- Preliminary Remarks on
- Graded questions are
- All answers to graded questions
must be typed. These will be graded mainly for effort, and
without written comments. You should try to limit your answers to about
one page (single spaced) per question.
- The Guidelines
on Plagiarism and Academic Integrity apply to
your answers to the study questions, as well as to your papers.
- Questions prefixed with
an asterisk (*) are intended to provoke thought. They do not have straightforward
- Due Dates:
- First set (those
marked in bold below as of 09/18/03: #4, #10, & #11 in Unit
#1) due 10/16/03
- Second set (those
marked in bold below – after 09/18/03 – as of 11/13/03) due
12/11/03 (at final)
- Study Questions
- Questions from Loux's
- On page 4 of (MCI),
Loux briefly describes Aristotle's argument which aims to unify
(or identify) his two conceptions of Metaphysics:
the science of Being qua Being, and (ii)
the science of First Causes. Try to explain, in your own words (and
as possible), how Aristotle's unifying argument (or, at least, Loux's
rendition of it) is supposed to work (that is, reconstruct it as
carefully as you can). Do you think this is a good argument? Explain.
Do you think Aristotle's
two conceptions of Metaphysics can be unified (i.e., are
they one and the same Science)? Explain.
- Why do "conceptual schemers" (as Loux calls them in the introduction)
think that "the world as it really is" is inaccessible
to us (i.e.,
cannot be known by us)? That is, what's their argument for this claim?
What do you think of this argument (as presented by Loux,. e.g.,
on page 9)? Can you think of any objections to this argument?
- Why aren't Metaphysicians
(in Loux's "Category Theorist" sense) very interested
in existential questions like "Are there summersaults?"?
(see pp. 15-17). In this connection, Loux distinguishes
"derived" categories. Briefly explain this distinction.
(*) Do you think this distinction is a principled one, or is
it just a
one, historically determined by the tastes of actual Metaphysicians?
(*) And, Does it matter (that is, is it central or important
to Metaphysics that it be able to distinguish basic or underived
from derived ones)? (*) Why (or why not)?
- Unit #1 Questions
- Clarify the sense
in which the copula "is" and the relation of Exemplification
correspond within the realist's account of predication (as described
by Loux). How is this different than the sense in which the predicate "courageous" corresponds
with the property Courage, or the way in which the proper name "Socrates" corresponds
with the particular (man) Socrates? Does the realist maneuver of
'paraphrasing' claims of the form "a is F" as "a exemplifies F" amount
to cheating, on this score? That is, is the correspondence
between "exemplifies" and "exemplification" more
straightforward (perhaps, more like connotation?) than the relation
between "is" and Exemplification? If so, is it really
correct for realists to describe this maneuver as (mere) paraphrasing?
If not, why not? How do these considerations effect your overall
judgment of the adequacy of their account?
- Compare and contrast
Armstrong's approach to attribute agreement and predication (Armstrong
invokes states of affairs as the nonlinguistic entities
with which sentences correspond as a whole) with the Platonic
scheme, and the standard realist strategies described by Loux.
Do you think Armstrong's approach is superior or inferior (in either
case)? Why (or why not)? If so, how does this bear on Loux's discussion
about the standard realist approaches?
- In his discussion of
the Parmenidean regress faced
by the realist account of predication,
Loux sketches an argument (page 39) the conclusion
of which seems to be "...if there is a regress here, it is one
that infects every
attempt, realist or nominalist, at delineating the ontological
subject-predicate truth.". Give a careful reconstruction of
Loux's argument. Do you think this argument softens the impact
of the Parmenidean regress (i.e., how is this argument
supposed to help the realist)? Bonus: Do you think this argument
can be adapted to the
- On p. 23, Loux
distinguishes between a one-place universal and a many-place
universal. What is the difference? Is this a substantial
metaphysical difference? Briefly discuss the differences and similarities
one and many-place universals, and any important ramifications
they might have for metaphysical realism. [part of
first graded set of study questions]
- In response to the Russellian
paradox, Loux claims that (page 36) "To avoid the paradox,
we have no option but to deny that there is a universal associated
with the general term 'does not exemplify itself'". Do you
agree? Can you think of an alternative way to avoid the paradox?
