Feser on Schmid on Existential Inertia: On Length | Part 1

Feser has recently responded to my IJPR article. I will respond to his post in a series of blog posts. This post is Part 1, which addresses Feser’s complaints about the length of my previous blog post reply to his first blog post.

I have multiple things to say in response to Feser’s complaints.

First, on countless occasions, there is a ‘multiple-paragraphs-to-one-sentence correspondence’ between my response and his blog post. This is altogether unsurprising: it takes Feser one sentence to mischaracterize one of my points in my Sophia article as a conditional claim, or to misrepresent the points I say on behalf of my account of per se chains, or to mistakenly allege questions begged, or to gesture towards pages in his book where he addresses things, or to intimate/hint/suggest that I’m behind sock puppetry. [Let me be loud and clear: I do not claim Feser intentionally or deliberately misrepresented me. Feser is a man with integrity, and so I am well-nigh certain these are unintentional and not deliberate.] But it takes multiple paragraphs to explain what’s wrong with each of these. For instance: (a) in a case of misrepresentation (of which I documented numerous in the previous blog post — cf. Section 3), I have to spell out exactly why it’s a misrepresentation, what I actually said, and so on, and this requires multiple paragraphs; (b) in a case of mistaken allegations of questions begged (of which I documented many in the previous blog post — cf. Section 3), I have to explain the dialectical context at hand, who has the onus of justification, why my response, given the dialectical context, does no such thing, and so on. Again, this takes multiple paragraphs; (c) in the case of Feser gesturing towards pages in his book and urging that I need to respond to the arguments therein, it takes me multiple paragraphs to explain Feser’s arguments on those pages and then critically assess them; and (d) in the case of sock puppetry, I have to explain why such a hypothesis is obviously wrong.

Also, as I pointed out many times in the blog post, I had already made many of the points in a much briefer manner in my section “Dialectical Context” in the Sophia article. But that didn’t prevent misunderstandings of the dialectical context from arising, and so I had to step back and explain things with concrete examples, like the example of the Even-Number-Quarkist argument.

Second, my posts have a multiplicity of purposes. I explained in my blog post that my aim was not merely to respond to Feser; it was also to make the post a one-stop-shop for the breadth of criticisms of the Aristotelian proof I’ve leveled. Different sections signal different purposes — that is well-nigh universally understood. And I was explicit that I had one section on Feser’s blog post. The rest were to either set the stage or to facilitate my other aim of making my post a one-stop-shop of my criticisms of the Aristotelian proof. Indeed, I repeatedly signal throughout my post a multiplicity of aims, only one of which was responding to Feser. Not long after uploading the post, moreover, I added a paragraph explaining this point:

Finally, if Feser wants a shorter section to read whose sole aim was to directly reply to Feser’s blog post, he can read Section 3 of my post. Therein I point out that none of Feser’s responses to my article succeed.

Feser next says:

“Since the notion of existential inertia seems to be at the core of our disagreement, and since I take it to be a reasonable assumption that this article contains Schmid’s most rigorous presentation of his views on that topic (and that his latest blog post presupposes the article in any event), I take that to be a reasonable way to conclude our exchange for now.  Fair enough?”

I have two points to make here.

First: I don’t see this as fair. What’s fair is for Feser to read the much shorter Section 3 of my blog post [much of which is just quoting Feser’s blog post — I quote and respond to nearly every sentence/paragraph]. It is not fair to ignore the fact that Feser misrepresented me on multiple occasions, clearly misunderstood the dialectical context with his allegations of question-begging, and so on.

Second: It isn’t my most rigorous presentation of my views. Indeed, in my previous blog post, I pointed out that I’ve considerably developed my views since that paper and even disagree with [or, perhaps more accurately, would modify] some portions of the discussion. I was a baby [well, teenage] scholar when I wrote that paper — my first ever paper. Naturally, my views have become much more nuanced, precise, and well-thought-out since then. In this series, I’ll point out those modifications where and when they may arise.

My most recent and rigorous articulation of my views on EIT are in two papers under review. I’ve extracted some of the key points in the following documents, in case anyone is interested. And no, I am not demanding that Feser read these, and nor am I saying Feser has to read or respond to these in order to make his case. They’re included because they are far more developed than my IJPR paper, and they contain my actual — occurrent, present — views about EIT. They articulate EIT under various different spacetime structures, explore a whole host of inertialist-friendly explanations of persistence not contained in my IJPR article, and more.

  • I precisely articulate EIT in this document under various spacetime structures.
  • Metaphysical accounts of inertial persistence are explanations of objects’ persistence that are inertialist-friendly (i.e., under which EIT is or can be true). Here are documents wherein I develop numerous such metaphysical accounts: (a) tendency-disposition accounts here; (b) transtemporal accounts here; (c) law-based accounts here; (d) necessity accounts here; (e) no-change accounts here.
  • I explain some motivations for EIT here.
  • I address the principal objections to EIT [including Feser’s] in the literature here.

In part 2 of this series, I’ll address the next part of Feser’s post.

Author: Joe


  1. Gunther Laird

    Ah, this is a much better/more digestible solution to the problem of length, like I said in the last post breaking up a long entry and linking the various posts to each other might make them easier to read. Since this seems to be just the introduction I’ll be eagerly looking forward to the next posts in the series!

  2. Pingback:Feser on Schmid on Existential Inertia | Part 2 | Majesty of Reason

  3. Pingback:Feser on Schmid on Existential Inertia | Part 3 | Majesty of Reason

  4. David McPike

    Joe, with due respect, this is pedantic and uninteresting, although it is mercifully short. I suggest if you have nothing philosophically substantive to say, don’t say anything. Substantive and interesting would be something like this:

    “Feser responded to my youthful papers, but with respect to his present response my position has substantially and crucially changed. Here’s how: …”

    Show us the beef, man!

  5. Pingback:Feser on Schmid on Existential Inertia | Part 4 | Majesty of Reason

  6. Pingback:Feser on Schmid on Existential Inertia: Vicious Circularity and the Metaphysics of EIT | Part 5 | Majesty of Reason

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  8. Pingback:Feser on Schmid on Existential Inertia: An Argument Against EIT | Part 7 | Majesty of Reason

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