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Metaontology

Edited by Frederique Janssen-Lauret (University of Manchester)
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Summary

Whereas ontology is concerned with the nature of reality in general, metaontology is concerned with the nature of ontology— whether its questions have substantive and tractable answers, and if so, how best to answer them. More broadly, what we might call ‘metametaphysics’ investigates the prospects and methodology of metaphysics.

Key works Classic works include Ayer 1946Carnap 1950, and Quine 1961. A collection of more recent work can be found in Chalmers et al 2009
Introductions Eklund 2006, Manley 2009, Thomasson 2012
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  1. D. P. B. (1964). Essays in Ontology. Review of Metaphysics 17 (4):638-638.
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  2. H. G. Callaway (1995). Review: Baltzer, Erkenntnis Als Relationengeflecht, Kategorien Bei Charles S. Peirce. [REVIEW] Transactions of the C.S. Peirce Society (2):445-453.
    This book arose from the author’s recent dissertation written under the Gerhard Schönrich at Munich. It focuses on Peirce’s theory of categories and his epistemology. According to Baltzer, what is distinctive in Peirce’s theory of knowledge is that he reconstrues objects as “knots in networks of relations.” The phrase may ring a bell. It suggests a structuralist interpretation of Peirce, influenced by the Munich environs. The study aims to shows how Peirce’s theory of categories supports his theory of knowledge and (...)
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  3. William E. Carlo (1967). Metaphysics, Problematic or Science. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 41:134-142.
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  4. Mihirvikash Chakravarti (1972). Metaphilosophical and Model Philosophical Questions. Centre of Advanced Study in Philosophy, Visva-Bharati.
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  5. F. C. Copleston (1949). The Possibility of Metaphysics. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 50:65 - 82.
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  6. Frederick C. Copleston (1953). The Function of Metaphysics. Philosophy 28 (104):3 - 15.
    Aristotle stated that philosophy began with “wonder” and that men continue to philosophize because and in so far as they continue to “wonder.” Philosophy, in other words, is rooted in the desire to understand the world, in the desire to find an intelligible pattern in events and to answer problems which occur to the mind in connection with the world. By using the phrase “the world” I do not mean to imply that the world is something finished and complete at (...)
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  7. T. De George Richard (1962). The Uneasy Revival of Metaphysics. Review of Metaphysics 16 (1):68-81.
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  8. Thomas De Koninck (2012). Metaphysics and Ultimate Questions. Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture 15 (2):42-63.
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  9. Wolfgang Degen (2006). Metaphysics Without Task. Metaphysica 7 (2).
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  10. Charles Denecke (1945). The Role and Importance of Self-Existence in the Science of Metaphysics. Washington.
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  11. Antón Donoso (1971). Some Lessons in Metaphysics. International Philosophical Quarterly 11 (4):599-602.
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  12. James M. DuBois (1992). Handbook of Metaphysics and Ontology. Review of Metaphysics 46 (2):391-392.
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  13. C. J. Ducasse (1949). Reality, Science, and Metaphysics. Synthese 8 (1):9 - 21.
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  14. Wyndham R. Dunstan (1822). Science and Metaphysic.
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  15. Matti Eklund (2012). Multitude, Tolerance and Language-Transcendence. Synthese 187 (3):833-847.
    Rudolf Carnap's 1930s philosophy of logic, including his adherence to the principle of tolerance, is discussed. What theses did Carnap commit himself to, exactly? I argue that while Carnap did commit himself to a certain multitude thesis—there are different logics of different languages, and the choice between these languages is merely a matter of expediency—there is no evidence that he rejected a language-transcendent notion of fact, contrary to what Warren Goldfarb and Thomas Ricketts have prominently argued. (In fact, it is (...)
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  16. Dorothy Mary Emmet (1967). The Nature of Metaphysical Thinking. New York, St. Martin's P..
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  17. Hartry Field (1993). The Conceptual Contingency of Mathematical Objects. Mind 102 (406):285-299.
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  18. Hartry Field (1988). Realism, Mathematics and Modality. Philosophical Topics 16 (1):57-107.
  19. Greg Frost-Arnold (forthcoming). Make Ontology Easy Again. [REVIEW] Metascience:1-4.
    A book review of Amie Thomasson's defense of Neo-Carnapianism in her "Ontology Made Easy" (2015, Oxford UP).
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  20. Dale Gottlieb (1978). The Truth About Arithmetic. American Philosophical Quarterly 15 (2):81 - 90.
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  21. Douglas Greenlee (1974). Particulars and Ontological Parity. Metaphilosophy 5 (3):216–231.
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  22. Douglas Greenlee (1968). The Similarity of Discernibles. Journal of Philosophy 65 (23):753-763.
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  23. Susan Haack (2008). The Legitimacy of Metaphysics. Philosophical Topics 36 (1):97-110.
