Combining Philosophers

All the ideas for Carl Ginet, Erik J. Olsson and L.A. Paul

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17 ideas

9. Objects / A. Existence of Objects / 5. Individuation / e. Individuation by kind
'Substance theorists' take modal properties as primitive, without structure, just falling under a sortal [Paul,LA]
     Full Idea: Some deep essentialists resist the need to explain the structure under de re modal properties, taking them as primitive. One version (which we can call 'substance theory') takes them to fall under a sortal concept, with no further explanation.
     From: L.A. Paul (In Defense of Essentialism [2006], 1)
     A reaction: A very helpful identification of what Wiggins stands for, and why I disagree with him. The whole point of essences is to provide a notion that fits in with sciences, which means they must have an explanatory role, which needs structures.
If an object's sort determines its properties, we need to ask what determines its sort [Paul,LA]
     Full Idea: If the substance essentialist holds that the sort an object belongs to determines its de re modal properties (rather than the other way round), then he needs to give an (ontological, not conceptual) explanation of what determines an object's sort.
     From: L.A. Paul (In Defense of Essentialism [2006], 1)
     A reaction: See Idea 14193 for 'substance essentialism'. I find it quite incredible that anyone could think that a thing's sort could determine its properties, rather than the other way round. Even if sortals are conventional, they are not arbitrary.
Substance essentialism says an object is multiple, as falling under various different sortals [Paul,LA]
     Full Idea: The explanation of material constitution given by substance essentialism is that there are multiple objects. A person is essentially human-shaped (falling under the human sort), while their hunk of tissue is accidentally human-shaped (as tissue).
     From: L.A. Paul (In Defense of Essentialism [2006], 1)
     A reaction: At this point sortal essentialism begins to look crazy. Persons are dubious examples (with sneaky dualism involved). A bronze statue is essentially harder to dent than a clay one, because of its bronze. If you remake it of clay, it isn't the same statue.
9. Objects / C. Structure of Objects / 8. Parts of Objects / b. Sums of parts
Absolutely unrestricted qualitative composition would allow things with incompatible properties [Paul,LA]
     Full Idea: Absolutely unrestricted qualitative composition would imply that objects with incompatible properties and objects such as winged pigs or golden mountains were actual.
     From: L.A. Paul (In Defense of Essentialism [2006], 5)
     A reaction: Note that this is 'qualitative' composition, and not composition of parts. The objection seems to rule out unrestricted qualitative composition, since you could hardly combine squareness with roundness.
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 2. Types of Essence
Deep essentialist objects have intrinsic properties that fix their nature; the shallow version makes it contextual [Paul,LA]
     Full Idea: Essentialism says that objects have their properties essentially. 'Deep' essentialists take the (nontrivial) essential properties of an object to determine its nature. 'Shallow' essentialists substitute context-dependent truths for the independent ones.
     From: L.A. Paul (In Defense of Essentialism [2006], Intro)
     A reaction: If the deep essence determines a things nature, we should not need to say 'nontrivial'. This is my bete noire, the confusion of essential properties with necessary ones, where necessary properties (or predicates, at least) can indeed be trivial.
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 6. Essence as Unifier
Deep essentialists say essences constrain how things could change; modal profiles fix natures [Paul,LA]
     Full Idea: The deep essentialist holds that most objects have essential properties such that there are many ways they could not be, or many changes through which they could not persist. Objects' modal profiles characterize their natures.
     From: L.A. Paul (In Defense of Essentialism [2006], Intro)
     A reaction: This is the view I like, especially the last bit. If your modal profile doesn't determine your nature, then what does? Think of how you sum up a person at a funeral. Your modal profile is determined by dispositions and powers.
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 15. Against Essentialism
Essentialism must deal with charges of arbitrariness, and failure to reduce de re modality [Paul,LA]
     Full Idea: Two objections to deep essentialism are that it falters when faced with a skeptical objection concerning arbitrariness, and the need for a reductive account of de re modality.
     From: L.A. Paul (In Defense of Essentialism [2006], Intro)
     A reaction: An immediate response to the second objection might be to say that modal facts about things are not reducible. The charge of arbitrariness (i.e. total arbitrariness, not just a bit of uncertainty) is the main thing a theory of essences must deal with.
An object's modal properties don't determine its possibilities [Paul,LA]
     Full Idea: I reject the view that an object's de re modal properties determine its relations to possibilia.
     From: L.A. Paul (In Defense of Essentialism [2006], 3)
     A reaction: You'll have to read Paul to see why, but I flat disagree with her on this. The whole point of accepting such properties is to determine the modal profile of the thing, and hence see how it can fit into and behave in the world.
10. Modality / E. Possible worlds / 2. Nature of Possible Worlds / a. Nature of possible worlds
