Jonathan Schaffer

I am a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Rutgers University, New Brunswick.

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My research focuses on metaphysics, but strays into epistemology, language, mind, and science.





  1. Naturalistic Dualism and the Problem of the Physical Correlate (available on request), Grounding and Consciousness, ed. Rabin (forthcoming): Oxford
    Synopsis: The physical correlate of consciousness is not fundamental, so there cannot be fundamental laws of psychophysics
    Topics: Consciousness, Lawhood

  2. Ground Functionalism Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Mind (forthcoming)
    Synopsis: Minds are made by dancing; proposal for a ground-theoretic functionalism
    Topics: Consciousness, Grounding

  3. Taking Causing Out of Bennett's Making Things Up Inquiry (forthcoming)
    Synopsis: Critical discussion of Bennett's book, focusing on her claim that causation is a building relation
    Topics: Grounding, Causation

  4. Heavy Ontology, Light Ideology (down for reconstruction)
    Synopsis: Heavy ontology needs a distinguished domain not heavy ideology
    Topics: Meta-metaphysics, Quantification

  5. Confessions of a Schmentencite: Towards an Explicit Semantics Inquiry (forthcoming)
    Synopsis: Semantics works better with explicit variables rather than index parameters
    Topics: Semantics, Propositions

  6. Folk Teleology Drives Persistence Judgments (with David Rose and Kevin Tobia) draft of 8/9/18, Synthese (forthcoming)
    Synopsis: Causal models show that folk judgments of persistence are driven by teleological considerations
    Topics: Experimental philosophy, Persistence, Folk metaphysics

  7. Anchoring as Grounding: On Epstein's The Ant Trap Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 99 (2019): 749-67
    Synopsis: Critical discussion of Epstein's book, focusing on his distinction between anchoring and grounding
    Topics: Grounding, Social ontology
  8. Laws for Metaphysical Explanation Philosophical Issues 27 (2017), 302-21
    Synopsis: Argument that metaphysical explanation requires laws of metaphysics, concluding with a functional conception of laws
    Topics: Grounding, Explanation, Laws
  9. Social Construction as Grounding; Or: Fundamentality for Feminists, a Reply to Barnes and Mikkola Philosophical Studies 174 (2017): 2449-65
    Synopsis: Reply to Barnes's and Mikkola's criticisms that grounding undermines feminist metaphysics, claiming that grounding helps clarify the idea of social construction
    Topics: Grounding, Feminism, Social ontology

  10. The Ground Between the Gaps Philosophers' Imprint 17 (2017), 1-26
    Synopsis: Grounding meets zombies! Argument that explanatory gaps are everywhere, and bridged by grounding principles
    Topics: Grounding, Consciousness 

  11. Quantum Holism: Nonseparability as Common Ground (with Jenann Ismael) final draft, Synthese (forthcoming)
    Synopsis: Attempt to clarify a rationale and meaning for quantum holism
    Topics: Quantum mechanics, Grounding, Monism

  12. Cause without Default (with Thomas Blanchard) Making a Difference, eds. Beebee, Hitchcock, and Price (2017), 175-214: Oxford 
    Synopsis: Critical discussion of the Menzies-Hall-Halpern-Hitchcock idea that causal models need to be supplemented with a default/deviant distinction
    Topics: Causation

  13. Derivative Properties in Fundamental Laws (with Michael Townsen Hicks) British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (2017), 411-50
    Synopsis: Argument that physics routinely invokes derivative properties, in ways supporting deflationary conceptions of lawhood
    Topics: Fundamentality, Lawhood

  14. Folk Mereology is Teleological (with David Rose), Noûs 51 (2017), 238-70; expanded versionExperimental Metaphysics, ed. Rose: Bloomsbury (2017), 135-86
    Synopsis: Experimental results suggesting that people think that composition occurs when the plurality has a purpose, and supporting a dismissive take on folk intuitions
    Topics: Experimental philosophy, Mereology, Folk metaphysics

  15. Ground Rules: Lessons from Wilson Scientific Composition and Metaphysical Ground, eds. Aizawa and Gillett (2016), 143-70: Palgrave
    Synopsis: Reply to Wilson's critique of grounding, claiming that structural equation models provide a more informative conception of grounding
    Topics: Grounding

  16. It is the Business of Laws to Govern Dialectica 70 (2016), 577-88
    Synopsis: There is no "Inference Problem" for non-Humeans about lawhood
    Topics: Lawhood, Humeanism

