Ahmed, Arif, and . Saul Kripke (Contemporary American Thinkers)

2007, Bloomsbury.

Introduction: Saul Kripke is one of the most important and original post-war analytic philosophers. His work has undeniably had a profound impact on the philosophy of language and the philosophy of mind. Yet his ideas are amongst the most challenging frequently encountered by students of philosophy. In this informative and accessible book, Arif Ahmed provides a clear and thorough account of Kripke’s philosophy, his major works and ideas, providing an ideal guide to the important and complex thought of this key philosopher. The book offers a detailed review of his two major works, Naming and Necessity and Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language, and explores how Kripke’s ideas often seem to overturn widely accepted views and even perceptions of common sense. Geared towards the specific requirements of students who need to reach a sound understanding of Kripke’s thought, the book provides a cogent and reliable survey of the nature and significance of Kripke’s contribution to philosophy. This is the ideal companion to the study of this most influential and challenging of philosophers.

Comment: This would be very useful in a course on philosophy of language, the work of Saul Kripke, a course on metaphysics which dealt with essences or the necessary a posteriori, or a course dealing with Wittgenstein's views on rule-following and private languages. There are separate chapters on names, necessity, rule-following, and private languages; so a syllabus could make use of these individually depending on need, rather than the entire book. Suitable for undergraduates and graduates.

Allori,Valia, and . On the metaphysics of quantum mechanics

2013, In Soazig Lebihan (ed.), Precis de la Philosophie de la Physique, Vuibert.

Abstract: Many solutions have been proposed for solving the problem of macroscopic superpositions of wave function ontology. A possible solution is to assume that, while the wave function provides the complete description of the system, its temporal evolution is not given by the Schroedinger equation. The usual Schroedinger evolution is interrupted by random and sudden “collapses”. The most promising theory of this kind is the GRW theory, named after the scientists that developed it: Gian Carlo Ghirardi, Alberto Rimini and Tullio Weber. It seems tempting to think that in GRW we can take the wave function ontologically seriously and avoid the problem of macroscopic superpositions just allowing for quantum jumps. In this paper it is argued that such “bare” wave function ontology is not possible, neither for GRW nor for any other quantum theory: quantum mechanics cannot be about the wave function simpliciter. All quantum theories should be regarded as theories in which physical objects are constituted by a primitive ontology. The primitive ontology is mathematically represented in the theory by a mathematical entity in three-dimensional space, or space-time.

Comment: This is a very interesting article on the ontology of Quantum Mechanics. It is recommended for advanced courses in Philosophy of Science, especially for modules in the Philosophy of physics. Previous knowledge of Bohmian mechanics and the Many Words Interpretation is necessary. Recommended for postgraduate students.

Anjum, Rani Lill, and Stephen Mumford. Causation: A Very Short Introduction

2013, Oxford University Press

Publisher’s Note: Causation is the most fundamental connection in the universe. Without it, there would be no science or technology. There would be no moral responsibility either, as none of our thoughts would be connected with our actions and none of our actions with any consequences. Nor would we have a system of law because blame resides only in someone having caused injury or damage.

Any intervention we make in the world around us is premised on there being causal connections that are, to a degree, predictable. It is causation that is at the basis of prediction and also explanation. This Very Short Introduction introduces the key theories of causation and also the surrounding debates and controversies. Do causes produce their effects by guaranteeing them? Do causes have to precede their effects? Can causation be reduced to the forces of physics? And are we right to think of causation as one single thing at all?

Comment: This would be a useful introductory text in a course on metaphysics, philosophy of science, or any course in which philosophical accounts of causation are relevant. Individual chapters could be used as primers for separate topics as well as the book as a whole. Suitable for undergraduates of all levels.

Anjum, Rani Lill, and Stephen Mumford. A Powerful Theory of Causation

2010, In Anna Marmodoro (ed.) The Metaphysics of Powers, Routledge (2010): 143-59.

Abstract: Hume thought that if you believed in powers, you believed in necessary connections in nature. He was then able to argue that there were none such because anything could follow anything else. But Hume wrong-footed his opponents. A power does not necessitate its manifestations: rather, it disposes towards them in a way that is less than necessary but more than purely contingent. In this paper a dispositional theory of causation is offered. Causes dispose towards their effects and often produce them. But a set of causes, even though they may succeed in producing an effect, cannot necessitate it since the effect could have been counteracted by some additional power. This would require a separation of our concepts of causal production and causal necessitation. The most conspicuous cases of causation are those where powers accumulate and pass a requisite threshold for an effect to occur. We develop a model for representing powers as constituent vectors within an n-dimensional quality space, where composition of causes appears as vector addition. Even our resultant vector, however, has to be understood as having dispositional force only. This model throws new light on causal modality and cases of prevention, causation by absence and probabilistic causation.

Comment: This would be useful in a course on metaphysics, philosophy of science, or any course in which philosophical accounts of causation are relevant. This paper has the benefit of being both clear and non-technical, and being quite cutting-edge. Suitable for undergraduates of all levels.

Anscombe, G. Elizabeth M., and . Causality and Determination

1981, In Anscombe, G. E. M. Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Mind: Collected Philosophical Papers Volume II. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

Summary: A classic text in which Anscombe argues for a realist view of causation. Specifically, Anscombe holds that causation is both directly perceivable and not subject to philosophical analysis. Anscombe seeks to establish that causal relations do not presuppose laws, and that causal relations can be perceived in a direct way.

Comment: This would be useful in a course on metaphysics, philosophy of science or philosophy of action. Anscombe is not always an easy writer, but this paper is not technical and is widely considered to be a classic. This could be used at any undergraduate or graduate level.

