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Ideas of Kit Fine, by Text

[British, fl. 1996, Professor at New York University.]

1975 Vagueness, Truth and Logic
Intro p.119 Study vagueness first by its logic, then by its truth-conditions, and then its metaphysics
Intro p.119 A vague sentence is only true for all ways of making it completely precise
Intro p.120 Vagueness is semantic, a deficiency of meaning
1 p.121 Vagueness can be in predicates, names or quantifiers
1 p.123 Logical connectives cease to be truth-functional if vagueness is treated with three values
2 p.129 Logic holding between indefinite sentences is the core of all language
2 p.131 Meaning is both actual (determining instances) and potential (possibility of greater precision)
3 p.132 With the super-truth approach, the classical connectives continue to work
3 p.134 Borderline cases must be under our control, as capable of greater precision
4 p.137 Excluded Middle, and classical logic, may fail for vague predicates
5 p.140 A thing might be vaguely vague, giving us higher-order vagueness
1978 Model Theory for Modal Logic I
151 p.171 S5 provides the correct logic for necessity in the broadly logical sense
1990 Quine on Quantifying In
p.110 p.110 Is it the sentence-token or the sentence-type that has a logical form?
p.124 p.124 Substitutional quantification is referential quantification over expressions
1992 Aristotle on Matter
1 n4 p.37 Definitions formed an abstract hierarchy for Aristotle, as sets do for us
1 p.37 Is there a plausible Aristotelian notion of constitution, applicable to both physical and non-physical?
1 p.37 The components of abstract definitions could play the same role as matter for physical objects
1 p.38 There is no distinctive idea of constitution, because you can't say constitution begins and ends
1 n4 p.37 Aristotle sees hierarchies in definitions using genus and differentia (as we see them in sets)
2 p.43 Maybe bottom-up grounding shows constitution, and top-down grounding shows essence
1994 Essence and Modality
p.5 An essential property of something must be bound up with what it is to be that thing
p.6 Essential properties are part of an object's 'definition'
p.16 Essence as necessary properties produces a profusion of essential properties
p. 2 p.2 Essences are either taken as real definitions, or as necessary properties
p. 2 p.2 An object is dependent if its essence prevents it from existing without some other object
p. 3 p.3 Modern philosophy has largely abandoned real definitions, apart from sortals
p. 3 p.3 My account shows how the concept works, rather than giving an analysis
p. 3 p.3 Simple modal essentialism refers to necessary properties of an object
p. 3 p.3 Essentialist claims can be formulated more clearly with quantified modal logic
p. 4 p.4 Essentially having a property is naturally expressed as 'the property it must have to be what it is'
p. 5 p.5 The nature of singleton Socrates has him as a member, but not vice versa
p. 5 p.5 Socrates is necessarily distinct from the Eiffel Tower, but that is not part of his essence
p. 5-6 p.5 It is not part of the essence of Socrates that a huge array of necessary truths should hold
p. 6 p.6 If Socrates lacks necessary existence, then his nature cannot require his parents' existence
p. 9 p.9 The subject of a proposition need not be the source of its necessity
p. 9 p.9 Metaphysical necessity is a special case of essence, not vice versa
p. 9 p.9 Metaphysical necessities are true in virtue of the nature of all objects
p. 9-10 p.9 Conceptual necessities rest on the nature of all concepts
p.10 p.10 Analytic truth may only be true in virtue of the meanings of certain terms
p.13 p.13 The meaning of 'bachelor' is irrelevant to the meaning of 'unmarried man'
p.13 p.13 Defining a term and giving the essence of an object don't just resemble - they are the same
1994 A Puzzle Concerning Matter and Form
p.19 p.560 The possible Aristotelian view that forms are real and active principles is clearly wrong
1995 Ontological Dependence
I p.269 Metaphysics deals with the existence of things and with the nature of things
I p.270 A natural modal account of dependence says x depends on y if y must exist when x does
I p.273 We should understand identity in terms of the propositions it renders true
I p.274 An object's 'being' isn't existence; there's more to an object than existence, and its nature doesn't include existence
II p.275 We understand things through their dependency relations
II p.275 Dependency is the real counterpart of one term defining another
II p.277 How do we distinguish basic from derived esssences?
