Ideas of Jonathan Schaffer, by Theme

[American, fl. 2005, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, then Australian National University. Pupil of D.Lewis.]

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1. Philosophy / E. Nature of Metaphysics / 1. Nature of Metaphysics
Modern Quinean metaphysics is about what exists, but Aristotelian metaphysics asks about grounding
If you tore the metaphysics out of philosophy, the whole enterprise would collapse
1. Philosophy / F. Analytic Philosophy / 1. Analysis
Analysis aims at secure necessary and sufficient conditions
2. Reason / B. Laws of Thought / 6. Ockham's Razor
We should not multiply basic entities, but we can have as many derivative entities as we like
2. Reason / F. Fallacies / 1. Fallacy
'Reification' occurs if we mistake a concept for thing
4. Formal Logic / D. Modal Logic ML / 3. Modal Logic Systems / d. System T
T adds □p→p for reflexivity, and is ideal for modeling lawhood
5. Theory of Logic / E. Structures of Logic / 1. Logical Form
Logical form can't dictate metaphysics, as it may propose an undesirable property
6. Mathematics / C. Sources of Mathematics / 1. Mathematical Platonism / a. For mathematical platonism
If 'there are red roses' implies 'there are roses', then 'there are prime numbers' implies 'there are numbers'
6. Mathematics / C. Sources of Mathematics / 4. Mathematical Empiricism / b. Indispensability of mathematics
If a notion is ontologically basic, it should be needed in our best attempt at science
7. Existence / A. Nature of Existence / 4. Existence as One
I take what is fundamental to be the whole spatiotemporal manifold and its fields
7. Existence / C. Structure of Existence / 1. Grounding / a. Nature of grounding
Grounding is unanalysable and primitive, and is the basic structuring concept in metaphysics
As causation links across time, grounding links the world across levels
If ground is transitive and irreflexive, it has a strict partial ordering, giving structure
7. Existence / C. Structure of Existence / 2. Reduction
Three types of reduction: Theoretical (of terms), Definitional (of concepts), Ontological (of reality)
7. Existence / C. Structure of Existence / 5. Supervenience / a. Nature of supervenience
Supervenience is just modal correlation
7. Existence / C. Structure of Existence / 7. Abstract/Concrete / a. Abstract/concrete
The cosmos is the only fundamental entity, from which all else exists by abstraction
7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 7. Facts / b. Types of fact
There is only one fact - the True
7. Existence / E. Categories / 4. Category Realism
Maybe categories are just the different ways that things depend on basic substances
8. Modes of Existence / B. Properties / 13. Tropes / a. Nature of tropes
Tropes are the same as events
9. Objects / A. Existence of Objects / 4. Individuation / a. Individuation
Individuation aims to count entities, by saying when there is one
9. Objects / A. Existence of Objects / 4. Individuation / e. Individuation by kind
No sortal could ever exactly pin down which set of particles count as this 'cup'
9. Objects / C. Structure of Objects / 8. Parts of Objects / c. Wholes from parts
There exist heaps with no integral unity, so we should accept arbitrary composites in the same way
The notion of 'grounding' can explain integrated wholes in a way that mere aggregates can't
9. Objects / F. Identity among Objects / 6. Identity between Objects
Identities can be true despite indeterminate reference, if true under all interpretations
10. Modality / D. Knowledge of Modality / 4. Conceivable as Possible / a. Conceivable as possible
Only ideal conceivability could indicate what is possible
10. Modality / E. Possible worlds / 1. Possible Worlds / b. Impossible worlds
Belief in impossible worlds may require dialetheism
11. Knowledge Aims / B. Certain Knowledge / 2. Common Sense Certainty
'Moorean certainties' are more credible than any sceptical argument
14. Science / D. Explanation / 2. Types of Explanation / b. Contrastive explanations
Explaining 'Adam ate the apple' depends on emphasis, and thus implies a contrast
19. Language / D. Theories of Reference / 3. Direct Reference / b. Causal reference
Are causal descriptions part of the causal theory of reference, or are they just metasemantic?
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 1. Causation / a. Causation
In causation there are three problems of relata, and three metaphysical problems
Distinguish causation, which is in the world, from explanations, which depend on descriptions
Causation may not be transitive; the last event may follow from the first, but not be caused by it
There are at least ten theories about causal connections
Nowadays causation is usually understood in terms of equations and variable ranges
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 1. Causation / d. Naturalised causation
Causation can't be a process, because a process needs causation as a primitive
Causation transcends nature, because absences can cause things
Causation may not be a process, if a crucial part of the process is 'disconnected'
A causal process needs to be connected to the effect in the right way
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 1. Causation / e. Direction of causation
At least four rivals have challenged the view that causal direction is time direction
Causal order must be temporal, or else causes could be blocked, and time couldn't be explained
Causal order is not temporal, because of time travel, and simultanous, joint or backward causes
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 1. Causation / f. Causation as primitive
If causation is just observables, or part of common sense, or vacuous, it can't be primitive
Causation is primitive; it is too intractable and central to be reduced; all explanations require it
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 1. Causation / g. Eliminating causation
The notion of causation allows understanding of science, without appearing in equations
Causation is utterly essential for numerous philosophical explanations
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 2. Particular Causation / a. Observation of causation
If two different causes are possible in one set of circumstances, causation is primitive
If causation is primitive, it can be experienced in ourselves, or inferred as best explanation
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 2. Particular Causation / b. Causal relata
Causal relata are events - or facts, features, tropes, states, situations or aspects
Events are fairly course-grained (just saying 'hello'), unlike facts (like saying 'hello' loudly)
One may defend three or four causal relata, as in 'c causes e rather than e*'
If causal relata must be in nature and fine-grained, neither facts nor events will do
The relata of causation (such as events) need properties as explanation, which need causation!
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 2. Particular Causation / d. Selecting the cause
Our selection of 'the' cause is very predictable, so must have a basis
Selecting 'the' cause must have a basis; there is no causation without such a selection
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 2. Particular Causation / e. Probabilistic causation
The actual cause may make an event less likely than a possible more effective cause
All four probability versions of causation may need causation to be primitive