Articles

"Proportionality, Abstract Causation, and the Exclusion Problem," International Journal of Philosophical Studies

Abstract. A considerable number of philosophers are attracted to what might be called "causal type-abstractionism"—the view that photographs, symphonies, models of cars, novels, flags, and other multiply instantiable entities that are, or at least seem to be, artifacts are a particular kind of abstracta, namely causally efficacious types. Despite its popularity, however, causal type-abstractionism faces a problem: Given some plausible assumptions, it commits us to a seemingly unpalatable consequence—that there is widespread type-causal overdetermination, or, in other words, a multitude of situations where one and the same effect has two or more distinct independently sufficient causes, at least one of which involves type causation. Recently, a powerful solution to this problem has been offered by Juvshik (2018). Drawing upon the literature on mental causation, he argues that the foregoing consequence could be avoided without abandoning causal type-abstractionism—if we adopt a particular treatment of causes based on Yablo (1992, 1997)’s principle of proportionality. My primary goal in this essay is to show that the given solution fails. Additionally, I aim to sketch a solution that, I think, provides a promising type-abstractionist way to resolve the problem being discussed.

 

"Paraphrasability and the Causal Status of Types," Theoria (link, doi

 

Abstract. Some are attracted to the view that repeatable artworks, such as films, novels, plays, symphonies, photographs, and the like, are a particular kind of abstracta—namely, types. This view, however, is not unproblematic. One of the most serious problems it faces is the so-called "creation problem." The core idea behind this problem is that, on the one hand, it seems reasonable to accept the claims that (1) repeatable artworks are types, (2) types cannot be created, and (3) repeatable artworks are created, but, on the other hand, these claims form an inconsistent triad. A popular solution to the creation problem is that (2) can be rejected because the justification for (2) is based on a false assumption—that no type can stand in causal relations. Although this solution looks promising, it can be accepted only if its proponent can refute what might be called the "paraphrasability argument." On this argument, types are not to be regarded as capable of standing in causal relations because any discourse implying the causality of types should be paraphrased into discourse that does not imply this. My aim in this essay is to show that there is good reason to consider the paraphrasability argument sound and, hence, that the foregoing solution to the creation problem fails.

 

"The Proportionality Argument and the Problem of Widespread Causal Overdetermination," Disputatio (link, doi)

Abstract. The consensus is that repeatable artworks cannot be identified with particular material individuals. A perennial temptation is to identify them with types, broadly construed. Such identification, however, faces the so-called "Creation Problem." This problem stems from the fact that, on the one hand, it seems reasonable to accept the claims that (1) repeatable artworks are types, (2) types cannot be created, and (3) repeatable artworks are created, but, on the other hand, these claims are mutually inconsistent. A possible solution to the Creation Problem is to argue that claim (2) can be rejected because (a) the only motivation for it is that a type, being abstract, cannot stand in causal relations, but (b) this motivation is ungrounded, since types can, in fact, stand in such relations. Clearly, in order for this solution to be successful, it is necessary to substantiate the possibility of types to be causally efficacious. In this essay, I examine an attempt to do this with the help of Yablo’s principle of proportionality, which has been undertaken by Walters (2013) and, more recently, Juvshik (2018). Although the argument they advance may seem to provide strong support for the causal efficacy of types, I think it actually fails to do this. To explain why this is so, I first show that this argument commits us to the existence of widespread causal overdetermination involving types and then argue that this commitment is both epistemically and ontologically problematic.

"The Novel as a Performing Art," Philosophia (link, doi)

Abstract. The consensus is that the novel—along with painting, sculpture, and architecture—should be categorized as a non-performing art. In this essay, I argue that such categorization is misguided: In fact, there is good reason to categorize the novel as a performing art. I begin by showing that x is a performing art if the following conditions are satisfied: (a) x is an art and (b) to fully appreciate a work of x, it is necessary to experientially engage with a performance or a performance-like object. I then demonstrate that in the case of the novel, these conditions are actually satisfied.

"What Is a Novel?," Estetika (link, doi)

Abstract. The question "What is a novel?" has received scant attention in the philosophical literature. Meanwhile, this question is important. In light of this, in this paper, I would like to address it, suggesting a potential answer. I begin by defining what I call "novel in the restricted sense"—the concept that covers all novels except the so-called nonfiction novels, graphic novels, and novels in verse. Then, drawing upon Jerrold Levinson’s approach to defining "art," I provide a definition of the concept that covers nonfiction novels, graphic novels, and novels in verse. Finally, with the help of this definition and the definition of "novel in the restricted sense," I formulate a definition of "novel" simpliciter and defend it against potential objections.

"What Is an Instance of an Artwork?," Estetika (link, doipdf)

Abstract. The expression "an instance of an artwork" is often used in philosophical discourse about art. Yet there is no clear account of what exactly this expression means. My goal in this essay is to provide such an account. I begin by expounding and defending a particular definition of the concept of "an instance of an artwork." Next, I elaborate this definition—by providing definitions of the main derivatives of the concept of "an instance of an artwork," namely the concepts of "a well-formed instance of an artwork" and "a non-well-formed instance of an artwork." Finally, I examine the relation of the foregoing definitions to the existence and identity conditions of artworks and make some additional remarks concerning these definitions.

"What Instances of Novels Are," Philosophia (link, pdf)

 

Abstract. The consensus is that novels can be fully appreciated only through an experiential engagement with their well-formed instances. But what are the entities that serve as such instances? According to the orthodox view, these entities are primarily inscriptions—concrete texts written or printed on something or displayed on the screen of some electronic device. In this paper, I argue that this view is misguided, since (a) well-formed instances of a novel must manifest certain sonic properties, but (b) such properties cannot be manifested by inscriptions. As an alternative, I put forward the view that the entities that serve as well-formed instances of novels are readings and sums of readings and graphic elements. 

 

"Musical Perdurantism and the Problem of Intermittent Existence," Grazer Philosophische Studien (link, pdf)

 

Abstract. Recently, a number of philosophers have defended a novel, materialist view on the nature of musical works—musical perdurantism. According to this view, musical works are a peculiar kind of concreta, namely perduring mereological sums of performances and/or other concrete entities. One problem facing musical perdurantism stems from the thought that if this view is correct, then virtually no musical work can exist in a continuous, non-intermittent fashion. The aim of this paper is to expound this problem and show that it cannot be plausibly solved by a musical perdurantist.

 

"Unfit to Print: Contra Mag Uidhir on the Ontology of Photographic Artworks," Estetika (link, pdf)

 

Abstract. According to the orthodox view, photographic artworks are abstract objects. This view, however, has recently been challenged by Christy Mag Uidhir. In his article "Photographic Art: An Ontology Fit to Print," he argues in favor of a nominalist construal of photographic artworks. My goal is to show that Mag Uidhir's argument is unpersuasive.

Dissertation

 

Novels and Their Instances: A Metaphysical Exploration (linkpdf)

 

Abstract. What is the ontological status of novels? Are they inscriptions (i.e., concrete texts typically written or printed on something or displayed on the screen of some electronic device)? Sets of inscriptions? Mental representations of some semantic content? Structures of meanings? Syntactic sequences? Or something else? Furthermore, what is the ontological status of instances of a novel (i.e., entities that manifest all the primary properties that must be experienced to fully appreciate this novel)? Are they readings (i.e., sequences of sounds generated as a result of reading aloud)? Inscriptions? Both readings and inscriptions? Or some other entities?

My goal in this dissertation is to answer these questions. Read more...

If you have any questions about my research, feel free to contact me (my email: alexeyaliyev [at] gmail [dot] com).