Theory and History of Ontology

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  • "History Logic" and "Bibliographia" are my other websites. "Table of Contents" gives the list of the pages, for other indexes see the "Sitemap". "Modern Ontologists" contains a table with links to the pages on the most important philosophers of the 19th and 20th centuries who have written on ontology. The "Search" function can be used to find a particular author or subject.


Kit Fine on Logic, Metaphysics and Ontology. Annotated Bibliography. Papers 2007-2016

Bibliography of Kit Fine

Books. Papers 1970-1988

Papers 1989-2006

Kit Fine. Annotated Bibliography of the Studies on His Philosophy

PAPERS FROM 2007 TO 2016

  1. Fine, Kit. 2007. "Response to Correia." Dialectica.International Journal of Philosophy no. 61:85-88.

    "Correia’s paper contains two highly novel and interesting suggestions. The first is to generalize the Priorian perspective so that all that is required for there to be a fact about an object is that there be something that is the object though not necessarily something that exists. The second, building on the first, is to see essence as a form of Priorian implication. There is no doubt that these suggestions help to illuminate the concept of essence, in regard to both its Priorian underpinnings and its connection with modality. But I do not think that they are in tension with the central claims of ‘ Essence and Modality' and nor do I think that they should lead usto suppose that essentialist statements might be formulated more directly in terms of an ‘arrow’ rather than a ‘box’." (p. 88)

  2. ———. 2007. "Response to Garcia-Carpintero." Dialectica.International Journal of Philosophy no. 61:191-194.

    "I attempted to argue for a supervaluational account of vagueness in an early paper, ‘Vagueness, Truth and Logic’ (VT&L) and Manuel García-Carpintero is concerned, in his rich and wide-ranging paper, to defend such an account against two objections from M. Andjelkovic and T. Williamson, ‘Truth, Falsity and Borderline Cases’, Philosophical Topics 28, 2000, pp. 211–244. I no longer hold a supervaluational view but am inclined to agree with García-Carpintero that the objections are not successful, though not quite for the reasons that he gives." (p. 191)

  3. ———. 2007. "Response to Horwich." Dialectica.International Journal of Philosophy no. 61:17-23.

    "In a sustained series of articles and books, Horwich has attempted to deflate the pretensions of philosophy by showing how many of its problems are not problems at all and how many of its ‘theories’ are explanations of phenomena standing in no need of explanation and, in keeping with this general line of thought, he is concerned, in the present highly interesting and provocative paper, to show how even the modest aims of ' The Question of Realism' go too far in attempting to breathe some life into realist disputes. He is concerned to argue, in particular, that two of the principles that are meant to belong to the common ground between the realist and the antirealist might plausibly be questioned and that the strategy of the paper therefore fails (p. 11)." (p. 17)

  4. ———. 2007. "Response to Koslicki." Dialectica.International Journal of Philosophy no. 61:161-166.

    "Koslicki’s paper is an extraordinarily perceptive and comprehensive discussion of my published work on the nature of material things. Although she is sympathetic to my criticisms of the standard mereological approaches to this topic, she is not so happy with my positive views. She has three main objections in all, which shesummarizes as follows:

    Fine’s theory gives rise, first, to a proliferation of primitive sui generis relations of parthood and composition, whose characteristics must be imposed on them stipulatively by means of distinct systems of postulates, tailored to the different domains of objects. Secondly, we noted that, given its ‘superabundance’ of objects, Fine’s theory is committed to its very own population of ‘monsters’. Thirdly, once rigid embodiments are abandoned, the explicitly mereological aspect of Fine’s hylomorphic theory is preserved only at the cost of abandoning the Weak Supplementation Principle. This, in turn, along with the other formal properties of Fine’s system, makes us wonder why one should consider the primitive sui generis operations introduced by Fine’s theory to be genuinely mereological at all (pp. 157–158).

    Let me briefly consider the first and third of these objections but devote most of my attention to the second." (p. 161)

  5. ———. 2007. "Response to MacBride." Dialectica.International Journal of Philosophy no. 61:57-62.

    "Fraser MacBride’s paper is a deep and searching treatment of the topic of neutral relations. He very clearly explains the motivation for wanting a theory of neutral relations, providing much more than my own paper by way of philosophical and historical context, and he subjects the available theories to a number of interesting and difficult challenges. Although he is critical of my own antipositional line, he shows a keen appreciation of the problems it was meant to solve and of the considerations that led me to adopt it.

    I should like to take up two main issues from his paper – one concerning the question of symmetric relations and of whether the positionalist can provide an adequate account of them and the other concerning the question of ‘solitary’ relational states and of whether the anti-positional can provide an adequate account of how their relata are related." (p. 58)

  6. ———. 2007. "Response to Weir." Dialectica.International Journal of Philosophy no. 61:117-125.

    "In a recent paper, ‘Our Knowledge of Mathematical Objects’ (KMO), I have outlined a new approach to the foundations of mathematics. I call it ‘procedural postulationism’ and it is based upon the idea that one may lay down procedures for the expansion of a given domain. The ontology of mathematics is taken to result from the execution of such procedures; and our knowledge of mathematics is to be attained by seeing what would true upon their execution.

    Weir has raised some sharp and significant objections to this approach – one concerning the constraints by which postulation is governed, another concerning the ontological neutrality of second-order logic, upon which my approach is based, and a third concerned with my realist construal of the expanded domains.

    Let me deal with each in turn." (p. 117)

  7. ———. 2008. "Coincidence and Form." Aristotelian Society.Supplementary Volume no. 82:101-118.

    Paper read at the Kit Fine Day: Ontology Talks, February 11, 2008, Paris.

    Abstract. "How can a statue and a piece of alloy be coincident at any time at which they exist and yet differ in their modal properties? I argue that this question demands an answer and that the only plausible answer is one that posits a difference in the form of the two objects."

    "Many philosophers are pluralists about material things. They believe that distinct material things may coincide at a time, i.e. that they may occupy the very same spatial region and be constituted by the very same matter at that time. A familiar example is that of an alloy statue and the piece of alloy from which it is made. They are clearly coincident, and they would also appear to be distinct, given that the piece of alloy may exist before the statue is created or after it has been destroyed.

    A number of these philosophers also believe that two distinct material things may coincide in a world, i.e. that they may exist at the same times in the world and coincide at each time at which they exist." (p. 101)


    "The account of an object as a given rigid or variable embodiment may be regarded as a fundamental account of what the object is, one that itself stands in need of no further explanation. We may therefore claim, with some plausibility, to have traced the various features and differences of such objects to their source." (p. 116)

  8. ———. 2008. "The Impossibility of Vagueness." Philosophical Perspectives no. 22:111-136.

    "I wish to present a proof that vagueness is impossible. Of course, vagueness is possible; and so there must be something wrong with the proof. But it is far from clear where the error lies and, indeed, all of the assumptions upon which the proof depends are ones that have commonly been accepted. This suggests that we may have to radically alter our current conception of vagueness if we are to make proper sense of what it is.

    The present investigation was largely motivated by an interest in what one might call the ‘global’ aspect of vagueness. We may distinguish between the indeterminacy of a predicate in its application to a single case (the local aspect) and in its application to a range of cases (the global aspect). In the first case, it is indeterminate how a predicate, such as a bald, applies in a given case; and, in the second case, it is indeterminate how a predicate applies across a range of cases.

    Given such a distinction, the question arises as to whether one might understand the indeterminacy of a predicate in its application to a range of cases in terms of its indeterminacy in application to a single case; and considered from this point of view, the result can be seen to show that there is no reasonable way in which this might be done." (p. 111)


    "I begin by giving an informal presentation of the result and its proof and I then consider the various responses that might be made to the alleged impossibility. Most of these are found wanting; and my own view, which I hint at rather than argue for, is that it is only by giving up on the notion of singlecase indeterminacy, as it is usually conceived, and by modifying the principles of classical logic that one can evade the result and thereby account for the possibility of vagueness. There are two appendices, one providing a formal presentation and proof of the impossibility theorem and the other giving a counter-example to the theorem under a certain relaxation of its assumptions. The mathematics is not difficult but those solely interested in the philosophical implications of the results should be able to get by without it.

    The general line of argument goes back to Wright [1987] and further discussion and developments are to be found in Sainsbury [1990, 1991], Wright [1992], Heck [1993], Edgington [1993], Gomez Torrente [1997, 2002], Graff-Fara [2002, 2004], and Williamson [1997, 2002]. It would be a nice question to discuss how these various arguments relate to one another and to the argument in this paper. I shall not go into this question, but let me observe that my own approach is in a number of ways more general. It relies, for the most part, on weaker assumptions concerning the underlying logic and the logic of definitely and on weaker constraints concerning the behavior of vague terms; and it also provides a more flexible framework within which to develop arguments of this sort." (p. 112)


    Edgington D., [1993] ‘Wright and Sainsbury on Higher-order Vagueness’, Analysis 53.4, 193–200.

