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Ideas of Michael Jubien, by Text

[American, fl. 1992, Professor at the University of Florida.]

1977 Ontology and Mathematical Truth
p.111 p.111 If we all intuited mathematical objects, platonism would be agreed
     Full Idea: If the intuition of mathematical objects were general, there would be no real debate over platonism.
     From: Michael Jubien (Ontology and Mathematical Truth [1977], p.111)
     A reaction: It is particularly perplexing when Gödel says that his perception of them is just like sight or smell, since I have no such perception. How do you individuate very large numbers, or irrational numbers, apart from writing down numerals?
p.111 p.111 How can pure abstract entities give models to serve as interpretations?
     Full Idea: I am unable to see how the mere existence of pure abstract entities enables us to concoct appropriate models to serve as interpretations.
     From: Michael Jubien (Ontology and Mathematical Truth [1977], p.111)
     A reaction: Nice question. It is always assumed that once we have platonic realm, that everything else follows. Even if we are able to grasp the objects, despite their causal inertness, we still have to discern innumerable relations between them.
p.112 p.112 Since mathematical objects are essentially relational, they can't be picked out on their own
     Full Idea: The essential properties of mathematical entities seem to be relational, we make no progress unless we can pick out some mathematical entities wihout presupposing other entities already picked out.
     From: Michael Jubien (Ontology and Mathematical Truth [1977], p.112)
     A reaction: [compressed] Jubien is a good critic of platonism. He has identified the problem with Frege's metaphor of a 'borehole', where we discover delightful new properties of numbers simply by reaching them.
p.113 p.113 There couldn't just be one number, such as 17
     Full Idea: It makes no sense to suppose there might be just one natural number, say seventeen.
     From: Michael Jubien (Ontology and Mathematical Truth [1977], p.113)
     A reaction: Hm. Not convinced. If numbers are essentially patterns, we might only have the number 'twelve', because we had built our religion around anything which exhibited that form (in any of its various arrangements). Nice point, though.
p.115 p.115 The subject-matter of (pure) mathematics is abstract structure
     Full Idea: The subject-matter of (pure) mathematics is abstract structure per se.
     From: Michael Jubien (Ontology and Mathematical Truth [1977], p.115)
     A reaction: This is the Structuralist idea beginning to take shape after Benacerraf's launching of it. Note that Jubien gets there by his rejection of platonism, whereas some structuralist have given a platonist interpretation of structure.
p.116 p.116 'Impure' sets have a concrete member, while 'pure' (abstract) sets do not
     Full Idea: Any set with a concrete member is 'impure'. 'Pure' sets are those that are not impure, and are paradigm cases of abstract entities, such as the sort of sets apparently dealt with in Zermelo-Fraenkel (ZF) set theory.
     From: Michael Jubien (Ontology and Mathematical Truth [1977], p.116)
     A reaction: [I am unclear whether Jubien is introducing this distinction] This seems crucial in accounts of mathematics. On the one had arithmetic can be built from Millian pebbles, giving impure sets, while logicists build it from pure sets.
p.117 p.117 A model is 'fundamental' if it contains only concrete entities
     Full Idea: A first-order model can be viewed as a kind of ordered set, and if the domain of the model contains only concrete entities then it is a 'fundamental' model.
     From: Michael Jubien (Ontology and Mathematical Truth [1977], p.117)
     A reaction: An important idea. Fundamental models are where the world of logic connects with the physical world. Any account of relationship between fundamental models and more abstract ones tells us how thought links to world.
p.118 n8 p.118 The empty set is the purest abstract object
     Full Idea: The empty set is the pure abstract object par excellence.
     From: Michael Jubien (Ontology and Mathematical Truth [1977], p.118 n8)
     A reaction: So a really good PhD on the empty set could crack the whole nature of reality. Get to work, whoever you are!
2007 Analyzing Modality
1 p.99 We have no idea how many 'possible worlds' there might be
     Full Idea: As soon as we start talking about 'possible world', we beg the question of their relevance to our prior notion of possibility. For all we know, there are just two such realms, or twenty-seven, or uncountably many, or even set-many.
     From: Michael Jubien (Analyzing Modality [2007], 1)
1 p.100 If there are no other possible worlds, do we then exist necessarily?
