Academic journal article The Review of Metaphysics

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research: Vol. 95, No. 1, July 2017

Academic journal article The Review of Metaphysics

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research: Vol. 95, No. 1, July 2017

Article excerpt

Hume's Fork, and His Theory of Relations, PETER MILLICAN

Hume's Fork--the distinction between "relations and ideas" and "matters of fact" introduced in his first Enquiry--is well known, though considered by most specialist scholars to be a crude simplification of a far more sophisticated theory of relations in his Treatise. But close analysis of the Treatise theory shows it to be an unsatisfactory reworking of Locke's taxonomy, implausibly identifying relations with mental operations and delivering a confused criterion of demonstrability which Hume subsequently abandons in favor of his conceivability principle. The latter then becomes the basis for Hume's Fork, the theory of which, as implicitly defined by the various criteria he specifies, turns out to be consistent and plausible. However, it faces a number of potential problems, some of which Hume might have been expected to address, while others--particularly concerning his tendency to identify apriority, demonstrability, and necessity--derive from relatively recent epistemology, philosophy of language, and philosophy of mathematics. All of these are considered, some requiring tightening of Hume's distinction while others imply limitations. Finally, a conclusion is drawn emphasizing the continuing value of Hume's position, despite these difficulties.

Vagueness and the Laws of Metaphysics, RYAN WASSERMAN

This is a paper about the nature of metaphysical laws and their relation to the phenomenon of vagueness. Metaphysical laws are introduced as analogous to natural laws, and metaphysical indeterminism is modeled on causal indeterminacy. This kind of indeterminacy is then put to work in developing a novel theory of vagueness and a solution to the sorites paradox.

Inductive Learning in Small and Large Worlds, SIMON M. HUTTEGGER

The article focuses on development of the mathematical and philosophical foundations of inductive learning. Topics discussed include the existence of Bayesian solutions for inductive learning in large worlds, the possibility of sequence of states of nature to be a stationary Markov chain, and the unavailability of conceptual resources to make inferences for reinforcement learning.

Indexicals and Reference-Shifting: Towards a Pragmatic Approach, JONAS AKERMAN

The author proposes a pragmatic approach to the kind of reference-shifting occurring in indexicals as used in, for example, written notes and answering machine messages. …

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