Ideas of Peter van Inwagen, by Theme

[American, fl. 1983, Professor at Syracuse University, then professor at University of Notre Dame.]

green numbers give full details    |    back to list of philosophers    |     expand these ideas
2. Reason / D. Definition / 12. Paraphrase
We could refer to tables as 'xs that are arranged tablewise'
4. Formal Logic / F. Set Theory ST / 8. Critique of Set Theory
What in the real world could ground the distinction between the sets {A,{A,B}} and {B,{A,B}}?
4. Formal Logic / G. Formal Mereology / 1. Mereology
Mereology is 'nihilistic' (just atoms) or 'universal' (no restrictions on what is 'whole') [Varzi]
5. Theory of Logic / D. Assumptions for Logic / 2. Excluded Middle
The 'Law' of Excluded Middle needs all propositions to be definitely true or definitely false
5. Theory of Logic / E. Structures of Logic / 4. Variables in Logic
Variables are just like pronouns; syntactic explanations get muddled over dummy letters
5. Theory of Logic / L. Paradox / 6. Paradoxes in Language / b. The Heap paradox ('Sorites')
There are no heaps
7. Existence / C. Structure of Existence / 8. Stuff / a. Pure stuff
I reject talk of 'stuff', and treat it in terms of particles
7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 10. Vagueness / d. Vagueness as linguistic
Singular terms can be vague, because they can contain predicates, which can be vague
9. Objects / A. Existence of Objects / 1. Physical Objects
Material objects are in space and time, move, have a surface and mass, and are made of some stuff
Maybe table-shaped particles exist, but not tables [Lowe]
9. Objects / A. Existence of Objects / 6. Nihilism about Objects
Nihilism says composition between single things is impossible
If there are no tables, but tables are things arranged tablewise, the denial of tables is a contradiction [Liggins]
Actions by artefacts and natural bodies are disguised cooperations, so we don't need them
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 1. Unifying an Object / b. Unifying aggregates
Every physical thing is either a living organism or a simple
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 3. Unity Problems / c. Statue and clay
The statue and lump seem to share parts, but the statue is not part of the lump
If you knead clay you make an infinite series of objects, but they are rearrangements, not creations
9. Objects / C. Structure of Objects / 3. Matter of an Object
I assume matter is particulate, made up of 'simples'
9. Objects / C. Structure of Objects / 5. Composition of an Object
If contact causes composition, do two colliding balls briefly make one object?
If bricks compose a house, that is at least one thing, but it might be many things
9. Objects / C. Structure of Objects / 8. Parts of Objects / a. Parts of objects
I think parthood involves causation, and not just a reasonably stable spatial relationship
We can deny whole objects but accept parts, by referring to them as plurals within things [Liggins]
9. Objects / C. Structure of Objects / 8. Parts of Objects / c. Wholes from parts
Special Composition Question: when is a thing part of something?
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 8. Essence as Explanatory
The essence of a star includes the released binding energy which keeps it from collapse
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 11. Essence of Artefacts
The persistence of artifacts always covertly involves intelligent beings
9. Objects / E. Objects over Time / 7. Intermittent Objects
When an electron 'leaps' to another orbit, is the new one the same electron?
9. Objects / E. Objects over Time / 9. Ship of Theseus
If you reject transitivity of vague identity, there is no Ship of Theseus problem
9. Objects / F. Identity among Objects / 1. Concept of Identity
We should talk of the transitivity of 'identity', and of 'definite identity'
10. Modality / C. Sources of Modality / 5. Modality from Actuality
Actuality proves possibility, but that doesn't explain how it is possible
10. Modality / E. Possible worlds / 3. Transworld Objects / c. Counterparts
Counterparts reduce counterfactual identity to problems about similarity relations
10. Modality / E. Possible worlds / 3. Transworld Objects / e. Possible Objects
A merely possible object clearly isn't there, so that is a defective notion
Merely possible objects must be consistent properties, or haecceities
16. Persons / F. Free Will / 7. Compatibilism
Determinism clashes with free will, as the past determines action, and is beyond our control [Jackson]
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 1. Virtue Theory / d. Virtue theory critique
Virtue theory needs an external standard to judge behaviour and character [Statman]
27. Natural Reality / B. Modern Physics / 3. Chromodynamics / a. Chromodynamics
The strong force pulls, but also pushes apart if nucleons get too close together
27. Natural Reality / F. Chemistry / 2. Modern Elements
Is one atom a piece of gold, or is a sizable group of atoms required?
27. Natural Reality / G. Biology / 2. Life
One's mental and other life is centred on the brain, unlike any other part of the body
If God were to 'reassemble' my atoms of ten years ago, the result would certainly not be me
Life is vague at both ends, but could it be totally vague?
At the lower level, life trails off into mere molecular interaction
Being part of an organism's life is a matter of degree, and vague
A flame is like a life, but not nearly so well individuated
A tumour may spread a sort of life, but it is not a life, or an organism
Unlike waves, lives are 'jealous'; it is almost impossible for them to overlap
The chemical reactions in a human life involve about sixteen elements
Some events are only borderline cases of lives
28. God / B. Proving God / 2. Proofs of Reason / b. Ontological Proof critique
There is no reason to think that mere existence is a valuable thing