Douglas Ehring

William Edward Easterwood Professor of Philosophy


Office: Hyer Hall 211C
Phone: 214-768-2137
Professional website:

Educational Background

Ph.D., Columbia University


curriculum vitae


Causation. One of my main area of research has been causation. I have proposed theories in the three main areas of the metaphysics of causation: (1) what is it for two events to be causally connected? (2) What accounts for causal asymmetry or direction? (3) What kinds of things, for example objects or events, can stand in causal relations?

The Problem of Universals. A second main area of research is the theory of properties. I have developed a nominalist view of properties according to which properties are particulars, tropes.

Personal Identity. A third main area of research is personal identity. In particular I am interested in the Parfitian question of what matters in ordinary survival.

Philosophy of Science. In the philosophy of science, I have written on the concept of a function and goal-directed processes, including the issue of what distinguishes a mere effect of a thing, say an organ, from its function.

Objects and Object Persistence. I have published a number of papers on objects and persistence. The broad topic of these papers concerns the question of how objects are related to their properties.

The Problem of Mental Causation. I am interested in the challenge presented by physicalism of showing how a mind could have any causal role in a causally closed physical world.

Political Philosophy. I have published papers in the area of political philosophy.

Publications (Selected)

What Matters in Survival: Personal Identity and other Possibilities, forthcoming (Oxford University Press, 2021).

Tropes: Properties, Objects and Mental Causation (Oxford University Press), Reprint Edition paperback edition 2014.

Tropes: Properties, Objects, and Mental Causation (Oxford University Press, 2011). hardcover

Causation and Persistence: A Theory of Causation (Oxford University Press, 1997).

“Why Parfit Can Rebut Johnston’s Reductio,” 2020 - Theoria 86 (5):583-594.

“Fission and Anticipating Having an Experience,” forthcoming Synthese.

"Johansson on Fission," Acta Analytica (2019)34 (2) pp 155–163.

“Why Parfit Cannot Generalize From Fission,”Analytic Philosophy 59 (2018): 413-425.

"The Trope Coextension Problem," in Nominalism about Properties: New Essays, eds. Rodriguez-Pereyra, G. and Ghislain, G. (Routledge), 2015.

“Contemporary Theories: Humean Themes,” (2014) (in Efficient Causation: A History, ed. Schmaltz, Oxford Philosophical Concepts, (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

"Why Parfit Did Not Go Far Enough" Philosophical Studies 165 (2013): 133-49.

"Abstracting Away from Preemption," The Monist 92 (2009): 41-71.

"Causal Relata," The Oxford Handbook of Causation, eds. H. Beebee, C. Hitchcock, and P. Menzies (Oxford University Press, 2009).

"Distinguishing Universals From Particulars," Analysis 64 (2004): 326-32.

"Property Counterparts and Natural Class Trope Nominalism," Australasian Journal of Philosophy 82 (2004): 436-54.

"Part-Whole Physicalism and Mental Causation," Synthese 136 (2003): 359-88.

"The Causal Argument Against Natural Class Trope Nominalism," Philosophical Studies 107 (2002): 179-90.

"Spatial Relations Between Universals," Australasian Journal of Philosophy 80 (2002): 17-23.

"Temporal Parts and Bundle Theory," Philosophical Studies 104 (2001): 163-68.

"Lewis, Temporary Intrinsics, and Momentary Tropes," Analysis 57 (1997).

"Mental Causation, Determinables, and Property Instances," Noûs 30 (1996): 461-80.

"Preemption, Direct Causation, and Identity," Synthese 85 (1990): 55-70.

"Causal Relata," Synthese 73 (1987): 319-28.

"Survival and Trivial Facts," Analysis 47 (1987): 50-54.

"The Transference Theory of Causation," Synthese 67 (1986): 249-58.

"Causal Asymmetry," Journal of Philosophy 79 (1982): 761-74.

Courses Taught

PHIL 3320: Causation
PHIL 3314: Metaphysics
PHIL 1301: Elementary Logic