Ideas of Sydney Shoemaker, by Theme

[American, b.1931, Professor at Cornell University.]

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1. Philosophy / E. Nature of Metaphysics / 3. Metaphysical Systems
One system has properties, powers, events, similarity and substance
1. Philosophy / F. Analytic Philosophy / 4. Conceptual Analysis
Analysis aims at internal relationships, not reduction
2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 9. Limits of Reason
People have had good reasons for thinking that the circle has been squared
5. Theory of Logic / I. Semantics of Logic / 3. Logical Truth
Restrict 'logical truth' to formal logic, rather than including analytic and metaphysical truths
7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 3. Anti-realism
Inability to measure equality doesn't make all lengths unequal
We couldn't verify the earth's rotation if everyone simultaneously fell asleep
8. Modes of Existence / B. Properties / 1. Nature of Properties
Formerly I said properties are individuated by essential causal powers and causing instantiation [Shoemaker]
A property's causal features are essential, and only they fix its identity
I claim that a property has its causal features in all possible worlds
8. Modes of Existence / B. Properties / 5. Natural Properties
Genuine properties are closely related to genuine changes
Properties must be essentially causal if we can know and speak about them
To ascertain genuine properties, examine the object directly
8. Modes of Existence / B. Properties / 10. Properties as Predicates
We should abandon the idea that properties are the meanings of predicate expressions
Some truths are not because of a thing's properties, but because of the properties of related things
8. Modes of Existence / C. Powers and Dispositions / 3. Powers as Derived
One power can come from different properties; a thing's powers come from its properties
Things have powers in virtue of (which are entailed by) their properties
Properties are functions producing powers, and powers are functions producing effects
I now deny that properties are cluster of powers, and take causal properties as basic
8. Modes of Existence / C. Powers and Dispositions / 5. Powers and Properties
A causal theory of properties focuses on change, not (say) on abstract properties of numbers
'Square', 'round' and 'made of copper' show that not all properties are dispositional
The identity of a property concerns its causal powers
Properties are clusters of conditional powers
Could properties change without the powers changing, or powers change without the properties changing?
If properties are separated from causal powers, this invites total elimination
The notions of property and of causal power are parts of a single system of related concepts
Actually, properties are individuated by causes as well as effects
Shoemaker says all genuine properties are dispositional [Ellis]
Shoemaker moved from properties as powers to properties bestowing powers [Mumford/Anjum]
8. Modes of Existence / C. Powers and Dispositions / 6. Dispositions / b. Dispositions and powers
Dispositional predicates ascribe powers, and the rest ascribe properties
8. Modes of Existence / D. Universals / 2. Need for Universals
Universals concern how things are, and how they could be [Bird]
8. Modes of Existence / E. Nominalism / 5. Class Nominalism
Triangular and trilateral are coextensive, but different concepts; but powers and properties are the same
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 15. Against Essentialism
There is no subset of properties which guarantee a thing's identity
10. Modality / A. Necessity / 5. Metaphysical Necessity
If something is possible, but not nomologically possible, we need metaphysical possibility
10. Modality / B. Possibility / 1. Possibility
Possible difference across worlds depends on difference across time in the actual world
10. Modality / D. Knowledge of Modality / 1. A Priori Necessary
Once you give up necessity as a priori, causal necessity becomes the main type of necessity
10. Modality / D. Knowledge of Modality / 4. Conceivable as Possible / a. Conceivable as possible
'Conceivable' is either not-provably-false, or compatible with what we know?
Empirical evidence shows that imagining a phenomenon can show it is possible
Imagination reveals conceptual possibility, where descriptions avoid contradiction or incoherence
10. Modality / D. Knowledge of Modality / 4. Conceivable as Possible / b. Conceivable but impossible
It is possible to conceive what is not possible
12. Knowledge Sources / B. Perception / 8. Adverbial Theory
The adverbial account of sensation says not 'see a red image' but be 'appeared to redly'
13. Knowledge Criteria / D. Scepticism / 1. Scepticism
Maybe billions of changeless years have elapsed since my last meal
14. Science / C. Induction / 5. Paradoxes of Induction / a. Grue problem
Grueness is not, unlike green and blue, associated with causal potential
'Grue' only has causal features because of its relation to green
16. Persons / C. Self-Awareness / 1. Introspection
For true introspection, must we be aware that we are aware of our mental events?
Empirical foundationalism says basic knowledge is self-intimating, and incorrigible or infallible
16. Persons / D. Continuity of the Self / 2. Mental Continuity / a. Memory is Self
If memory is the sole criterion of identity, we ought to use it for other people too
Bodily identity is one criterion and memory another, for personal identity [PG]
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 8. Particular Causation / b. Causal relata
If causality is between events, there must be reference to the properties involved
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 9. General Causation / a. Constant conjunction
If things turn red for an hour and then explode, we wouldn't say the redness was the cause
26. Natural Theory / D. Laws of Nature / 5. Laws from Universals
We might say laws are necessary by combining causal properties with Armstrong-Dretske-Tooley laws
26. Natural Theory / D. Laws of Nature / 8. Scientific Essentialism / b. Scientific necessity
If causal laws describe causal potentialities, the same laws govern properties in all possible worlds
If properties are causal, then causal necessity is a species of logical necessity
If a world has different causal laws, it must have different properties
26. Natural Theory / D. Laws of Nature / 8. Scientific Essentialism / d. Knowing essences
It looks as if the immutability of the powers of a property imply essentiality
27. Natural Reality / D. Time / 1. Nature of Time / e. Eventless time
If three regions 'freeze' every three, four and five years, after sixty years everything stops for a year [Lowe]
If three regions freeze every 3rd, 4th and 5th year, they all freeze together every 60 years