(Hint (question): is the only assumption at work here
that the property 'does not exemplify itself' exists?
Or, are there other assumptions
required to generate the paradox?).
- One of the problems
with a Platonic "two-worlds" ontology involves the possibility
of a 'tie' or 'connection' between particulars and universals (as
required, for instance, by the realist theory of predication).
How can such a connection be forged if particulars and universals
reside in separate, independent domains? Discuss Loux's response
to this problem (page 50). Do you find this response satisfying? Can
you think of a better one?
- Loux (pp. 67–70)
claims that the Austere Nominalist must assume that the ceteris
and adverbial expressions (in their "concretizations" of
claims involving abstract reference) are not fully analyzable (i.e.,
they must ultimately take them as primitive). Explain
why Loux thinks this is the case. Does
he give an argument for
this? If not, can you think of one? Is Loux right, or is there
a way for the
to provide satisfying (and full) analyses or explications of
their ceteris paribus clauses and adverbial expressions?
If so, what might that be?
- Quine claims that nominalists
cannot say "there are things the realist has in her ontology,
but that I do not have in mine" (on pain of contradiction).
Explain why this amounts to asserting a contradiction for the nominalist
(this problem is what Quine calls "Plato's Beard"). Nonetheless,
Quine says that there is still hope for the nominalist to engage
debate with the realist on matters of ontology – by "talking
about the realist's sentences" and "what to do with them".
How might this "semantic ascent" strategy work? What
kinds of things would the
their ontology to engage the realist in such a debate? Do you think
this is what realists and nominalists are actually doing when they
matters of ontology (i.e., are they "talking
about each other's sentences")? Can you suggest an alternative
(non-meta-linguistic) way of reconstructing this debate? Keep in
mind Quine's criticisms
of "possible objects" here.
- Describe Quine's
objections to the notion of a "possible entity" (page 44 of Loux's
Do you think these objections are good reasons to banish such entities
from our ontology?
- Explain how Russell's theory of descriptions paraphrases
the claim ``The present king of France is bald.'' On Russell's
this claim come out true or false? Do you think this is the right
answer? Answer these same questions for the claim ``Courage is a
virtue''? [part of first graded set of study
- Quine says:
"In debating over what there is, there are still reasons for operating on a semantical
plane. One reason is to escape from the predicament noted at the beginning of
this essay: the predicament of my not being able to admit that there are things
McX countenances and I do not. So long as I adhere to my ontology, as opposed
to McX's, I cannot allow my bound variables to refer to
which belong to McX's ontology and not to mine. I can, however, consistently
our disagreement by characterizing the statements which McX affirms. Provided
merely that my ontology countenances linguistic forms, or at least concrete inscriptions
and utterances, I can talk about McX's sentences."
Try to explain in your own words what Quine has in mind here. Specifically,
explain how the nominalist should interpret or understand a realist
when they say "There are universals (for instance,
Courage)." According to Quine, what ontological commitments does
the nominalist take on, as a result of this kind of "semantical" reconstruction
of realist discourse? [part of first graded set of study questions]
- Sellars responds to
the translation objection to metalinguistic nominalism by analyzing
meanings into the functional roles of particular
linguistic instances. Explain how Sellars does this and how it avoids
the translation objection. If we grant Sellars' move here, it seems
that our language now refers to kinds of functional roles of linguistic
instances, which seem to be abstract objects. Is this a problem for
Sellars' account? Explain why or why not.
