Downloadable Papers

All Available Papers

This is a list of all the paper drafts available from this webpage in alphabetical order.  Brief descriptions of each paper are available below this list.

Balls and All, forthcoming in Kleinschmidt, S. (ed) Mereology and Location.  Oxford University Press.
Categories and Ontological Dependence, The Monist 94.2: 277-300. Penultimate draft.
Classes, Worlds and Hypergunk, The Monist 2004 87.3:  3-21.  Penultimate draft.
Comments on John Divers’s “On the Significance of the Question of the Function of Modal Judgment”. draft.
Consequentialism and Side Constraints, Journal of Moral Philosophy 2009 6.1: 5-22.  Penultimate draft.
Contemporary Metaphysicians and Their Traditions, Philosophical Topics 35.1&2: 1-18. Draft.
*NEW* Creationism and Cardinality. With Alexander Sandgren. Analysis 2014 74.4: 615-629. Draft
Disposition Impossible, with C.S. Jenkins, forthcoming in Noûs, draft.
Epistemic Dispositions, with Rachael Briggs.
Fearing Spouses in Aristotle's Ta Oikonomica, British Journal for the History of Philosophy 18.1: 1-8. Draft
Fictionalist Attitudes about Fictional Matters, in Kalderon, M. (ed.) Fictionalist Approaches to Metaphysics.  OUP, Oxford.  This is a penultimate draft.
Finite Quantities, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society.
Hale's Dilemma, unpublished elsewhere.
*NEW* Hyperintensional Metaphysics.  Philosophical Studies 2014 171.1: 149-160. Draft. 
Individuals Enough For Classes, unpublished elsewhere.
Is Stalnaker Inconsistent About Indicative Conditionals? Draft.
*NEW* It's a Kind of Magic: Lewis, Magic and Properties. forthcoming in Synthese. Draft.
Lewis's Philosophical Method, forthcoming in Loewer, B. and Schaffer, J.  Blackwell Companion to Lewis.  Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford. Draft.
Maximising, Satisficing and Context, with C.S. Jenkins. Noûs 44.3: 451-468. Draft.
Mental Mediation, with Caroline West.  This is an expanded version of the paper that appeared in the 2004 Journal of Value Inquiry 38.2: 186-202.
Metaphysical Language, Ordinary Language and Peter van Inwagen's Material Beings. Humana.mente 13: 220-226
Method in Anaytic Metaphysics, forthcoming in Cappelen, H. Gendler, T.S., Hawthorne, J. and Sgaravatti, D. (eds)  The Oxford Handbook of Philosophical Methodology.  Oxford University Press, Oxford. Draft.
Modal Fictionalism , an entry in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Moral Fictionalism, with Greg Restall and Caroline West.  This is an expanded version of the paper that appeared in the 2005 Australasian Journal of Philosophy 83.3: 307-329.
Noncausal Dispositions, forthcoming in Noûs, draft.
Non-Factivity About Knowledge, A Defensive Move, in the 2008 The Reasoner 2.11: 6-7.  The paper link is to the whole issue, which is available free online.
*NEW* Personification and Impossible Fictions, forthcoming in British Journal of Aesthetics.  Draft.
Platitudes and Metaphysics, forthcoming in Braddon-Mitchell, D, and Nola, R. (eds) Naturalism and Analysis. MIT Press, Cambridge MA
Properties and Paradox in Graham Priest's Towards Non-Being, forthcoming in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. Penultimate Draft.
Selfless Desires, final version in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 2006 73.3: 665-679.
Stoic Gunk, Phronesis 51.2: 162-183. Penultimate draft.
*NEW* The A Posteriori Armchair. forthcoming in Australasian Journal of Philosophy. Draft
The Extent of Metaphysical Necessity. Philosophical Perspectives 25.1: 313-339. Draft.
The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Abstract Metaphysics.  Forthcoming in Oxford Studies in Metaphysics. Draft
The Varieties of Flirtatious Experience, not published elsewhere.
Truthmakers and Predication.  Oxford Studies in Metaphysics.
Utility Monsters for the Fission Age, with Rachael Briggs. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, forthcoming. Draft.
Vagueness, Multiplicity and Parts, Noûs. 2006 40.4: 716-737. Penultimate draft.
What Would Teleological Causation Be?, with John Hawthorne, in Hawthorne, J. 2006. Metaphysical Essays. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 265-284.
Why Historians (and Everyone Else) Should Care About Counterfactuals, forthcoming in Philosophical Studies.  Draft
Why Take Our Word For It, with Ishani Maitra, draft.