II p.279 An object depends on another if the second cannot be eliminated from the first's definition
III p.282 Maybe some things have essential relationships as well as essential properties
III p.283 Maybe two objects might require simultaneous real definitions, as with two simultaneous terms
III p.285 An object only essentially has a property if that property follows from every definition of the object
III p.285 There is 'weak' dependence in one definition, and 'strong' dependence in all the definitions
1995 Senses of Essence
3 p.57 A logical truth is true in virtue of the nature of the logical concepts
3 p.57 Being a man is a consequence of his essence, not constitutive of it
3 p.58 Logical concepts rest on certain inferences, not on facts about implications
4 p.60 The property of Property Abstraction says any suitable condition must imply a property
7 p.65 Can the essence of an object circularly involve itself, or involve another object?
8 p.66 The essence or definition of an essence involves either a class of properties or a class of propositions
8 p.67 If there are alternative definitions, then we have three possibilities for essence
1998 Cantorian Abstraction: Recon. and Defence
1 p.4 After abstraction all numbers seem identical, so only 0 and 1 will exist!
1 p.5 Number cannot be defined as addition of ones, since that needs the number; it is a single act of abstraction
2 p.7 I think of variables as objects rather than as signs
3 p.10 To obtain the number 2 by abstraction, we only want to abstract the distinctness of a pair of objects
3 p.11 We should define abstraction in general, with number abstraction taken as a special case
5 p.19 If green is abstracted from a thing, it is only seen as a type if it is common to many things
6 p.21 Dedekindian abstraction talks of 'positions', where Cantorian abstraction talks of similar objects
1999 Things and Their Parts
Intro p.61 A 'timeless' part just is a part, not a part at some time; some atoms are timeless parts of a water molecule
Intro p.61 A 'temporary' part is a part at one time, but may not be at another, like a carburetor
Intro p.62 Two sorts of whole have 'rigid embodiment' (timeless parts) or 'variable embodiment' (temporary parts)
1 p.62 An 'aggregative' sum is spread in time, and exists whenever a component exists
1 p.63 An 'compound' sum is not spread in time, and only exists when all the components exists
2 p.65 Part and whole contribute asymmetrically to one another, so must differ
5 p.72 Hierarchical set membership models objects better than the subset or aggregate relations do
5 p.73 The matter is a relatively unstructured version of the object, like a set without membership structure
2000 Neutral Relations
Intro p.1 The 'standard' view of relations is that they hold of several objects in a given order
Intro p.1 The 'positionalist' view of relations says the number of places is fixed, but not the order
1 p.4 A block on top of another contains one relation, not both 'on top of' and 'beneath'
1 p.6 Language imposes a direction on a road which is not really part of the road
3 p.14 Explain biased relations as orderings of the unbiased, or the unbiased as permutation classes of the biased?
2001 The Question of Realism
p.144 If you make 'grounding' fundamental, you have to mention some non-fundamental notions
Intro p.1 Reality is a primitive metaphysical concept, which cannot be understood in other terms
Intro p.1 What is real can only be settled in terms of 'ground'
1 p.3 In metaphysics, reality is regarded as either 'factual', or as 'fundamental'
15-16 p.142 Something is grounded when it holds, and is explained, and necessitated by something else
3 p.8 Reduction might be producing a sentence which gets closer to the logical form
3 p.9 Reduction might be semantic, where a reduced sentence is understood through its reduction
3 p.10 Reduction is modal, if the reductions necessarily entail the truth of the target sentence
4 p.14 'Quietist' says abandon metaphysics because answers are unattainable (as in Kant's noumenon)
4 n20 p.13 If metaphysics can't be settled, it hardly matters whether it makes sense
5 p.15 The notion of reduction (unlike that of 'ground') implies the unreality of what is reduced
5 p.15 Grounding relations are best expressed as relations between sentences
5 p.16 Ultimate explanations are in 'grounds', which account for other truths, which hold in virtue of the grounding
6 p.18 A proposition ingredient is 'essential' if changing it would change the truth-value
7 p.22 Grounding is an explanation of truth, and needs all the virtues of good explanations
8 p.26 Although colour depends on us, we can describe the world that way if it picks out fundamentals
8 p.26 Why should what is explanatorily basic be therefore more real?