    Gomez-Torrente M., [1997] ‘Two Problems for an Epistemicist View of Vagueness’, Philosophical Issues 8, 237–45.

    Gomez-Torrente M., [2002] ‘Vagueness and Margin for Error Principles’, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 64.1, 107–125.

    Graff-Fara D., [2002] ‘An Anti-Epistemicist Consequence of Margin for Error Semantics for Knowledge’, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 64.1, 127–142.

    Graff-Fara D., [2004] ‘Gap Principles, Penumbral Consequence, and Infinitely Higher-Order Vagueness’, in Liars and Heaps (ed. J. C. Beall), Oxford University Press, 195–222.

    Heck R., [1993] ‘A Note on the Logic of (Higher-Order) Vagueness’, Analysis 53.4, 201–8.

    Sainsbury M., [1991] ‘Is There Higher-Order Vagueness?’, Philosophical Quarterly, 41.163, 167–82.

    Williamson T., [1994] Vagueness, London: Routledge-Kegan.

    Williamson T., [1997] ‘Replies to Commentators’, Philosophical Issues 8, 255–65.

    Williamson T., [2002] ‘Epistemic Modals: Comments on Gomez-Torrente and Gradd’, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 64.1, 143–50.

    Wright C., [1992] ‘Is Higher-Order Vagueness Coherent’, Analysis 52.3: 129–3.

  9. ———. 2009. "The Question of Ontology." In Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology, edited by Chalmers, David J., Manley, David and Wassermann, Ryan, 157-177. New York: Oxford University Press.

    "There are a number of difficulties with the standard quantificational view. They are for the most part familiar but it will be worth spelling them out, if only to make clear how far removed our understanding of the ontological question is from our understanding of their quantificational counterparts. Philosophers may have learned to live with the disconnect between the two, but their tolerance of the situation should not lull us into thinking that it is tolerable." (p. 138)

    "This account of our method for settling ontological dispute requires that we have a grasp not only of an absolute conception of reality, of there being nothing more than ..., but also of a relative conception, of there being nothing more to ... than ..., since it is through our assessment of the relative claims that we attempt to adjudicate the plausibility of the absolute claims. Many philosophers seem to have supposed that our having a good working grasp of such notions depends upon our being able to define them in other terms, so that questions of metaphysics or ontology thereby become questions of semantics or epistemology or total science. I consider this to be a serious methodological error: upon careful reflection we can see that our intuitive grasp of these notions is a sufficient guide in itself to their proper employment; and the attempt to define these notions in other terms has served merely to distort our understanding of the metaphysical questions and of the methods by which they are to be resolved." (p. 176)

  10. ———. 2010. "Towards a Theory of Part." Journal of Philosophy no. 107:559-589.

    Paper read at the Kit Fine Day: Ontology Talks, Paris, February 11, 2008.

    "My aim in this paper is to outline a general framework for dealing with questions of partwhole. Familiar as this topic may be, my treatment of it is very different from more conventional approaches. For instead of dealing with the single notion of mereological part or sum, I have attempted to provide a comprehensive and unified account of the different ways in which one object can be a part of another. Thus mereology, as it is usually conceived, becomes a small branch of a much larger subject. (1)

    My discussion has been intentionally restricted in a number of ways. In the first place, my principal concern has been with the notion of absolute rather than relative part. We may talk of one object being a part of another relative to a time or circumstances (as when we say that the tire was once a part of the car or that or that the execution of Marie Antoinette was as a matter of contingent fact a part of the French Revolution) or in a way that is not relative to a time or the circumstances (as when we say that this pint of milk is a part of the quart or that the letter ‘c’ is part of the word ‘cat’). Many philosophers have supposed that the two notions are broadly analogous and that what goes for one will tend to go for the other. (2) I believe this view to be mistaken and a source of endless error. But it is not my aim to discuss either the notion of relative part or its connection with the absolute notion. (3)

    In the second place, I have focused on the ‘pure’ theory of part-whole rather than its application to our actual ontology. Once given a theory of part-whole, there arises the question of how it applies to the objects with which we are already familiar. This question becomes especially delicate and intricate on my own approach since, although we may recognize that such and such a familiar object is a part or whole, it may not be clear, according to the theory, what kind of whole or part it is. But despite the considerable interest of this question, my focus has been on the abstract development of the theory itself and not on its application to ontology.

    Finally, I have only provided the merest sketch of the framework (on which I hope say more elsewhere). Many points are not developed and some not even stated. I have, in particular, said relatively little about the technical foundations of the subject, which are mathematically quite distinctive, or about some of the broader philosophical issues to which they give rise. I have given a rough map of the terrain rather than a guided tour, but I hope I have done enough to bring out the interest of the approach and to make clear how a more systematic and philosophically informed account might proceed." (pp. 559-560)

    (1) The material outlined in this paper has been developed over a period of thirty years. It was most recently presented in a seminar at Princeton in 2000; and I am grateful to Cian Dorr, Michael Fara, Gail Harman, Mark Johnston, David Lewis and Gideon Rosen for their comments.

    I am also grateful for some comments I received from Ted Sider and two anonymous referees for the journal; and I owe a special debt of thanks to Achille Varzi for his encouragement.

    (2) As in T. Sider, Four Dimensionalism (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2001), for example.

    (3) The matter is briefly discussed in K. Fine, Things and Their Parts, Midwest Studies in Philosophy XXIII (1999), 61-74.

  11. ———. 2010. "Some Puzzles of Ground." Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic no. 51:97-118.

    "In recent years there has been a growing interest in the concept of ground—of one thing holding in virtue of another, and, in developing an account of ground, a number of philosophers have laid down principles which they regard as unquestionably true of the concept. (1) The purpose of this note is to show that these principles are in conflict with seemingly impeccable principles of logic. Thus a choice must be made; either one or more of the metaphysical principles or one or more of the logical principles should be given up.

    Some philosophers—and especially those already unsympathetic to ground—may think that the conflict reveals some underlying defect in the concept. For if acceptance of the concept of ground has such untoward consequences, then this can only be because the concept was no good in the first place. My own view—which I suggest toward the end of the paper—is quite different. It is not that considerations of ground should be ignored or even that the principles of ground should be given up in the light of their conflict with the principles of logic. Rather we need to achieve some kind of reflective equilibrium between the two sets of principles, one that does justice both to our logical intuitions and to our need for some account of their ground. Thus the conflict, far from serving to undermine the concept of ground, serves to show how important it is to arriving at a satisfactory view of what in logic, as in other areas of thought, can properly be taken to hold.

    The puzzle to which the conflict of principles gives rise bears some resemblance to the paradoxes of self-reference. It is not itself a paradox of self-reference: the puzzle, on the one side, makes no direct use of self-reference; the paradox, on the other side, makes no direct appeal to the notion of ground. But considerations of ground are often used to motivate certain solutions to the paradoxes, and the puzzle makes clear the reasoning behind these considerations and brings out the critical role played by the notion of ground. (2)" (pp. 97-98)

    (1) They include Audi [1], Batchelor [2], Correia [3], Correia [4], Rosen [10], Schneider [11], and Schneider [12].

    (2) I especially have in mind the kind of solution to the semantic paradoxes to be found in Kripke [8].


    [1] Audi, P., “Grounding,” forthcoming, 2010.

    [2] Batchelor, R., “Grounds and consequences,” Grazer Philosophische Studien, vol. 80 (2010), pp. 65–77.

    [3] Correia, F., Existential Dependence and Cognate Notions, Philosophia Verlag GmbH, München, 2005.

    [4] Correia, F., “Grounding and truth-functions,” forthcoming in Logique et Analyse [211 (2010), 251–279]

    [8] Kripke, S., “Outline of a theory of truth,” Journal of Philosophy, vol. 72 (1975), pp. 690–71.

    [10] Rosen, G., “Metaphysical dependence: Grounding and reduction,” pp. 109–36 in Modality: Metaphysics, Logic and Epistemology, edited by B. Hale and A. Hoffman, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2010.

    [11] Schneider, B., “Truth-functionality,” Review of Symbolic Logic, vol. 1 (2008), pp. 64–72.

    [12] Schneider, B., “A logic of ‘because’,” in progress, 2010.

  12. ———. 2010. "Semantic Necessity." In Modality: Metaphysics, Logic, and Epistemology, edited by Hale, Bob and Hoffmann, Aviv, 65-80. New York: Oxford University Press.

