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Mark Heller

Mark Heller

Department Chair and Professor

541C Hall of Languages

Research and Teaching Interests

Born and raised in the slums of New York City, I was first introduced to philosophy at age six when my mother tried to convince me that I could not cross the room because I would have to complete an infinite number of tasks–first I would have to cross half the room, then half of the remaining portion, then half of the remaining portion, and so on. It was all down hill from there. I was a philosophy major at Whitman College in Walla Walla Washington. Then it was on to a Ph.D. at Syracuse, where I worked with William Alston on knowledge, Jonathan Bennett on counterfactuals, and Peter van Inwagen on free will and on ontology, eventually writing my dissertation arguing that objects are just four-dimensional hunks of matter. The dissertation turned into The Ontology of Physical Objects (Cambridge University Press, 1990). After teaching in Vermont, Illinois, Philadelphia, and Dallas, I returned to Syracuse University in 2004.  I still work on ontology and epistemology with special interests in modality, conventionalism, and contextualism.

Named 2013-2014 Tolley Professor

Selected Publications


Less Than Hunks (forthcoming).

The Ontology of Physical Objects: Four Dimensionalism Hunks of Matter, Cambridge University Press, 1990.


The Donkey Problem, Philosophical Studies, forthcoming. 

Hudson Fine Tunes His Way to Hyperspace, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, forthcoming.

Worlds, Pluriverses, and Minds, Oxford Studies in Metaphysics, 2006.

Anti-Essentialism and Counterpart Theory, The Monist, 2005.

The Immorality of Modal Realism, Philosophical Studies, 2003.

Transworld Identity for the Ersatzist, Philosophical Topics, 2002.

Temporal Overlap is not Coincidence, The Monist, 2000.

The Worst of All Worlds, Philosophia, 2000.

Hobartian Voluntarism: Grounding a Deontological Conception of Epistemic Justification, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 2000.

The Proper Role for Contextualism in an Anti-Luck Epistemology, Philosophical Perspectives, 1999, pp. 115-129.

Relevant Alternatives and Closure, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 1999, pp. 196-208.

Property Counterparts in Ersatz Worlds, The Journal of Philosophy, 1998, pp. 293-316.

Five Layers of Interpretation for Possible Worlds, Philosophical Studies, 1998, pp. 205-214.

Ersatz Worlds and Ontological Disagreement, Acta Analytica,  1996, pp. 35-44.

Against Metaphysical Vagueness, Philosophical Perspectives, 1996, pp. 177-183.

The Mad Scientist Meets the Robot Cats: Compatibilism, Kinds, and Counterexamples, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 1996, pp. 333-337.

Painted Mules and the Cartesian Circle, Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 1996, pp. 29-56.

Practically Strange (symposium paper on Eli Hirsch's 'Dividing Reality'), Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 1996, pp. 203-207.

The Simple Solution to the Problem of Generality, Nous, 1995, pp. 501-515.

Might Counterfactuals and Gratuitous Differences, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 1995, pp. 91-101.

The Miracle of Counterfactuals: Counterexamples to Lewis's Theory of World Ordering (co-authored by Daniel Krasner), Philosophical Studies, 1994, pp. 27-43.

Varieties of Four-Dimensionalism, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 1993, pp. 47-59.

Things Change, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 1992, pp. 695-704.

Indication and What Might Have Been, Analysis, 1991, pp. 187-191.

Metaphysical Boundaries: A Question of Independence (co-authored by William R. Carter), The Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 1989, pp. 263-276.

Relevant Alternatives, Philosophical Studies, 1989, pp. 23-40.

Vagueness and the Standard Ontology, Nous, 1988, pp. 109-131.

Putnam, Reference, and Realism, Midwest Studies in Philosophy, 1988, pp. 113-127.

The Best Candidate Approach to Diachronic Identity, The Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 1987, pp. 434-451.

Non-Backtracking Counterfactuals and the Conditional Analysis, The Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 1985, pp. 75-85.

Temporal Parts of Four Dimensional Objects, Philosophical Studies, 46 (1984), pp. 323-334.  Reprinted in:

     J. Kim and E. Sosa, Metaphysics: An Anthology (1999)

     S. D. Hales, Metaphysics: Contemporary Readings (1999)

     M. Rae, Material Constitution (1997)