2002 The Limits of Abstraction
035 p.793 Fine considers abstraction as reconceptualization, to produce new senses by analysing given senses
060 p.796 Implicit definitions must be satisfiable, creative definitions introduce things, contextual definitions build on things
100 p.799 Fine's 'procedural postulationism' uses creative definitions, but avoids abstract ontology
I p.1 We can abstract from concepts (e.g. to number) and from objects (e.g. to direction)
I.1 p.9 Points in Euclidean space are abstract objects, but not introduced by abstraction
I.1 p.10 Abstractionism can be regarded as an alternative to set theory
I.2 p.28 An object is the abstract of a concept with respect to a relation on concepts
I.4 p.46 Many different kinds of mathematical objects can be regarded as forms of abstraction
II.1 p.56 'Creative definitions' do not presuppose the existence of the objects defined
II.5 p.100 Postulationism says avoid abstract objects by giving procedures that produce truth
IV.1 p.172 Abstracts cannot be identified with sets
2002 The Varieties of Necessity
5 p.256 Unsupported testimony may still be believable
6 p.259 Causation is easier to disrupt than logic, so metaphysics is part of nature, not vice versa
6 p.260 Each area of enquiry, and its source, has its own distinctive type of necessity
2003 The Problem of Possibilia
2 p.163 Possible states of affairs are not propositions; a proposition can't be a state of affairs!
2 p.163 The actual world is a possible world, so we can't define possible worlds as 'what might have been'
2005 Intro to 'Modality and Tense'
p. 1 p.1 Empiricists suspect modal notions: either it happens or it doesn't; it is just regularities.
p. 3 p.3 Objects, as well as sentences, can have logical form
p. 6 p.6 Quine's arguments fail because he naively conflates names with descriptions
p. 7 p.7 The three basic types of necessity are metaphysical, natural and normative
p. 9 p.9 We must distinguish between the identity or essence of an object, and its necessary features
p.10 p.10 Philosophers with a new concept are like children with a new toy
p.10 p.10 Metaphysical necessity may be 'whatever the circumstance', or 'regardless of circumstances'
p.10 p.10 If sentence content is all worlds where it is true, all necessary truths have the same content!