    "In the recent monograph ‘Semantic Relationism’, I made use of a certain notion of what was semantically necessary, or required, in arguing that it might be a semantic requirement that two names were coreferential even though there were no intrinsic semantic features of the names in virtue of which this was so. In the present paper, I wish to consider the bearing of the notion on the nature and content of semantic enquiry. I shall argue that a semantics for a given language is most perspicuously taken to be a body of semantic requirements and that the notion of a semantic requirement should itself be employed in articulating the content of those requirements. There are two main alternatives to this conception to be found in the literature. According to one, a semantics for a given language is taken to be an assignment of semantic values to its expressions; and according to the other, a semantics for a given language is taken to be a theory of truth for that language. I attempt to show how these alternatives do not provide us with the most perspicuous way of representing the semantic facts and that it is only in terms of our conception that one can properly appreciate what these facts are.

    The importance of the notion of metaphysical necessity for metaphysics has long been appreciated, in regard to both explicating the nature of the subject and articulating the content of its claims. If the argument of this paper is correct, then it will help to show that the notion of semantic necessity has a similar and equally important role to play in understanding the nature and content of semantics." (p. 65)

  13. ———. 2010. "Comments on Scott Soames’ ‘Coordination Problems’." Philosophy and Phenomenological Research no. 81:475-484.

    "A major theme of ‘Semantic Relationism’ was that many of the familiar worries over the substitutivity of names in belief contexts may be resolved by going relational. But Soames, in his interesting and actionpacked paper, has argued that even if the more familiar worries are removed there are variants of them that will remain." (p. 475)


    "So we see that the relationist does have a response to the worry that Soames raises. However, the way relationism comes in is not through embedding the speaker’s report in a larger context of belief attributions, as Soames had supposed, but through seeing the speaker’s report and the agent’s belief as forming a single context, in which relationships of coordination relevant to the truth of the report may then be discerned."(p. 476)

  14. ———. 2010. "Reply to Lawlor's 'Varieties of Coreference'." Philosophy and Phenomenological Research no. 81:496-501.

    "The focus of Krista Lawlor’s challenging paper [*] is on cases of confused reference. By way of illustration, she asks us to suppose that ‘Wally says of Udo, “ He needs a haircut” , and Zach, thinking to agree, but looking at another person, says, ‘he sure does” (p. 4). Zach is confused, since he takes the person he is looking at to be the same as the person Wally was referring to. This might not be a semantic confusion, which is what I think Lawlor is after, but a straight confusion over the facts.

    For Zach’s primary intention may be to refer to the same person as Wally or, alternatively, to the person he is looking at and he may mistakenly believe that these two people are the same. But let us suppose that Zach means to use use ‘he’ indifferently as a pronoun anaphoric on Wally’s original use of ‘he’ and as a pronoun that is deictic on the person he is looking at. We would then have a case of confused reference of the kind Lawlor has in mind." (p. 496)

    [* Krista Lawlor, "Varieties of Coreference", Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 81, 2010, pp. 485-495.]

  15. ———. 2010. "Comments on Paul Hovda’s ‘Semantics as Information About Semantics Values’." Philosophy and Phenomenological Research no. 81:511-518.

    "In SR [ Semantic Relationism] (7-9), I posed the ‘antimony of the variable’. How can the pair of variables x, y have a different semantic role from the pair x, x when x has the same semantic role as y? In attempting to solve this antimony, I suggested that we appeal to the idea of the values that are taken, not merely by a single variable, but by a sequence of variables (SR, 23-4).

    The semantic role of the two pairs of variables can then be distinguished, since the first pair will take a distinct pair of objects from the domain as values (assuming that the domain contains at least two objects) while the second pair will not.

    Hovda’s makes a marvelous alternative suggestion. [*] ‘The basic idea’, he writes (pp. 4-5) ‘is that a variable can refer to anything and must refer to exactly one thing.’ The more usual idea is that a variable actually takes all of the objects in the domain as values (or ‘referents’). My own relational account of variables is an instance of this approach, but with the modification that variables can now take their values simultaneously and not merely singly." (p. 511)

    [* Paul Hovda "Semantics as Information About Semantics Values", Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 81, 2010, pp. 485-495.]

  16. ———. 2011. "An Abstract Characterization of the Determinate/Determinable Distinction." Philosophical Perspectives no. 25:161-187.

    "My aim in this paper is to provide an account of what it is for the world to have a determinate/determinable structure. Patches have colors, people have heights, particles have mass. These are all instances of the determinate/determinable structure, with a given state of the world consisting in something’s possessing a determinate (be it a given color or height or mass) from within a given determinable (color, height or mass). But what is it for the world as a whole to possess such a structure?

    In the Tractatus, Wittgenstein took the atomic propositions, by which the world is to be described, to be completely independent of one another. But he later revised his view (Wittgenstein [1929]) and allowed that the atomic propositions might exhibit the kind of dependence that is characteristic of the way in which different determinants of a given determinable are exclusive of one another. Our question might therefore be put in the form: how in the most abstract terms should we conceive of the post-Tractarian world?" (p. 161)


    Wittgenstein L., [1929] ‘Some Remarks on Logical Form’, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, supplementary volume 9, 162-71.

  17. ———. 2011. "The Silence of the Lambdas." The Philosophers's Magazine no. 55:19-27.

    James Garvey interview Kit Fine.

    "We come finally to Fine’s influential views on vagueness and the so-called “sorites” paradox.

    The name comes from the Greek word for heap, “soros”. Eubulides, an ancient Greek philosopher with a thing for paradoxes, asked, roughly, when do you go from a few grains of wheat to a heap? One grain doesn’t count, neither do two or three or four, but keep adding grains and, eventually, you’d say that you do have a heap. The trouble is that for a range of borderline cases, we don’t know what to do with the predicate “is a heap”. There are a number of instances in which “This is a heap” is neither true nor false, but how could that be? When I ask Fine about his views on vagueness, he thinks for a very long minute, noticeably brightening as he does so, and finally tells me he’s found an entirely new way to think about vague predicates.

    “I can briefly outline my new view, which is very radical.” He goes on, half smiling, “If I’m right almost everyone else is wrong.” I lean in.

    “Predicates can be vague. Take a predicate like bald. It’s vague. Perhaps one way of expressing that is that the predicate is not completely determined in its application. Many people have thought that the phenomenon of vagueness is to be understood though borderline cases: what it is for a predicate to be vague is for there to be borderline cases. My view is that this approach to the problem of vagueness is fundamentally misguided. There is no intelligible notion of borderline case which is relevant to the phenomenon of vagueness. We have to achieve an understanding of vagueness in some other way.


    The new thought is that that’s a mistake, that the indeterminacy cannot be localised in that way.

    We cannot point our finger at any one case.

    “It means everyone else has been wrong. It leads to a very different conception of vagueness, the logic of vagueness, how you handle various problems. It leads to a completely new logic. It’s something I’ve been thinking about.” (p. 27)

  18. ———. 2012. "Aristotle's Megarian Manœuvres." Mind no. 120:993-1034.

    Abstract: "Towards the end of Theta 4 of the Metaphysics, Aristotle appears to endorse the obviously invalid modal principle that the truth of A will entail the truth of B if the possibility of A entails the possibility of B. I attempt to show how Aristotle’s endorsement of the principle can be seen to arise from his accepting a non-standard interpretation of the modal operators and I indicate how the principle and its interpretation are of independent interest, quite apart from their role in understanding Aristotle."

    "I begin by considering the different ways in which Aristotle’s two principles might be formalized within the framework of propositional modal logic (Sect. 1). I then consider the deductive and semantic consequences of the different ways in which these principles might be formalized, using the apparatus of contemporary modal logic (Sect. 2). It is shown that the difficulties confronting Aristotle are even greater than might have been thought, since the second principle leads to ‘modal collapse’, the collapse of possibility to actuality, which is something that Aristotle had previously argued explicitly against.

    Three recent attempts to get Aristotle ‘off the hook’ — those of Brennan (1994), Makin (1999 and 2006), and Nortmann (2006) — are considered and found wanting (Sect. 3). I then propose an alternative solution, which rests upon distinguishing between a world as the locus and as the witness of possibilities (Sect. 4). Once the semantics for Aristotle’s use of the modalities is understood in this way, it becomes perfectly explicable why he would have wanted to endorse the converse principle and how he can avoid modal collapse. I defend this interpretation of Aristotle against some objections and try to indicate why it is of independent interest (Sect. 5). I conclude with an attempt to vindicate Aristotle’s argument for the first principle (Sect. 6)." (pp. 994-995)


    Brennan, Theodore 1994: ‘Two Modal Theses in the Second Half of Metaphysics Theta.4’. Phronesis, 39, pp. 160–73.

    Makin, Stephen 1999: ‘Aristotle’s Two Modal Theses Again’. Phronesis, 44, pp. 114–125.