     Full Idea: Suppose there happen to be no other concrete realms. Would we happily accept the consequence that we exist necessarily?
     From: Michael Jubien (Analyzing Modality [2007], 1)
1 p.100 Your properties, not some other world, decide your possibilities
     Full Idea: The possibility of your having been a playwright has nothing to do with how people are on other planets, whether in our own or in some other realm. It is only to do with you and the relevant property.
     From: Michael Jubien (Analyzing Modality [2007], 1)
     A reaction: I'm inclined to think that this simple point is conclusive disproof of possible worlds as an explanation of modality (apart from Jubien's other nice points). What we need to understand are modal properties, not other worlds.
1 p.100 If all possible worlds just happened to include stars, their existence would be necessary
     Full Idea: If all of the possible worlds happened to include stars, how plausible is it to think that if this is how things really are, then we've just been wrong to regard the existence of stars as contingent?
     From: Michael Jubien (Analyzing Modality [2007], 1)
1 p.100 If other worlds exist, then they are scattered parts of the actual world
     Full Idea: Any other realms that happened to exist would just be scattered parts of the actual world, not entire worlds at all. It would just happen that physical reality was fragmented in this remarkable but modally inconsequential way.
     From: Michael Jubien (Analyzing Modality [2007], 1)
     A reaction: This is aimed explicitly at Lewis's modal realism, and strikes me as correct. Jubien's key point here is that they are irrelevant to modality, just as foreign countries are irrelevant to the modality of this one.
1 p.102 We mustn't confuse a similar person with the same person
     Full Idea: If someone similar to Humphrey won the election, that nicely establishes the possibility of someone's winning who is similar to Humphrey. But we mustn't confuse this possibility with the intuitively different possibility of Humphrey himself winning.
     From: Michael Jubien (Analyzing Modality [2007], 1)
1 p.104 Modal truths are facts about parts of this world, not about remote maximal entities
     Full Idea: Typical modal truths are just facts about our world, and generally facts about very small parts of it, not facts about some infinitude of complex, maximal entities.
     From: Michael Jubien (Analyzing Modality [2007], 1)
     A reaction: I think we should embrace this simple fact immediately, and drop all this nonsense about possible worlds, even if they are useful for the semantics of modal logic.
1 p.105 Possible worlds just give parallel contingencies, with no explanation at all of necessity
     Full Idea: In the world theory, what passes for 'necessity' is just a bunch of parallel 'contingencies'. The theory provides no basis for understanding why these contingencies repeat unremittingly across the board (while others do not).
     From: Michael Jubien (Analyzing Modality [2007], 1)
1 p.105 Worlds don't explain necessity; we use necessity to decide on possible worlds
     Full Idea: The suspicion is that the necessity doesn't arise from how worlds are, but rather that the worlds are taken to be as they are in order to capture the intuitive necessity.
     From: Michael Jubien (Analyzing Modality [2007], 1)
     A reaction: It has always seemed to me rather glaring that you need a prior notion of 'possible' before you can start to talk about 'possible worlds', but I have always been too timid to disagree with the combination of Saul Kripke and David Lewis. Thank you, Jubien!
2 p.107 'All horses' either picks out the horses, or the things which are horses
     Full Idea: Two ways to see 'all horses are animals' are as picking out all the horses (so that it is a 'horse-quantifier'), ..or as ranging over lots of things in addition to horses, with 'horses' then restricting the things to those that satisfy 'is a horse'.
     From: Michael Jubien (Analyzing Modality [2007], 2)
     A reaction: Jubien says this gives you two different metaphysical views, of a world of horses etc., or a world of things which 'are horses'. I vote for the first one, as the second seems to invoke an implausible categorical property ('being a horse'). Cf Idea 11116.
2 p.110 Being a physical object is our most fundamental category
     Full Idea: Being a physical object (as opposed to being a horse or a statue) really is our most fundamental category for dealing with the external world.
     From: Michael Jubien (Analyzing Modality [2007], 2)
     A reaction: This raises the interesting question of why any categories should be considered to be more 'fundamental' than others. I can only think that we perceive something to be an object fractionally before we (usually) manage to identify it.