  17. Cognitive Science and Metaphysics: Partners in Debunking Alvin Goldman and his Critics, eds. Kornblith and McLaughlin (2016), 337-65: Wiley-Blackwell (to be reprinted in Metaphysics and Cognitive Science, eds. Goldman and McLaughlin: Oxford; also Tsingua Studies in Western Philosophy 3 (2017), 434-72)
    Synopsis: Discussion of the relevance of cognitive science to metaphysics, and the roles that both need to play in debunking intuitions
    Topics: Methodology, Meta-metaphysics
  18. Grounding in the Image of Causation Philosophical Studies 173 (2016), 49-100
    Synopsis: A formalism for grounding based on structural equation models
    Topics: Grounding, Causation

  19. What Not to Multiply without Necessity Australasian Journal of Philosophy 93 (2015), 644-64
    Synopsis: Argument that it is only fundamental entities that are not to be multiplied without necessity
    Topics: Meta-Metaphysics, Fundamentality

  20. Lewis on Knowledge Ascriptions A Companion to David Lewis, eds. Loewer and Schaffer (2015), 473-90: Wiley-Blackwell
    Synopsis: Critical discussion of Lewis's contextualist relevant alternatives theory
    Topics: Knowledge, Contextualism

  21. Knowledge, Stakes, and Mistakes (with Wesley Buckwalter) Noûs 49 (2015), 201-34
    Synopsis: Opinionated "state of the art" on experimental results about stakes, concluding that (all else equal) stakes do not affect knowledge ascription.
    Topics: Experimental philosophy, Subject-sensitive invariantism

  22. Epistemic Comparativism: A Contextualist Semantics for Knowledge Ascriptions (with Zoltán Gendler Szabó), Philosophical Studies 168 (2014), 491-543
    Synopsis: Attempt to provide a plausible semantics for epistemic contextualism, on the model of adverbial quantification
    Topics: Semantics, Contextualism, Contrastive knowledge

  23. Review of Sider's Writing the Book of the World Philosophical Review 123 (2014), 125-9
    Synopsis: Review of Sider's book, arguing that there is a mismatch between two senses of 'structure' 
    Topics: Meta-metaphysics, Grounding

  24. Knowledge Entails Dispositional Belief (with David Rose) Philosophical Studies 166 (2013), S19-S50
    Synopsis: Reply to Myers-Schulz and Schwitgebel's experimental results on knowledge without belief, and new results supporting entailment for dispositional belief
    Topics: Experimental philosophy, Knowledge, Belief

  25. Metaphysical Semantics Meets Multiple Realizability Analysis Reviews 73 (2013), 736-51
    Synopsis: Critical discussion of Sider's notion of metaphysical semantics, focusing on the multiple realizability of nonfundamental truths by fundamental facts
    Topics: Meta-metaphysics, Grounding

  26. The Action of the Whole Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 87 (2013), 67-87
    Synopsis: Argument that the cosmos is the one and only fundamental thing, since it is the one and only thing that evolves by the fundamental laws
    Topics: Monism, Substance

  27. Causal Contextualism Contrastivism in Philosophy, ed. Blaauw (2012), 35-63Routledge
    Synopsis: Argument that the context sensitivity of causal ascriptions is best understood in a contrastive framework
    Topics: Contextualism, Contrastive causation

  28. Contrastive Knowledge Surveyed (with Joshua Knobe), Noûs 46 (2012), 675-708
    Synopsis: Discussion of existing experimental results on knowledge ascriptions, and new results favoring a contrastive model
    Topics: Experimental philosophy, Contrastive knowledge

  29. Grounding, Transitivity, and Contrastivity Grounding and Explanation, eds. Correia and Schnieder (2012), 122-38: Cambridge
    Synopsis: Counterexamples to the transitivity of grounding, plus sketch of a contrastive resolution
    Topics: Grounding

  30. Why the World has Parts: Reply to Horgan & Potrc Spinoza on Monism, ed. Goff (2012), 77-91: Palgrave
    Synopsis: Reply to Horgan & Potrc's defense of existence monism over priority monism
    Topics: Monism

  31. Necessitarian Propositions Synthese 189 (2012), 119-62
    Synopsis: Is there any good reason to think that propositions are eternal (time-specific), which does not provide parallel reason to think that propositions are necessary (world-specific)?
    Topics: Semantics, Propositions

