of Fs = the number of G's iff there is a 1-1 correspondence between the Fs and the Gs. Famously, however, Frege became dissatisfied with Hume's Principle as a criterion of identity, maintaining that it failed even to settle whether (e.g.) the number two was identical or distinct to an object of an apparently quite different sort (e.g.) the man Caesar.
- MacBride subjects this difficulty — the so-called 'Julius Caesar Objection' — to critical examination, arguing that beneath the superficial simplicity of the problem that bedevilled Frege there lies a welter of distinct difficulties.
- These may be arranged along three different dimensions.
- (A) Epistemology: does the identity criterion supplied for introducing numbers into discourse provide warrant for the familiar piece of common-sense knowledge that numbers are distinct from persons?
- (B) Metaphysics: does the identity criterion given determine whether the things that are numbers might also be such objects as Caesar?
- (C) Meaning: does the identity criterion supplied bestow upon the expressions that purport to denote numbers the distinctive significance of singular terms?
- It is because, MacBride argues, these different problems and the interrelations between them often fail to be disentangled that (in part) the different (purported) solutions to the Julius Caesar — neo-Fregean and supervaluationist solutions — fail.
- MacBride concludes by suggesting that Frege may have been too strict in imposing the requirement that objects introduced into discourse have identity criteria, noting that not even sets have identity criteria in the strict sense Frege required.
- What is the ‘Caesar Problem’?
- 2.1 Frege
- 2.2 Dimensions of the Caesar Problem
- 2.3 The Epistemological Caesar Problem
- 2.4 The Metaphysical Caesar Problem
- 2.5 The Meaning-Theoretical Caesar Problem
- Two Solutions
- 3.1 The Supervaluationist Solution
- 3.2 The Neo-Fregean Solution
In-Page Footnotes ("MacBride (Fraser) - The Julius Caesar Objection: More Problematic than Ever")
"Campbell (John) - Sortals and the Binding Problem"
Source: MacBride - Identity and Modality, 2006, Chapter 9
- John Campbell's 'Sortals2 and the Binding Problem' sets out to question the doctrine that singular reference to an object depends upon a knowledge of the sort of object (whether a number or a man) to which one is referring.
- Part of what makes this doctrine plausible is the fact that, as Quine emphasized, our pointing to something remains ambiguous until the sort of thing that we are pointing is made evident. For example, I can point towards the river and variously be taken to refer to the river itself which continues downstream, a temporal part of the river that exists contemporaneouslv with my pointing gesture, the collection of water molecules that occupies the river when I point, and so on. But if I specify the sort of object to which I wish to draw your attention then it becomes determinate what I am pointing to.
- These kinds of consideration have led philosophers to adopt what Campbell calls "The Delineation Thesis': Conscious attention to an object has to be focused by the use of a sortal3 concept that delineates the boundaries of the object to which you are attending. Campbell argues however that the delineating thesis is false.
- Instead, Campbell proposes, attention to an object arises from the way in which the visual system binds together the information it receives in various processing streams. Roughly speaking, the visual system does so by exploiting the location of an object together with the Gestalt organization of characteristics found at that location. Since this integration may be achieved without the use of a semantic classification of an object as of a certain sort it appears that we can single out an object without the use of a sortal4 concept.
- Philosophers have nevertheless been misled into supposing the Delineation Thesis because, Campbell maintains, of the typical use that is made of sortal5 concepts in demonstrative constructions ('that mountain') and our readiness to withdraw these constructions when it transpires that these sortal6 concepts are misapplied (when, for example, it turns out that our attention is being drawn to what is merely a hill).
- Campbell argues nonetheless that sortal7 concepts employed in demonstrative construction serve merely to orientate our attention to an object without necessarily contributing to the content of what is said by the use of these constructions.
- The Delineation Thesis
- The Binding Problem
- What Justifies Binding?
- Sortals8 as Orienting Attention
In-Page Footnotes ("Campbell (John) - Sortals and the Binding Problem")
"Hossack (Keith) - Vagueness and Personal Identity"
Source: MacBride - Identity and Modality, 2006, Chapter 10
- In 'Vagueness and Personal Identity' Keith Hossack considers the influential 'Bafflement Argument' put forward by Bernard Williams, an argument that threatens to undermine the materialistic conception of the self.
- The well-known thought experiments2 about personal identity suggest that there are possible situations — where, for example, a subject undergoes fission — in which it is indefinite whether the subject survives.
- If materialism is true it appears that this indefiniteness must be objective. For it appears that there are no sharp boundaries to the biological processes or physical mechanisms that sustain human life.