Forthcoming Papers


*NEW* It's a Kind of Magic: Lewis, Magic and Properties. forthcoming in Synthese. Draft.

Lewis's Philosophical Method, forthcoming in Loewer, B. and Schaffer, J.  Blackwell Companion to Lewis.  Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford.

Method in Anaytic Metaphysics, forthcoming in Cappelen, H. Gendler, T.S., Hawthorne, J. and Sgaravatti, D. (eds)  The Oxford Handbook of Philosophical Methodology.  Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Noncausal Dispositions.  Forthcoming in Noûs.  Penultimate Draft.

Some theories of dispositions tie dispositions quite closely to causation.  This paper argues that many dispositional claims are not closely tied to causation in this way, and that causation and dispositionality are not as closely bound up as some theories suggest.

*NEW* Personification and Impossible Fictions, forthcoming in British Journal of Aesthetics.  Draft.
Impossible Fictions are more pervasive than you might have thought: many uses of the trope of personification, e.g. to suggest that Death rides across the countryside or Duty has a stern voice, generate fictions that describe metaphysical impossibilities.  This has consequences for our general theory of representation and our theory of truth in fiction.

The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Abstract Metaphysics. Forthcoming in Oxford Studies in Metaphysics. Draft.

In Metaphysics A, Aristotle offers some objections to Plato’s theory of Forms to the effect that Plato’s Forms would not be explanatory in the right way, and seems to suggest that they might even make the explanatory project worse.  One interesting historical puzzle is whether Aristotle can avoid these same objections to his own theory of universals.  The concerns Aristotle raises are, I think, cousins of contemporary concerns about the usefulness and explanatoriness of abstract objects, some of which have recently been receiving attention in the philosophy of mathematics.  After discussing Aristotle’s objections and their contemporary cousins, the paper discusses some of the main available lines of response to these sorts of challenges, before concluding with an examination of whether these responses could assist Plato or Aristotle in responding to these challenges.

Utility Monsters for the Fission Age, with Rachael Briggs. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, forthcoming. Draft.

Draft Papers

At present, I can offer:


Individuals Enough For Classes

This paper is substantially unchanged from a version produced on the 7th of June 2000.  The content overlaps significantly with chapter 7 of my 2002 book:  it is a representation of many of the same ideas, shorn of the context of possible worlds.  References originally to my PhD thesis have been updated to references to Nolan 2002.  Some formatting changes have been made, some typos corrected, some of the more tangled sentences smoothed, and my institutional affiliation has been updated.
This paper is not really a draft - it's complete, but will probably only appear here because of the overlap with my published chapter.

Why Take Our Word For It, with Ishani Maitra.
The central question in the epistemology of testimony is how we come know things from others' testimony. We offer a partial answer to this question, according to which hearers come to know things they are told by recognizing that tellers are staking their reputations as testifiers on their testimony. We argue that our view accommodates some intuitions about the role that interpersonal relationships play in testimony, while avoiding the problems that arise for other views that attempt to make the same accommodations (e.g., the assurance views of testimony). (August 2006)


Shorter Notes

In this section I will include short notes which I think make a contribution to the philosophical discussion.  Some will be published in their own right, and some will appear only on my website.

The Varieties of Flirtatious Experience
This paper is a response to Carrie Jenkins's "The Philosophy of Flirting", offering a rival account of what it is for someone to flirt. The above is a slightly modified version uploaded in 2008 - for those wanting to look at the originally uploaded 2006 version, for example to check a reference or to see if I have surruptitiously changed anything, the original can be found here.

Is Stalnaker Inconsistent About Indicative Conditionals?
Short answer: yes. Longer answer: Stalnaker's formal system is not consistent with some of his motivating remarks. I don't think this is a mere glitch: of the four most obvious ways to bring them into harmony, two are fairly radical revisions and two leave the theory looking a little ad hoc.
 