- Loux gives the following
argument, which is supposed to expose a problem for the Trope Theorist
(of the Set-Theoretic Ilk):
Given that sets have their members necessarily, the trope theorist
is committed to the claim that the set that is courage could
not have had a different membership.... On the trope theorist's
account, however, concrete objects, persons, are courageous just
in case they have a trope that is a member of the set that is
identical with courage. But if that set could not have had more
or fewer members than it does, we have the result that there
could not have been more or fewer courageous individuals than
there, in fact, are.
this argument. Then, offer some criticisms of the argument. Do
you think this is a good argument? Does it
really expose a serious problem for the set-theoretic trope theorist?
- In class, it was suggested that Sellars' theory of dot quotation
may still suffer from problems stemming from radical differences
of different languages. Try to come up with an example involving
two (natural) languages L1 and L2, such that:
- An abstract (this must involve abstract reference!)
sentence S1 in
L1 (intuitively) makes a claim c.
- An abstract sentence S2 in L2 also (intuitively) makes the
very same claim c.
- Because the structures of L1 and L2 are so different, Sellars'
theory (incorrectly, from and intuitive point of view) makes
the two sentences S1 and S2 correspond to different
- A New Problem For Trope Theory? When one combines
the trope-theoretic account of subject-predicate discourse with the
trope-theoretic account of abstract reference, one seems to get false
consequences. To see this, consider the combination of the following
two claims the trope theorist seems to be committed to:
1. "Courage is a virtue" is true only if the set of courage
tropes is a subset of the set of virtue tropes.
2. "Socrates is courageous" is true only if Socrates has
a courage trope.
Now, assuming that "Courage is a virtue" is true
(as it is), we can deduce the following:
3. "Socrates is courageous" is true only if "Socrates is virtuous"
Explain how this follows from (1) and (2), on the assumption that "Courage
is a virtue" is true. The fact that (3) can be derived
from the conjunction of the trope-theoretic accounts of subject-predicate
discourse and abstract reference is very bad news. To
see this more plainly, note that, since we can run this same derivation
for all courageous
people (explain how this would go!), we can then deduce from the
conjunction of these two trope-theoretic accounts that:
4. All courageous people are virtuous.
But, this claim is false, as we have seen in our discussion
of Austere Nominalism! Remember, it was because (4) is false that
Nominalist had to bring in the primitive "ceteris paribus" clauses
account of abstract reference. We have just shown that the conjunction
of the trope theorist's accounts of abstract reference and subject-predicate
discourse has a false consequence. Therefore, it appears that they
can't both be true. Discuss.
- Loux (page 106) says:
Although the central premise
of the argument ("Difference of attributes
entails difference of bundles") was formulated in bundle-theoretic
terms, that premise is merely an instance of a more general principle
governing the constituent-whole relation; for if it is true that difference
in attributes entails difference in bundles, it is true only because
it is true that difference of constituents entails difference in constituted
wholes or complexes. But the substratum theorist no less than the bundle
theorist construes the attributes associated with an ordinary object
as its constituents [viz., (PCI)]. Accordingly, if the bundle theorist
is committed to denying that the concrete object emerging from a change
is ever numerically identical with that entering the change, so, it
would seem, is the substratum theorist.
This suggests that the problem
with identification through changes in attribute is the very same
problem for both the bundle theorist and the substratum
theorist. But, intuitively, is that right? What if a particular changes all of
its attributes? Would there, on a substratum view, be anything that
(in some sense)
could persist through such a global change in attributes?
What about on the bundle theory? [Also, see questions #2 and #3, below. As
in #3, below, both (PCI) and its converse – the constituent-indiscernability
of identicals – will be relevant here.]
Loux (page 110) says:
… if subject-predicate discourse presents
problems for the bundle theorist, it presents analogous problems
for the substratum theorist. The substratum theorist claims that
substrata are the items to which we ultimately ascribe attributes;
but, then, substrata had better be things we can pick out as
identifiable objects of reference. [but] … substrata are
bare; they are things that in themselves have no attributes.…there
is nothing in a bare substratum, taken by itself, that would
enable us to pick it out as something distinct from other things.