- By contrast, if dualism is true it appears that this indefiniteness can only be a matter of ignorance. For the kinds of issues in ethics and philosophy of religion that give rise to dualism suggest that the boundaries between souls must be sharp.
- Williams's Bafflement Argument suggests however that we cannot make sense of objectively indefinite identity in the case of persons, and so materialism must be abandoned. This is because we cannot make sense — we are baffled by — the suggestion that it is objectively indefinite whether I (or you) will continue to exist tomorrow.
- Hossack seeks to defend materialism by showing that the Bafflement Argument owes its persuasive force to a skewed conception of the self that fails to recognize that the correct way to understand the ‘I’ concept is as the intersection of subjective and objective ways of thinking about the self
- What is wrong with the Cartesian conception of the self is that it fails to give due weight to the location of the self in the objective worldly order.
- But what is wrong with the bodily conception of the self — a conception advanced, for example, by Strawson and Evans — is that by identifying the self with the body it fails to sufficiently stress the subjective aspect of the ‘I’ concept.
- The mistake that underlies the Bafflement Argument, Hossack maintains, is a misguided solipsistic conception of the self that arises from focusing exclusively upon the subjective aspect of the ‘I’ concept. Once this mistake is corrected by giving proper weight to the place of persons in the objective order — without falling over into the corresponding failings of the bodily conception of the self — the Bafflement Argument need no longer pose a threat to materialism. .
- Unclarity of Personal Identity
- ‘I’ – the ‘Essential’ Indexical
- How Do I Know I Exist?
- Beyond Solipsism of the Present Moment
- The Solipsist as Rational Agent
- A Functionalist Conception of Human Beings
- Other Minds Theory
- Is Personal Identity Indefinite
- Appendix: A Lichtenbergian Reconstruction of the Bafflement Argument
In-Page Footnotes ("Hossack (Keith) - Vagueness and Personal Identity")
"Olson (Eric) - Is there a Bodily Criterion of Personal Identity"
Source: MacBride - Identity and Modality, 2006, Chapter 11
- Eric T. Olson's 'Is There a Bodily Criterion of Personal Identity?' continues the theme of questioning how we relate to our bodies.
- One of the perennial debates about personal identity concerns whether we should adopt a bodily criterion of personal identity as opposed, say, to a psychologistic criterion. But this debate only makes sense if there is such a thing as a bodily criterion of personal identity; about the existence of such a criterion Olson expresses scepticism.
- The bodily criterion is supposed to offer an account according to which we are our bodies or, at least, that our identity over time consists in the identity- of our bodies. So the bodily criterion is supposed to be a non-trivial thesis about our bodies and how we are related to them that determines that we go where our bodies go.
- But, Olson argues, we cannot specify the bodily criterion in such a way as to ensure that it does what it is supposed to do. Olson's argument for this conclusion proceeds by elimination, considering in turn a variety of different purported specifications of the bodily criterion. Either these criteria imply too little or they imply too much: either
- (1) they say nothing about, or leave it open that we may survive, the destruction of our bodies or
- (2) they imply that you could never be a foetus2 or a corpse.
- It may be suggested that the difficulties identified are a consequence of the surreptitious assumption of a Cartesian account of body ownership. But Olson dismisses this suggestion, arguing that the accounts of body ownership proposed by Shoemaker and Tye imply that the bodily criterion is not the substantial thesis debate assumes but a trivial consequence of materialism.
- How did such a depth of misunderstanding arise? Olson ventures a diagnosis. We are misled by the superficial grammar of such expressions as 'Wilma's body'; in this case, an expression that appears to be the name of an object with which Wilma enjoys an especially intimate relationship.
- But, Olson argues, we should no more believe that 'Wilma's body' names a special object than we should believe that the expression 'Wilma's mind' names another object with which she enjoys a different, but not less intimate, relationship.
- One of the main problems of personal identity is supposed to be how we relate to our bodies. A few philosophers endorse what is called a 'bodily criterion of personal identity': they say that we are our bodies, or at any rate that our identity over time consists in the identity of our bodies. Many more deny this – typically on the grounds that we can imagine ourselves coming apart from our bodies. But both sides agree that the bodily criterion is an important view which anyone thinking about personal identity must consider.
- I have never been able to work out what the bodily criterion is supposed to be. Despite my best efforts, I have not found any clear position that plays the role in debates on personal identity that everyone takes the bodily criterion to play. What role is that? What is the bodily criterion supposed to be? ….
COMMENT: See Link (Defunct).
In-Page Footnotes ("Olson (Eric) - Is there a Bodily Criterion of Personal Identity")
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