Jonathan Schaffer

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

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

(I'm the one with the glasses.)




  1. Heavy Ontology, Light Ideology draft of 2/6/18
    Synopsis: Heavy ontology needs a distinguished domain not heavy ideology
    Topics: Meta-metaphysics, Quantification

  2. 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

  3. Folk Teleology Drives Persistence Judgments (with David Rose and Kevin Tobia) draft of 8/2/17
    Synopsis: Causal models show that folk judgments of persistence are driven by teleological considerations
    Topics: Experimental philosophy, Persistence, Folk metaphysics

  4. Anchoring as Grounding: On Epstein's The Ant Trap draft of 12/30/17, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research (forthcoming)
    Synopsis: Critical discussion of Epstein's book, focusing on his distinction between anchoring and grounding
    Topics: Grounding, Social ontology
  5. 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

  6. 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 

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. 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

  12. 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

  13. 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
  14. 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

  15. 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

  16. 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

  17. 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

  18. 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

  19. 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

  20. 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

  21. 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

  22. 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

  23. 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

  24. 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

  25. 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

  26. 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

  27. 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

  28. 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

  29. 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

  30. 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

  31. 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

  32. 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

  33. 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

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

  35. 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

  36. 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

  37. 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

  38. 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

  39. 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

  40. 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

  41. 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

  42. 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

  43. 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

  44. 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

  45. 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

  46. 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

  47. 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

  48. 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

  49. 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

  50. 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

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

  52. 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

  53. 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

  54. 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

  55. 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

  56. 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

  57. 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

  58. 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

  59. 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

  60. 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

  61. 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

  62. 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

  63. 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

  64. 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

  65. 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

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

  67. 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

  68. 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

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

  70. 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

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

  72. 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

  73. 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

  74. 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

  75. 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

  76. 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

  77. 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