The Contact Argument: A Little Unduly Simple?

Published in American Philosophical Quarterly, 2022

Abstract The contact argument is widely cited as making a strong case against a gunk-free metaphysics with point-sized simples. It is shown here that the contact argument’s reasoning is faulty even if all its background assumptions and desiderata for contact are accepted. Further, the simples theorist can offer both metric and topological accounts of contact that satisfy all the contact argument’s desid-erata. This indicates that the contact argument’s persuasiveness stems from a tacit reliance on the thesis that objects in contact are inseparable: the simples theorist must allow that separated objects might be in contact. The concluding section critically considers this contact-separability thesis and argues that rejecting it is not so terrible. The upshot of all this is that the contact argument is simply unconvincing.

Recommended citation: Elkind, Landon D. C. (2022). "The Contact Argument: A Little Unduly Simple?" American Philosophical Quarterly 59(3), pp. 247-261.

Computer verification for historians of philosophy

Published in Synthese, 2022

Abstract Interactive theorem provers might seem particularly impractical in the history of philosophy. Journal articles in this discipline are generally not formalized. Interactive theorem provers involve a learning curve for which the payoffs might seem minimal. In this article I argue that interactive theorem provers have already demonstrated their potential as a useful tool for historians of philosophy; I do this by highlighting examples of work where this has already been done. Further, I argue that interactive theorem provers can continue to be useful tools for historians of philosophy in the future; this claim is defended through a more conceptual analysis of what historians of philosophy do that identifies argument reconstruction as a core activity of such practitioners. It is then shown that interactive theorem provers can assist in this core practice by a description of what interactive theorem provers are and can do. If this is right, then computer verification for historians of philosophy is in the offing. <\details> <!--[Download paper here](

Recommended citation: Elkind, Landon D.C. "Computer verification for historians of philosophy". *Synthese*, First View, Special Issue: Metaphilosophy of Formal Methods, 1(3).

Conceptual Engineering or Revisionary Conceptual Analysis?

Published in Dialogue, 2021

Abstract Conceptual engineers have made hay over the differences of their metaphilosophy from those of conceptual analysts. In this article, I argue that the differences are not as great as conceptual engineers have, perhaps rhetorically, made them seem. That is, conceptual analysts asking 'What is X?' questions can do much the same work that conceptual engineers can do with 'What is X for?' questions, at least if conceptual analysts self-understand their activity as a revisionary enterprise. I show this with a study of Russell's metaphilosophy, which was just such a revisionary conception of conceptual analysis.

Recommended citation: Elkind, Landon D. C. (2021). "Conceptual Engineering or Revisionary Conceptual Analysis?: The Case of Russell's Metaphilosophy Based on Principia Mathematica's Logic" Dialogue 60(3), pp. 447-474.

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