  32. Contrastive Knowledge: Reply to Baumann The Concept of Knowledge, ed. Tolksdorf (2012), 411-24: De Gruyter
    Synopsis: Reply to Baumann's critical discussion of my "Contrastive Knowledge" (headed by a short introductory piece called "What is Contrastivism?", 353-6)
    Topics: Contrastive knowledge

  33. Disconnection and Responsibility: On Moore's Causation and Responsibility Legal Theory 18 (2012), 399-435
    Synopsis: Critical discussion of Moore's book, focusing on the status of omissions
    Topics: Causation in the law, Absence causation

  34. Perspective in Taste Predicates and Epistemic Modals Epistemic Modality, eds. Egan and Weatherson (2011), 179-226: Oxford
    Synopsis: Defense of a contextualist view of taste predicates and epistemic modals
    Topics: Semantics, Contextualism

  35. Contrastive Causation in the Law Legal Theory 16 (2010), 259-97
    Synopsis: Application of the contrastive view of causation to causation in the law (with a focus on liability in common law)
    Topics: Contrastive causation, Causation in the law

  36. The Internal Relatedness of All Things Mind 119 (2010), 341-76
    Synopsis: Attempt to revive the core neo-Hegelian argument for monism, based on universal internal relatedness
    Topics: Monism

  37. Review of Price and Corry's Causation, Physics, and the Constitution of Reality Mind 119 (2010), 844-8
    Synopsis: Review of Price and Corry's anthology
    Topics: Causation

  38. The Debasing Demon Analysis 70 (2010), 228-37
    Synopsis: Discussion of skeptical doubts involving the basing requirement, imperiling even the Cartesian cogito
    Topics: Skepticism

  39. The Least Discerning and Most Promiscuous Truthmaker Philosophical Quarterly 60 (2010), 307-24
    Synopsis: Defense of the idea that the world is the one and only (ultimate) truthmaker
    Topics: Truthmaking, Monism

  40. Monism: The Priority of the Whole Philosophical Review 119.1 (2010), 31-76 (reprinted in Spinoza on Monism, ed. Goff (2012), 9-50: Palgrave)
    Synopsis: Discussion of the issue between (priority) monists and pluralists, and defense of (priority) monism
    Topics: Monism

  41. The Deflationary Metaontology of Thomasson's Ordinary Objects Philosophical Books 50.3 (2009), 142-57
    Synopsis: Critical discussion of Thomasson's book, arguing for a grounding-based metaontology (as in "On What Grounds What") over a deflationary metaontology
    Topics: Meta-metaphysics

  42. Spacetime the One Substance Philosophical Studies 145.1 (2009), 131-48
    Synopsis: Arguments for monistic substantivalism (supersubstantivalism) over dualistic substantivalism (substantival spacetime plus distinct material substances)
    Topics: Spacetime, Monism

  43. Knowing the Answer Redux: Replies to Brogaard and Kallestrup Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 78.2 (2009), 477-500
    Synopsis: Replies to Brogaard's and Kallestrup's critical discussions of my "Knowing the Answer"
    Topics: Contrastive knowledge, Knowledge-wh

  44. On What Grounds What Metametaphysics, eds. Chalmers, Manley, and Wasserman (2009), 347-83: Oxford (selected as one of the ten best articles published in philosophy in 2009 and reprinted by Philosopher’s Annual 29, eds. Grim, Charlow, Gallow, and Herold; also reprinted in Metaphysics: An Anthology, 2nd edition, eds. Kim, Korman, and Sosa (2011), 73-96: Blackwell.)
    Synopsis: Conception of metaphysics as primarily concerned with questions of grounding rather than existence
    Topics: Meta-metaphysics, Grounding

  45. Knowledge in the Image of Assertion Philosophical Issues 18.1 (2008), 1-19
    Synopsis: Stalnaker's view of the nature of assertion + Williamsons's knowledge account of assertion = my contrastive view of knowledge
    Topics: Assertion, Contrastive knowledge

  46. Truth and Fundamentality: On Merrick's Truth and Ontology Philosophical Books 49.4 (2008), 302-16
    Synopsis: Critical discussion of Merrick's book, arguing for an understanding of truthmaking via grounding rather than necessitation
    Topics: Truthmaking, Grounding

  47. The Contrast Sensitivity of Knowledge Ascriptions Social Epistemology 22.3 (2008), 235-45
    Synopsis: Can a binary (non-contrastive) account of knowledge explain the contrast sensitivity of knowledge ascriptions?
    Topics: Contrastive knowledge