2 p.111 Haecceities implausibly have no qualities
     Full Idea: Properties of 'being such and such specific entity' are often called 'haecceities', but this term carries the connotation of non-qualitativeness which I don't favour.
     From: Michael Jubien (Analyzing Modality [2007], 2)
     A reaction: The way he defines it makes it sound as if it was a category, but I take it to be more like a bare individual essence. If it has not qualities then it has no causal powers, so there could be no evidence for its existence.
4 p.122 Modal propositions transcend the concrete, but not the actual
     Full Idea: Where modal propositions may once have seemed to transcend the actual, they now seem only to transcend the concrete.
     From: Michael Jubien (Analyzing Modality [2007], 4)
     A reaction: This is because Jubien has defended a form of platonism. Personally I take modal propositions to be perceptible in the concrete world, by recognising the processes involved, not the mere static stuff.
5 p.124 De re necessity is just de dicto necessity about object-essences
     Full Idea: I suggest that the de re is to be analyzed in terms of the de dicto. ...We have a case of modality de re when (and only when) the appropriate property in the de dicto formulation is an object-essence.
     From: Michael Jubien (Analyzing Modality [2007], 5)
2009 Possibility
Intro p.-5 To analyse modality, we must give accounts of objects, properties and relations
     Full Idea: The ultimate analysis of possibility and necessity depends on two important ontological decisions: the choice of an analysis of the intuitive concept of a physical object, and the other is the positing of properties and relations.
     From: Michael Jubien (Possibility [2009], Intro)
     A reaction: In the same passage he adopts Quine's view of objects, leading to mereological essentialism, and a Platonic view of properties, based on Lewis's argument for taking some things at face value. One might start with processes and events instead.
Intro p.-4 The idea that every entity must have identity conditions is an unfortunate misunderstanding
     Full Idea: The pervasiveness, throughout philosophy, of the assumption that entities of various kinds need identity conditions is one unfortunate aspect of Quine's important philosophical legacy.
     From: Michael Jubien (Possibility [2009], Intro)
     A reaction: Lowe seems to be an example of a philosopher who habitually demands individuation conditions for everything that is referred to. Presumably the alternative is to take lots of things as primitive, but this seems to be second best.
Intro p.-3 We should not regard essentialism as just nontrivial de re necessity
     Full Idea: I argue against the widely accepted characterization of the doctrine of 'essentialism' as the acceptance of nontrivial de re necessity
     From: Michael Jubien (Possibility [2009], Intro)
     A reaction: I agree entirely. The notion of an essence is powerful if clearly distinguished. The test is: can everything being said about essences be just as easily said by referring to necessities? If so, you are talking about the wrong thing.
Intro p.-1 It is a mistake to think that the logic developed for mathematics can clarify language and philosophy
     Full Idea: It has often been uncritically assumed that logic that was initially a tool for clarifying mathematics could be seamlessly and uniformly applied in the effort to clarify ordinary language and philosophy, but this has been a real mistake.
     From: Michael Jubien (Possibility [2009], Intro)
     A reaction: I'm not saying he's right (since you need stupendous expertise to make that call) but my intuitions are that he has a good point, and he is at least addressing a crucial question which most analytical philosophers avert their eyes from.
Intro p.-1 First-order logic tilts in favour of the direct reference theory, in its use of constants for objects
     Full Idea: First-order logic tilts in favor of the direct reference account of proper names by using individual constants to play the intuitive role of names, and by 'interpreting' the constants simply as the individuals that are assigned to them for truth-values.
     From: Michael Jubien (Possibility [2009], Intro)
     A reaction: This is the kind of challenge to orthodoxy that is much needed at the moment. We have an orthodoxy which is almost a new 'scholasticism', that logic will clarify our metaphysics. Trying to enhance the logic for the job may be a dead end.
1.3 p.13 If two objects are indiscernible across spacetime, how could we decide whether or not they are the same?
     Full Idea: If a bit of matter has a qualitatively indistinguishable object located at a later time, with a path of spacetime connecting them, how could we determine they are identical? Neither identity nor diversity follows from qualitative indiscernibility.