p.14 p.14 Possible objects are abstract; actual concrete objects are possible; so abstract/concrete are compatible
p.15 p.15 A non-standard realism, with no privileged standpoint, might challenge its absoluteness or coherence
2005 Our Knowledge of Mathematical Objects
Intro p.89 The objects and truths of mathematics are imperative procedures for their construction
1 p.91 My Proceduralism has one simple rule, and four complex rules
1 p.95 Proceduralism offers a version of logicism with no axioms, or objects, or ontological commitment
2005 Necessity and Non-Existence
Intro p.321 Some sentences depend for their truth on worldly circumstances, and others do not
Intro p.321 What it is is fixed prior to existence or the object's worldly features
Intro p.321 Proper necessary truths hold whatever the circumstances; transcendent truths regardless of circumstances
01 p.322 B-theorists say tensed sentences have an unfilled argument-place for a time
01 p.322 A-theorists tend to reject the tensed/tenseless distinction
02 p.325 The actual world is a totality of facts, so we also think of possible worlds as totalities
02 p.325 Possible worlds may be more limited, to how things might actually turn out
04 p.328 It is the nature of Socrates to be a man, so necessarily he is a man
07 p.341 Tensed and tenseless sentences state two sorts of fact, which belong to two different 'realms' of reality
08 p.341 Bottom level facts are subject to time and world, middle to world but not time, and top to neither
08 p.344 We would understand identity between objects, even if their existence was impossible
08 p.344 Self-identity should have two components, its existence, and its neutral identity with itself
09 p.348 Modal features are not part of entities, because they are accounted for by the entity
09 p.349 Essential features of an object have no relation to how things actually are
10 p.351 It is said that in the A-theory, all existents and objects must be tensed, as well as the sentences
10 p.354 There are levels of existence, as well as reality; objects exist at the lowest level in which they can function
2005 Precis of 'Limits of Abstraction'
p.307 p.307 An abstraction principle should not 'inflate', producing more abstractions than objects
p.310 p.310 If Hume's Principle can define numbers, we needn't worry about its truth
p.310 p.310 Definitions concern how we should speak, not how things are
p.312 p.312 Hume's Principle is either adequate for number but fails to define properly, or vice versa
2005 Replies on 'Limits of Abstraction'
p.379 If you ask what F the second-order quantifier quantifies over, you treat it as first-order
1 p.367 Set-theoretic imperialists think sets can represent every mathematical object
1 p.367 Abstraction-theoretic imperialists think Fregean abstracts can represent every mathematical object
1 p.368 We can combine ZF sets with abstracts as urelements
1 p.370 A generative conception of abstracts proposes stages, based on concepts of previous objects
1 p.371 We might combine the axioms of set theory with the axioms of mereology
1 p.372 There is no stage at which we can take all the sets to have been generated
1 p.373 We can create objects from conditions, rather than from concepts
2 p.374 Logicists say mathematics can be derived from definitions, and can be known that way
2 p.383 Assigning an entity to each predicate in semantics is largely a technical convenience
2 p.385 Concern for rigour can get in the way of understanding phenomena
2 p.386 Dedekind cuts lead to the bizarre idea that there are many different number 1's
2 p.388 Unless we know whether 0 is identical with the null set, we create confusions
2 p.390 Why should a Dedekind cut correspond to a number?
2006 In Defence of Three-Dimensionalism
p.1 p.1 3-D says things are stretched in space but not in time, and entire at a time but not at a location
p.1 p.1 4-D says things are stretched in space and in time, and not entire at a time or at a location
p.18 p.18 You can ask when the wedding was, but not (usually) when the bride was
p.2 p.2 Three-dimensionalist can accept temporal parts, as things enduring only for an instant
p.6 p.6 Genuine motion, rather than variation of position, requires the 'entire presence' of the object
2007 Semantic Relationism
Intro p.3 You cannot determine the full content from a thought's intrinsic character, as relations are involved
Intro p.3 That two utterances say the same thing may not be intrinsic to them, but involve their relationships
Intro p.4 The two main theories are Holism (which is inferential), and Representational (which is atomistic)
1 p.6 It seemed that Frege gave the syntax for variables, and Tarski the semantics, and that was that
1.A p.7 In separate expressions variables seem identical in role, but in the same expression they aren't
1.B p.10 The usual Tarskian interpretation of variables is to specify their range of values
1.B p.11 Variables can be viewed as special terms - functions taking assignments into individuals
1.C p.13 The 'algebraic' account of variables reduces quantification to the algebra of its component parts
1.D p.16 'Instantial' accounts of variables say we grasp arbitrary instances from their use in quantification
1.G p.25 The standard aim of semantics is to assign a semantic value to each expression
2.A p.34 Frege's Puzzle: from different semantics we infer different reference for two names with the same reference
2.C p.44 We should pursue semantic facts as stated by truths in theories (and not put the theories first!)
