Metaphysics, Spring 2014
Funkhouser (Eric)
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BOOK ABSTRACT:



Course Description
  1. Metaphysics concerns itself with the most fundamental features of reality. In contrast with the physical sciences, it continues to rely (for better or worse) on a more a priori methodology. Here are some examples of metaphysical questions:
    • What things really exist? (The Ontological Question) Does God exist? Numbers? Propositions?
    • What is the basic ontological structure of our physical world?
    • What is the nature of space-time?
    • Do only particulars exist?
    • What is the nature of causation?
    • What is required to have a free will, and are we free?
    • Can objects persist through change, and if so how?
    • What is it to be a person? What is required to maintain personal identity over time?
    • How are our minds related to our brains?
    • Is there a way the world really is, apart from how it is perceived and conceptualized?
  2. We will not tackle all of these questions. Instead, we will limit ourselves to the following topics: identity, existence, modality, persistence through time, personal identity, properties, and causation. There will be some additional readings and work for graduate students.

Papers Addressed


In-Page Footnotes ("Funkhouser (Eric) - Metaphysics, Spring 2014")

Footnote 1: This is my “take” – the course description give a slight variant.


BOOK COMMENT:
  • Pseudo-Book to hold the Notes produced by Funkhouser on his Introduction to Metaphysics course of Spring 2014.
  • Filed in B5985B+.



"Funkhouser (Eric) - Metaphysics, Spring 2014"

Source: Funkhouser (Eric) - Metaphysics, Spring 2014


For want of anywhere else better, I’ve placed here the full contents of Kim, Jaegwon, Daniel Korman, and Ernest Sosa, eds. 2012. Metaphysics: An Anthology, Second Edition. (Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell). It’s not worth me buying this book, as I seem to have (almost) all the papers already, either in other anthologies, as photocopies, or electronically.

Contents

COMMENT: This, and the other papers in this series, filed in "Various - Papers on Logic & Metaphysics Boxes: Vol 2 (F-N)".




In-Page Footnotes ("Funkhouser (Eric) - Metaphysics, Spring 2014")

Footnote 1: Footnote 2:



"Funkhouser (Eric) - What Is Metaphysics?"

Source: Funkhouser (Eric) - Metaphysics, Spring 2014


Outline1
  1. What is the subject2 matter of metaphysics?
  2. What is the methodology3 for doing metaphysics?
    • Conceptual Analysis4 and Conceptual Connections5; are useful because they:-
      1. Foster better understanding and communication.
      2. Provide a recipe for classifying objects or events.
      3. Change our perceptions and / or thoughts.
      4. Alter our practices.
      5. Inform our standards of evaluation for the appropriate kind.
      6. Reveal why the concept is thought to be important, valuable, etc.
      7. Are needed for official, practical, and oftentimes bureaucratic purposes.
    • Thought Experiments6 and Intuitions7
    • Arguments8
  3. Skepticism and disdain9 for metaphysics




In-Page Footnotes ("Funkhouser (Eric) - What Is Metaphysics?")

Footnote 1: Extracted by TT, with Notes.

Footnote 2: Footnote 3:
  • a priori, but not just armchair speculation.
  • Evaluation subject to the standards of other domains.
  • Consistent with empirical discoveries.
  • Informed by the best science of the day.
Footnote 4:
  • Sometime stipulative, but often going beyond mere definition.
  • Determining necessary and sufficient conditions for the application of a concept or membership of a kind.
Footnote 5:
  • For example the connection between free will and determinism, after these concepts have been analysed.
  • While these connections have, historically, been determined a priori, latterly experimental philosophers have applied empirical methods.
Footnote 6:
  • Funkhouser will take talk of other “possible worlds” as a figure of speech for how the universe could have been.
  • Simplifies things – as do “frictionless planes” for physicists.
  • Close connection between a correct analysis and modality.
  • We are referred to "Brown (James Robert) & Fehige (Yiftach) - Thought Experiments".
Footnote 7: Not discussed, though “intuition pumps” were mentioned earlier (though not referred to Dennett).

Footnote 8: In evaluating an argument, either the logic may be wrong (an invalid argument), or one of the premises may be false (an unsound one).

