Quantifier versus Poetry, The Pluralist 7 (1): 94:103 (2012)
Should we fear quantum torment?, Ratio 25 (3): 249-259 (2012)
Abstract: The prospect, in terms of subjective expectations, of immortality under the no-collapse interpretation of quantum mechanics is certain, as pointed out by several authors, both physicists and, more recently, philosophers. The argument, known as quantum suicide, or quantum immortatilty, has received some critical discussion, but there hasn't been any questioning of David Lewis's point that there is a terrifying corollary to the argument, namely, that we should expect to live forever in a crippled, more and more damaged state, that barely sustains life. This is the prospect of eternal quantum torment. Based on some empirical facts, I argue for a conclusion that is much more reassuring than Lewis's terrible scenario.
A new argument for mind-brain identity, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 62(3): 489-517 (2011)
Abstract: In this paper I undertake the tasks of reconsidering Feigl’s notion of a ‘nomological dangler’ in light of recent discussion about the viability of accommodating phenomenal properties, or qualia, within a physicalist picture of reality, and of constructing an argument to the effect that nomological danglers, including the way qualia are understood to be related to brain states by contemporary dualists, are extremely unlikely. I offer a probabilistic argument to the effect that merely nomological danglers are extremely unlikely, the only probabilistically coherent candidates being ‘anomic danglers’ (not even nomically correlated) and ‘necessary danglers’ (more than merely nomically correlated). After I show, based on similar probabilistic reasoning, that the first disjunct (anomic danglers) is very unlikely, I conclude that the identity thesis is the only remaining candidate for the mental/physical connection. The novelty of the argument is that it brings probabilistic considerations in favour of physicalism, a move that has been neglected in the recent burgeoning literature on the subject.
The solo numero paradox, American Philosophical Quarterly 48 (4): 347-360 (2011)
Abstract: I put forward a new interpretation of the principle of the identity of indiscernibles (PII), based on the idea that when asserting the principle one should quantify over properties in a fixed derivational context, so that derivational context is explicitly mentioned in the principle. The properties that will therefore figure in evaluating the truth-value of the principle will be what I call `instantial properties`, that is, the properties that the variables have in a derivational structure by being subject to the natural deduction rules of Existential Instantiation (EI) and Universal Generalization (UI). What is peculiar with these rules is that they require the reasoner to postulate so-called instantial terms (free variables, dummy-names, temporary constants, mathematical variables) assumed to designate an arbitrary member of the relevant domain depending on what has been (in the case of EI, by which they get introduced) or will be (in the case of UI, by which they get eliminated) asserted in the process of derivation. Drawing on work by Kit Fine and Jeffrey King on instantial terms, I show that the new PII can (a) accommodate the counter-examples to the old principle based on the possibility of symmetric universes, (b) can also accommodate in a paradox-free way the intuition behind those counter-examples to the effect that there can be objects different solo numero, and (c) its postulation of instantial properties does not make PII trivial, as these are pure properties, that is, not ones essentially involving particular objects. The novelty consists in introducing properties that objects have qua objects of reasoning, which derivational discourse will bring out, and which will discern the objects even when they are otherwise indiscernible.
Silencing the argument from hallucination, in F. Macpherson & D. Platchias, Hallucination, MIT Press (forthcoming)
Abstract: One of the more recent replies to the argument from hallucination is disjunctivism, whose main tenet is that although there are possible hallucinations that are subjectively indistinguishable from veridical perception, the two mental states –that of hallucinating an object and that of perceiving an object—are of different kinds, having nothing substantial in common, but the platitude that both of them fall under a disjunctive description of the form "hallucinating O or perceiving O".
Many philosophers are critical of disjunctivism, one of the main alleged flaws they identify being that there is no explanation offered by disjunctivists of why we should reject the existence of a common factor to hallucination and perception – the main tenet of disjunctivism seems to be taken as a brute, unexplained fact. The other side of the coin is that accepting a common factor seems very intuitive. As a general conclusion, then, there is prima facie reason to accept the existence of a common factor whenever two mental states are subjectively indistinguishable.
In this paper I will offer an argument against this general conclusion, which, if accepted, can explain why it makes sense to believe in the disjunctive view of perception and hallucination. The argument focuses on auditory perception, and the phenomenon under consideration is that of hearing versus hallucinating silence.
