Tom Donaldson's Website: Research


What was James's Theory of Truth?

This one isn't finished yet - but email me if you're interested in seeing the current draft.

In the paper, I present my intepretation of Chapter VI of Pragmatism . To cut a long story short, my position is that the standard criticisms of James's position are unsuccessful. However, I think that few philosophers today will find James's theory of truth attractive - because his theory was entwined with his phenomenalism.

All things being well, this paper will be published in The Oxford Handbook of William James, edited by Alexander Klein .


Armstrong and Thomasson on Truthmaking and Arithmetic

Armstrong had three commitments that are not easy to square with one another:

Mathematical Anti-scepticism: Armstrong accepted that all the theorems of orthodox mathematics are true.
Truthmaker Maximalism: Armstrong believes that every truth has a truthmaker.
Naturalism: Armstrong claimed that "the world of space-time is all that there is".

In my paper I show that Armstrong's attempts to reconcile these three commitments failed.

I then develop my own reconciliation of the three principles, drawing heavily on the work of Amie Thomasson.

This paper isn't finished yet.


The (Metaphysical) Foundations of Arithmetic?

This one is forthoming in Noûs. Click here for a late draft.

Giddeon Rosen and Robert Schwartzkopff have independently suggested (variants of) the following claim:

When the number of Fs is identical to the number of Gs, this fact is grounded by the fact that there is a one-to-one correspondence between the Fs and Gs.

(Note: This is a variant of Hume's Principle)

My paper is a detailed critique of the proposal. I don't find any decisive refutation of the proposal. At the same time, it has some consequences which many will find objectionable.


A Trivialist's Travails

This is a discussion of Agustín Rayo's Trivialism.

Click here to see the final version.

Click here for a draft.


Reading the Book of the World

David Lewis introduced a distinction between 'natural' and 'unnatural' predicates. In Writing the Book of the World, Ted Sider argues that this distinction can be extended so that it applies to words of all semantic types. Just as there are natural predicates, there may be natural connectives, natural operators, natural singular terms and so on. According to Sider, one of our goals as metaphysicians should be to identify the natural words. Sider claims that there is a natural first-order quantifier. I argue that this claim is not justified; we currently have no way of knowing if there is a natural first-order quantifier. The discussion of the first-order quantifiers is used to provide some motivation for a general scepticism about Sider's project. Shamik Dasgupta's 'generalism' and Jason Turner's critique of 'ontological nihilism' are also discussed.

Click here for the final version of the paper, in Philosophical Studies.

Click here for a late draft.


If there were no numbers, what would you think?

My shortest paper: I point out what I take to be an error in Hartry Field's discussions of the 'reliability problem' for platonists in the philosophy of mathematics.

Click here to see the paper, in Thought.

Click here for a late draft.


Platitudes in Mathematics

Anthony Eagle has suggested that mathematical axioms can be justified by Canberra-Plan-style "conceptual analysis". In this paper, I discuss the proposal. I focus on the question of how platitudinous statements in mathematics are distinguished from non-platitudinous statements. My conclusion: "The supposed boundary between platitudes and non-platitudes, like a boundary-line on a pointillist painting, disappears when one looks closely."

Click here to see the final version of this paper, in Synthese .

Click here for a late draft.


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