Exploring Ontology

It's all about the deep questions.

Third Principle on the Structure of Possible Worlds: Real Modality Part 2

For this part, I will first give a negative argument against the primary reason that people give for saying there are genuine possibilities. Then, I give one additional positive argument for the thesis that there are no genuine mere possibilities. Lastly, I give some ramifications of the view

Against Modal Intuition

Most philosophers don’t even address the “heavy” modal problem because they assume that it has a positive answer. Why? Their intuitions. How could metaphysicians be satisfied on accepting such a substantive claim on such a weak basis? At least, what I care about is what reality is like; I don’t care at all about modeling my intuitions/conceptual scheme of reality if I have no reason to believe that that model is modeling reality! Furthermore, there seems to be a conclusive case against thinking that this particular intuition “tracks” reality in any way. If it did, there would have to be some sort of causal link between the truth maker of genuine possibility and our having that intuition, which there evidently seems to not be. We have reason to give a non-zero weight to our intuition if and only if the probability that we have those intuitions given that they are true is greater than the probability that we have those intuitions given that they are false. Since there is no causal link, these probabilities are equal. In other words, there exists a bijection between those worlds where we have the intuition and the intuition is true and those worlds where we haven’t the intuition and the intuition is false. It therefore seems to be that metaphysicians relying on this particular intuition are straightforwardly violating a basic notion of rationality. Read more of this post

Third Principle on the Structure of Possible Worlds: Real Modality Part 1

The whole intuition behind modality is that the world genuinely could have been otherwise. This thought, however, seems to be forgotten in the philosophical literature. To establish this point, we must first notice that there are two ways one can interpret modal claims.

The metaphysically light way: To say that X is metaphysically possible is just to say that X does not imply any logical contradiction. Some philosophers would want to add some other restrictions, so that X is possible is just to say that X lacks (or has) some feature M as well as not implying any logical contradictions.

The metaphysically heavy way: To say that X is metaphysically possible is to say that X genuinely could have been the case.

Being possible in this metaphysically heavy sense implies being possible in the metaphysically light sense. However, it does not follow, at least without further argument, that being possible in the metaphysically light sense implies being possible in the metaphysically heavy sense. Deflationists or necessitarians, for example, would agree that the set of non-actual X’s that are metaphysically possible in the light sense is non-empty, but they would say that the set of non-actual X’s that are metaphysically possible in the heavy sense is empty. In other words, it is not analytic that “X implies no logical contradiction means that X genuinely could have been the case. The right side is claiming something stronger that the left side. Read more of this post

A Problem for Platonism

A familiar problem for the philosophy of mathematics is the ontology of mathematics. One view, platonism, maintains that the things that mathematicians talk about, ultimately sets, actually exist as mind-independent abstract objects. Here’s one problem for the view that I’ve come up with, although being no expert in the field, it could have some conceptual mistake.

1. If platonism is true, there is a fact of the matter as to what cardinalities sets can be.

2. If there is a fact of the matter as to what cardinalities sets can be, we can take the union of one set for every cardinality that there is.

3. The resulting set A must have the same cardinality as one of its subsets A’, since by hypothesis there exists subsets of A with every cardinality.

4. The resulting set A must have at least the same cardinality as the powerset of A’, since the powerset of A’ is a distinct cardinality and there must be a subset of A with the cardinality of the powerset of A’.

5. Therefore, the resulting set A must have a cardinality both equal to and not equal to (greater than) A’.

6. Therefore, platonism is false.

Against Deep Questions: Morality

Morality As a Community of Ideally Rational Desires

Although I stand by my error-theory position about folk morality, that doesn’t exhaust the possible questions about morality. Finding a substitute for the term that has sound philosophical grounds but throws away the unsatisfiable intuitions behind the word is desirable. I take this paper to make two claims. The first, philosophical, claim is to give a framework of what an ideally rational person should desire, and how an ideally rational person ought to live and act by consequence, in the context of a community. The second, more speculative empirical claim, is that the fleshing out of this framework with regard to human communities coheres enough with our rough, commonsense understanding of morality as to deserve to be called the name. If not, we should simply discard morality as a group of outdated notions and abide by the framework set out in the first claim, because that is what we have the most reason to follow. Read more of this post