  48. Review of Hüttemann's What's Wrong with Microphysicalism? British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 59.2 (2008), 253-7
    Synopsis: Review of Hüttemann's book, arguing that the main arguments support monism (macrophysicalism) rather than Hüttemann's own egalitarian view
    Topics: Physicalism, Monism

  49. Truthmaker Commitments Philosophical Studies 141.1 (2008), 7-19
    Synopsis: Distinction between existence commitments (understood through quantification) and fundamentality commitments (understood through truthmaking)
    Topics: Truthmaking, Ontological commitment

  50. Monism Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2007, last revised 2014)
    Synopsis: Overview of metaphysical monisms, and discussions of existence monism (exactly one thing exists) and priority monism (exactly one thing is fundamental)
    Topics: Monism

  51. Causation and Laws of Nature: Reductionism Contemporary Debates in Metaphysics, eds. Hawthorne, Sider, and Zimmerman (2007), 82-107: Blackwell
    Synopsis: Undergraduate level review of some main arguments for and against treating causation and laws as fundamental

    Topics: Causation, Lawhood, Humeanism

  52. Knowing the Answer Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 75.2 (2007), 383-403 (awarded APA Article Prize, 2008)
    Synopsis: Argument for a contrastive view of knowledge based on knowledge-wh constructions
    Topics: Contrastive knowledge, Knowledge-wh

  53. Review of Dowe and Noordhof's Cause and Chance: Causation in an Indeterministic World British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 58.4 (2007), 869-74
    Synopsis: Review of Dowe and Noordhof's anthology
    Topics: Causation

  54. From Nihilism to Monism Australasian Journal of Philosophy 85.2 (2007), 175-91 (awarded AJP Best Paper Award, 2008)
    Synopsis: Arguments that the mereological nihilist should prefer one big extended simple (existence monism) over many small simples
    Topics: Mereology, Monism

  55. Closure, Contrast, and Answer Philosophical Studies 133.2 (2007), 233-55
    Synopsis: How should a contrastivist understand epistemic closure?
    Topics: Contrastive knowledge, Epistemic closure

  56. Deterministic Chance? British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 58.2 (2007), 113-40
    Synopsis: Arguments that determinism is incompatible with robust objective chances (other than 0 or 1)
    Topics: Determinism, Chance

  57. The Irrelevance of the Subject: Against Subject-Sensitive Invariantism Philosophical Studies 127.1 (2006), 87-107
    Synopsis: Criticisms of subject-sensitive invariantism as an alternative to contextualism
    Topics: Subject-sensitive invariantism, Contextualism

  58. Contrastive Causation Philosophical Review 114.3 (2005), 327-58
    Synopsis: Defense of a (doubly) contrastive view of causation, on which causal relations have the form: c rather than C* causes e rather than E*
    Topics: Contrastive causation

  59. Contrastive Knowledge Oxford Studies in Epistemology 1, eds. Gendler and Hawthorne (2005), 235-71: Oxford (reprinted in The Concept of Knowledge, ed. Tolksdorf (2012), 357-94: De Gruyter)
    Synopsis: Defense of, a contrastive view of knowledge, on which the knowledge relation has the form: s knows that p rather than q
    Topics: Contrastive knowledge

  60. What Shifts? Thresholds, Standards, or Alternatives? Contextualism in Philosophy, eds. Preyer and Peter (2005), 115-30: Oxford
    Synopsis: Arguments that contextualists should work with relevant alternatives rather than thresholds for justification (Cohen) or distance of tracking (DeRose)
    Topics: Contextualism

  61. Quiddistic Knowledge Philosophical Studies 123.1-2 (2005), 1-32 (reprinted in Lewisian Themes: The Philosophy of David K. Lewis, eds. Jackson and Priest (2004), 210-30: Oxford)
    Synopsis: Is the relation between properties and powers contingent or necessary, and if contingent how can we know what the properties are?
    Topics: Properties, Knowledge

  62. From Contextualism to Contrastivism Philosophical Studies 119.1 (2004), 73-103
    Synopsis: Arguments for a contrastive view of knowledge as resolving problems for (indexicalist) contextualism
    Topics: Contextualism, Contrastive Knowledge