If a bare substratum is to be identified, it can only be by reference
to the attributes with which it is compresent. Those attributes,
however, are just the attributes that can be truly ascribed to
it. But, then, the substratum theorist would seem to confront
the same sorts of difficulties he poses for the bundle theorist.
Do you think – as
Loux suggests here – that this problem is the same problem faced
by the bundle theorist? Or, is there a deeper problem here for
the bundle theorist? [Hint: distinguish the metaphysics
of identity (as it pertains to subjects) from the epistemology
of identification (as it applies to subjects). There does,
intuitively, seem to be a "part" of the identity of the
substratum theorist's objects that is independent of the
attributes it happens to have. See question #3, below.]
Explain what Loux means when he says:
…if the attribute did not enter into the
constitution of the object, that object would not exist. On the
bundle theory, every true subject-predicate claim is a mere elaboration
of the essence of a concrete object. And here we confront what
is, perhaps, the central difference between between the bundle theory
and the substratum theory; for whereas the bundle
theory must construe all true ascriptions of attributes as
holding of necessity, the substratum theorist insists that none
This is supposed to be the crucial difference between bundle
theory and substratum theory. Do you agree with Loux that a bundle
must think of all the attributes of a particular as necessarily exemplified
by that particular, and that the substratum theorist must disagree (and
view attributes as contingently exemplified)? How does this
jibe with the fact that Loux also claims that both the
theorist and the substratum theorist is committed to principle (PCI),
on page 113? Doesn't changing attributes imply
changing the constituents? If so, why doesn't this imply
a change in identity both for the bundle theorist and the
substratum theorist (after all, they both accept (PCI))? [Note: everyone
who accepts (PCI) is bound to accept its converse – the
constituent-indiscernability of identicals – which says that
identity entails indiscernibility with respect to constituents.]
If it does, then how can what Loux says in this quote be true? Wouldn't
it then also be
the point of view of the substratum theorist that "if
the attribute did not enter into the constitution of the object,
that object would not exist"?
- After discussing the bundle
theory, which he claims requires particulars to have all of
their attributes necessarily, and substratum theory, which he claims
particulars to have none of their attributes necessarily,
Loux (p. 123) describes the choice between these extremes as follows:
If the idea of an entity completely lacking in essential
attributes is, as it seems to be, problematic, then the substratum
theory is not an
attractive option. And if it is, as it seems to be, possible for numerically
different concrete objects to be qualitatively indiscernible, then any
version of the bundle theory that endorses a realist interpretation of
attributes would appear to be unacceptable. It
looks as though we have only two options: to join forces with bundle
like Hume and Williams who embrace a trope-theoretic interpretation of
attributes, or to follow the austere nominalist and deny that concrete
particulars have any ontological structure…
That is, Loux characterizes
the choice between substratum theory and bundle theory as a choice between
a theory which requires that no attributes be essential (or
necessary), and a theory which accepts the Identity of Indiscernibles
(II). Can you
think of a reason why he doesn't express the dilemma here entirely in
terms of the disagreement over how many attributes are necessary or essential?
In fact, why does he bring in (II) at all? Isn't there a much easier
to make the choice
of bundle theory seem unattractive – for both realists and trope
theorists (and in a way
that is directly related to his complaint about substratum theory), simply by
appealing to the fact that it makes every attribute essential?
This is especially puzzling, since the (II) argument doesn't apply to
trope theory versions of bundle theory, but the "superessentialist"
objection applies to both.
question at the very end of my handout on
rigidity, abstract reference, and predication, which is as follows.
On Loux’s reconstruction of the bundle theory, however, all
attributes of particulars come out necessary (and for the same reason – Loux
assumes that “the
set of ___ tropes” is always rigid). Can a trick like the
one I applied above to the trope theory of universals be applied
trope/bundle theory of particulars? If so, what are the consequences
of such a move? In particular, is it possible for Socrates to be
contingently courageous on such a view? And, if so, how (that is,
why is his courage contingent on such an account)?
