Real Metaphysics: Essays in Honour of D.H. Mellor

By Hallvard Lillehammer; Gonzalo Rodriguez-Pereyra | Go to book overview

5

Subjective facts1

Tim Crane

It is obvious that a man who can see knows things which a blind man cannot know; but a blind man can know the whole of physics. Thus the knowledge which other men have and he has not is not a part of physics.

(Bertrand Russell 1927:389)


1Mellor's objectivism and subjective facts

An important theme running through D. H. Mellor's work is his realism or, as I shall call it, his objectivism: the idea that reality as such is how it is, regardless of the way we represent it, and that philosophical error often arises from confusing aspects of our subjective representation of the world with aspects of the world itself. Thus central to Mellor's work on time has been the claim that the temporal A-series (previously called 'tense') is unreal while the B-series (the series of 'dates') is real. The A-series is something that is a product of our representation of the world, but not a feature of reality itself. And in other, less central areas of his work, this kind of theme has been repeated: 'Objective decision making' (Mellor 1991a) argues that the right way to understand decision theory is as a theory of what is the objectively correct decision, the one that will actually as a matter of fact achieve your intended goal, rather than the one that is justified purely in terms of what you believe, regardless of whether the belief is true or false. 'I and now' (Mellor 1991b) argues against a substantial subjective conception of the self, using analogies between subjective and objective ways of thinking about time and subjective and objective ways of thinking about the self. And in the paper which shall be the focus of my attention here, 'Nothing like experience', Mellor (1991c) contests arguments that try and derive anti-physicalist conclusions from reflections on the subjective character of experience. A common injunction is detectable: when doing metaphysics, keep the subjective where it belongs, that is inside the subject's representation of the world.

Mellor's objectivism agrees with the Australian metaphysics, which he admires. Australian metaphysics is, however, characteristically physicalist in letter and in spirit. But Mellor has rejected physicalism in a number of places, in most detail in a paper we wrote together, 'There is no question of

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Real Metaphysics: Essays in Honour of D.H. Mellor
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction 1
  • References 11
  • 1 - Truthmakers for Modal Truths 12
  • 2 - Things Qua Truthmakers 25
  • Postscript to 'things Qua Truthmakers': Negative Existentials 39
  • References 42
  • 3 - Deflationism 43
  • 4 - Truth and the Theory of Communication 54
  • 5 - Subjective Facts 68
  • 6 - From H2o to Water 84
  • 7 - Epiphenomenalism and Causal Asymmetry 98
  • References 119
  • 8 - Is Causation a Genuine Relation? 120
  • 9 - Dispositions and Conditionals 137
  • Notes 153
  • 10 - Structural Properties 154
  • 11 - Laws, Explanations and the Reduction of Possibilities 169
  • References 183
  • 12 - What is Wrong with the Relational Theory of Change? 184
  • 13 - Presentism 196
  • 14 - Real Metaphysics 212
  • References 237
  • A Bibliography 239
  • Index 246
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