'Modal realists' believe in many concrete worlds, 'actualists' in just this world, 'ersatzists' in abstract other worlds [Paul,LA]
     Full Idea: A 'modal realist' believes that there are many concrete worlds, while the 'actualist' believes in only one concrete world, the actual world. The 'ersatzist' is an actualist who takes nonactual possible worlds and their contents to be abstracta.
     From: L.A. Paul (In Defense of Essentialism [2006], Intro)
     A reaction: My view is something like that modal realism is wrong, and actualism is right, and possible worlds (if they really are that useful) are convenient abstract fictions, constructed (if we have any sense) out of the real possibilities in the actual world.
13. Knowledge Criteria / A. Justification Problems / 1. Justification / a. Justification issues
Must all justification be inferential? [Ginet]
     Full Idea: The infinitist view of justification holds that every justification must be inferential: no other kind of justification is possible.
     From: Carl Ginet (Infinitism not solution to regress problem [2005], p.141)
     A reaction: This is the key question in discussing whether justification is foundational. I'm not sure whether 'inference' is the best word when something is evidence for something else. I am inclined to think that only propositions can be reasons.
Inference cannot originate justification, it can only transfer it from premises to conclusion [Ginet]
     Full Idea: Inference cannot originate justification, it can only transfer it from premises to conclusion. And so it cannot be that, if there actually occurs justification, it is all inferential.
     From: Carl Ginet (Infinitism not solution to regress problem [2005], p.148)
     A reaction: The idea that justification must have an 'origin' seems to beg the question. I take Klein's inifinitism to be a version of coherence, where the accumulation of good reasons adds up to justification. It is not purely inferential.
13. Knowledge Criteria / B. Internal Justification / 5. Coherentism / a. Coherence as justification
Incoherence may be more important for enquiry than coherence [Olsson]
     Full Idea: While coherence may lack the positive role many have assigned to it, ...incoherence plays an important negative role in our enquiries.
     From: Erik J. Olsson (Against Coherence [2005], 10.1)
     A reaction: [He cites Peirce as the main source for this idea] We can hardly by deeply impressed by incoherence if we have no sense of coherence. Incoherence is just one of many markers for theory failure. Missing the target, bad concepts...
Coherence is the capacity to answer objections [Olsson]
     Full Idea: According to Lehrer, coherence should be understood in terms of the capacity to answer objections.
     From: Erik J. Olsson (Against Coherence [2005], 9)
     A reaction: [Keith Lehrer 1990] We can connect this with the Greek requirement of being able to give an account [logos], which is the hallmark of understanding. I take coherence to be the best method of achieving understanding. Any understanding meets Lehrer's test.
13. Knowledge Criteria / B. Internal Justification / 5. Coherentism / c. Coherentism critique
Mere agreement of testimonies is not enough to make truth very likely [Olsson]
     Full Idea: Far from guaranteeing a high likelihood of truth by itself, testimonial agreement can apparently do so only if the circumstances are favourable as regards independence, prior probability, and individual credibility.
     From: Erik J. Olsson (Against Coherence [2005], 1)
     A reaction: This is Olson's main thesis. His targets are C.I.Lewis and Bonjour, who hoped that a mere consensus of evidence would increase verisimilitude. I don't see a problem for coherence in general, since his favourable circumstances are part of it.
Coherence is only needed if the information sources are not fully reliable [Olsson]
     Full Idea: An enquirer who is fortunate enough to have at his or her disposal fully reliable information sources has no use for coherence, the need for which arises only in the context of less than fully reliable informations sources.
     From: Erik J. Olsson (Against Coherence [2005], 2.6.2)
     A reaction: I take this to be entirely false. How do you assess reliability? 'I've seen it with my own eyes'. Why trust your eyes? In what visibility conditions do you begin to doubt your eyes? Why do rational people mistrust their intuitions?
A purely coherent theory cannot be true of the world without some contact with the world [Olsson]
     Full Idea: The Input Objection says a pure coherence theory would seem to allow that a system of beliefs be justified in spite of being utterly out of contact with the world it purports to describe, so long as it is, to a sufficient extent, coherent.
     From: Erik J. Olsson (Against Coherence [2005], 4.1)
     A reaction: Olson seems impressed by this objection, but I don't see how a system could be coherently about the world if it had no known contact with the world. Olson seems to ignore meta-coherence, which evaluates the status of the system being studied.
Extending a system makes it less probable, so extending coherence can't make it more probable [Olsson]
     Full Idea: Any non-trivial extension of a belief system is less probable than the original system, but there are extensions that are more coherent than the original system. Hence more coherence does not imply a higher probability.
     From: Erik J. Olsson (Against Coherence [2005], 6.4)
     A reaction: [Olson cites Klein and Warfield 1994; compressed] The example rightly says the extension could have high internal coherence, but not whether the extension is coherent with the system being extended.