2.E p.51 Cicero/Cicero and Cicero/Tully may differ in relationship, despite being semantically the same
2.F p.53 Referentialist semantics has objects for names, properties for predicates, and propositions for connectives
2.G p.64 Fregeans approach the world through sense, Referentialists through reference
3.A p.68 Mental files are devices for keeping track of basic coordination of objects
3.A p.68 I can only represent individuals as the same if I do not already represent them as the same
3.A p.69 If Cicero=Tully refers to the man twice, then surely Cicero=Cicero does as well?
Post 'Indexicals' p.124 I take indexicals such as 'this' and 'that' to be linked to some associated demonstration
2009 The Question of Ontology
p.163 It is plausible that x^2 = -1 had no solutions before complex numbers were 'introduced'
p.160 p.160 The indispensability argument shows that nature is non-numerical, not the denial of numbers
p.164 p.164 Just as we introduced complex numbers, so we introduced sums and temporal parts
p.167 p.167 Ontological claims are often universal, and not a matter of existential quantification
p.167 p.167 'Exists' is a predicate, not a quantifier; 'electrons exist' is like 'electrons spin'
p.168 p.168 The existence of numbers is not a matter of identities, but of constituents of the world
p.172 p.172 Real objects are those which figure in the facts that constitute reality
p.174 p.174 Being real and being fundamental are separate; Thales's water might be real and divisible
p.174 p.174 For ontology we need, not internal or external views, but a view from outside reality
2010 Semantic Necessity
p.9 The role of semantic necessity in semantics is like metaphysical necessity in metaphysics
Intro p.65 Semantics is either an assignment of semantic values, or a theory of truth
1 p.67 The Quinean doubt: are semantics and facts separate, and do analytic sentences have no factual part?
5 p.79 Semantics is a body of semantic requirements, not semantic truths or assigned values
5 p.80 Referential semantics (unlike Fregeanism) allows objects themselves in to semantic requirements
n8 p.74 Theories in logic are sentences closed under consequence, but in truth discussions theories have axioms
2010 Some Puzzles of Ground
4 p.100 Formal grounding needs transitivity of grounding, no self-grounding, and the existence of both parties
n7 p.116 Strong Kleene disjunction just needs one true disjunct; Weak needs the other to have some value
2012 Guide to Ground
Intro p.37 Is there metaphysical explanation (as well as causal), involving a constitutive form of determination?
1.01 p.38 2+2=4 is necessary if it is snowing, but not true in virtue of the fact that it is snowing
1.01 p.40 Each basic modality has its 'own' explanatory relation
1.02 p.40 Philosophical explanation is largely by ground (just as cause is used in science)
1.02 p.40 Realist metaphysics concerns what is real; naive metaphysics concerns natures of things
1.02 p.41 If you say one thing causes another, that leaves open that the 'other' has its own distinct reality
1.02 p.41 We can only explain how a reduction is possible if we accept the concept of ground
1.02 p.41 If mind supervenes on the physical, it may also explain the physical (and not vice versa)
1.02 p.42 Even a three-dimensionalist might identify temporal parts, in their thinking
1.02 p.43 If grounding is a relation it must be between entities of the same type, preferably between facts
1.02 p.43 Ground is best understood as a sentence operator, rather than a relation between predicates
1.03 p.44 Truths need not always have their source in what exists
1.03 p.45 If the truth-making relation is modal, then modal truths will be grounded in anything
1.05 'Mediate' p.51 An immediate ground is the next lower level, which gives the concept of a hierarchy
1.05 'Weak' p.52 'Strict' ground moves down the explanations, but 'weak' ground can move sideways
1.10 p.71 Logical consequence is verification by a possible world within a truth-set
1.10 p.72 Facts, such as redness and roundness of a ball, can be 'fused' into one fact
1.11 p.76 We learn grounding from what is grounded, not what does the grounding
1.11 p.76 Every necessary truth is grounded in the nature of something
1.11 p.77 Only metaphysical grounding must be explained by essence
1.11 p.79 We explain by identity (what it is), or by truth (how things are)