     From: Michael Jubien (Possibility [2009], 1.3)
     A reaction: All these principles expounded by Leibniz were assumed to be timeless, but for identity over time the whole notion of things retaining identity despite changing has to be rethought. Essentialism to the rescue.
1.4 p.15 Parts seem to matter when it is just an object, but not matter when it is a kind of object
     Full Idea: When thought of just as an object, the parts of a thing seem definitive and their arrangement seems inconsequential. But when thought of as an object of a familiar kind it is reversed: the arrangement is important and the parts are inessential.
     From: Michael Jubien (Possibility [2009], 1.4)
     A reaction: This is analogous to the Ship of Theseus, where we say that the tour operator and the museum keeper give different accounts of whether it is the same ship. The 'kind' Jubien refers to is most likely to be a functional kind.
1.4 p.16 Thinking of them as 'ships' the repaired ship is the original, but as 'objects' the reassembly is the original
     Full Idea: Thinking about the original ship as a ship, we think we continue to have the 'same ship' as each part is replaced; ...but when we think of them as physical objects, we think the original ship and the outcome of the reassembly are one and the same.
     From: Michael Jubien (Possibility [2009], 1.4)
     A reaction: It seems to me that you cannot eliminate how we are thinking of the ship as influencing how we should read it. My suggestion is to think of Theseus himself valuing either the repaired or the reassembled version. That's bad for Jubien's account.
1.4 p.17 Rearranging the planks as a ship is confusing; we'd say it was the same 'object' with a different arrangement
     Full Idea: That the planks are rearranged as a ship elevates the sense of mystery, because arrangements matter for ships, but if they had been arranged differently we would have the same intuition - that it still counts as the same object.
     From: Michael Jubien (Possibility [2009], 1.4)
     A reaction: Implausible. Classic case: can I have my pen back? - smashes it to pieces and hands it over with 'there you are' - that's not my pen! - Jubien says it's the same object! - it isn't my pen, and it isn't the same object either! Where is Shelley's skylark?
1.4 p.19 If the statue is loved and the clay hated, that is about the object first qua statue, then qua clay
     Full Idea: If a sculptor says 'I love the statue but I really hate that piece of clay - it is way too hard to work with' ...the statement is partly is partly about that object qua statue and partly about that object qua piece of clay.
     From: Michael Jubien (Possibility [2009], 1.4)
     A reaction: His point is that identity is partly determined by the concept or category under which the thing falls. Plausible. Lots of identity muddles seem to come from our conceptual scheme not being quite up to the job when things change.
1.5 p.23 Objects need conventions for their matter, their temporal possibility, and their spatial possibility
     Full Idea: We need a first convention to determine what matter constitutes objects, then a second to determine whether there are different temporal possibilities for a given object, then a third for different spatial possibilities.
     From: Michael Jubien (Possibility [2009], 1.5)
     A reaction: This is building up a Quinean account of objects, as mere matter in regions of spacetime, which are then precisely determined by a set of social conventions.
1.5 p.32 Basically, the world doesn't have ready-made 'objects'; we carve objects any way we like
     Full Idea: There is a certain - very mild - sense in which I don't think the physical world comes with ready-made objects. I think instead that we (conventionally) carve it up into objects, and this can be done any way we like.
     From: Michael Jubien (Possibility [2009], 1.5)
     A reaction: I have no idea how one could begin to refute such a view. Obviously there are divisions (even if only of physical density) in the world, but nothing obliges us to make divisions at those points. We happily accept objects with gaps in them.
1.5 p.33 If objects are just conventional, there is no ontological distinction between stuff and things
     Full Idea: Under the Quinean (conventional) view of objects, there is no ontological distinction between stuff and things.
     From: Michael Jubien (Possibility [2009], 1.5)
     A reaction: This is the bold nihilistic account of physical objects, which seems to push all of our ontology into language (English?). We could devise divisions into things that were just crazy, and likely to lead to the rapid extinction of creatures who did it.
2.3 p.47 It is incoherent to think that a given entity depends on its kind for its existence
     Full Idea: It is simply far-fetched - even incoherent - to think that, given an entity, of whatever kind, its being a single entity somehow consists in its satisfying some condition involving the kind to which it belongs (or concepts related to that kind).