    Part of Kant’s legacy to Peirce was a lasting conviction that metaphysics is not irredeemable, but can and should be set “on the secure path of a science”. However, Peirce’s “scientific metaphysics”, unlike Kant’s, uses the method of science, i.e., of experience and reasoning; but requires close attention to experience of the most familiar kind rather than the recherché experience needed by the special sciences. This distinctively plausible reconception of what a genuinely scientific metaphysics would be is part of Peirce’s (...)
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  24. Susan Haack (2007). The Legitimacy of Metaphysics. Polish Journal of Philosophy 1 (1):97-110.
    Part of Kant’s legacy to Peirce was a lasting conviction that metaphysics is not irredeemable, but can and should be set “on the secure path of a science”. However, Peirce’s “scientific metaphysics”, unlike Kant’s, uses the method of science, i.e., of experience and reasoning; but requires close attention to experience of the most familiar kind rather than the recherché experience needed by the special sciences. This distinctively plausible reconception of what a genuinely scientific metaphysics would be is part of Peirce’s (...)
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  25. Bob Hale (1988). Abstract Objects. B. Blackwell.
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  26. Katharine Rose Hanley (1967). A Prelude to Metaphysics. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.,Prentice-Hall.
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  27. Ian Hinckfuss (1993). Suppositions, Presuppositions, and Ontology. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 23 (4):595 - 618.
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  28. Maurice R. Holloway (1965). Essays in Ontology. Modern Schoolman 42 (3):328-328.
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  29. Frederique Janssen-Lauret (2015). Meta-Ontology, Naturalism, and The Quine-Barcan Marcus Debate. In Frederique Janssen-Lauret & Gary Kemp (eds.), Quine and His Place in History. Palgrave 146-167..
    Twenty-first century critics frequently misread Quinean ontological commitment as a toothless doctrine of anti-metaphysical pragmatism. Janssen-Lauret's historical investigations reveal that they misinterpret the influence of Quine's naturalism. His naturalistic view of philosophy as continuous with science informs a much more interesting conception of ontological commitments as generated by indispensable explanatory roles. But Janssen-Lauret uncovers a previously undetected weakness in Quine's meta-ontology. Careful examination of his debate with another naturalistic nominalist, Ruth Barcan Marcus, reveals that his holism leaves him blind to (...)
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  30. Peter G. Jones (2012). Is Metaphysics a Waste of Time? Philosophy Pathways (171).
    The view that metaphysics is a waste of time appears to be gaining in popularity with every passing day. It is held openly by many scientists and even by many philosophers. I argue here that this is a consequence of the way metaphysics is often done, the futility of a certain approach to it, and not a reason to suppose that there is no useful knowledge to be acquired in metaphysics.
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  31. Michael Jubien (1977). Ontology and Mathematical Truth. Noûs 11 (2):133-150.
    The main goal of this paper is to urge that the normal platonistic account of mathematical truth is unsatisfactory even if pure abstract entities are assumed to exist (in a non-Question-Begging way). It is argued that the task of delineating an interpretation of a formal mathematical theory among pure abstract entities is not one that can be accomplished. An important effect of this conclusion on the question of the ontological commitments of informal mathematical theories is discussed. The paper concludes with (...)
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  32. Guy Kahane (2012). The Value Question in Metaphysics. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 85 (1):27-55.
    Much seems to be at stake in metaphysical questions about, for example, God, free will or morality. One thing that could be at stake is the value of the universe we inhabit—how good or bad it is. We can think of competing philosophical positions as describing possibilities, ways the world might turn out to be, and to which value can be assigned. When, for example, people hope that God exists, or fear that we do not possess free will, they express (...)
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  33. Decio Krause, Entity, but No Identity.
    Inspired in Quine's well known slogans “To be is to be the value of a variable” and "No entity without identity", we provide a way of enabling that non-individual entities (as characterized in the text) can also be values of variables of an adequate "regimented" language, once we consider a possible meaning of the background theory Quine reports to ground his view. In doing that, we show that there may exist also entities without identity, and emphasize the importance of paying (...)
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  34. Saul A. Kripke (1976). Is There a Problem About Substitutional Quantification? In Gareth Evans & John McDowell (eds.), Truth and Meaning. Oxford University Press 324-419.
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  35. David Lewis (1991). Parts of Classes. Blackwell.
  36. David Lewis (1984). Putnam's Paradox. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 62 (3):221 – 236.
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  37. David Lewis & Stephanie Lewis (1970). Holes. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 48 (2):206 – 212.
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  38. David Liebesman & Matti Eklund (2007). Sider on Existence. Noûs 41 (3):519–528.
