No Work for a Theory of Universals, with C. J. G. Meacham, eds. B. Loewer & J. Schaffer, Blackwell Companion to David Lewis (Blackwell, forthcoming)
Several variants of Lewis's Best System account of lawhood have been proposed that avoid its commitment to perfectly natural properties. There has been little discussion of the relative merits of these proposals, and little discussion of how one might extend this strategy to provide natural property-free variants of Lewis's other accounts, such as his accounts of duplication, intrinsicality, causation, counterfactuals, and reference. We undertake these projects in this paper. We begin by providing a framework for classifying and assessing the variants of the Best System account. We then evaluate these proposals, and identify the most promising candidates. We go on to develop a proposal for systematically modifying Lewis's other accounts so that they, too, avoid commitment to perfectly natural properties. We conclude by briefly considering a different route one might take to developing natural property-free versions of Lewis's other accounts, drawing on recent work by Williams.
Intrinsic Explanations and Numerical Representations, ed. R. Francescotti, Companion to Intrinsic Properties (de Gruyter, 2014): 271-290
In Science Without Numbers (1980), Hartry Field defends a theory of quantity that, he claims, is able to provide both i) an intrinsic explanation of the structure of space, spacetime, and other quantitative properties, and ii) an intrinsic explanation of why certain numerical representations of quantities (distances, lengths, mass, temperature, etc.) are appropriate or acceptable while others are not. But several philosophers have argued otherwise. In this paper I focus on arguments from Ellis and Milne to the effect that one cannot provide an account of quantity in ''purely intrinsic'' terms. I show, first, that these arguments are confused. Second, I show that Field's treatment of quantity can provide an intrinsic explanation of the structure of quantitative properties; what it cannot do is provide an intrinsic explanation of why certain numerical representations are more appropriate than others. Third, I show that one could provide an intrinsic explanation of this sort if one modified Field's account in certain ways.
Quantitative Properties, Philosophy Compass (2013) 8: 633-645
Two grams mass, three coulombs charge, five inches long – these are examples of quantitative properties. Quantitative properties have certain structural features that other sorts of properties lack. What are the metaphysical underpinnings of quantitative structure? This paper considers several accounts of quantity, and assesses the merits of each.
Fundamental Properties of Fundamental Properties, eds. K. Bennett & D. Zimmerman, Oxford Studies in Metaphysics, Volume 8 (Oxford, 2013): 78-104
Since the publication of David Lewis's ''New Work for a Theory of Universals,'' the distinction between properties that are fundamental – or perfectly natural – and those that are not has become a staple of mainstream metaphysics. Plausible candidates for perfect naturalness include the quantitative properties posited by fundamental physics. This paper argues for two claims: (1) the most satisfying account of quantitative properties employs higher-order relations, and (2) these relations must be perfectly natural, for otherwise the perfectly natural properties cannot play the roles in metaphysical theorizing as envisaged by Lewis.
Intrinsicality and Hyperintensionality, Philosophy & Phenomenological Research (2011) 82: 314-336
standard counterexamples to David Lewis's account of intrinsicality involve two sorts of properties:
identity properties and necessary properties. Proponents of the account have
attempted to deflect these counterexamples in a number of ways. This paper
argues that, in this context, none of these moves are legitimate. Furthermore,
this paper argues that no account along the lines of Lewis's can succeed, for an adequate account of
intrinsicality must be sensitive to hyperintensional distinctions among
Review of Real Essentialism, by D. Oderberg, Mind (2010) 119: 1210-1212
Why Four-Dimensionalism Explains Coincidence, Australasian Journal of Philosophy (2010) 88: 721-729
In 'Does Four-Dimensionalism Explain Coincidence?' Mark Moyer argues that there is no reason to prefer the four-dimensionalist or perdurantist explanation of coincidence to the three-dimensionalist or endurantist explanation. I argue that Moyer's formulations of perdurantism and endurantism lead him to overlook the perdurantist's advantage. A more satisfactory formulation of these views reveals a puzzle of coincidence that Moyer does not consider, and the perdurantist's treatment of this puzzle is clearly preferable.
Three Arguments from Temporary Intrinsics, Philosophy & Phenomenological Research (2010) 81: 605-619
The Argument from Temporary Intrinsics is one of the canonical arguments against endurantism. I show that the two standard ways of presenting the argument have limited force. I then present a new version of the argument, which provides a more promising articulation of the underlying objection to endurantism. However, the premises of this argument conflict with the gauge theories of particle physics, and so this version of the argument is no more successful than its predecessors. I conclude that no version of the Argument from Temporary Intrinsics gives us a compelling reason to favor one theory of persistence over another.
Armstrong on Quantities and Resemblance, Philosophical Studies (2007) 136: 385-404
Resemblances obtain not only between objects but between properties. Resemblances of the latter sort – in particular, resemblances between quantitative properties – prove to be the downfall of David Armstrong's well-known theory of universals. In this paper I examine Armstrong's efforts to account for such resemblances, and explore several ways one might extend the theory in order to account for quantity. I argue that none succeed.
Some of the papers posted here include typographical corrections or clarifications made after publication, and so may diverge slightly from their official versions.
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