Combining Philosophers

All the ideas for Michael Burke, Melvin Fitting and Jonathan Tallant

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23 ideas

1. Philosophy / E. Nature of Metaphysics / 1. Nature of Metaphysics
Metaphysics is a quest for truthmakers [Tallant]
     Full Idea: In this book I will treat metaphysics as a quest for truthmakers.
     From: Jonathan Tallant (Metaphysics: an introduction [2011], 01)
     A reaction: I find this appealing, though obviously you have to say what sort of truthmakers generate 'metaphysical' truths, as opposed to physics or biology. I take it that would involve truthmakers that had a high level of generality, idealisation and abstraction.
2. Reason / D. Definition / 12. Paraphrase
Maybe number statements can be paraphrased into quantifications plus identities [Tallant]
     Full Idea: One strategy is whenever we are presented with a sentence that might appear to entail the existence of numbers, all that we have to do is paraphrase it using a quantified logic, plus identity.
     From: Jonathan Tallant (Metaphysics: an introduction [2011], 03.5)
     A reaction: This nominalist strategy seems fine for manageable numbers, but gets in trouble with numbers too big to count (e.g. grains of sand in the world) , or genuine infinities.
3. Truth / B. Truthmakers / 3. Truthmaker Maximalism
Maybe only 'positive' truths need truth-makers [Tallant]
     Full Idea: We might say that those truths that do not need truth-makers are those that are negative. Those that do need truth-makers are those that are positive.
     From: Jonathan Tallant (Metaphysics: an introduction [2011], 10.8)
     A reaction: If you deny the existence of something, there is always an implicit domain for the denial, such as 'on the table', or 'in this building', or 'in the cosmos'. So why can't that domain be the truthmaker for a negative existential?
3. Truth / B. Truthmakers / 5. What Makes Truths / a. What makes truths
A truthmaker is the minimal portion of reality that will do the job [Tallant]
     Full Idea: A 'minimal' truth-maker is the 'smallest' portion of reality required to make a given proposition true.
     From: Jonathan Tallant (Metaphysics: an introduction [2011], 01.2)
     A reaction: A nice suggestion. This seems to make Ockham's Razor an integral part of the theory of truth-makers. I would apply the same principle to explanations. An Ockhamist explanation is what explains the puzzling thing - and nothing else.
3. Truth / B. Truthmakers / 12. Rejecting Truthmakers
What is the truthmaker for a possible new power? [Tallant]
     Full Idea: What power will make true 'there could be a power that does not in fact exist'?
     From: Jonathan Tallant (Metaphysics: an introduction [2011], 04.13)
     A reaction: Nice question. We can't know whether it is true that a new power could exist, so we can't expect an actual truthmaker for it. Though we might predict new powers (such as for a new transuranic element), on the basis of the known ones.
4. Formal Logic / E. Nonclassical Logics / 8. Intensional Logic
If terms change their designations in different states, they are functions from states to objects [Fitting]
     Full Idea: The common feature of every designating term is that designation may change from state to state - thus it can be formalized by a function from states to objects.
     From: Melvin Fitting (Intensional Logic [2007], 3)
     A reaction: Specifying the objects sounds OK, but specifying states sounds rather tough.
Intensional logic adds a second type of quantification, over intensional objects, or individual concepts [Fitting]
     Full Idea: To first order modal logic (with quantification over objects) we can add a second kind of quantification, over intensions. An intensional object, or individual concept, will be modelled by a function from states to objects.
     From: Melvin Fitting (Intensional Logic [2007], 3.3)
4. Formal Logic / E. Nonclassical Logics / 9. Awareness Logic
Awareness logic adds the restriction of an awareness function to epistemic logic [Fitting]
     Full Idea: Awareness logic enriched Hintikka's epistemic models with an awareness function, mapping each state to the set of formulas we are aware of at that state. This reflects some bound on the resources we can bring to bear.
     From: Melvin Fitting (Intensional Logic [2007], 3.6.1)
     A reaction: [He cites Fagin and Halpern 1988 for this]
4. Formal Logic / E. Nonclassical Logics / 10. Justification Logics
Justication logics make explicit the reasons for mathematical truth in proofs [Fitting]
     Full Idea: In justification logics, the logics of knowledge are extended by making reasons explicit. A logic of proof terms was created, with a semantics. In this, mathematical truths are known for explicit reasons, and these provide a measure of complexity.