     From: Michael Jubien (Possibility [2009], 2.3)
     A reaction: Well said. I can't see how philosophers have allowed themselves to drift into such a daft view. Kinds blatantly depend on the individuals that constitute them, so how could the identity of the individuals depend on their kind?
3.2 p.67 The love of possible worlds is part of the dream that technical logic solves philosophical problems
     Full Idea: I believe the contemporary infatuation with possible worlds in philosophy stems in part from a tendency to think that technical logic offers silver-bullet solutions to philosophical problems.
     From: Michael Jubien (Possibility [2009], 3.2)
     A reaction: I would say that the main reason for the infatuation is just novelty. As a technical device it was only invented in the 1960s, so we are in a honeymoon period, as we would be with any new gadget. I can't imagine possible worlds figuring much in 100 years.
3.2 p.75 Possible worlds don't explain necessity, because they are a bunch of parallel contingencies
     Full Idea: The fundamental problem is that in world theory, what passes for necessity is in effect just a bunch of parallel 'contingencies'.
     From: Michael Jubien (Possibility [2009], 3.2)
     A reaction: Jubien's general complaint is that there is no connection between the possible worlds and the actual world, so they are irrelevant, but this is a nicely different point - that lots of contingent worlds can't add up to necessity. Nice.
3.2 p.77 Modality concerns relations among platonic properties
     Full Idea: I think modality has to do with relations involving the abstract part of the world, specifically with relations among (Platonic) properties.
     From: Michael Jubien (Possibility [2009], 3.2)
     A reaction: [Sider calls Jubien's the 'governance' view, since abstract relations govern the concrete] I take Jubien here (having done a beautiful demolition job on the possible worlds account of modality) to go spectacularly wrong. Modality starts in the concrete.
4.1 p.85 Philosophers reduce complex English kind-quantifiers to the simplistic first-order quantifier
     Full Idea: There is a readiness of philosophers to 'translate' English, with its seeming multitude of kind-driven quantifiers, into first-order logic, with its single wide-open quantifier.
     From: Michael Jubien (Possibility [2009], 4.1)
     A reaction: As in example he says that reference to a statue involves a 'statue-quantifier'. Thus we say things about the statue that we would not say about the clay, which would involve a 'clay-quantifier'.
4.2 p.88 Any entity has the unique property of being that specific entity
     Full Idea: For any entity of any sort, abstract or concrete, I assume there is a property of being that specific entity. For want of a better term, I will call such properties entity-essences. They are 'singulary' - not instantiable by more than one thing at a time.
     From: Michael Jubien (Possibility [2009], 4.2)
     A reaction: Baffling. Why would someone who has mocked all sorts of bogus philosophical claims based on logic then go on to assert the existence of such weird things as these? I can't make sense of this property being added to a thing's other properties.
4.4 p.92 Entailment does not result from mutual necessity; mutual necessity ensures entailment
     Full Idea: Typically philosophers say that for P to entail Q is for the proposition that all P's are Q's to be necessary. I think this analysis is backwards, and that necessity rests on entailment, not vice versa.
     From: Michael Jubien (Possibility [2009], 4.4)
     A reaction: His example is that being a horse and being an animal are such that one entails the other. In other words, necessities arise out of property relations (which for Jubien are necessary because the properties are platonically timeless). Wrong.
4.5 p.95 If an analysis shows the features of a concept, it doesn't seem to 'reduce' the concept
     Full Idea: An analysis of a concept tells us what the concept is by telling us what its constituents are and how they are combined. ..The features of the concept are present in the analysis, making it surprising the 'reductive' analyses are sought.
     From: Michael Jubien (Possibility [2009], 4.5)
     A reaction: He says that there are nevertheless reductive analyses, such as David Lewis's analysis of modality. We must disentangle conceptual analysis from causal analysis (e.g. in his example of the physicalist reduction of mind).
4.5 p.97 Analysing mental concepts points to 'inclusionism' - that mental phenomena are part of the physical
     Full Idea: We have (physicalist) 'inclusionism' when the mental is included in the physical, and mental phenomena are to be found among physical phenomena. Only inclusionism is compatible with a genuine physicalist analysis of mental concepts.