    —— 2006: Aristotle: Metaphysics Theta, tr. and ed. Stephen Makin. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

    Nortmann, Ulrich 2006: ‘Against Appearances True: On a Controversial Modal Theorem in Metaphysics Theta 4’. Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung, 60, pp. 380–93.

  19. ———. 2012. "What is Metaphysics?" In Contemporary Aristotelian Metaphysics, edited by Tahko, Tuomas E., 8-25. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    "There are, I believe, five main features that serve to distinguish traditional metaphysics from other forms of enquiry. These are: the aprioricity of its methods; the generality of its subject-matter; the transparency or `non-opacity' of its concepts; its eidicity or concern with the nature of things; and its role as a foundation for what there is. In claiming that these are distinguishing features, I do not mean to suggest that no other forms of enquiry possess any of them. Rather, in metaphysics these features come together in a single package and it is the package as a whole rather than any of the individual features that serves to distinguish metaphysics from other forms of enquiry.

    It is the aim of this chapter to give an account of these individual features and to explain how they might come together to form a single reasonably unified form of enquiry. I shall begin by giving a rough and ready description of the various features and then go into more detail about what they are and how they are related." (p. 8).

  20. ———. 2012. "A Guide to Ground." In Metaphysical Grounding: Understanding the Structure of Reality edited by Correia, Fabrice and Schnieder, Benjamin, 37-80. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    "A number of philosophers have recently become receptive to the idea that, in addition to scientific or causal explanation, there may be a distinctive kind of metaphysical explanation, in which explanans and explanandum are connected, not through some sort of causal mechanism, but through some constitutive form of determination. I myself have long been sympathetic to this idea of constitutive determination or “ontological ground”; and it is the aim of the present chapter to help put the idea on a firmer footing – to explain how it is to be understood, how it relates to other ideas, and how it might be of use in philosophy. (1)" (p. 37)

    (1) A number of other philosophers (they include Audi [forthcoming], Batchelor [2010], Schaffer [2009b], Correia [2005, 2010], Raven [2009], Rosen [2010], Schnieder [2011]) have done related work in defense of the notion; and I have not attempted to make a detailed comparison between their ideas and my own.

    I am grateful to the participants at the Boulder conference on dependence and to Neil Tennant for many helpful comments on an earlier draft of the chapter. I should add that, for reasons of space, some of the material in the chapter originally submitted to the volume had been abridged.


    Audi, P. forthcoming. ‘Grounding: Toward a Theory of the In-Virtue-Of Relation’, Journal of Philosophy [109, 2012, pp. 685-711.]

    Batchelor, R. 2010. ‘Grounds and Consequences’, Grazer Philosophische Studien 80: 65–77

    Correia, F. 2005. Existential Dependence and Cognate Notions. Munich: Philosophia Verlag

    ___ 2010. ‘Grounding and Truth-Functions’, Logique et Analyse 53: 251–79

    Raven M. 2009. Ontology, From a Fundamentalist Point of View. Ph.D., New York University

    Rosen, G. 2010. ‘Metaphysical Dependence: Grounding and Reduction’, in Hale and Hoffman 2010, (eds.), 2010. Modality: Metaphysics, Logic, and Epistemology. New York: Oxford University Press 109–36

    Schaffer, J. 2009b. ‘On What Grounds What’, in Chalmers, Manley, and Wasserman 2009 (eds.), 2009. Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology. Oxford University Press 347–83

    Schnieder, B. 2011. ‘A Logic for “Because”’, The Review of Symbolic Logic 4: 445–65

  21. ———. 2012. "A Difficulty for the Possible Worlds Analysis of Counterfactuals." Synthese no. 189:29-57.

    "A number of different accounts of counterfactual statements have been proposed in the literature. It has been thought that they should be understood in terms of the closeness of possible worlds, for example, with the counterfactual from A to C being true if all sufficiently close worlds in which A is true are worlds in which C is true or that they should be understood in terms of some notion of cotenability, with the counterfactual from A to B being true if A in conjunction with truths cotenable with A entails C. But a common presupposition of almost all of these accounts is that counterfactual claims should be intensional. If the sentences A and AN or C and CN are necessarily equivalent then the substitution of AN for A or CN for C in the antecedent or consequent of a counterfactual should preserve its truth-value. Thus, under the usual form of the possible worlds account, the truth-value of a counterfactual will simply turn on the possible worlds in which the antecedent and the consequent are true and so the account will be unable to distinguish between the truth-values of counterfactuals whose antecedents or consequents are true in the same possible worlds and hence are necessarily equivalent while, under the entailment-based accounts, the entailments will remain the same under the substitution of necessary equivalents and so the truth-values of the counterfactuals will also remain the same. (1)

    It is the aim of this paper to show that no plausible account of counterfactuals should take them to be intensional and that if we are to describe the different kinds of counterfactual scenarios in the way we want and to reason about them in the way we would like, then the assumption of intensionality should be abandoned. Indeed, it is not merely the assumption of ‘modal’ intensionality that will fail but also the weaker assumption of‘logical’ or ‘classical’ intensionality. For the cases we shall consider are ones in which the substitution of AN for A or CN for C should not be permitted, even though they are logical and not merely necessary equivalents." (pp. 29-30)

    (1) The present paper expands on material in the first part of Fine, ‘Counterfactuals without Possible Worlds’, to appear in Journal of Philosophy [2012].

  22. ———. 2012. "Counterfactuals Without Possible Worlds." Journal of Philosophy no. 109:221-246.

    "Ever since the pioneering work of Stalnaker and Lewis (1), it has been customary to provide a semantics for counterfactuals statements in terms of possible worlds. Roughly speaking, the idea is that the counterfactual from A to C should be taken to be true just in case all of the closest worlds in which A is true are worlds in which C is true. Such a semantics is subject to some familiar difficulties - counterfactuals involving impossible antecedents, for example, or counterfactuals involving big changes consequential upon small changes. But it is not clear how seriously to take these difficulties - either because they might be met through some modification in the notion of closeness or because the intuitions on which the cases depend might be challenged or because the cases themselves might be dismissed as peripheral to the central use of the counterfactual construction; and nor has it been clear what a more satisfactory alternative to the possible world semantics might be put in its place." (p. 221)


    (1) Stalnaker, ‘A Theory of Conditionals’ in N. Rescher (ed.) Studies in Logical Theory, American Philosophical Quarterly Monograph Series, No. 2' (Oxford: Blackwell, 1968), 98-112 and Lewis, Counterfactuals (Oxford: Blackwell, 1973).

  23. ———. 2012. "Modal Logic and its Applications to the Philosophy of Language." In The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Language, edited by Russell, Gilliam and Graff Fara, Delia 609-623. New York: Routledge.

    "Modal logic is the logic of possibility and necessity and of other such notions. It began, as did logic in general, with Aristotle, in his theory of the ‘modal syllogism’; and various notions and principles of modal logic were extensively discussed in the middle ages.

    But the subject only came into its own at the beginning of the twentieth century (see Goldblatt 2005 for an account of its recent history).

    I begin by presenting some basic material on the possible worlds’ approach to modal logic and then show how it relates to certain key topics in the philosophy of language.

    For reasons of space, I have had to be very selective and, inevitably, a great deal of interesting material has not been covered." (p. 609)


    "7.6 Limitations

    The possible worlds approach to meaning is subject to some well-known limitations. It cannot distinguish, for example, between knowing one necessary truth from knowing another. Or again, it may be permitted that I post the letter but not permitted that I post the letter or post the letter and burn down the post office, even though the two embedded clauses are true in the same possible worlds.

    There is a question of how seriously to take these difficulties. My own view is that they cannot properly be overcome or ignored and that the possible worlds approach, for all of its success, can only be regarded as the first step towards a more adequate account of meaning." (p. 622)


    Goldblatt R. (2005) ‘Mathematical Modal Logic: A View of its Evolution’ in Handbook of the History of Logic: VII (eds. D. M. Gabbay and J. Woods), Amsterdam: Elsevier.

  24. ———. 2012. "The Pure Logic of Ground." The Review of Symbolic Logic no. 5:1-25.

    "Ground is the relation of one truth holding in virtue of others. This relation is like that of consequence in that a necessary connection must hold between the relata if the relation is to obtain but it differs from consequence in so far as it required that there should also be an explanatory connection between the relata. The grounds must account for what is grounded. Thus even though P is a consequence of P & P, P & P is not a ground for P, since it does not account for the truth of P.

    It is the aim of this paper to develop a semantics and proof theory for the pure logic of ground. The pure logic of ground stands to ground as Gentzen’s structural rules stand to consequence. One prescinds from the internal structure of the propositions under consideration and simply asks what follows from what in virtue of the formal features of the underlying relation. Thus the claim that ground is transitive, that if P is a ground for Q and Q a ground for R then P should be a ground for R, is plausibly regarded as part of the pure logic of ground; but the claim that P is a ground for P & P will be part of the applied as opposed to the pure logic of ground, since it turns on the logical properties of &." (p. 1)

  25. ———. 2012. "Mathematics: Discovery or Invention." Think no. 11:11-27.

