Latest Podcast Episode

#23 - Amie Thomasson: Ontology Made Easy

Download this episode / Watch on YouTube / RSS Feed / iTunes

Do tables really exist?

While debate over such a seemingly trivial question may initially sound ridiculous, the existence of “ordinary objects” is a controversial question in contemporary metaphysics. Events, numbers, properties, and “mereological sums” are among other contested “objects”. Indeed, ontology today is a bit of a quagmire of proposed objects and criteria for existence.

One of the major voices in this field is that of philosopher Amie Thomasson, who claims that ontology can actually be quite simple. In this interview, Prof. Thomasson walks us through the recent history of ontology – from Carnap to Quine to the contemporary arena – and offers a diagnosis of how things got so muddled. She then offers her alternative, which she calls “easy ontology”. According to her view, since we know that "I have two apples" is true (assuming it is), then it follows that the number of apples is two, and so that there is a number two, and therefore that at least one number exists. In this part 1, Thomasson draws out both the history of these debates and her own approach. In the second half, she’ll defend it against common objections.

Featured Blog Post

Sorites Paradox and Its Solutions (Vagueness)

0 grains of sand obviously do not make a heap. And for any number of grains of sand, adding just one more will never turn a non-heap into a heap. These two statements seem undeniably true. But they allow us to form a chain of reasoning that yields an absurd result. Since 0 grains do not make a heap, and adding 1 grain can never make the difference, then 1 grain is also not a heap. Since 1 grain does not make a heap and adding 1 can never make the difference, then 2 grains are also not a heap. And so on. We can apply this reasoning 100,000 times to prove that 100,000 grains of sand do not make a heap. But this is obviously false.

This is the sorites paradox. While at first glance it reads like mere wordplay, it is arguably the toughest paradox facing modern logic and metaphysics. In this post, I offer quick summaries of the most common proposed solutions and conclude that none of them quite solves the problem.

audiodrama album

Featured Work

Talia (audiodrama album)

"It all started when I decided to write a self-aware character." A narrative and musical  journey into the mind of a writer who fears that a fictional character of his own creation may be plotting to permanently hijack his very identity and agency. The humorous, philosophical, tragic, and absurd story is accompanied by a rich and varied original score, incorporating elements of electronica, prog rock, jazz, hip-hop, chamber, choral, avant-garde, and metal. 96 min. album.