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Metaphysics

Contemporary Debates in Metaphysics by Theodore Sider

By Theodore Sider

In a chain of thought-provoking and unique essays, eighteen best philosophers interact in head-to-head debates of 9 of the main leading edge themes in modern metaphysics.

  • Explores the elemental questions in modern metaphysics in a sequence of eighteen unique essays - sixteen of that are newly commissioned for this quantity
  • Features an introductory essay by way of the editors at the nature of metaphysics to arrange the reader for ongoing discussions
  • Offers readers the original chance to watch best philosophers have interaction in head-to-head debate on state of the art metaphysical issues
  • Provides important insights into the flourishing box of latest metaphysics

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Example text

Even’), is true just in case n refers to a number that has the property that the predicate P stands for. Similar stories are told for relation and function terms. All of this is a bit loose, but since the work of Alfred Tarski in the 1930s, we know how to make it completely precise. The interested reader can find the details in any good introductory text on symbolic logic, but they aren’t needed to appreciate the basic ideas here. We can now explain why ‘3 is prime’ is true and ‘4 is prime’ is false: ‘3’ stands for an abstract object, the number three; ‘prime’ stands for the property of being prime, and three has that property.

There are at least four things philosophers often want to know about a given sort of entity: its existence conditions, its identity conditions, its modal status, and its epistemic status. Existence conditions There may not seem to be much philosophical interest in the existence conditions of natural numbers, since we already know which numbers there are (0, 1, 2, 3, . ; anything you can get by starting with 0 and adding 1 as many times as you like). But with less familiar notions, like that of complex numbers or vector spaces, we typically want to know their existence conditions.

Still, the more of these targets a philosophical account can explain, Abstract Entities 19 the better. As we will see, however, the features that enable a theory to explain some of these phenomena sometimes make it difficult for it to explain others. Sample explanations in mathematics using abstracta A wide array of philosophical accounts have been developed to explain these targets. I will discuss one of the simplest approaches that employs abstracta. Here is the metaphysical story. The natural numbers are objects or entities, though ones of a very special kind.

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