Footnote 9:
  • Not really discussed, in the sense of defended against, but we are referred to Hume’s famous “Commit it then to the flames” dictum, and to the logical positivists, as exemplified by "Ayer (A.J.) - Language, Truth and Logic".
  • However, two criticisms – “meaninglessness pseudo-questions” versus “meaningful but pointless, because unanswerable” – are distinguished



"Funkhouser (Eric) - Notes on Locke, Essay, Book III, Chapter 3, "Of General Terms""

Source: Funkhouser (Eric) - Metaphysics, Spring 2014


Question
    ”What is the difference between real essences and nominal essences? Present and explain Locke’s argument, from our reading, against real essences. Then critically evaluate this argument.”


COMMENT:
  • A printout of this chapter of Locke's Essay is filed along with Funkhouser's notes thereon.
  • For Locke's paper, see Web Link (http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/phl302/texts/locke/locke1/Book3a.html#Chapter%20III) Defunct;
  • For Funkhouser's Notes, see Web Link.



"Funkhouser (Eric) - Notes on Black, “The Identity of Indiscernibles”"

Source: Funkhouser (Eric) - Metaphysics, Spring 2014

COMMENT:



"Funkhouser (Eric) - Notes on Adams, "Primitive Thisness and Primitive Identity""

Source: Funkhouser (Eric) - Metaphysics, Spring 2014


Question
    ”Explain what Adams means by “primitive thisness”. What is a thisness? What does it mean for a thisness to be primitive? Explain Adams’ argument for primitive thisness from the possibility of almost indiscernible spheres.”


COMMENT:



"Funkhouser (Eric) - Notes on Kripke, “Identity and Necessity”"

Source: Funkhouser (Eric) - Metaphysics, Spring 2014


Question
    ”Kripke famously argued that the necessary truths do not always coincide with the a priori truths. Provide one of his examples of the necessary a posteriori. How does Kripke explain the appearance of contingency in your example? How would Locke either agree or disagree with Kripke when it comes to understanding this example?”


COMMENT:



"Funkhouser (Eric) - Notes on Gibbard, “Contingent Identity”"

Source: Funkhouser (Eric) - Metaphysics, Spring 2014

COMMENT:



"Funkhouser (Eric) - Notes on Quine, “On What There Is”"

Source: Funkhouser (Eric) - Metaphysics, Spring 2014


Question
    ”According to Quine, what determines our ontological commitments – i.e., what really exists, by our lights? In answering this question do not just use a slogan, but explain it. Then explain Carnap’s reasons for thinking that such external questions are meaningless. Briefly explain how Quine and Carnap both agree and disagree over the ontological project.”


COMMENT:



"Funkhouser (Eric) - Notes on Carnap, “Empiricism, Semantics, and Ontology”"

Source: Funkhouser (Eric) - Metaphysics, Spring 2014


Question
    ”According to Quine, what determines our ontological commitments – i.e., what really exists, by our lights? In answering this question do not just use a slogan, but explain it. Then explain Carnap’s reasons for thinking that such external questions are meaningless. Briefly explain how Quine and Carnap both agree and disagree over the ontological project.”


COMMENT:



"Funkhouser (Eric) - Notes on Schaffer, “On What Grounds What”"

Source: Funkhouser (Eric) - Metaphysics, Spring 2014


Question
    ”Explain how Schaffer’s understanding of the project of metaphysics in terms of grounding contrasts with, say, Quine’s ontological project. Explain this notion of ground by showing how Schaffer thinks it could be used to distinguish mere aggregates from unified wholes. Then apply the concept to another topic of your choosing. Is it coherent?”


COMMENT:



"Funkhouser (Eric) - Notes on Plantinga, “Modalities: Basic Concepts and Distinctions”"

Source: Funkhouser (Eric) - Metaphysics, Spring 2014


Question
    ”Explain, in some detail, how Quine’s mathematical cyclist argument, as discussed in our Plantinga article, is supposed to serve as an objection to de re modality. According to Plantinga, what is wrong with Quine’s argument? Along the way, be sure to explain the concept of de re modality.”


COMMENT:



"Funkhouser (Eric) - Notes on Lewis, “A Philosopher's Paradise”"

Source: Funkhouser (Eric) - Metaphysics, Spring 2014


Question
    ”Explain how David Lewis uses his modal realism to give reductive accounts of both causation (e.g., singular causal claims, like “The spark caused the explosion”) and de re modality (e.g., Humphrey could have won the election).”


COMMENT:



"Funkhouser (Eric) - Notes on Fine, “Essence and Modality”"

Source: Funkhouser (Eric) - Metaphysics, Spring 2014


Question
    ”Explain Fine’s objection to modal accounts of essences. In particular, explain his objection involving Socrates and the singleton Socrates. Explain in some detail the relationship that Fine advances between essences and modality more generally.”