- Explain why the bundle
theorist is prohibited from appealing to spatio-temporal properties
when trying to identify a distinguishing property of
the (presumed to be distinct) spheres in Black's universe. That is,
explain why such properties are
Do you think the bundle theorist should even try to argue
that the spheres do have a distinguishing property?
Or, do you think the better strategy is for them
to simply turn the tables on the substratum theorist, and try to argue
that they are really one and the same sphere after all? Along
these lines, consider the replies of Hacking and Zimmerman.
- Loux claims that the bundle
theorist errs in "…restricting the attributes relevant to the
characterization of a concrete
particular to those the realist calls properties." Why can't the
realist bundle theorist include kinds (or relations)
among the universals it considers to be constitutive of
particulars? Does Loux provide an argument for this claim
anywhere? If so, examine it, if not, can you think of an argument
for this claim that might be suggested by Loux's remarks about bundle
- Loux claims that:
Aristotelians deny that there is a special problem
of explaining how concrete particulars can be numerically different
from each other. They insist that the multiple instantiation of a kind
is, by itself, sufficient to secure the existence of numerically different
particulars. Each of its instantiations is a particular that is numerically
different from the others.
How is this supposed to work, exactly? Try to give a precise rendition
of how the "multiple exemplification of a kind" is supposed to explain
how (II) can be false. This is connected with question #7, above.
Loux seems to be assuming that kinds do not count among
the universals in the indiscernibility clause of (II).
But, even if this is assumed, it is not entirely clear
how "multiple exemplification of a kind" is
going to help establish that a and b are distinct (for
some a and b).
After all, if a = b, then, presumably, a belongs
to kind K if
and only if b does. So, how does the fact that a and b "both" belong to K imply that a and b are distinct?
What else is being assumed here?
- Questions from Unit
- In his discussion of
the "logical forms" of propositions and facts
(p. 166), Loux mentions particular, general, affirmative, and negative
facts. He does not mention conjunctive, disjunctive, or conditional
facts. Why not? Is there are reason why there might not be such facts?
Also,concerning negative vs affirmative facts, is it possible
to make out this distinction in a principled way? After all, every
proposition p is logically equivalent
to not-(not-p). So, why aren't all propositions/facts
negative? In general, how can we determine the form of a
proposition? After all, we can denote propositions using that-clauses
wildly different logical forms. Which linguistic expressions of p give
is the "true insight" into "the logical form of p"?
- Explain the similarities and differences between Sellars' and Prior's
metalinguistic approaches to nominalizing propositions. Can Prior's
account be generalized to allow for the
nominalization of universals? If not, does this make Sellars' approach
more systematic? And, what price might Sellars pay for this increased
generality and systematicity of his approach? Keep in mind that Sellars was a nominalist about properties and propositions, whereas, Prior was concerned, mainly, with nominalizing propositions (and not properties).
- Explain the objection raised by Loux to the metalinguistic approaches
of Prior and Sellars on pages 158-159?
Do you think both
and Prior's accounts are vulnerable to this objection? Do you think
this is a compelling objection to either (or both) of the accounts?
- Do you think (as Loux
claims on pp. 146–147) that-clauses do not preserve their referents
under substitution of coreferential terms?
Give examples or arguments to support your opinion on this issue.
How does the
realist use this property of that-clauses to explain the referential
opacity of the propositional attitudes (like belief)?
Do you think this is
a good explanation?
- Explain the "slingshot
argument" (outlined in lecture
16). Here, you may focus either on Gödel's or on Davidson's version of the argument (whichever you think is a stronger argument). Do you think this argument is sound? Which premise(s) is (are)
the most controversial, in your opinion? Try to provide support for,
a counterexample to, that premise (or premises). In the end, what do
you think we should conclude from the "slingshot"? What consequences
have for fact/proposition-theory?
