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Faculty of Philosophy


D. H. Mellor Philosophy Books

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D. H. Mellor

Books written by D. H. Mellor

Mind, Meaning, and Reality

Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012

Critical Notice by Lisa Leininger in
Analysis Reviews
74 (2014), 148-157

This book contains fifteen philosophical papers, including a new defence of 'success semantics', preceded by a polemical introduction. The papers are grouped into three parts. Part I is about how the ways we are disposed to act fixes both what we believe and what we use language to mean. Part II is about what there is: the reality of dispositions; what makes beliefs and sentences true; why there is only one universe; and how social groups, and other things with parts, are related to the people and other things that are their parts. Part III is about time: twentieth century developments in its philosophy; why Kant, while wrong about time, was right about tense; why forward time travel is trivial and backward time travel impossible; and what gives time its direction.

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Probability: A Philosophical Introduction

London: Routledge, 2005

Review by
Antony Eagle in
Mind 115 (2006), 773-7
Review by
Mauricio Suarez in
Theoria 70 (2011), 99-103

This book introduces and explains the principal concepts and applications of probability. It is for philosophers and others who want to understand probability as we apply it in our working and everyday lives. The role of probability in modern theories of knowledge, inference, induction, causation, laws of nature, action and decision-making makes an understanding of it especially important to philosophers and students of philosophy, for whom the book is intended both as a textbook and a work of reference. (It is however not a course in mathematical probability, of which it uses only the simplest results.) The book distinguishes the three basic kinds of probability - physical, epistemic, and subjective - and introduces and assesses the main theories and interpretations of them. The topics and concepts covered include chance, frequency, possibility, propensity, credence, confirmation and Bayesianism.

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Real Time II

London: Routledge, 1998

This book supersedes Real Time (1981). It uses the tenseless truthmakers of tensed thoughts and statements to show why and how they are both indispensable and irreducible to tenseless thoughts and statements. It rebuts Prior's 'Thank goodness that's over' objection to tenseless theories of time, and discusses the spatial analogues of tensed and tenseless theories. It revives McTaggart's argument against real tense and gives a new tenseless account of change. Lastly it shows why the direction of time must be that of causation, and uses the theory of causation of
The Facts of Causation
to show why there can be no backward time travel or cyclical time.

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(For an application of this theory of time to Kant's views on time,
see Chapter 13 of Mind, Meaning, and Reality
Transcendental Tense).

The Facts of Causation

London: Routledge, 1995

This book presents a complete theory of causation. It covers all kinds of causing and affecting, of both events and facts: deterministic and indeterministic, mental and physical, transparent and opaque. It shows what makes a cause explain, be evidence for, and be a means of bringing about, its effects, and why causation entails the laws of nature that determine the kinds of facts our world contains. It also shows how causation distinguishes time from space, makes time linear, gives it its direction and enables us to perceive it.

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Matters of Metaphysics

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991

A free PDF file of this book is now available

This volume contains sixteen papers published between 1974 and 1991. The first five are on aspects of the mind: on our 'selves', their supposed subjectivity and how we refer to them, on the nature of conscious belief and on computational and physical theories of the mind. The next five deal with dispositions, natural kinds, laws of nature and how they involve natural necessity, universals and objective chances, and the relation between properties and predicates. Then follow three papers about the relations between time, change and causation, the nature of individual causes and effects and of the causal relations between them, and how causation depends on chance. The last three papers discuss the relation between chance and degrees of belief, give a solution to the problem of induction and argue for an objective interpretation of normative decision theory.

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The Matter of Chance

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971

A free PDF file of this book is now available

This book develops an account of objective chances as properties of events (e.g. of coin tosses) defined by the degrees of belief (e.g. that the coin will land heads) which embody knowledge of those chances. The chances manifest propensities: dispositional properties of objects (e.g. a coin's bias). The account is applied to theories of radioactive decay and of how human death risk increases with age, and is used to show how knowledge of propensities underlies
apparently a priori derivations of classical chance distributions. Finally it shows how propensities entail indeterminism and are consistent with a Humean view of laws of nature.

Contents and publication information

Cover of Real Time

Real Time

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981

This book is now out of print, and has been superseded by Real Time II: see above.

Updated 10 September 2019