The Ockham Society (Week 5, TT18)

Ockham Society

"Knowledge-first belief: counterfactuals and variables"

What is it to believe a proposition? Several recent, interesting additions to the literature answer this question by appeal to knowledge. Here I focus on an issue concerning how such knowledge-first accounts of belief should be formulated. Various such accounts, for instance those suggested in Hyman (2017), Nagel (2017), and Williamson (2000), feature a would-counterfactual and appeal to one proposition variable only. I argue that this combination of features is problematic. §3 argues that, since the suggested accounts feature would-counterfactuals, we can generate two kinds of counterexamples to them. And §4 argues that the only promising response to those counterexamples is to appeal to two proposition variables with different domains, rather than one. So, it’s time to revise the accounts suggested in Hyman, Nagel, and Williamson.

"Composition as Identity and Temporal Counterpart Theory"

Composition as Identity is the thesis that a composite material object ‘just is’ the fusion of its parts. Prima facie, this is a very attractive thesis. It is only by identifying objects with the fusions of their parts that we can avoid concluding that objects coincide with the fusions of their parts. However, Composition as Identity implies mereological essentialism, the view that material objects have their parts essentially. This is a problem because we do not talk as though objects have their parts essentially. The proponent of Composition as Identity appears committed to an error theory, according to which much of our ordinary talk about material objects is false. The four-dimensionalist avoids this commitment by analysing our ordinary talk either as talk about an object’s temporal parts or as talk about an object’s temporal counterparts. This is sometimes considered to be a good reason to favour four-dimensionalism to three-dimensionalism. I argue that the three-dimensionalist can also endorse Composition as Identity while at the same time maintaining that much of our ordinary talk about material objects is true. They may do so by following the four-dimensionalist and analysing our ordinary talk about objects using their own brand of temporal counterpart theory.


Chair: Beatriz Santos

Ockham Society Convenor: Charlotte Figueroa