COMMENT:



"Funkhouser (Eric) - Notes on Chisholm, “Identity through Time”"

Source: Funkhouser (Eric) - Metaphysics, Spring 2014

COMMENT:



"Funkhouser (Eric) - Notes on Quine, “Identity, Ostension, and Hypostasis”"

Source: Funkhouser (Eric) - Metaphysics, Spring 2014


Question
    ”As Quine uses the terms in his “Identity, Ostension, and Hypostasis”, explain what is meant by river-stage, water-stage, river-kinship and water-kinship. How do rivers and waters relate to river-stages and water-stages? Explain Quine’s answer to Heraclitus’ claim that we cannot step in the same river twice.”


COMMENT:



"Funkhouser (Eric) - Notes on Heller, “Temporal Parts of Four-Dimensional Objects”"

Source: Funkhouser (Eric) - Metaphysics, Spring 2014


Question
    ”Explain how the 4-dimensionalist accounts for an object’s persistence through time. Take a stand on the issue of 4-dimenionalism by critically evaluating both Heller’s 5 premise argument for 4-dimensionalism and Van Inwagen’s Descartes-Minus argument against it. (Don’t provide the arguments in premise-conclusion form. Just launch into discussing and evaluating them.)”


COMMENT:



"Funkhouser (Eric) - Notes on Shoemaker, “Persons and their Pasts”"

Source: Funkhouser (Eric) - Metaphysics, Spring 2014


Question
    ”Explain the difference between a quasi-memory and a genuine memory, as Shoemaker uses these terms. Describe a situation, discussed by Shoemaker, in which (apparently) distinct people quasi-remember the same experience “from the inside”. What problem does this raise for a psychological theory of personal identity? How does Shoemaker address this problem?”


COMMENT:



"Funkhouser (Eric) - Notes on Williams, “The Self and the Future”"

Source: Funkhouser (Eric) - Metaphysics, Spring 2014


Question
    ”Bernard Williams provides two versions of a torture story. One version appears to support the psychological continuity theory whereas the other version appears to support the bodily continuity theory. Provide the version of the torture story that is supposed to support the bodily continuity theory. Present the story in the careful step-by-step manner employed by Williams. At what step in this story could the psychological continuity theorist reasonably object, and how so?”


COMMENT:



"Funkhouser (Eric) - Notes on Parfit, “Personal Identity”"

Source: Funkhouser (Eric) - Metaphysics, Spring 2014


Question
    ”Explain Parfit’s objection to Shoemaker's handling of fission cases. How does Parfit reconcile his commitment to psychological continuity and connectedness with his recognition of the difficulties presented by fission and duplication cases? Explain Parfit’s positive theory and how it radically departs from earlier accounts of personal identity and survival.”


COMMENT:



"Funkhouser (Eric) - Notes on Lewis, “Survival and Identity”"

Source: Funkhouser (Eric) - Metaphysics, Spring 2014


Question
    ”According to Lewis, what makes it the case that a person at t1 is the same person as a person at t2? (Apply both his account of personhood and his general account of persistence to this question.) Explain the sense in which Lewis largely endorses Parfit’s account of personhood, though he does differ in arguing that identity is still what matters to survival (e.g., that the I-relation is the R-relation.)”


COMMENT:



"Funkhouser (Eric) - Notes on Olson, “An Argument for Animalism”"

Source: Funkhouser (Eric) - Metaphysics, Spring 2014


Question
    ”What is the thesis of animalism, as understood by Olson? Provide his main argument for this thesis. What are some of the ways in which physicalist philosophers sympathetic to the psychological criterion often deny animalism? Where/how do they object to Olson’s argument?”


COMMENT:



"Funkhouser (Eric) - Notes on Quine, “Natural Kinds”"

Source: Funkhouser (Eric) - Metaphysics, Spring 2014


Question
    ”Explain either Hempel’s puzzle about non-black non-ravens or Goodman’s grue puzzle, as presented by Quine. Explain how this puzzle raises a problem for simple accounts of kinds (e.g., set-theoretic). What modification of the simple theory of kinds does Quine endorse in order to resolve these problems? Explain the sense in which Quine privileges certain kinds, while nevertheless maintaining his Nominalism.”


