“Counting Again”, with Ben Caplan and Cathleen Muller, forthcoming in Grazer Philosophische Studien.
We consider a recurring objection to fictional realism, the view that (broadly speaking) fictional characters are objects. We call it the counting objection. Russell presses a version of the objection against Meinong’s view. Everett presses a version of the objection against contemporary fictional realist views, as (in effect) do Nolan and Sandgren. As we see it, the objection assumes that the fictional realist must provide criteria of identity for fictional characters, so its force depends on the plausibility of that assumption. Rather than coming up with such criteria, a fictional realist might argue that the demand is misplaced.
“Al-Taftazani on the Liar Paradox” (with Ahmed Alwishah). Oxford Studies in Medieval Philosophy 4.
Translation and analysis of a strange but key text in the history of the Liar Paradox in the Medieval Arabic tradition.
“Frivolous Fictions” Res Philosophica (93:2) 2016 (penultimate draft).
I explore a non-commital paraphrase of quantification over fictional characters, based on the non-commital paraphrase Kit Fine provides for quantification over possibilia. And I explore the view that names for fictional characters are weakly non-referring, in Nathan Salmon’s sense. One goal is to bring out some ontological differences between fictional characters and possibilia.
“Worlds Enough for Junk,” Res Philosophica (93:1) 2016 (penultimate draft).
A cap is something that is not a proper part. A junky thing is not part of any cap. Can there be junky things? Against the backdrop of Lewis’s Modal Realism, it is hard to see how there could be: every possibility involves the existence of a world, and that world is a cap. But this can be overcome, by allowing that parts of possible worlds collectively represent complete possibilities. Thinking this through helps throw the Modal Realist’s project into sharper relief.
“Presentism and Truthmaking” (with Ben Caplan), Philosophy Compass (6:3) 2011: 196–208.
Three plausible views—Presentism, Truthmaking, and Independence—form an inconsistent triad. By Presentism, all being is present being. By Truthmaking, all truth supervenes on being. By Independence, some past truths do not supervene on present being. Presentists must reject either Truthmaking or Independence. We survey and assess various attempts to do so.
“The Way Things Were” (with Ben Caplan), Philosophy and Phenomenological Research (81.1) 2010: 24-39.
Presentists cannot account for facts about how things once were by treating them as special facts about how things now are. For example, the truth of the proposition that Arnold was pale depends not on the properties that Arnold presently has—like the property having been pale—but rather on the properties that Arnold once had—like the property being pale. For Presentists, tensed talk should be understood as a device for pointing beyond reality: beyond what is and how things are, to what was and how things were.
“The Early Arabic Liar” (with Ahmed Alwishah), Vivarium (47:1) 2009: 97-127.
An analysis of the earliest discussions of the Liar Paradox in the Medieval Arabic tradition, including the earliest known text in any tradition to blame the paradox on self-reference. English translations included.