     From: Melvin Fitting (Intensional Logic [2007], 3.6.1)
5. Theory of Logic / A. Overview of Logic / 8. Logic of Mathematics
Classical logic is deliberately extensional, in order to model mathematics [Fitting]
     Full Idea: Mathematics is typically extensional throughout (we write 3+2=2+3 despite the two terms having different meanings). ..Classical first-order logic is extensional by design since it primarily evolved to model the reasoning of mathematics.
     From: Melvin Fitting (Intensional Logic [2007], 1)
5. Theory of Logic / F. Referring in Logic / 3. Property (λ-) Abstraction
λ-abstraction disambiguates the scope of modal operators [Fitting]
     Full Idea: λ-abstraction can be used to abstract and disambiguate a predicate. De re is [λx◊P(x)](f) - f has the possible-P property - and de dicto is ◊[λxP(x)](f) - possibly f has the P-property. Also applies to □.
     From: Melvin Fitting (Intensional Logic [2007], 3.3)
     A reaction: Compare the Barcan formula. Originated with Church in the 1930s, and Carnap 1947, but revived by Stalnaker and Thomason 1968. Because it refers to the predicate, it has a role in intensional versions of logic, especially modal logic.
8. Modes of Existence / B. Properties / 13. Tropes / a. Nature of tropes
The wisdom of Plato and of Socrates are not the same property [Tallant]
     Full Idea: It is not the case that Plato's wisdom = Socrates's wisdom. Platonic-wisdom and Socratic-wisdom are not the same property.
     From: Jonathan Tallant (Metaphysics: an introduction [2011], 05.4)
     A reaction: This seems reasonable in the case of wisdom, but not so clear in the case of indistinguishable properties of redness or squareness or mass. Nevertheless it gives nice support for trope theory.
9. Objects / A. Existence of Objects / 5. Individuation / e. Individuation by kind
Persistence conditions cannot contradict, so there must be a 'dominant sortal' [Burke,M, by Hawley]
     Full Idea: Burke says a single object cannot have incompatible persistence conditions, for this would entail that there are events in which the object would both survive and perish. He says one sortal 'dominates' the other (sweater dominates thread).
     From: report of Michael Burke (Dion and Theon: an essentialist solution [1994]) by Katherine Hawley - How Things Persist 5.3
     A reaction: This I take to be the most extreme version of sortal essentialism, and strikes me as incredibly gerrymandered and unacceptable. It is just too anthropocentric to count as genuine metaphysics. I may care more about the thread.
The 'dominant' of two coinciding sortals is the one that entails the widest range of properties [Burke,M, by Sider]
     Full Idea: Burke claims that the 'dominant' sortal is the one whose satisfaction entails possession of the widest range of properties. For example, the statue (unlike the lump of clay) also possesses aesthetic properties, and hence is dominant.
     From: report of Michael Burke (Dion and Theon: an essentialist solution [1994]) by Theodore Sider - Four Dimensionalism 5.4
     A reaction: [there are three papers by Burke on this; see all the quotations from Burke] Presumably one sortal could entail a single very important property, and the other sortal entail a huge range of trivial properties. What does being a 'thing' entail?
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 1. Unifying an Object / b. Unifying aggregates
'The rock' either refers to an object, or to a collection of parts, or to some stuff [Burke,M, by Wasserman]
     Full Idea: Burke distinguishes three different readings of 'the rock'. It can be a singular description denoting an object, or a plural description denoting all the little pieces of rock, or a mass description the relevant rocky stuff.
     From: report of Michael Burke (Dion and Theon: an essentialist solution [1994]) by Ryan Wasserman - Material Constitution 5
     A reaction: Idea 16068 is an objection to the second reading. Only the first reading seems plausible, so we must just get over all the difficulties philosophers have unearthed about knowing exactly what an 'object' is. I offer you essentialism. Rocks have unity.
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 2. Substance / d. Substance defined
Substance must have two properties: individuation, and property-bearing [Tallant]
     Full Idea: It appears that substance has essential properties: it is of the essence of substance that it individuates, and it is of the essence of substance that it bears properties.
     From: Jonathan Tallant (Metaphysics: an introduction [2011], 06.2)
     A reaction: The point being that substances are not 'bear', because they have a role to perform, and a complete blank can't fulfil a role. We can't take substance, though, seriously in ontology. It is just a label for distinct individuals.
