Ergo is an open access philosophy journal accepting submissions on all philosophical topics and from all philosophical traditions. This includes, among other things: history of philosophy, work in both the analytic and continental traditions, as well as formal and empirically informed philosophy. Ergo is strongly committed to diversity and especially welcomes submissions from members of groups currently underrepresented in philosophy.
Submission and publication are free, and authors retain copyright under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 license. Generous support from the undergraduate departments of philosophy at the University of Toronto's St. George and Mississauga campuses and the University of Toronto's graduate department of philosophy make this arrangement possible.
Papers are published as they are accepted; there is no regular publication schedule.
Jonathan Tallant and David Ingram
Erich Hatala Matthes
Museums are home to millions of artworks and cultural artifacts, some of which have made their way to these institutions through unjust means. Some argue that these objects should be repatriated (i.e., returned to their country, culture, or owner of origin). However, these arguments face a series of philosophical challenges. In particular, repatriation, even if justified, is often portrayed as contrary to the aims and values of museums. However, in this paper, I argue that some of the very considerations museums appeal to in order to oppose repatriation claims can be turned on their heads and marshaled in favor of the practice. In addition to defending against objections to repatriation, this argument yields the surprising conclusion that the redistribution of cultural goods should be much more radical than is typically supposed.
Leibniz’s famous Principle of the Identity of Indiscernibles (PII) states that no two things are exactly alike. The PII is commonly thought to be metaphysically necessary for Leibniz: the coexistence of two indiscernibles is metaphysically impossible. This paper argues, against the standard interpretation, that Leibniz’s PII is metaphysically contingent. In other words, while the coexistence of indiscernibles would not imply a contradiction, the PII is true in the actual world because the Principle of Sufficient Reason rules out violations of the PII. God could have created indiscernibles but he did not because he is wise and does nothing without a sufficient reason. Because it is plausible that all Leibnizian possible worlds are unified by a wise plan, this means that the PII is true in all possible worlds. God could create indiscernibles, but the resulting creation would not be a world. To argue for this conclusion, the paper carefully examines Leibniz’s mature account of metaphysical contingency. It shows that for Leibniz, only states of affairs that imply logical contradictions are metaphysically impossible. Next, it argues that the coexistence of indiscernibles would not imply a logical contradiction; it would merely imply what Leibniz calls a “moral absurdity,” that is, a violation of the Principle of Sufficient Reason. This means that the PII is true contingently and—since God can do whatever is metaphysically possible—that God can create two things that are exactly alike.
The discovery of causal relations seems a central activity of the high-level sciences, including the special sciences and certain branches of macrophysics. Those same sciences are less successful in formulating exceptionless laws. If causation must be underwritten by exceptionless laws, we are faced with a puzzle. Attempts have been made to dissolve this puzzle by showing that non-exceptionless generalizations can underwrite causal relations. The trouble is that many of these attempts fail to distinguish between two importantly different types of exception of which high-level scientific generalizations admit. Roughly speaking, one is where the values of high-level variables not represented in the generalization are abnormal: call these 'background factor' (bf) exceptions. For example, the Ideal Gas Law (IGL) may be significantly violated by a gas if a strong electric current is passed through it. Another is where the high-level states that are represented by variables in the generalization are realized in certain abnormal ways: call these 'mr exceptions' (exceptions having to do with the multiple realizability of high-level states). For example, the pressure of a gas may not be proportional to its temperature and volume in the way that the IGL describes if the initial macrostate of the gas is realized in a certain unusual microphysical way. While existing attempts to show that non-exceptionless generalizations can underwrite causal relations tend to work well where the generalization admits only of bf exceptions, they work less well when the generalizations in question admit—as most high-level scientific generalizations do—of mr exceptions. I argue that the best prospect for resolving the apparent problem posed by mr exceptions is to regard the generalizations which admit of them as approximations to probabilistic generalizations which don't, and which are themselves able to support relations of probabilistic causation.
Colin Marshall and Jonathan Simon
In the first Critique, Kant claims to refute Moses Mendelssohn’s argument for the immortality of the soul. But some commentators, following Bennett (1974), have identified an apparent problem in the exchange: Mendelssohn appears to have overlooked the possibility that the “leap” between existence and non-existence might be a boundary or limit point in a continuous series, and Kant appears not to have exploited the lacuna, but to have instead offered an irrelevant criticism. Here, we argue that even if these commentators are correct, an argument against the leap-as-limit possibility is implicit in claims that Mendelssohn accepts. Moreover, Kant’s criticism of Mendelssohn adapts naturally into a response to this argument, though Mendelssohn endorses further claims which enable him to address this Kantian response. To illustrate the philosophical issues in play, we conclude by noting the affinity between the Mendelssohnian argument we develop and several prominent arguments in contemporary metaphysics: David Lewis’s argument from vagueness for unrestricted composition, Ted Sider’s argument from vagueness for perdurantism, and Peter Unger’s argument from the problem of the many for substance dualism. In short, we argue that the philosophical issues involved in the Mendelssohn-Kant exchange are much richer than previous commentators have believed, and that there is a Mendelssohnian argument for the immortality of the soul (or anyway, the permanence of simples) that does not suffer from any obvious flaw.
According to a highly natural, orthodox view, epistemic modals like might and must are contextually variable, allowing us to express different propositions in different contexts of utterance. This view (contextualism about epistemic modals) is the orthodox one because the only other ways of making sense of how epistemic expressions are sensitive to information (views like relativism, expressivism, and dynamicism) carry such unorthodox commitments. Yet it has faced more than its share of challenges. In this paper, I will argue that two important challenges for contextualism about epistemic modals receive the very same solution: one problem about disagreement, and one problem about the reasonableness of our epistemic beliefs. The first of these challenges is very familiar, and the second less so, but equally important.
Many accounts of scientific modeling conceive of models as fictions: there are analogies between models and various aesthetic objects, as well as between how scientists interact with models and how authors interact with fictions. Fictionalists, like most accounts of models, take models to be revelatory of the actual world in virtue of bearing some resemblance relation to a target system. While such fictionalist accounts capture crucial aspects of modelling practice, they are ill-suited to some design and engineering contexts. Here, models sometimes serve to underwrite design projects whereby real-world targets are constructed. In such circumstances, it is unclear what the model is supposed to resemble. Further, while fictionalists often require that models qua models have their content in virtue of construal or interpretation, in some engineering and design contexts success-conditions do not require such content—all that is required is that the model generates the required outputs. I take these points to motivate a view which accommodates fictionalism, but is broader. I articulate and defend an account of models as tools: specifically, material objects which are put to particular uses in particular contexts.