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|Paper Title & Abstract||Length; Date||Click here for paper|
|"Statues and Lumps: A Strange Coincidence?"
(Synthese 148 (1/2006), 401-423)
This paper defends the possibility of the coincidence of material objects at a time against several arguments to the contrary. Central to the argument is the distinction between a temporally relative and an absolute sense of being 'the same'. Burke argues that if coincidence is possible there would be no explanation of how objects that are qualitatively the same at a time could belong to different sorts. But we can explain an object's sort by appealing to its properties at other times, Burke's arguments to the contrary notwithstanding. From a largely negative series of arguments emerges a positive picture of what it means to say multiple things coincide and of why an objects historical properties explain its sort rather than vice versa -- in short, of how coincidence is possible.
|23 pages; 1/6/04||
|"Weak and Global Supervenience Are Strong"
(Philosophical Studies, March 2008 (vol. 138, issue 1, pp. 125-150))
Kim argues that weak and global supervenience are too weak to guarantee any sort of dependency. Of the three original forms of supervenience, strong, weak, and global, each commonly wielded across all branches of philosophy, two are thus cast aside as uninteresting or useless. His arguments, however, fail to appreciate the strength of weak and global supervenience. I investigate what weak and global supervenience relations are functionally and how they relate to strong supervenience. For a large class of properties, weak and global supervenience are equivalent to strong supervenience. I then offer a series of arguments showing that it is precisely because of their strength, not their weakness, that both weak and global supervenience are useless in characterizing any dependencies of interest to philosophers.
|35 pages; 5/18/06||
|"Why We Shouldn't Swallow Worm Slices:
A Case Study in Semantic Accommodation"
(Noûs, March 2008 (vol. 42, no. 1, pp. 109-138))
A radical metaphysical theory typically comes packaged with a semantic theory that reconciles those radical claims with common sense. The metaphysical theory says what things exist and what their natures are, while the semantic theory specifies, in terms of these things, how we are to interpret everyday language. Thus may we 'think with the learned, and speak with the vulgar.' This semantic accommodation of common sense, however, can end up undermining the very theory it is designed to protect. This paper is a case study, showing in detail how one popular version of temporal parts theory is self-undermining. This raises the specter that the problem generalizes to other metaphysical theories. The traditional flavor of temporal parts theory, Worm Theory, claims that everyday objects are four-dimensional space-time worms. An alternative flavor, Slice Theory, claims that objects are not space-time worms but are instead momentary slices of these worms. The differences, we find, are not nearly as great as advertised. In fact, the differences in the two metaphysical theories are entirely masked by compensating differences in the accompanying semantic theories. As a result, the two theories generate exactly the same truth conditions. Common sense says that I was born years ago. Slice Theory adopts a semantic theory that accommodates such claims, but in doing so, it also endorses the claim that I, like other everyday objects, persist and thus do not exist for a mere moment. That is, the metaphysical claims constitutive of Slice Theory are denied by the very semantic theory Slice Theory adopts to accommodate common sense. Slice Theory thus undermines itself.
|22 pages; 1/4/07||
|"A Survival Guide to Fission"
(Philosophical Studies, vol. 141, issue 3 (2008), pp. 299-322)
The fission of a person involves what common sense describes as a single person surviving as two distinct people. Thus, say most metaphysicians, this paradox shows us that common sense is inconsistent with the transitivity of identity. Lewis's theory of overlapping persons, buttressed with tensed identity, gives us one way to reconcile the common sense claims. Lewis's account, however, implausibly says that reference to a person about to undergo fission is ambiguous. A better way to reconcile the claims of common sense, one that avoids this ambiguity, is to recognize branching persons, persons who have multiple pasts or futures.
|32 pages; 7/19/07|| (penultimate version)
|"Does Four-Dimensionalism Explain Coincidence?" (Australasian Journal of Philosophy, June 2009 (vol. 87, issue 3, pp. 479-488))
A common argument in favor of four-dimensionalism (or 'perdurantism' or 'temporal parts theory') is that it provides the resources for a superior explanation of this coincidence. This paper argues that a neutral explanation does equally well if not better.
|12 pages; 5/20/08|
|Papers In Progress|
|"Defending Coincidence: An Explanation of a Sort"
This paper defends the possibility that material objects can coincide at all times against what is considered the strongest argument to the contrary, viz., that if such coincidence were possible, we would not be able to explain why the statue has one sort and the spatio-temporally coinciding lump of clay has another sort.
|32 pages; 7/9/03|