  63. Causes Need Not be Physically Connected to their Effects: The Case for Negative Causation Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Science, ed. Hitchcock (2004), 197-216: Blackwell
    Synopsis: Arguments for absence causation (extending my earlier "Causation by Disconnection")
    Topics: Absence causation

  64. Counterfactuals, Causal Independence, and Conceptual Circularity Analysis 64.4 (2004), 299-309
    Synopsis: Sketch of a Lewisian view of counterfactuals with causal information in the similarity metric, and discussion of whether any problematic circularity looms
    Topics: Counterfactuals, Conceptual analysis

  65. Two Conceptions of Sparse Properties Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 85.1 (2004), 92-102
    Synopsis: Are the sparse properties the fundamental properties or the scientific (including higher-level) properties?
    Topics: Properties

  66. Of Ghostly and Mechanical Events Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 68.1 (2004), 230-44
    Synopsis: Critical discussion of Pietroski's Causing Actions, defending a non-reductive layered metaphysics
    Topics: Philosophy of Mind, Reductionism

  67. Skepticism, Contextualism, and Discrimination Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 69.1 (2004), 138-55 (awarded Young Epistemologist Prize, 2002)
    Synopsis: Argument that skepticism plus Gricean mechanisms (involving hyperbole) can explain knowledge ascriptions better than Lewisian contextualism
    Topics: Skepticism, Contextualism

  68. The Metaphysics of Causation Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2003, last revised 2016)
    Synopsis: Overview of metaphysical issues concerning the causal relata and the causal relation
    Topics: Causation

  69. Is There a Fundamental Level? Noûs 37.3 (2003), 498-517
    Synopsis: Defense of the possibility of gunk and discussion of its reprecussions for reductive metaphysics
    Topics: Mereology, Reductionism

  70. Overdetermining Causes Philosophical Studies 114.1 (2003), 23-45
    Synopsis: Arguments that each individual overdetermining factor is causal
    Topics: Causation, Overdetermination

  71. The Problem of Free Mass: Must Properties Cluster? Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 66.1 (2003), 125-38
    Synopsis: Can a thing have mass but no other property? The question of whether there are necessary connections between properties
    Topics: Properties

  72. Principled Chances British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 54.2 (2003), 27-41
    Synopsis: Account of chance that is Humean, while avoiding undermining and allowing non-zero chances to be realizable (but is not quite the quantity found in the laws, and is not stable across duplicate trials)
    Topics: Chance, Humeanism

  73. Perceptual Knowledge Derailed Philosophical Studies 112.1 (2003), 31-45
    Synopsis: Arguments that tracking theories of knowledge cannot handle perceptual knowledge
    Topics: Knowledge, Perception

  74. Causes as Probability-Raisers of Processes Journal of Philosophy 98.2 (2001), 75-92
    Synopsis: Proposed analysis of causation via raising the probability of the effect-process, attempting to synthesize probability-raising and process-linkage views
    Topics: Causation

  75. Causation, Influence, and Effluence Analysis 61.4 (2001), 11-19
    Synopsis: Criticism of Lewis's influence account of causation
    Topics: Causation

  76. The Individuation of Tropes Australasian Journal of Philosophy 79.2 (2001), 247-57
    Synopsis: Argument that trope theorists should individuate tropes by location
    Topics: Tropes

  77. Knowledge, Relevant Alternatives, and Missed Clues Analysis 61.3 (2001), 202-08
    Synopsis: Counterexample to Lewis's account of knowledge (perhaps best resolved by a requirement of properly based belief)
    Topics: Causation

  78. Review of Dowe's Physical Causation British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 52.4 (2001), 809-13
    Synopsis: Review of Dowe's book
    Topics: Causation

  79. Causation by Disconnection Philosophy of Science 67.2 (2000), 285-300 (awarded Philosophy of Science Recent Ph.D. Essay Contest, 2001)
    Synopsis: Argument for a specific sort of absence causation, making trouble for process-linkage accounts of causation
    Topics: Causation, Absence causation

  80. Overlappings: Probability-Raising without Causation Australasian Journal of Philosophy 78.1 (2000), 40-46
    Synopsis: Counterexample to the sufficiency of probability-raising accounts of causation
    Topics: Causation

  81. Trumping Preemption Journal of Philosophy 97.4 (2000), 165-181 (reprinted in Causation and Counterfactuals, eds. Collins, Hall, and Paul (2004), 59-73: MIT Press)
    Synopsis: A special sort of preemption counterexample to counterfactual accounts of causation
    Topics: Causation