In a 1995 piece in Analysis, Bob Hale argued that modal fictionalism faced a dilemma. Hale does not successfully show that there is any problem with either horn of this dilemma.

This piece was originally written as a sub-entry for my Stanford Encyclopedia Entry in 1999, but the editors rightfully thought it was too argumentative. So now it's an argumentative piece in its own right, instead.

Papers That Have Appeared

Note:  many of these papers are late drafts, and some contain material not in the versions published in journals.  When citing these papers, it is probably a good idea to refer to the version that appeared in the journal, unless of course you want to cite parts of the material that are not in the journal version.

Balls and All, in Kleinschmidt, S. (ed) Mereology and Location.  Oxford University Press.

This paper describes a plausible view of the nature of physical objects, their mereological connections to each other, and their relation to spacetime. As well as being parsimonious, the view provides a plausible context for defending all of the following:

(1) A theory that objects endure through time (and do not have temporal parts, as normally conceived) can coherently claim that material objects are identical to space-time regions they occupy.
(2) None of the family of mereological connections (part-whole, overlap etc.) need be taken as primitive.
(3) Claims entirely in the language of quantifiers, identity and mereology can be semantically vague without any "vagueness in existence".
It is thus an example showing that the there are more options for the metaphysics of objects, spacetime and mereology than many metaphysicians ordinarily assume.
 

Categories and Ontological Dependence, The Monist 94.2: 277-300. Penultimate Draft.

Part of a general theory of grounding or ontological dependence should address questions about the ontological dependence relationships between categories.  This paper discusses some options for what answers might look like, and illustrates one kind of option with a particular example:  the thesis that ordinary objects are events.

Classes, Worlds and Hypergunk
Penultimate Draft:  the final version is in
The Monist 2004 87.3:  3-21
Many people have wanted to construe possible worlds as set-theoretic objects of one sort or another. A common feature of many of these theories is that they imply that no world contains more than a set of possible objects nor more than a set of properties possessed by those objects.  A.P. Hazen has defended this consequence as being positively desirable, relying on a principle about what sorts of cases we should be able to have “genuine modal intuitions” about, and an argument that any such case can be represented set-theoretically.  This paper produces a specification of a certain sort of unlimited divisibility which meets Hazen’s strictures about what we may expect to have represented by a possible world, is independently plausible as a metaphysical possibility, and, if accepted as a genuine metaphysical possibility, demonstrates that many theories of possible worlds as set-theoretic objects are inadequate.

Comments on John Divers’s “On the Significance of the Question of the Function of Modal Judgment”in Hale, B. and Hoffman, A. (eds) Modality. Oxford University Press, Oxford. Draft.

This is a response to an interesting paper by John Divers about what modal judgements are for.  His paper is not currently available online.

Consequentialism and Side Constraints, Journal of Moral Philosophy 2009 6.1: 5-22. Draft.

Theories according to which pursuit of the good should be limited by absolute side-constraints on action face a serious intuitive cost when it comes to considering high-stakes cases.  Five options for such theories in the face of this problem are examined and found wanting.
  

Contemporary Metaphysicians and Their Traditions, Philosophical Topics 2007 35.1&2: 1-18

This is a methodology paper.  How do we contemporary metaphysicians interact with metaphysical traditions, and how should we?

*NEW* Creationism and Cardinality. With Alexander Sandgren. Penultimate Draft.  Final version in Analysis 2014 74.4 615-629

Creationism about fictional entities requires a principle connecting what fictions say exist with which fictional entities really exist.  The most natural way of spelling out such a principle yields inconsistent verdicts about how many fictional entities are generated by certain inconsistent fictions.  Avoiding inconsistency without compromising the attractions of creationism will not be easy.

Disposition Impossible, with C.S. Jenkins. Noûs 46.4: 732-753.  Draft.

We argue that it is a non-trivial matter whether a given object is disposed to F in circumstances C, even when F is impossible, or C is an impossible circumstance.

Epistemic Dispositions, with Rachael Briggs. Logos & Episteme 3.4: 629-636.  Draft.

We reply to recent papers by John Turri and Ben Bronner, who criticise the dispositionalised Nozickian tracking account we discuss in "Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know".  We argue that the account we suggested can handle the problems raised by Turri and Bronner, but that this teaches general lessons for theories of epistemic dispositions:  that epistemic dispositions are to some extent extrinsic, that they can concern non-existence, and that paying attention to contrast matters.