    Abstract: "Mathematics has been the most successful and is the most mature of the sciences. Its first great master work – Euclid's ‘Elements’ – which helped to establish the field and demonstrate the power of its methods, was written about 2400 years ago; and it served as a standard text in the mathematics curriculum well into the twentieth century. By contrast, the first comparable master work of physics – Newton's Principia – was written 300 odd years ago. And the juvenile science of biology only got its first master work – Darwin's ‘On the Origin of Species’ – a mere 150 years ago. The development of the subject has also been extraordinarily fertile, particularly in the last three centuries, and it is perhaps only in the last century that the other sciences have begun to approach mathematics in the steady accumulation of knowledge that it has been able to offer. There has, moreover, been almost universal agreement on its methods and how they are to be applied. What we require is proof; and, in practice, there is very little disagreement over whether or not we have it. The other sciences, by contrast, tend to get mired in controversy over the significance of this or that experimental finding or over whether one theory is to be preferred to another."

  26. ———. 2013. "A Note on Partial Content." Analysis no. 73:413-419.

    "Some philosophers have looked for a notion of partial content for which the content of A is in general part of the content of A & B but the content of A v B is not in general part of the content of A. (1) But they have realized that these two requirements are in tension with one another. For A is logically equivalent to (A _ B) & A and so, if the content of (A _ B) is part of the content of (A v B) & A, it should also be part of the content of A.

    There is a related difficulty for allied notions. Thus, one might want A & B to be partially true via A being true though not want A to be partially true via A v B being true (since A v B might be true through B being true, which has nothing to do with A). Or one might want A & B to have at least much truth in it as A even though A does not in general have at least much truth in it as A v B. Or one might want A to confirm A & B but not want A v B to confirm A (since A v B might in its turn be confirmed by B).

    In this note, I show that this difficulty is of a quite general nature and does not simply arise from the desire to have the content of A be part of the content of A & B but not have the content of A v B be part of the content of A." (p. 413)

    (1) As in Angell 1977, Gemes 1994 and Yablo 2013, for example.


    Angell, R.E. 1977. Three systems of first degree entailment. Journal of Symbolic Logic 42: 147.

    Gemes, K. 1994. A new theory of content. Journal of Philosophical Logic 23: 596–620.

    Yablo, S. 2013. Aboutness. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

  27. ———. 2013. "Fundamental Truth and Fundamental Terms." Philosophy and Phenomenological Research no. 87:725-732.

    "Ted Sider’s ‘Writing the Book of the World’ [*] is a bold and ambitious work, offering original and provocative answers to a wide range of questions within metaphysics and meta-metaphysics. The book is focused on the topic of fundamentality—of what is fundamental and of what it is to be fundamental and, although Sider is largely concerned to develop his own positive views on the topic, he does devote a couple of sections (§§8.1-2) to my views, as laid out in the paper, ‘The Question of Realism’. (1) I hope I may therefore be forgiven for devoting my attention to some of the more critical points that he makes in these sections." (p. 725)

    [*] New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

    (1) Imprint, vol. 1, no. 1, 2001, reprinted in ‘ Individuals, Essence and Identity: Themes of Analytic Philosophy’ (ed. A. Bottani, M Carrara, P. Giaretta), Dordrecht: Kluwer 2002, 3-41.

  28. ———. 2014. "Truth-Maker Semantics for Intuitionistic Logic." Journal of Philosophical Logic no. 43:549-577.

    Abstract "I propose a new semantics for intuitionistic logic, which is a cross between the construction-oriented semantics of Brouwer-Heyting-Kolmogorov and the condition-oriented semantics of Kripke. The new semantics shows how there might be a common semantical underpinning for intuitionistic and classical logic and how intuitionistic logic might thereby be tied to a realist conception of the relationship between language and the world."

    "I wish to propose a new semantics for intuitionistic logic, which is in some ways a cross between the construction-oriented semantics of Brouwer-Heyting-Kolmogorov (as expounded in [8], for example) and the condition-oriented semantics of Kripke [6]. The new semantics is of some philosophical interest, because it shows how there might be a common semantical underpinning for intuitionistic and classical logic and how intuitionistic logic might thereby be tied to a realist conception of the relationship between language and the world. The new semantics is also of some technical interest; it gives rise to a framework, intermediate between the frameworks of the two other approaches, within which several novel questions and approaches may be pursued.

    I begin with a philosophical discussion and conclude with a long technical appendix. In principle, the two can be read independently of one another but it is preferable if the reader first gains a formal and informal understanding of the semantics and then goes back and forth between the philosophical and technical exposition. (1)" (pp. 549-550)

    (1) An earlier version of this paper was presented at a conference on truthmakers in Paris, 2011, and at a conference on the philosophy of mathematics in Bucharest, 2012. I should like to thank the participants of these two conferences for helpful comments and also an anonymous referee for the journal. After completing the paper, I learned that Ciardelli’s thesis [1] on inquisitive logic contains some related work.

    In particular, the system HH of the appendix is similar to the system for inquisitive logic while lemma 22 corresponds to the disjunctive-negative normal form theorem for inquisitive logic. It would be worthwhile to explore the connections between the two approaches in more detail. I should like to thank Ivano Ciardelli for bringing his thesis to my attention and for helpful correspondence.


    1. Ciaredelli, I. (2009). ‘Inquisitive semantics and intermediate logics’, M Sc. Thesis, University of Amsterdam.

    6. Kripke, S. (1965). ‘Semantical analysis of intuitionistic logic’. In J. Crossley and M. A. E. Dummett (Eds.), [ Formal Systems and Recursive Functions, Amsterdam: North Holland, 1965], 92–130.

    8. Troelstra, A., & van Dalen, D. (1988). ‘Constructivism in mathematics’ (volumes 1 & 2). Amsterdam: North Holland.

  29. ———. 2014. "A New Theory of Vagueness (Abstract)." In Formal Ontology in Information Systems, edited by Garbacz, Pawel and Kutz, Oliver, 4. Amsterdam: IOS Press.

    "I propose a new theory of vagueness. It differs from previous theories in two main respects. First, it treats vagueness as a global rather than local phenomenon, i.e. vagueness always relates to a number of cases rather than a single case. Second, it treats vagueness as a logical rather than a material matter, i.e. vagueness can be expressed by logical means alone without the help of additional vagueness-theoretic primitives. I shall criticize alternative views, develop a logic and semantics for my own view, and explain how it deals with the sorites."

  30. ———. 2014. "Recurrence A Rejoinder." Philosophical Studies no. 169:425-428.

    "I am grateful to Nathan Salmon (in Salmon [2012]) for being willing to spill so much ink over my monograph on semantic relationism [2007], even if what he has to say is not altogether complimentary. There is a great deal in his criticisms to which I take exception but I wish to focus on one point, what he calls my ‘formal disproof’ of standard Millianism. He believes that ‘the alleged hard result is nearly demonstrably false’ (p. 420) and that the disproof contains a ‘serious error’ (p. 407). Neither claim is correct; and it is the aim of this short note to explain why." (p. 425)


    Fine K., [2007] ‘ Semantic Relationism’, Oxford: Blackwell

    Salmon N., [2012] ‘Recurrence’, Philosophical Studies 159, 407- 411.

  31. ———. 2014. "Permission and Possible Worlds." Dialectica no. 68:317-336.

    "It is often taken for granted, by philosophers and linguists alike, that one can give an account of the truth-conditions of statements of permission in terms of possible worlds, that it will be permissible to see to it that p just in case p is true in some permissible or ‘deontically accessible’ world. In this paper, I shall argue that if statements of permission are to serve their purpose as a guide to action then no possible worlds account of their truth-conditions can possibly be correct. In a previous paper, I presented a simple argument against the possible worlds account of counterfactuals (The author [2012a], p. 45); and the present paper arose from my seeing that a similar form of argument applied with even greater force against the possible worlds account of statements of permission.

    The objection may be briefly and loosely stated as follows. Suppose God has placed infinitely many apples a1, a2, a3, ... in Alternative Eden and tells Eve (for some reason, this is not mentioned in the Bible) :

    You may eat infinitely many of the apples a1, a2, a3, ....

    What then is Eve permitted to do?

    She might initially have thought that she is permitted to eat all of the apples, say, or all but one, or every other apple, and so on. But whatever her other failings, she is not lacking in logical acumen. She realizes that eating infinitely many of the apples a1, a2, a3, ... is logically equivalent to eating infinitely many of the apples a0, a1, a2, a3,..., where a0 happens to be the apple from the Tree of Knowledge in Original Eden and so, she reasons, if the truth of permission claims is preserved under the substitution of logical equivalents, as it should be under a possible worlds account, then God might just as well have said:

    You may eat infinitely many of the applies a0, a1, a2, a3, ....