COMMENT:



"Funkhouser (Eric) - Notes on Campbell, “The Metaphysic of Abstract Particulars”"

Source: Funkhouser (Eric) - Metaphysics, Spring 2014


Question
    ”Explain the concrete/abstract and particular/universal distinctions, as made by Campbell. Then, with this distinction in mind, explain what a trope is supposed to be. How do tropes differ from the more traditional (abstract) universals and (concrete) particulars? How does the trope theorist understand what it is for distinct objects to be of the very same kind? Explain at least one supposed advantage that tropes have over properties-as-universals.”


COMMENT:



"Funkhouser (Eric) - Notes on Lewis, “New Work for a Theory of Universals”"

Source: Funkhouser (Eric) - Metaphysics, Spring 2014


Question
    ”Explain, on Lewis’s special terminology, the distinction between properties and universals. Explain how universals, so understood, can contribute to solving either the grue or raven paradox. Also, apply the idea to reference — e.g., how can universals contribute to providing the meanings of natural kind terms? Ultimately, why does Lewis reject universals, though? How, instead, does he account for the “one over many”?”


COMMENT:



"Funkhouser (Eric) - Notes on Armstrong, “Universals as Attributes”"

Source: Funkhouser (Eric) - Metaphysics, Spring 2014


Question
    ”Explain the sense in which Armstrong’s theory of properties is both scientific and realistic (i.e., his Scientific Realism). Explain why his conception of properties rules out both disjunctive and negative universals. Also explain why he favors an ontology that rejects uninstantiated properties and a “Platonic Heaven”.”


COMMENT:



"Funkhouser (Eric) - Notes on Russell, “On the Notion of Cause”"

Source: Funkhouser (Eric) - Metaphysics, Spring 2014


Question
    ”Explain how both Russell and Anscombe object to accounts of causation that take causes to be sufficient for their effects. When it comes to their own views on causation, however, they radically diverge. Explain the position each takes on causation. In particular, explain the way in which Anscombe departs from Hume when it comes to the epistemology of causal relations.


COMMENT:



"Funkhouser (Eric) - Notes on Mackie, “Causes and Conditions”"

Source: Funkhouser (Eric) - Metaphysics, Spring 2014


Question
    ”What is an INUS condition? Explain Mackie’s INUS theory of causation by applying it to a particular example in which it seems to correctly identify a cause. Next, describe a counterexample to this view — e.g., a case in which the INUS theory seems to misidentify or fail to identify a cause. Generally speaking, what is most problematic about Mackie’s account?”


COMMENT:



"Funkhouser (Eric) - Notes on Davidson, “Causal Relations”"

Source: Funkhouser (Eric) - Metaphysics, Spring 2014


Question
    ”Davidson agrees with Hume and Mill that singular causal statements must be supported by a general law. Yet, he allows that it can be true that Smith’s fall from the ladder caused his death even though there is no general law relating falls from ladders to deaths. Explain how Davidson reconciles these claims. Along the way explain the notion of “fragility” as applied to events.”


COMMENT:



"Funkhouser (Eric) - Notes on Anscombe, “Causality and Determination”"

Source: Funkhouser (Eric) - Metaphysics, Spring 2014


Question
    ”Explain how both Russell and Anscombe object to accounts of causation that take causes to be sufficient for their effects. When it comes to their own views on causation, however, they radically diverge. Explain the position each takes on causation. In particular, explain the way in which Anscombe departs from Hume when it comes to the epistemology of causal relations.


COMMENT:



"Funkhouser (Eric) - Notes on Lewis, “Causation”"

Source: Funkhouser (Eric) - Metaphysics, Spring 2014


Question
    ”Describe Lewis’s counterfactual theory of causation. Discuss a normal case of causation, and explain Lewis’s procedure for evaluating the relevant counterfactual. Next explain, by discussing a different example, how Lewis uses his counterfactual theory to handle cases of epiphenomenalism that, he thinks, pose problems for the regularity theorist.”


COMMENT:



"Funkhouser (Eric) - Notes on Tooley, “Causation: Reductionism Versus Realism”"

Source: Funkhouser (Eric) - Metaphysics, Spring 2014


Question
    ”Explain what it means to be a strong reductionist about causal relations. Tooley offers four arguments in favor of his realist account of causal relations. One of these is the argument from the possibility of indeterministic laws. Explain, by describing a specific example, how this argument is supposed to serve as an objection to the dominant reductionist view.”


COMMENT:



"Funkhouser (Eric) - Notes on Hall, “Two Concepts of Causation”"

Source: Funkhouser (Eric) - Metaphysics, Spring 2014

COMMENT:



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  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)



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