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Eaton, Marcia Muelder. Art, Artifacts, and Intentions
1969, American Philosophical Quarterly 6(2): 165 - 169
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Added by: Simon Fokt
Content: The paper is written in support of the claim that artworks have to be artefacts. In a series of thought experiments involving driftwood and poems typed by monkeys, Eaton argues that linguistic objects such as warnings or poems have to result from intentional actions. She supports this argument by distinguishing linguistic objects from linguistic actions. To understand an utterance, it is necessary to not only explicate the meaning of the words used, but also to interpret the linguistic action which resulted in it. Literary works require interpretation, and interpretation requires reference to the linguistic actions of the work’s creator – their intentions. So literary works need to result from intentional actions, i.e. be artefacts. Similarly, artworks are objects of interpretation and thus must be artefacts.

Comment: The artefactuality requirement is involved in various definitions of art and thus Eaton’s paper can be used in many contexts. With its narrow topic and a lack of introduction to any particular definitions, in the context of undergraduate teaching it remains a rather specialised reading. It is best used as a further reading, or as a required reading in higher level modules which already introduced more general works on art classification.

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Haslanger, Sally. Persistence Through Time
2003, In Michael J. Loux & Dean W. Zimmerman (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Metaphysics. Oxford University Press, 315-354.
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Added by: Nick Novelli
Introduction: Things change: objects come into existence, last for a while, go out of existence, move through space, change their parts, change their qualities, change in their relations to things. All this would seem to be uncontroversial. But philosophical attention to any of these phenomena can generate perplexity and has resulted in a number of long-standing puzzles. One of the most famous puzzles about change threatens to demonstrate that nothing can persist through time, that all existence is momentary at best. Let's use the term 'alteration' for the sort of change that occurs when a persisting object changes its properties.

Comment: A good overview of the philosophical issues involved in persistence through time. Would be a good preliminary material in a philosophy of time course. Or, since this is a fundamental philosophical problem, could be used in an introduction to philosophy course as a more clear alternative or supplement to ancient sources.

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Hawley, Katherine. How Things Persist
2004, Hawley, Katherine (2001). How Things Persist. Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Christopher Masterman
Publisher’s Note:

How do things persist? Are material objects spread out through time just as they are spread out through space? Or is temporal persistence quite different from spatial extension? This key question lies at the heart of any metaphysical exploration of the material world, and it plays a crucial part in debates about personal identity and survival. This book explores and compares three theories of persistence — endurance, perdurance, and stage theories — investigating the ways in which they attempt to account for the world around us. Having provided valuable clarification of its two main rivals, the book concludes by advocating stage theory. Such a basic issue about the nature of the physical world naturally has close ties with other central philosophical problems. This book includes discussions of change and parthood, of how we refer to material objects at different times, of the doctrine of Humean supervenience, and of the modal features of material things. In particular, it contains new accounts of the nature of worldly vagueness, and of what binds material things together over time, distinguishing the career of a natural object from an arbitrary sequence of events. Each chapter concludes with a reflection about the impact of these metaphysical debates upon questions about our personal identity and survival.

Comment: A modern classic, perfect for any introductory class on metaphysics which covers the metaphysics of material objects, particularly the nature change, their mereology, the possibility of vague objects, and modal properties of objects.

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Ney, Alyssa. Metaphysics: An Introduction
2015, Routledge.
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Added by: Emily Paul, Contributed by: Tyron Goldschmidt
Publisher's note: <em>Metaphysics: An Introduction</em> combines comprehensive coverage of the core elements of metaphysics with contemporary and lively debates within the subject. It provides a rigorous and yet accessible overview of a rich array of topics, connecting the abstract nature of metaphysics with the real world. Topics covered include: Basic logic for metaphysics, An introduction to ontology, Abstract objects, Material objects Critiques of metaphysics, Free Will, Time, Modality, Persistence, Causation, Social ontology: the metaphysics of race. This outstanding book not only equips the reader with a thorough knowledge of the fundamentals of metaphysics but provides a valuable guide to contemporary metaphysics and metaphysicians. Additional features such as exercises, annotated further reading, a glossary and a companion website www.routledge.com/cw/ney will help students find their way around this subject and assist teachers in the classroom

Comment: An excellent textbook to use for an introduction to metaphysics course. Provides a great overview of and introduction to topics such as modality, inexistence, causation, time, race, social ontology, and the special composition question. This textbook could be used as the key reading for the whole course.

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Thomasson, Amie L.. Ontology Made Easy
2014, Thomasson, Amie L. (2014). Ontology Made Easy. New York: OUP USA.
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Added by: Christopher Masterman
Publisher’s Note:

In the decades following Quine, debates about existence have taken center stage in metaphysics. But neo-Quinean ontology has reached a crisis point, given the endless proliferation of positions and lack of any clear idea of how to resolve debates. The most prominent challenge to mainstream ontological debates has come from the idea that disputants can be seen as using the quantifier with different meanings, leaving the dispute merely verbal. Nearly all of the work in defense of hard ontology has gone into arguing against quantifier variance. This volume argues that hard ontology faces an entirely different challenge, which remains even if the threat of quantifier variance can be avoided. The challenge comes from the ‘easy approach to ontology’: the idea that many ontological questions can be answered by undertaking trivial inferences from uncontroversial premises, making prolonged disputes about the questions out of place. Such a view is arguably the heir to Carnap’s own position. This book aims to develop the easy approach to ontology, showing how it leads to both a first-order simple realism about the disputed entities and a form of metaontological deflationism that takes ontological disputes themselves to be misguided, since existence questions may be answered by straightforward conceptual and/or empirical work. It also aims to defend the easy approach against a range of objections and to show it to be a viable and attractive alternative to hard ontology.

Comment: Perfect for an advanced undergraduate or masters course in ontology, metaphysics, or metametaphysics. The introduction and chapters in Part I would be particularly useful as introductions to meta-ontological deflationism.

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Thomasson, Amie L.. The controversy over the existence of ordinary objects
2010, Philosophy Compass 5 (7):591-601.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Naomi Osorio-Kupferblum
Abstract: The basic philosophical controversy regarding ordinary objects is: Do tables and chairs, sticks and stones, exist? This paper aims to do two things: first, to explain why how this can be a controversy at all, and second, to explain why this controversy has arisen so late in the history of philosophy. Section 1 begins by discussing why the 'obvious' sensory evidence in favor of ordinary objects is not taken to be decisive. It goes on to review the standard arguments against the existence of ordinary objects - including those based on problems with causal redundancy, parsimony, co-location, sorites arguments, and the special composition question. Section 2 goes on to address what it is about the contemporary approach to metaphysics that invites and sustains this kind of controversy, and helps make evident why debates about ordinary objects lead so readily to debates in metametaphysics about the nature of metaphysics itself.

Comment: This is an excellent overview of arguments for and against the existence of ordinary objects.

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