The nature of shadows, from Yale to Bilkent, Philosophy 85(2): 219-223 (2010)
Abstract: I discuss a solution to the Yale shadow puzzle, due to Roy Sorensen, based on the actual process theory of causation, and argue that it does not work in the case of a new version of the puzzle, which I call "the Bilkent shadow puzzle". I offer a picture of the ontology of shadows which, together with an alternative view of causation, constitutes the basis for a new solution that uniformly solves both puzzles.
Powers and the mind-body problem, International Journal of Philosophical Studies 18(1): 57-72 (2010)
Abstract: The paper proposes a new line of attack on the conceivability argument for mind-body property dualism, based on the causal account of properties, according to which properties have their conditional powers essentially. It is argued that the epistemic possibility of physical but not phenomenal duplicates of actuality is identical to a metaphysical (understood as broadly logical) possibility, but irrelevant for establishing the falsity of physicalism. The proposed attack is in many ways inspired by a standard, broadly Kripkean approach to epistemic and metaphysical modality.
Hesperus is Phosphorus, indeed, Axiomathes 19 (2): 223-4 (2009)
Abstract: Tobias Hansson Wahlberg argues in a recent article that the truth of "Hesperus is Phosphorus" depends on the assumption that the endurance theory of persistence is true. I argue that the premise Wahlberg's conclusion is based upon leads to absurd consequences, therefore, nothing recommends it. As a consequence, "Hesperus is Phosphorus" has to be true, if it is true, regardless of which theory of persistence one is committed to.
The reappearing act, Acta Analytica 24 (1): 1-10 (2009)
Abstract: In his latest book, Roy Sorensen offers a solution to a puzzle he put forward in an earlier article –The Disappearing Act puzzle. The puzzle involves various question about how the causal theory perception is to be applied to the case of seeing shadows. Sorensen argues for that the puzzle should be taken as bringing out a new way of seeing shadows. I point out a problem for Sorensen’s solution, and offer and defend an alternative view, according to which the puzzle is to be interpreted as showing a new way of seeing objects, in virtue of their contrast with light.
Review of Roy Sorensen, Seeing Dark Things. The Philosophy of Shadows (Oxford University Press, 2008), Australasian Journal of Philosophy 86 (3): 513-515 (2008)
Review of Alter, T. and S. Walter (eds.) Phenomenal Concepts and Phenomenal Knowledge (Oxford University Press, 2007), Mind 117 (467): 665-669 (2008)
Shadows of constitution, The Monist 90 (3): 15-32 (2007)
Abstract: Mainstream metaphysics has been preoccupied by inquiring into the nature of major kinds of entities, like objects, properties and events, while avoiding minor entities, like shadows or holes. However, one might want to hope that dealing with such minor entities could be profitable for even solving puzzles about major entities. I propose a new ontological puzzle, the Shadow of Constitution Puzzle, incorporating the old puzzle of material constitution, with shadows in the role ofthe minor entity to guide our approach to the issues involved. I then analyze the standard answers to the original puzzle of constitution, in their role as potential solutions to the new puzzle. Finally, I discuss three views that can solve the proposed puzzle.
Excluding exclusion: the natural(istic) dualist approach, Philosophical Explorations 11 (1): 67-78 (2008)
Abstract: The exclusion problem for mental causation is one of the most discussed mind-body puzzles. A solution to it is usually put forth either as an argument for one mind-body view or another, or as a way to compatibilize such a view with the most acceptable assumptions behind the problem. There have been two main approaches to this problem. The first is put forth as an argument for reductive physicalism, and implicitly against nonreductive physicalism and a fortiori against mind-body dualism. The second approach is less combative, and is concerned with saving nonreductive physicalism from the potential danger of either mental-physical overdetermination, or mental epiphenomenalism. However, there has been a general agreement among philosophers, especially because most of them are committed to some form of physicalism, that the exclusion problem cannot be escaped by the dualist. I argue that a proper understanding of dualism --its form, commitments, and intuitions—makes the exclusion problem irrelevant from the dualist perspective. The paper proposes a dualist approach and solution to the exclusion problem, based on a theory of event causation, according to which events are neither fine-grained (Jaegwon Kim), nor coarse-grained (Donald Davidson), but medium-grained, namely, parsed into mental and physical property components. A theory of contrastive mental causation is built upon this theory of events, for which the problem of exclusion does not arise.