Fearing Spouses in Aristotle's Ta Oikonomica, forthcoming in British Journal for the History of Philosophy.
One of the surviving chapters of the Oikonomica attributed to Aristotle contains one unusual piece of advice:  that spouses should fear each other.  What could be going on?

Fictionalist Attitudes about Fictional Matters, in Kalderon, M. (ed.) Fictionalist Approaches to Metaphysics.  OUP, Oxford.

Many non-realist theories face problems of embedding sentences which they treat non-realistically:the “Frege-Geach” problems.  Fictionalism does better than many alternatives to realism (e.g. non-cognitivism) in handling the behavior of truth-functional connectives, conditionals, inference, and so on.  But fictionalists do face a problem of embedding in propositional attitude contexts:  just as someone with a fictionalist attitude towards a certain body of claims will want to talk as if those claims were true, a community of fictionalists will find it convenient for a variety of purposes to talk as if their colleagues literally believe some of the relevant body of claims, to discuss the desires and intentions of ones colleagues as if they they believed the claims, etc.  But a fictionalism about a certain subject matter (mathematics, morality, unobservable scientific entities, etc.) is not in general a fictionalism that applies to one’s colleagues’ psychological states.  This paper argues for the need for an extended fiction which allows fictionalists to talk as if they have attitudes towards those propositions they wish to treat fictionally (other than the psychological attitudes they literally have towards these propositions, such as disbelief).  The paper then demonstrates how to extend a basic fiction to construct an extended fiction which allows for these fictional attitude attributions.

++++
In his
introduction to the volume this paper appears in, Mark Kalderon claims that I draw upon David Lewis's account of fiction as opposed to Kendall Walton's in this paper.  I don't see that myself, I have to admit - as far as I can tell, the technique in this paper works equally well for a variety of fictionalist approaches, and doesn't draw on any in particular.

Finite Quantities, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society.
How could physics provide us with evidence that physical quantities were discrete rather than continuous?  This paper discusses these questions in general, and also examines a much discussed special case:  namely, can physics provide evidence whether spatio-temporal quantities are discrete?


*NEW* Hyperintensional Metaphysics.  Draft.  Final version in Philosophical Studies 2014 171.1 149-160

Metaphysics should take advantage of hyperintensional resources: drawing distinctions between necessary equivalents.  We should think that this can improve our metaphysics of the non-representational world, and not just for our theories of representation.

Maximising, Satisficing and Context, coauthored with C.S. Jenkins, in Noûs. Draft

We explore and defend the position that consequentialists should be contextualists about how good enough an alternative has to be to count as permitted.  According to the view defended, in some contexts only the best counts as good enough, in other contexts a lesser standard governs the use of expressions like "morally permitted", "morally right", and the like.

Mental Mediation, with Caroline West
This is a fuller-length draft of the paper that appeared in the Journal of Value Inquiry.  This version has a lot more footnotes, and an extra section on pornography.  We would prefer that citations be to the version published in the JVI, except if anyone wants to cite bits of this fuller paper that do not appear there.

Metaphysical Language, Ordinary Language and Peter van Inwagen's Material Beings. Humana.mente 13: 220-226

This paper discusses Peter van Inwagen's proposal that while we say truly in the metaphysics classroom that there are no non-living composite objects, we do say truly in ordinary contexts that there are tables, cars, mountains, etc.  I argue that van Inwagen's theory gives no solution to paradoxes of composition as phrased in the language of ordinary contexts, and suggest that supplementing his theory with an account of the ordinary paradoxes threatens to damage the epistemic underpinnings of his claims in the metaphysics classroom.

Moral Fictionalism (with Greg Restall and Caroline West)
Portions of this paper will appear as our Australasian Journal of Philosophy article "Moral Fictionalism Versus The Rest".  But this is the full, unexpergated version - it contains a general introduction to fictionalism lacking in the published variant.

Platitudes and Metaphysics in Braddon-Mitchell, D, and Nola, R. (eds) Naturalism and Analysis. MIT Press, Cambridge MA.
In this paper I discuss what "Canberra Planners" have been doing with platitudes, and how doing that sort of thing can assist in fundamental metaphysics.