     From: Michael Jubien (Possibility [2009], 4.5)
     A reaction: This isn't the thesis of conceptual dualism (which I like), but an interesting accompaniment for it. Jubien is offering this as an alternative to 'reductive' analysis, translating all the mental concepts into physical language. He extends 'physical'.
5.1 p.124 We could make a contingent description into a rigid and necessary one by adding 'actual' to it
     Full Idea: 'The winner of the Derby' satisfies some horse, but only accidentally. But we could 'rigidify' the description by inserting 'actual' into it, giving 'the actual winner of the Derby'. Winning is a contingent property, but actually winning is necessary.
     From: Michael Jubien (Possibility [2009], 5.1)
     A reaction: I like this unusual proposal because instead of switching into formal logic in order to capture the ideas we are after, he is drawing on the resources of ordinary language, offering philosophers a way of speaking plain English more precisely.
5.1 p.127 Examples show that ordinary proper names are not rigid designators
     Full Idea: There are plenty of examples to show that ordinary proper names simply are not rigid designators.
     From: Michael Jubien (Possibility [2009], 5.1)
     A reaction: His examples are the planet Venus and the dust of which it is formed, and a statue made of clay. In other words, for some objects, perhaps under certain descriptions (e.g. functional ones), the baptised matter can change. Rigidity is an extra topping.
5.2 p.129 If one entity is an object, a statue, and some clay, these come apart in at least three ways
     Full Idea: A single entity is a physical object, a piece of clay and a statue. We seem to have that the object could be scattered, but not the other two; the object and the clay could be spherical, but not the statue; and only the object could have different matter.
     From: Michael Jubien (Possibility [2009], 5.2)
     A reaction: His proposal, roughly, is to reduce object-talk to property-talk, and then see the three views of this object as referring to different sets of properties, rather than to a single thing. Promising, except that he goes platonist about properties.
5.2 n9 p.129 The idea of coincident objects is a last resort, as it is opposed to commonsense naturalism
     Full Idea: I find it surprising that some philosophers accept 'coincident objects'. This notion clearly offends against commonsense 'naturalism' about the world, so it should be viewed as a last resort.
     From: Michael Jubien (Possibility [2009], 5.2 n9)
     A reaction: I'm not quite clear why he invokes 'naturalism', but I pass on his intuition because it seems right to me.
5.3 p.134 We only grasp a name if we know whether to apply it when the bearer changes
     Full Idea: We cannot be said to have a full grasp of a name unless we have a definite disposition to apply it or to withhold it under whatever conceivable changes the bearer of the name might come to undergo.
     From: Michael Jubien (Possibility [2009], 5.3)
     A reaction: This is right, and an excellent counterproposal to the logicians' notion that names have to rigidly designate. As a bare minimum, you are not supposed to deny the identity of your parents because they have grown a bit older, or a damaged painting.
5.3 p.136 The category of Venus is not 'object', or even 'planet', but a particular class of good-sized object
     Full Idea: The category of Venus is not 'physical object' or 'mereological sum', but narrower. Surprisingly, it is not 'planet', since it might cease to be a planet and still merit the name 'Venus'. It is something like 'well-integrated, good-sized physical object'.
     From: Michael Jubien (Possibility [2009], 5.3)
     A reaction: Jubien is illustrating Idea 13402. This is a nice demonstration of how one might go about the task of constructing categories - by showing the modal profiles of things to which names have been assigned. Categories are file names.
6.4 p.173 To exist necessarily is to have an essence whose own essence must be instantiated
     Full Idea: For a thing to exist necessarily is for it to have an entity-essence whose own entity-essence entails being instantiated.
     From: Michael Jubien (Possibility [2009], 6.4)
     A reaction: This is the culmination of a lengthy discussion, and is not immediately persuasive. For Jubien the analysis rests on a platonist view of properties, which doesn't help.
7 p.179 The baptiser picks the bearer of a name, but social use decides the category
     Full Idea: The person who introduces a proper name gets to pick its bearer, but its category - and consequently the meaning of the name - is determined by social use.
     From: Michael Jubien (Possibility [2009], 7)
     A reaction: New 'division of labour'. The idea that a name has some sort of meaning seems right and important. If babies were switched after baptism, social use might fix the name to the new baby. The namer could stipulate the category at the baptism. Too neat.