    But if God has said this she would have been permitted to eat the Forbidden Fruit in combination with an infinite selection of the other apples; and so she goes ahead and eats the Forbidden Fruit.

    Yet clearly, there is nothing in God’s initial statement of permission that actually justifies Eve in eating the Forbidden Fruit, as she soon discovers to her dismay." (pp. 317-318)


    Fine, Kit 2012a. "Counterfactuals Without Possible Worlds", Journal of Philosophy 109, 221-246.

  32. ———. 2015. "Unified Foundations for Essence and Ground." Journal of the American Philosophical Association no. 1:296-315.

    "There are, I believe, two different kinds of explanation or determination to be found in metaphysics - one of identity, or of what something is, and the other of truth, or of why something is so. One may explain what singleton Socrates is, for example, by saying that it is the set whose sole member is Socrates and one may explain why, or that in virtue of which, singleton Socrates exists by appeal to the existence of Socrates. One might talk, in connection with the first, of essence, of what singleton Socrates essentially is and, in connection with the second, of ground, of what grounds the existence of singleton Socrates. (1)

    Of course, explanations of identity and of truth also occur outside of metaphysics, but what is characteristic of their occurrence within metaphysics is the especially tight connection between explanandum and explanans. Being a set whose sole member is Socrates is somehow constitutive of what Socrates is; and Socrates’ existing is somehow constitutive of the existence of singleton Socrates. It is perhaps hard to say in general what constitutes a constitutive explanation but it is at least required, in any case of a constitutive explanation, that there should be metaphysically necessary connection between explanandum and explanans. Given that singleton Socrates is essentially a set whose sole member is Socrates, then it is metaphysically necessary that the set is one whose sole member is Socrates; and given that Socrates existence grounds the existence of singleton Socrates, it will be metaphysically necessary if Socrates exists that his singleton exists." (p. 296)


    "My present view is that the relationship between the two kinds of explanation is much closer than I had originally taken it to be. The decisive step towards achieving the desired rapprochement is to see both kinds of explanation as having a generic, as well as a specific, bearing on the objects with which they deal; they must be allowed to have application to an arbitrary individual of a given kind and not just to specific individuals of that kind. Once this step is taken, the initial disparities between essence and ground disappear and we are able to provide a unified and uniform account of the two notions. I had previously referred to essence and ground as the pillars upon which the edifice of metaphysics rests (Fine [2012], p. 80], but we can now see more clearly how the two notions complement one another in providing support for the very same structure." (p. 297)

    (1) I should like to thank the members of audiences at Birmingham, Oxford and Oslo for many helpful comments. The present paper is a companion to my paper ‘Identity Criteria and Ground’ and the reader may find it helpful, if not essential, to have the other paper at hand. I should note that Correia [2014] attempts to provide unified foundations, of a very different sort, in terms of an underlying notion of factual identity.

    There has been a growing literature on essence and ground in the recent philosophical literature. My own work on essence dates back to Fine [1994]; and a useful reference on ground is the anthology of Correia & Schnieder [2012].


    Correia F. & Schnieder B. (eds.), [2012] ‘ Metaphysical Grounding’, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Correia F. [2014] ‘Identity, Essence and Ground’, slides for a talk.

    Fine K., [1994] ‘Essence and Modality’, in Philosophical Perspectives 8 (ed. J. Tomberlin) as the Nous Casteneda Memorial Lecture, pp. 1-16, (1994); reprinted in ‘ The Philosopher’s Annual' for 1994, volume 16, (ed. P. Grim), Stanford: CSLI; and reprinted in ‘ Metaphysics: An Anthology’ (2nd edition), eds. J. Kim, D. Korman, E. Sosa, Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell (2011).

    Fine K., [2012] ‘Guide to Ground’ in ‘ Metaphysical Grounding’ (eds. B. Schnieder & F. Correia), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 8-25 pp.; reprinted online in ‘ Philosophers Annual’ for 2012 (eds. P. Grim, C. Armstrong, P. Shirreff, N-H Stear).

    Fine K., [2014] ‘Identity Criteria and Ground’, to appear in Philosophical Studies. [vol. 173, 2016, pp. 1-19]

  33. ———. 2016. "Angellic Content." Journal of Philosophical Logic.

    Not yet published: Available online on the Springer website.

    "In a number of publications dating from 1977, Angell developed various systems of analytic entailment. The intended interpretation of a statement A → B of analytic entailment is that the content of B should be part of the content of A, and a guiding principle behind the understanding of partial content is that the content of A and of B should each be part of the content of A ∧ B but that the content of A ∨ B should not in general be part of the content of either A or B. Thus partial content cannot be understood as classical consequence or even as relevant consequence under its more usual interpretation.

    Quite independently of Angell’s work, I had attempted to develop a semantics for partial content in terms of truthmakers. It was taken to be an intuitive requirement on a truthmaker, or verifier, for a given statement that the verifier should be relevant to the truth of the statement and I had thought that one might take the analytic entailment A → B to hold if every verifier for A contained a verifier for B and if every verifier for B was contained in a verifier for A.

    I was naturally interested in the resulting logic of entailment.

    Much to my surprise, I discovered that the resulting logic coincided with the first degree fragment of Angell’s system. Under the proposed account of partial content, his system exactly captures the logic of partial content, once the content of a statement is identified with a suitable set of verifiers."


    "The paper has 10 sections in all. I detail the systems of analytic entailment to be considered (§1). I provide an outline of the truthmaker semantics (§2), give a definition of containment as a relation between contents (§3), and relate containment to the notion of subject-matter (§4). I establish soundness (§5) and then establish completeness by means of disjunctive normal forms (§§6-7). I consider two alternative semantics for the system, one in terms of falsifiers as well as verifiers (§8), and the other in terms of a many-valued logic (§9). I conclude by briefly considering some of the ways in which the system might be extended (§10)."


    Angell R. B., [1977] ‘Three Systems of First Degree Entailment’, Journal of Symbolic Logic, v. 47, p. 147.

    Angell R. B. [1989] ‘Deducibility, Entailment and Analytic Containment’, chapter 8 of Norman and Sylvan [1989], pp. 119 - 144.

    Angell R. B. [2002] A-Logic, University Press of America.

    Norman J., Sylvan R. (eds) [1989] ‘ Directions in Relevant Logic’, Dordrecht: Kluwer.

  34. ———. 2016. "The Possibility of Vagueness." Synthese:1-27.

    Not yet published: available on lineon the Springer website.

    "I wish in this paper to propose a new approach to the topic of vagueness. It is different from the supervaluational approach, which I had previously advocated in Fine [1975], and from all other approaches in the literature of which I am aware. There are two principal respects in which it differs from previous approaches: one concerns the global character of vagueness, of how vagueness relates to a whole range of cases and not merely to a single case; the other concerns the logical character of vagueness, of how it is capable of being conveyed by logical means alone. And so let me say a little more about these two features of the view before proceeding to the account itself. (1)

    In order to explain the global character of vagueness, we need to make a distinction that is rarely made or even acknowledged. Take a vague predicate such as ‘bald’. Then we may talk of its vagueness, or indeterminacy, in application to a range of cases. Consider a sorites series, for example, that begins with a completely bald man at one end and proceeds through gradual increments to a very hairy man at the other end. Then we may correctly say that the predicate ‘bald’ is indeterminate, i.e. not completely determinate, in its application to the members of the series. But it also appears as if we may sensibly talk of the indeterminacy in the application of the predicate to a single case. Consider someone in the middle of the sorites series, for example.

    Then it looks as if we might correctly take the predicate to be indeterminate in its application to this particular man. (2)"

    (1) The ideas behind this paper were first presented in a seminar on vagueness that I gave at NYU in the Fall of 2008. I should like to thank the participants - including Hartry Field, Stephen Schiffer and Crispin Wright - for many helpful comments. I should also like to thank the audiences at talks I gave at Austin Texas, Texas A&M and MIT for their comments; and I am, in addition, indebted to Robbie Williams and John Hawthorne for some stimulating conversations.

    The paper provides a very brief exposition of the basic ideas; and I hope to give a much fuller exposition of both the philosophical and logical aspects of the theory elsewhere.

    (2) I should make clear that I am only interested in the extensional notion of indeterminacy, indeterminacy in so far as it relates to the actual rather than possible application of the predicate; and, for simplicity, I have focused on the vagueness of predicates, although the discussion is readily extended to other forms of expression.


    Fine K., [1975] ‘Vagueness, Truth and Logic’, Synthese 30 (April-May 1975), 265-300; reprinted in ' Vagueness: A Reader' (eds. Keefe and Smith), Boston: MIT University Press, 1996.