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 3. Unity Problems / b. Cat and its tail
Tib goes out of existence when the tail is lost, because Tib was never the 'cat' [Burke,M, by Sider]
     Full Idea: Burke argues that Tib (the whole cat apart from its tail) goes out of existence when the tail is lost. His essentialist principle is that if something is ever of a particular sort (such as 'cat') then it is always of that sort. Tib is not initially a cat.
     From: report of Michael Burke (Dion and Theon: an essentialist solution [1994]) by Theodore Sider - Four Dimensionalism 5.4
     A reaction: This I take to be a souped up version of Wiggins, and I just don't buy that identity conditions are decided by sortals, when it seems obvious that sortals are parasitic on identities.
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 3. Unity Problems / c. Statue and clay
Sculpting a lump of clay destroys one object, and replaces it with another one [Burke,M, by Wasserman]
     Full Idea: On Burke's view, the process of sculpting a lump of clay into a statue destroys one object (a mere lump of clay) and replaces it with another (a statue).
     From: report of Michael Burke (Dion and Theon: an essentialist solution [1994]) by Ryan Wasserman - Material Constitution 5
     A reaction: There is something right about this, but how many intermediate objects are created during the transition. It seems to make the notion of an object very conventional.
Burke says when two object coincide, one of them is destroyed in the process [Burke,M, by Hawley]
     Full Idea: Michael Burke argues that a sweater is identical with the thread that consitutes it, that both were created at the moment when they began to coincide, and that the original thread was destroyed in the process.
     From: report of Michael Burke (Dion and Theon: an essentialist solution [1994]) by Katherine Hawley - How Things Persist 5.3
     A reaction: [Burke's ideas are spread over three articles] It is the thread which is destroyed, because the sweater is the 'dominant sortal' (which strikes me as a particularlyd desperate concept).
Maybe the clay becomes a different lump when it becomes a statue [Burke,M, by Koslicki]
     Full Idea: Burke has argued in a series of papers that the lump of clay which constitutes the statue is numerically distinct from the lump of clay which exists before or after the statue exists. The first is a statue, while the second is merely a lump of clay.
     From: report of Michael Burke (Dion and Theon: an essentialist solution [1994]) by Kathrin Koslicki - The Structure of Objects
     A reaction: Koslicki objects that this introduces radically different persistence conditions from normal. It would mean that a pile of sugar was a different pile of sugar every time a grain moved (even slightly). You couldn't step into the same sugar twice.
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 3. Unity Problems / d. Coincident objects
Two entities can coincide as one, but only one of them (the dominant sortal) fixes persistence conditions [Burke,M, by Sider]
     Full Idea: Michael Burke has given an account that avoids distinguishing coinciding entities. ...The statue/lump satisfies both 'lump' and 'statue', but only the latter determines that object's persistence conditions, and so is that object's 'dominant sortal'.
     From: report of Michael Burke (Dion and Theon: an essentialist solution [1994]) by Theodore Sider - Four Dimensionalism 5.4
     A reaction: Presumably a lump on its own can have its own persistance conditions (as a 'lump'), but those would presumably be lost if you shaped it into a statue. Burke concedes that. Can of worms. Using a book as a doorstop...
10. Modality / E. Possible worlds / 3. Transworld Objects / a. Transworld identity
Definite descriptions pick out different objects in different possible worlds [Fitting]
     Full Idea: Definite descriptions pick out different objects in different possible worlds quite naturally.
     From: Melvin Fitting (Intensional Logic [2007], 3.4)
     A reaction: A definite description can pick out the same object in another possible world, or a very similar one, or an object which has almost nothing in common with the others.
19. Language / D. Propositions / 2. Abstract Propositions / a. Propositions as sense
Are propositions all the thoughts and sentences that are possible? [Tallant]
     Full Idea: One might be tempted to the view that there are as many different propositions as there are thoughts that could be thought and sentences that could be uttered.
     From: Jonathan Tallant (Metaphysics: an introduction [2011], 04.5.3)
     A reaction: A fairly orthodox view I take to be crazy. I think it is a view designed for logic, rather than for how the world is. Why tie propositions to what can be thought, and then introduce unthought propositions? Why no unthinkable propositions?