Naturalness & NecessityDr. Alastair Wilson (University of Birmingham)
Philosophy Department Library (Room 916, Bldg. 11, Menzies West)
55 Wellington Rd
Note: This is a work in progress talk.
Abstract: In the Lewisian tradition, the concept of naturalness plays a central role in metaphysics and in the theory of rationality. Naturalness is intensional: the perfectly natural properties comprise a minimal supervenience base. Recently, a large literature has grown up exploring hyperintensional notions of dependence, grounding, structure and essence. The word 'fundamentality' is used in connection with both sorts of notion, and their relationship is disputed. I'll suggest that fundamentality has an objective side (naturalness) and a subjective side ('metaphysical explanation'). I'll argue (contra Sider) for a modal theory of naturalness and (contra Fine, Schaffer, and others) for a deflationary theory of metaphysical explanation. If there's time, I'll attempt to answer some further questions: is naturalness a monadic or relational predicate, or an operator? What's the modal status of naturalness? How does naturalness relate to reduction and emergence? Is necessity perfectly natural? Is naturalness perfectly natural?
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