  35. ———. 2016. "Identity Criteria and Ground." Philosophical Studies no. 173:1-19.

    "Philosophers often look for criteria of identity or think they are not to be found. They may ask for a criterion of identity for sets, for example, or for propositions, or for persons across time, or for individuals across possible worlds. And in response to such requests, they have said such things as: a criterion of identity for sets is their having the same members; or a criterion of identity for persons across time is their psychological continuity. (1)

    But what are these philosophers asking for when they ask for such criteria? I shall argue that the usual way of construing these questions is seriously misguided. I shall also propose an alternative - and, I hope, preferable - way of construing these questions and shall briefly indicate its significance for our more general understanding of metaphysical explanation. In what follows, I shall often use the criteria of identity for sets and for persons as examples. But it is important to bear in mind that they are just that, examples, and that the points I make concerning them are meant to apply, across the board, to all identity criteria." (p. 1)

    (1) 1I should like to thank Ted Sider, Fatema Amijee and Martin Glazier for their very helpful written comments and members of the audiences at Austin, Birmingham, CUNY, Oberlin, Oxford and Oslo for many helpful oral comments.


These essays are available at

  1. Fine, Kit. 2010. "The Structure of Joint Intention (Draft)."1-50.

    "The topics of joint intention and response dependence are not normally thought to be connected. But it is my belief that that there are problems concerning the very possibility of joint intention that can only be satisfactorily resolved by providing a response dependent account of what it is. Our having a joint intention will in part be realized by our responding to it as a joint intention.

    I shall begin by outlining the problems and then consider various attempted solutions to them. None of them turns out to be satisfactory. I shall then outline a theory of response dependent concepts and show how it is able to solve the problems and provide a satisfactory account of joint attention. I conclude by briefly considering the application of the theory of response dependence to other topics in social philosophy, including the prisoners’ dilemma and the concept of law.

    The paper was hurriedly written and very rough. Many important topics are barely discussed and some are not even mentioned. But I hope I have said enough to make clear how a number of issues concerning joint intention can be put on a firmer footing and how a theory of response dependence can be of help in resolving them." (p. 1)

  2. ———. 2012. "Comments on Alasdair Urquhart’s ‘Fine on Arbitrary Objects'."1-5.

    "Alasdair Urquhart’s paper (*) is a wonderful mix of observations on the theory of arbitrary objects, ranging over a number of historical, logical and philosophical aspects of the theory. I was especially interested in what he had to say about the evolving conception of variables in the history of mathematics and, in the light of my own previous somewhat casual remarks on the topic, I would now like to follow up on his discussion.

    Urquhart considers three possible proponents of arbitrary objects from the history of mathematics - Newton, Euler and Czuber. I largely agree with Urquhart about Newton and, in particular, with his view that Newton’s ‘variables v, x, y, z stand for quantities with a hidden or concealed parameter’ and that ‘we should resist the temptation to identifying Newton’s notion with the modern notion of a function’ (p. 8). However, I am not sure I altogether agree with what Urquhart says about Euler and Czuber; and so let me say something about each of these in turn." (p. 1)

    (*) A. Urquhart, [2012]. ‘Fine on Arbitrary Objects', paper read at the Colloquim Metaphysics, Meaning, and Modality. Themes from Kit Fine, Bucarest, 201 My 2012.

  3. ———. 2012. "Constructing the Impossible."1-22.

    "A number of philosophers have flirted with the idea of impossible worlds and some have even become enamored of it. But I think it is fair to say that it has not met with the same degree of acceptance as the more familiar idea of a possible world. Whereas possible worlds have played a broad role in specifying the semantics for natural language and for a wide range of formal languages, impossible worlds have had a much more limited role; and there has not even been general agreement as to how a reasonable theory of impossible worlds is to be developed or applied." (p. 1)


    "I begin with an exposition of a standard approach to truthmaker semantics, using possible states in place of possible worlds (§1). I go on to describe a key construction, analogous to the extension of the rationals to the reals, for extending a space of possible states to one that also contains impossible states (§2). This has a number of advantages - mathematically and in theory and application - over the more usual approaches (§§3-4). I then describe another construction, somewhat analogous to the extension of the reals to the complex numbers, which provides further resources for countenancing the impossible and further applications (§5).

    I conclude with a lengthy formal appendix." (p. 3)

  4. ———. 2015. "Truthmaker Semantics."1-22.

    "My aim in the present chapter is to explain the basic framework of truthmaker or ‘exact’ semantics, an approach to semantics that has recently received a growing amount of interest, and then to discuss a number of different applications within philosophy and linguistics.

    Here is a list of contents:

    I. Theory

    1. Truthmakers in Metaphysics and Semantics

    2. Truthmaker Semantics and Truth-conditional Semantics

    3. Exact Verification

    4. State Spaces

    5. Sentential Semantics for Exact Verification

    6. Some Features and Consequences of the Semantics

    7. Quantifiers

    II. Applications

    1. The Logic of Partial Content

    2. Subject-matter

    3. Counterfactuals

    4. Imperatives

    5. Scalar Implicature" (p. 1)

  5. ———. 2015. "Yablo on Subject-Matter."1-40.

    "Yablo’s book (*) is one of the most impressive contributions to the philosophy of language in recent decades and a remarkable achievement in its own right. In his book, Yablo develops in rigorous fashion a highly original theory of subject matter and shows how it has important applications to a wide variety of different fields. There is not a topic upon which he touches which is not illuminated by his incisive and insightful observations; and the pages of the book are suffused throughout with a warmth and wit, which one would have thought impossible to achieve on such a dry and abstract topic.


    I begin by presenting the general framework within which we both operate (§1). This involves taking seriously the idea that statements are made true by states or situations, rather than whole worlds. I then discuss the behavior, nature and role of subject matter, quite apart from any particular account of the notion (§§2-3). I turn next to particular accounts, first presenting a general framework within which they might be located (§4) and then considering the connection between positive/ negative subject matter and overall subject matter (§5) and the connection between relational and partition-like accounts of subject matter (§6). I turn finally to three central applications of the theory of subject matter: the question of what it is for one proposition to be part of another (§7); the question of what it is for a proposition to be true of some subject matter or to be the restriction of some other proposition to that subject matter (§8), and the question of how one might interpret conditional ‘incrementally’ in terms of what must be added to the antecedent to get to the consequent (§9-10). I conclude with some brief methodological remarks concerning the relationship between the possible worlds and truthmaker approaches to semantics (§11).1" (p. 1)

    (*) Yablo S., [2014] ‘ Aboutness’, Princeton: Princeton University Press.

  6. ———. 2015. "Williamson on Fine on Prior."1-18.

    "This book (*) is a tour de force - comprehensive in its scope, brilliant in its argumentation, and startling in its conclusions. It merits discussion on a wide range of different fronts, but I hope I can be forgiven for focusing on chapter 7 of the book, in which Williamson criticizes my attempt to carry out Prior’s project of reducing possibilist discourse to actualist discourse.

    My response is in three main parts. I begin by discussing what the reductive project should be.

    Williamson and I disagree on this question and, although it is not important for the evaluation of my own reductive proposal, it is important for a broader understanding of the metaphysical issues at stake. I then discuss and evaluate Williamson’s criticisms of my original reductive proposal. Although I believe that these criticisms can to some extent be met, they point to the need for a more satisfactory and less contentious form of reduction. Finally, I lay out the new proposed reduction; it is based on the idea of

    finding a general way of extending a reduction of first order discourse to higher order discourse.

    The main technical innovation of the paper is the introduction of the suppositional calculus, which I hope may be of some independent interest quite apart from its connection with the present reductive project. Although I have not attempted to be rigorous, I hope it is clear from my informal remarks how a more rigorous treatment might proceed." (p. 1)


    Williamson, T. [2013], Modal Logic as Metaphysics, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  7. ———. 2015. "Mathematics and the Method of Abstraction."1-10.

    Public Lecture.

    It is a familiar thought that mathematics derives from abstraction.


    Abstraction may be a familiar idea but it is also vague. What exactly is abstraction?

    From what do we abstract? To what do we abstract? And how do we get from the one to the other?

    These are questions which have been discussed since the beginning of mathematics and philosophy. But what I want to consider is the discussion of the questions in a particular period and by a particular group of people. The period was the end of the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century. And the people in question were mathematicians who had a strong interest in foundational issues. They were not only concerned to do mathematics but also to put the subject on a firm foundation. All of the mathematicians involved - with one or two exceptions - were German. I do not know whether or not this was accidental, though it does speak to the great contribution that German mathematicians were then making to their subject." (p. 1)

  8. ———. 2015. "A Theory of Truth-Conditional Content I: Conjunction, Disjunction and Negation."1-40.