Properties and Paradox in Graham Priest's Towards Non-BeingPhilosophy and Phenomenological Research 76.1: 191-198

This paper is to appear in a book symposium on Graham Priest's Towards Non-Being.

Selfless Desires, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 73.3: 665-679

David Lewis’s unified theory of the contents of de se and de dicto attitudes faces a problem.  Whether or not it is adequate for representing beliefs, it misrepresents the content of many of our desires, which rank possible outcomes in which the agent with the desire does not exist. These desires are shown to play a role in the rational explanation of action, and recognising them is important in our understanding of ourselves.

Stoic Gunk, Phronesis 51.2: 162-183

The surviving sources on the Stoic theory of division reveal that the Stoics, particularly Chrysippus, believed that bodies, places and times were such that all of their parts themselves had proper parts. That is, bodies, places and times were composed of gunk. This realisation helps solve some long-standing puzzles about the Stoic theory of mixture and the Stoic attitude to the present. This is a penultimate draft.

*NEW* The A Posteriori Armchair. Forthcoming in the Australasian Journal of Philosophy. Draft.
A lot of good philosophy is done in the armchair, but is nevertheless a posteriori.  This paper defends that claim, after clarifying what is meant by “armchair” here.  Among the a posteriori activities done in the armchair are assembling and evaluating commonplaces;  formulating theoretical alternatives; and integrating well-known past a posteriori discoveries.  The activity that will receive the most discussion, however, is the application of theoretical virtues to choose philosophical theories:  the paper argues that much of this is properly seen as a posteriori.

The Extent of Metaphysical Necessity. Philosophical Perspectives 25.1: 313-339.  Penultimate Draft.

A lot of philosophers engage in debates about what claims are “metaphysically necessary”, and a lot more assume with little argument that some classes of claims have the status of “metaphysical necessity”.  I think we can usefully replace questions about metaphysical necessity with five other questions which each capture some of what people may have had in mind when talking about metaphysical necessity.  This paper explains these five other questions, and then discusses the question “how much of metaphysics is metaphysically necessary?”, and each of its five replacements.

Truthmakers and Predication, Oxford Studies in Metaphysics.
To what extent do true predications correspond to truthmakers in virtue of which those predications are true?  One sort of predicate which is often thought to not be susceptible to an ontological treatment is a predicate for instantiation, or some corresponding predication (trope-similarity or set-membership, for example).  This paper discusses this question, and argues that an "ontological" approach is possible here too:  where this ontological approach goes beyond merely finding a truthmaker for claims about instantiation.  Along the way a version of the problem of the regress of instantiation is posed and solved.

Vagueness, Multiplicity and Parts, Noûs. 2006 40.4: 716-737 This is a penultimate draft
There’s an argument around from so-called “linguistic theories of vagueness”, plus some relatively uncontroversial considerations, to powerful metaphysical conclusions. David Lewis employs this argument to support the mereological principle of unrestricted composition, and Theodore Sider employs a similar argument not just for unrestricted composition but also for the doctrine of temporal parts. This sort of argument could be generalised, to produce a lot of other less palatable metaphysical conclusions. However, arguments to Lewis's and Sider's conclusions on the basis of considerations about vagueness are uncompelling, even if we accept the crucial premises about vagueness. And a good thing too, since the generalised form of the argument would prove far too much.

What Would Teleological Causation Be?, with John Hawthorne, in Hawthorne, J. 2006. Metaphysical Essays. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 265-284.

 In this paper we argue that the notion of fundametally teleological causation is coherent and interesting, and suggest teleological causation is metaphysically possible. We also outline some sufficient conditions for a process to count as an example of teleological causation. This is a penultimate draft.

Why Historians (and Everyone Else) Should Care About Counterfactuals. Philosophical Studies 163.3: 317-335  (The published version is a revised form of this draft).

There are at least eight good reasons practicing historians should concern themselves with counterfactual claims. Furthermore, four of these reasons do not even require that we are able to tell which historical counterfactuals are true and which are false. This paper defends the claim that these reasons to be concerned with counterfactuals are good ones, and discusses how each can contribute to the practice of history.

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