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The Nature of Shadows, from Yale to Bilkent

  • István Aranyosi (a1)

I discuss a solution to the Yale shadow puzzle, due to Roy Sorensen, based on the actual process theory of causation, and argue that it does not work in the case of a new version of the puzzle, which I call ‘the Bilkent shadow puzzle’. I offer a picture of the ontology of shadows which, together with an alternative view of causation, constitutes the basis for a new solution that uniformly solves both puzzles.

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1 Named so because it used to be a common lunchtime discussion topic among Yale University philosophers in the 1970s. Its first mention and discussion in print, to my knowledge, is in Todes S. and Daniels C., ‘Beyond the doubt of a shadow: a phenomenological and linguistic analysis of shadows’, Selected Studies in Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy 5 (1975), 203216. It has subsequently been discussed by Van Fraassen Bas in Laws and Symmetry (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989, 217–9) and by Sorensen Roy in Seeing Dark Things. The Philosophy of Shadows (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008, 5254 and 98–99).

2 Op. cit. note 1, 53.

3 Lewis D., ‘Causation’, Journal of Philosophy 70 (1973), 556–67.

4 There is a six hour time zone difference between Yale and Bilkent.

5 Aranyosi I., ‘Shadows of constitution’, Monist 90 (2007), 415431 (quote from 417–8).

6 In Aranyosi I., ‘Review of Roy Sorensen, Seeing Dark Things. The Philosophy of Shadows (Oxford University Press, 2008)’, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 86 (2008), 513515 (on page 514), and in Aranyosi I., ‘The reappearing act’, Acta Analytica 24 (2009), 110 (on page 7).

7 Lewis David, ‘Causation as influence’, Journal of Philosophy 97 (2000), 182–97 (on 188–190).

8 For discussion about the puzzles I would like to thank Ezgi Ulusoy Aranyosi. I would also like to dedicate this paper to the memory of Ihsan Doǧramaci, founder and chairman of the Board of Trustees of Bilkent University.

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  • ISSN: 0031-8191
  • EISSN: 1469-817X
  • URL: /core/journals/philosophy
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