- Describe the similarities and differences between Kim and Davidson's respective theories of events. Specifically, what does each theory say about: (i) the logical structure of events (e.g., the relationship between "the bolt gave way suddenly" and "the bolt gave way"), and (ii) the role that events play in causal claims (e.g., what do they say about "the bolt's giving way suddenly, and not the bolt's giving way, caused the collapse")? [part of second graded set of study questions]
- Explain how Kim can accommodate the intuition that the football game (which has a finite duration) is an event by distinguishing basic events <a, P, t> from compound events, which are collections of basic events. Can Kim exploit this distinction to provide an account of the relationship between (a) "the bolt gave way suddenly" and (b) "the bolt gave way", which has the following two features: (1) that (a)'s occurrence guarantees (b)'s occurrence, and not vice versa, and (2) that (a) and (b) are distinct events? If so, explain how he could use such an account to explain how (a) could be the cause of the collapse, while (b) is not. If not, then explain how Kim can do so using only basic events.
- What is an intensional operator, and what is an opaque statement? Explain why modal operators are intensional (use examples). Also, explain why the operator "I believe that" is intensional (use examples). Do you think the operator "that" is intensional (Loux discusses this on pp.146-147)? Explain. [part of second graded set of study questions]
- Explain how Lewis' nominalization of properties works, and use it to show that "having a kidney" and "having a heart" come out as different properties on Lewis' account. Then, explain how you think Lewis should handle cases of abstract reference like "Courage is a virtue" or "These two species are cross-fertile"? Does this lead to a satisfactory account?
- Present Lewis' argument that there are no cross-world individuals (i.e., that there is nobody identical to
me or you in other non-actual, possible worlds). Then, present the reply presented by Loux, which makes use of "world-indexed" or "world-bound" properties. Do you think this is an adequate reply?
In particular, which do you think has more force: (a) the worry (of anti-Lewisians) "Why should I care what
people similar to me are doing in other possible worlds? What I want to know is what I am doing in other possible
worlds!", or (b) the worry of Lewis "How can we even compare ourselves with people in other possible
worlds if all the properties in this world are distinct from all the properties in all
other worlds? When I say 'I am taller than my short counterpart', this must now mean that 'I am tallerw*
than my shortw counterpart'. But, what does this mean, if tallw* and shortw are distinct properties?'"
- How might Lewis handle Loux's examples of abstract reference. In particular, how could Lewis use his possible worlds nominalization of properties/propositions to paraphrase the following two abstract claims: (1) "Courage is a virtue", and (2) "These two species are cross-fertile"? Concerning (1), Loux only mentions it as a problem for Austere Nominalism (forcing the use of `ceteris paribus clauses'). But, it seems that (1) is also a problem for trope theory (if it is a legitimate problem), and even for Lewis' account of properties. Do you think (1) really is as deep a problem as it appears to be (given the way Loux presents it), or is there something fishy about (1)? If so, what is it?
- Both Kripke and Lewis, ultimately, reject the naive account of de re modality according to which "x is contingently P" gets paraphrased as "x has property P in some possible worlds, and x lacks property P in some other possible worlds". Lewis rejects this because he thinks no object x cannot exist in two distinct possible worlds. Kripke rejects this because he thinks of properties as world-indexed. Compare and contrast (explain) these two approaches. Which do you think is more plausible? Your discussion should include mention of the fact that both positions stem from common acceptance of the indiscernibility of identicals. This principle says that if a = b, then a and b must have all the same properties. One way to maintain the naive anaylsis is to reject this principle. Do you think that is a viable option?
- Consider the following anonymous objection to Lewisian nominalism about properties and propositions: "On Lewis' view, properties and propositions are just sets. But, sets have their members necessarily. So, on Lewis' view, it follows that nobody could have had any properties other than those they actually have (hence, his account of DE RE modality is absurd). And, it also follows from Lewis' nominalism that no propositions could have been true, other than those that are actually true (hence his theory of DE DICTO modality is absurd)." Do you think this is a good objection? Or does it rest on a misunderstanding of Lewis' account? Explain. [part of second graded set of study questions]