Beebee, Helen, and . The non-governing conception of laws of nature

2000, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 56: 571-594.

Abstract: Recently several thought experiments have been developed (by John Carroll amongst others) which have been alleged to refute the Ramsey-Lewis view of laws of nature. The paper aims to show that two such thought experiments fail to establish that the Ramsey-Lewis view is false, since they presuppose a conception of laws of nature that is radically at odds with the Humean conception of laws embodied by the Ramsey- Lewis view. In particular, the thought experiments presuppose that laws of nature govern the behavior of objects. The paper argues that the claim that laws govern should not be regarded as a conceptual truth, and shows how the governing conception of laws manifests itself in the thought experiments. Hence the thought experiments do not constitute genuine counter-examples to the Ramsey-Lewis view, since the Humean is free to reject the conception of laws which the thought experiments presuppose.

Comment: Good primary or secondary reading for advanced undergraduate or graduate philosophy of science or metaphysics courses; or any course where laws of nature are relevant (for instance, a course considering the contemporary impact of Hume).

Chihara, Charles, and . A Structural Account of Mathematics

2004, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Publisher’s Note: Charles Chihara’s new book develops and defends a structural view of the nature of mathematics, and uses it to explain a number of striking features of mathematics that have puzzled philosophers for centuries. The view is used to show that, in order to understand how mathematical systems are applied in science and everyday life, it is not necessary to assume that its theorems either presuppose mathematical objects or are even true. Chihara builds upon his previous work, in which he presented a new system of mathematics, the constructibility theory, which did not make reference to, or presuppose, mathematical objects. Now he develops the project further by analysing mathematical systems currently used by scientists to show how such systems are compatible with this nominalistic outlook. He advances several new ways of undermining the heavily discussed indispensability argument for the existence of mathematical objects made famous by Willard Quine and Hilary Putnam. And Chihara presents a rationale for the nominalistic outlook that is quite different from those generally put forward, which he maintains have led to serious misunderstandings. A Structural Account of Mathematics will be required reading for anyone working in this field. generally put forward, which he maintains have led to serious misunderstandings.

Comment: This book, or chapters from it, would provide useful further reading on nominalism in courses on metaphysics or the philosophy of mathematics. The book does a very good job of summarising and critiquing other positions in the debate. As such individual chapters on (e.g.) mathematical structuralism, Platonism and Field and Balaguer's respective developments of fictionalism could be helpful. The chapter on his own contructibility theory is also a good introduction to that position: shorter and less technical than his earlier (1991) book Constructibility and Mathematical Existence, but longer and more developed than his chapter on Nominalism in the Oxford Handbook of the Philosophy of Mathematics and Logic.

Chihara, Charles, and . Nominalism

2005, in The Oxford Hanbook of Philosophy of Mathematics and Logic, ed. S. Shapiro. New York: Oxford University Press.

Summary: Introduction to mathematical nominalism, with special attention to Chihara’s own development of the position and the objections of John Burgess and Gideon Rosen. Chihara provides an outline of his constructibility theory, which avoids quantification over abstract objects by making use of contructibility quantifiers which instead of making assertions about what exists, make assertions about what sentences can be constructed.

Comment: This chapter would be a good primary or secondary reading in a course on philosophy of mathematics or metaphysics. Chihara is very good at conveying difficult ideas in clear and concise prose. It is worth noting however that, despite the title, this is not really an introduction to nominalism generally but to Chihara's own (important) development of a nominalist philosophy of mathematics / metaphysics.

Drewery, Alice, and . Essentialism and the Necessity of the Laws of Nature

2005, Synthese 144(3): 381-396.

Abstract: In this paper the author discusses and evaluates different arguments for the view that the laws of nature are metaphysically necessary. She conclude that essentialist arguments from the nature of natural kinds fail to establish that essences are ontologically more basic than laws, and fail to offer an a priori argument for the necessity of all causal laws. Similar considerations carry across to the argument from the dispositionalist view of properties, which may end up placing unreasonable constraints on property identity across possible worlds. None of her arguments preclude the possibility that the laws may turn out to be metaphysically necessary after all, but she argues that this can only be established by a posteriori scientific investigation. She argues for what may seem to be a surprising conclusion: that a fundamental metaphysical question – the modal status of laws of nature – depends on empirical facts rather than purely on a priori reasoning.

Comment: An excellent paper that could serve as further or specialized reading for postgraduate courses in philosophy of science, in particular, for modules related to the study of the laws of nature. The paper offers an in-depth discussion of essentialist arguments, but also touches upon many other fundamental concepts such as grounding, natural kinds, dispositions and necessity.

Emery, Nina, and . The Metaphysical Consequences of Counterfactual Skepticism

2015, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 92 (3).

Abstract: A series of recent arguments purport to show that most counterfactuals of the form if A had happened then C would have happened are not true. These arguments pose a challenge to those of us who think that counterfactual discourse is a useful part of ordinary conversation, of philosophical reasoning, and of scientific inquiry. Either we find a way to revise the semantics for counterfactuals in order to avoid these arguments, or we find a way to ensure that the relevant counterfactuals, while not true, are still assertible. In this paper, the author argues that regardless of which of these two strategies we choose, the natural ways of implementing these strategies all share a surprising consequence: they commit us to a particular metaphysical view about chance.

Comment: Really detailed article about counterfactual skepticism and chance pluralism. Could be useful in metaphysics classes, although the paper has consequences for many other fields (eg. philosophy of science). In principle it is recomendable for postgraduate students or senior undergraduate students who are confident enough with the topic