Abstract. Abū Bakr Muḥammad bin Zakariyya’ al-Rāzī (865–925) is generally known as a freethinker who argued against prophecy and revealed religion based on arguments from fairness of God and rationality. Recently some scholars argued that Razi was not as radical as the general interpretation takes him to be. Both the freethinker and conservative interpretations seem well supported based on difference bodies of evidence. However, the evidence is based on secondhand reports. In this paper I argue there is an interpretation of prophecy which is supported by primary sources and can reconcile these putatively contradictory positions. Under my interpretation Razi allows for prophecy based on the rationality of moral deference in certain circumstances. In this picture one function of prophets is to act as moral experts for deference. This interpretation provides a synthesis of the freethinker and conservative views. Razi is conservative in having room for prophecy because of his dualist nature of humanity, and Razi is still a freethinker who values reason above all, because moral expertise requires excellent command of reason.
Abstract. This paper investigates propositional hyperintensionality in counterfactuals. It starts with a scenario describing two children playing on a seesaw and studies the truth-value predictions for counterfactuals by four different semantic theories. The theories in question are Kit Fine’s truthmaker semantics, Luis Alonso-Ovalle’s alternative semantics, inquisitive semantics and Paolo Santorio’s syntactic truthmaker semantics. These predictions suggest that the theories that distinguish more of a given set of intensionally equivalent sentences (Fine and Alonso-Ovalle’s) fare better than those that do not (inquisitive semantics and Santorio’s). Then we investigate how inquisitive semantics and Santorio can respond to these results. They can respond to them by helping themselves to considerations from Hurford disjunctions, disjunctions whose disjuncts stand in an entailment relation to one another. I argue that considerations from Hurford disjunctions are ad hoc modifications to less fine-grained theories to predict the expected results and they are not independently motivated. I conclude that the scenarios suggest a need for more fine-grained theories of sentential meaning in general.
Abstract. Prior’s puzzle is a puzzle about the substitution of certain putatively synonymous or coreferential expressions in sentences. Prior’s puzzle is important, because a satisfactory solution to it should constitute a crucial part of an adequate semantic theory for both sentence-embedding expressions and attitudinal verbs. I argue that two recent solutions to this puzzle are unsatisfactory. They either focus on the meaning of attitudinal verbs or content nouns. I propose a solution relying on a recent analysis of that-clauses in linguistics. Our solution is superior, as it not only avoids the problems faced by previous solutions, but it also brings developments in linguistics in line to solve an old puzzle in philosophy.
[A paper on truthmakers and epistemic necessity]
Abstract. Epistemic necessity gives rise to a puzzle about its logical strength. Conflicting evidence suggests that epistemic necessity modal ⌜□φ⌝ is both logically strong and weak by appearing to both entail and not entail φ. Given that only one of these claims can be true, the evidence for both positions is puzzling. This paper explores a novel truthmaker approach to modality in which epistemic necessity is both strong and weak—strong, because ⌜□φ⌝ entails φ by being incompatible with ⌜¬φ⌝, and weak, because it does not contain φ. The truthmaker framework distinguishes the consequence relation entailment from containment. It also assigns a novel analysis of modality which assigns epistemic necessity a meaning which makes it entail but not contain its prejacent. This explains both strength and weakness. The distinctions indispensable for our proposal imply the rejection of the standard possible-worlds framework for modality. Despite its appearance as a niche problem for epistemic modality, this puzzle requires a rethinking of consequence relations, attitudes and modality in general.
[A paper on Abu Bakr al-Razi and epistemology]
Abstract. Abū Bakr Muḥammad bin Zakariyya’ al-Rāzī (c. 865–925) attributes great importance to epistemology by placing attainment of knowledge as one of the two fundamental goals for humans tout court. For Razi attainment of knowledge depends on the most important quality of humans: use of reason. So the natural question for Razi is what kinds of uses of reason are conducive to knowledge and certainty. Razi’s medical and philosophical works suggest two disunified uses of reason. On the one hand, Razi’s philosophical works suggests that there is a use of reason which affords absolute certainty, especially use of reason in philosophical matters. On the other hand, his medicinal works suggests use of reason resembling modern scientific methodology—formulating possible explanations and testing them. The latter use of reason affords only likely results and promises no certainty. A natural explanation would be to have multiple uses of reason in Razian epistemology, but this seems unlikely, since Razi follows Galen in taking a good physician to be also a philosopher. In this paper I provide a system of Razian epistemology which resolves the problem of unification for the evidence at hand. In my reconstruction of Razian epistemology Razi is what we would call today a proponent of Inferece to the Best Explanation (IBE). The evidence which has Razi demanding and professing absolute certainty features Razi demanding the best possible explanation for some phenomena: either causal or deductive explanation. The evidence which has Razi cautioning against certainty features situations where the evidence cannot settle the best explanation for the phenomena tout court, though it favors some explanations over the others. In addition to many passages from Razi to support this interpretation, I also draw attention to the Epicurean notion of pithanon in their debate against Stoics, which also appears to be a precursor to IBE.
[A paper on truthmakers and modality]
Abstract. The meaning of modal sentences are usually given in possible worlds semantics where a proposition expressed by a sentence is the set of possible worlds where the sentence is true. This framework has two important assumptions: (i) Completeness—the thesis that any sentence is either true or false at any given possible world and (ii) meanings of sentential operators are given by various set theoretic operations. These properties together conserve the classicality of propositional logic for modal logic. I argue that these properties together underlie several issues associated with modals. I take deon- tic and epistemic modality as case studies. After highlighting the issues, I provide a truthmaker semantics for modal sentences which does not suffer from the issues dis- cussed. I also compare modal truthmaker semantics to several alternatives and display the superiority of our proposal. If correct, the issues and our solution call for a revo- lution in the domain of modality by dispensing with worlds altogether.
David Teniers the Younger, The Archduke Leopold Wilhelm in his Painting Gallery in Brussels (1651)