    "The semantic content of a statement is often taken to be its truth-conditional content, as constituted by the conditions under which it is true. But there are somewhat different ways to understand what these truth-conditions are. On the clausal approach, especially associated with the name of Davidson, the truth-conditions of a statement are not entities as such but the clauses by which a truth-theory specifies when a statement is true. On the objectual approach, by contrast, the truth-conditions are objects, rather than clauses, which stand in a relation of truthmaking to the statements they make true.

    Under the most familiar version of the objectual approach, the truth-conditions of a statement are taken to be possible worlds and the content of a statement may, accordingly, be identified with the set of possible worlds in which it is true. Under a somewhat less familiar version of the entity-based approach, the truth-conditions are not - or not, in general - possible worlds but possible states or situations - fact-like entities that make up a world rather than the worlds themselves; and the content of a statement may, in this case, be identified with the set of verifying states or situations in which it is true.

    In this paper I pursue the last of these options. However, my understanding of what it is for a state to verify a statement is somewhat unusual. It is often supposed that verification is monotonic; if a state verifies a statement then so does any more comprehensive state. But on the account that I wish to adopt, this will not be generally true. For it is to be a general requirement on verification that a verifier should be relevant as a whole to the statement that it verifies; and in extending a verifier with additional material, this holistic relevance of the verifier to the statement may be lost." (p. 1)

  9. ———. 2015. "A Theory of Truth-Conditional Content II: Subject-matter, Common Content, Remainder and Ground."1-25.

    "We continue with the development of the theory of truth-conditional content begun in part I, dealing with such ‘non-standard’ topics as subject matter, common content, logical remainder and ground. This is by no means an exhaustive list of topics that might have been considered but it does provide an indication of the nature and scope of the theory. As before, the paper is divided into an informal exposition and a technical addendum. Both can be read independently of the other but it would be helpful, in either case, to have the first part at hand.

    One feature of great interest in the present account is that it deals with a number of the topics that lack an adequate treatment either within the possible worlds account or under a structural conception of propositions. The notion of common content, for example, can be readily handled within the present framework but cannot be properly handled in the other two frameworks without either introducing or deriving something like the present conception of verification. Thus we should not simply regard the present ‘extensional’ conception of content as a mere approximation to a structural conception but as an important conception in its own right." (p. 1)

  10. ———. 2015. "A Theory of Partial Truth."1-24.

    "I develop a theory of partial truth within the framework of truth-conditional content developed in two earlier papers (Fine [2015a] and [2015b]). It will be helpful, though not essential, to have these two other papers at hand, and especially the first, while reading the present paper. The paper should have interest both as an account of partial truth and as a partial vindication of the truth-conditional framework within which it is developed. For without something like the present framework, it is hard to see how a reasonable alternative account of partial truth might be developed. The concept of partial truth is intimately related to the concept of partial content, since we naturally suppose that a proposition is partially true when some part of it is true. The connection between the two concepts can also be put to work in the opposite direction, since we may provide a semantics for the logic of partial content by appeal to partial truth (as in §9 of Fine [2015]).

    There is also a close connection with the concept of verisimilitude. For a proposition will be partially true when it has ‘more truth’ than a proposition that is not partially true; and the investigation of the concept of partial truth may, in fact, serve as a useful prolegomena to the investigation of the more complicated concept of verisimilitude.


    I begin with an informal introduction to some of the main ideas and conclude with a formal appendix. The introduction and appendix can in principle be read in isolation from the other though they are best read together. The most extensive previous treatment of the topic that I know of is in Humbersone [2003]; and a related account of partial truth is given in §1.3 of [2014]. The major difference from Humberstone is that he stipulates the truth-tables for a logic of partial truth while I derive them from an underlying account of partial truth; and the major difference from Yablo is that I provide an account of partial truth directly in terms of truthmakers and not indirectly through the notion of partial content." (p. 1)


    Fine K. [2014] ‘Truthmaker Semantics for Intuitionistic Logic’, Journal of Philosophical Logic 43.2, pp. 549-77 (2014); reprinted in Philosophers’ Annual for 2014.

    Fine K., [2015a] ‘A Theory of Truth-Conditional Content - I’, to appear

    Fine K., [2015b] ‘A Theory of Truth-Conditional Content - II’, to appear

    Fine K., [2015c] ‘Angellic Content’, to appear

    Humberstone L., [2003] ‘False Though Partly True - An Experiment in Logic’, Journal of Philosophical Logic 32: 613-665.

    Yablo S., [2014] ‘ Aboutness’, Princeton: Princeton University Press.

  11. ———. 2015. "The Sorites."1-20.

    "No treatment of vagueness is complete without an account of the sorites argument. This argument, in a familiar form, starts with the premiss that a given man (with no hairs on his head) is bald, it proceeds to the intermediate conclusion that a man with very slightly fewer hairs on his head is bald, given the assumption that a slight difference in the number of cranial hairs can make no difference to whether someone is bald, and it then proceeds, by a large number of further steps of this sort, to the final conclusion that a man with a full head of hair is bald, which is clearly absurd." (p. 1)

  12. ———. 2015. "The World of Truthmaking."1-42.

    Abstract: "We consider some of the different ways to develop a semantics in which statements are evaluated at partial possibilities rather than possible worlds; we explore the question of how these different semantical schemes are related; and we argue for the surprising conclusion that classical logic can only be properly accommodated within such a semantics by allowing possible worlds to be among the partial possibilities."

  13. ———. 2015. "Indeterminate Identity, Personal Identity and Fission."1-22.

    "I have recently developed a new approach to vagueness and, in this paper, I wish to show how this approach applies to ontic indeterminacy - or vagueness in the world. Although the supervaluational approach, which I previously endorsed in Fine [1975], is often associated with a representational conception of indeterminacy - vagueness in language or thought, it is worth noting that I have always been sympathetic to the idea of ontic indeterminacy. Thus in footnote 10 of the earlier paper, I write ‘Philosophers have been unduly dismissive over intrinsically vague entities.’ I am therefore especially pleased that the present approach is not only able to rehabilitate the ontic conception of indeterminacy but to rehabilitate it in such a way as to make it continuous with the more usual representational conception of indeterminacy. (1)" (p. 1)

    (1) For recent discussion of the general topic, the reader might like to consult the collection of papers in Akiba K., Abasnezhab A. [2014].


    Akiba K., Abasnezhab A. [2014] ' Vague Objects and Vague Identity. New Essays on Ontic Vagueness' Dordrecht: Springer, 2014.

    Fine K., [1975] ‘Vagueness, Truth and Logic’, Synthese 30 (April-May 1975), 265-300; reprinted in ‘ Vagueness: A Reader’ (eds. Keefe and Smith), Boston: MIT University Press, 1997.

  14. ———. 2015. "Compliance and Command I - Categorical Imperatives."1-23.

    "The main aim of this series of papers is to develop a truthmaker semantics for the logic of imperative and deontic sentences. The first part deals with categorical imperative sentences, the second with deontic sentences and their interplay with categorical imperative sentences, and the third part with the interplay between indicative, imperative and deontic sentences and with conditional imperative and deontic sentences in particular. It would be helpful, though not strictly necessary, to have some standard exposition of truthmaker semantics at hand (such as Fine [2015]). I have for the most part been content with informal exposition but the reader may consult the appendix for some technical detail." (p. 1)


    Fine K. [2015] ‘Angellic Content’, to appear in Journal of Philosophical Logic, I-28 (2015).

  15. ———. 2015. "Compliance and Command II - Imperatives and Deontics."1-23.

    "In this part of the paper, I am interested in providing a semantics and logic for deontic sentences and working out their connection with the previous semantics and logic for imperatives.


    The plan of the paper is as follows. I begin by making some distinctions and stipulations which will be useful in the rest of the paper (§1); I introduce and explain the key notion of a code of conduct, relative to which deontic formulas are to be be interpreted (§2); I give the clauses for when a deontic formula is true or false relative to a code of conduct (§3) and spell out some of the consequences of these clauses, especially in regard to the contrast with the standard possible worlds semantics for deontic logic (§4); I consider various ways of reformulating the criterion of validity for deontic formulas and point, in particular, to a very close connection between this criterion and the criterion of validity for imperative inference proposed in part I (§5); I consider some of the characteristic inferences that are or fail to be valid (§6) and outline a system of deontic logic within the truthmaker approach (§7); I show how one might deal with the problem of deontic updating within the truthmaker framework (§8); and I conclude with a brief formal appendix.

    I assume the reader is familiar with the basic material from part I, including the truthmaker semantics for imperatives and the definition of validity for imperative inference; and it would also be helpful for her to have some knowledge of the standard possible worlds

    semantics for deontic logic." (p. 1)