    In (2001), (2003), and elsewhere, Ted Sider presents two arguments concerning the existential quantifier which are justly central to the recent discussion of metaontology. What we will call Sider's indeterminacy argument is an attempted reductio of the suggestion that the existential quantifier might be semantically indeterminate. What we will call Sider's naturalness argument is an argument for the claim that the semantic value of the existential quantifier is the most eligible existence-like meaning there is, à la David Lewis' eligibility theory (...)
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  39. E. J. Lowe (1995). The Metaphysics of Abstract Objects. Journal of Philosophy 92 (10):509-524.
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  40. Fraser MacBride (2003). Speaking with Shadows: A Study of Neo-Logicism. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 54 (1):103-163.
    According to the species of neo-logicism advanced by Hale and Wright, mathematical knowledge is essentially logical knowledge. Their view is found to be best understood as a set of related though independent theses: (1) neo-fregeanism-a general conception of the relation between language and reality; (2) the method of abstraction-a particular method for introducing concepts into language; (3) the scope of logic-second-order logic is logic. The criticisms of Boolos, Dummett, Field and Quine (amongst others) of these theses are explicated and assessed. (...)
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  41. Fraser MacBride & Frederique Janssen-Lauret (2015). Meta-Ontology, Epistemology & Essence: On the Empirical Deduction of the Categories. The Monist 98 (3):290-302.
    A priori reflection, common sense and intuition have proved unreliable sources of information about the world outside of us. So the justification for a theory of the categories must derive from the empirical support of the scientific theories whose descriptions it unifies and clarifies. We don’t have reliable information about the de re modal profiles of external things either because the overwhelming proportion of our knowledge of the external world is theoretical—knowledge by description rather than knowledge by acquaintance. This undermines (...)
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  42. James Maclaurin & Heather Dyke (2012). What is Analytic Metaphysics For? Australasian Journal of Philosophy 90 (2):291-306.
    We divide analytic metaphysics into naturalistic and non-naturalistic metaphysics. The latter we define as any philosophical theory that makes some ontological (as opposed to conceptual) claim, where that ontological claim has no observable consequences. We discuss further features of non-naturalistic metaphysics, including its methodology of appealing to intuition, and we explain the way in which we take it to be discontinuous with science. We outline and criticize Ladyman and Ross's 2007 epistemic argument against non-naturalistic metaphysics. We then present our own (...)
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  43. Angela Matthies (2010). Metametaphysics: New Essasys on the Foundations of Ontology. [REVIEW] Logical Analysis and History of Philosophy 13.
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  44. Colin McGinn (2000). Logical Properties: Identity, Existence, Predication, Necessity, Truth. Oxford University Press.
    Identity, existence, predication, necessity, and truth are fundamental philosophical concerns. Colin McGinn treats them both philosophically and logically, aiming for maximum clarity and minimum pointless formalism. He contends that there are real logical properties that challenge naturalistic metaphysical outlooks. These concepts are not definable, though we can say a good deal about how they work. The aim of Logical Properties is to bring philosophy back to philosophical logic.
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  45. Jesus Romero Monivas (2008). The Ontology of Social Fluency and the Reformulation of Theological Dogmatic From Metaphysics of Becoming. Pensamiento 64 (242):1043-1086.
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  46. Bogdan Ogrodnik (2011). II. How Can We Verify Metaphysical Hypotheses? On Necessary Connections Between Meta-Physics, Ontology and Science. In Petrov V. (ed.), Ontological Landscapes: Recent Thought on Conceptual Interfaces Between Science and Philosophy. Ontos 43.
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  47. L. A. Paul (2013). Categorical Priority and Categorical Collapse. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 87 (1):89-113.
    I explore some of the ways that assumptions about the nature of substance shape metaphysical debates about the structure of Reality. Assumptions about the priority of substance play a role in an argument for monism, are embedded in certain pluralist metaphysical treatments of laws of nature, and are central to discussions of substantivalism and relationalism. I will then argue that we should reject such assumptions and collapse the categorical distinction between substance and property.
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  48. Matja Potrc (2002). Non-Arbitrariness of Composition and Particularism. Grazer Philosophische Studien 63 (1):197-215.
    Non Arbitrariness Of Composition delivers a general and principled answer to the Special Composition Question. Horgan also embraces the extension of particularism into the domain of ontology.But particularism as meta-ontological guideline denies applicability of any general principles. So Horgan'soverall meta-ontological project both invites and rejects generality. The resulting tension may be aufgehoben however if the distinction is made between ontological commitments and their accompanying principles at the levels of ultimate and regional ontology.
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  49. Huw Price (1997). Carnap, Quine, and the Fate of Metaphysics. Electronic Journal of Analytic Philosophy 5 (1).
    [1] Imagine a well-trained mid-century American philosopher, caught in a rare traffic jam on the New Jersey Turnpike one warm summer afternoon in the early 1950s. He dozes in his warm car ... and awakes in the same spot on a chill Fall evening in the late 1990s, remembering nothing of the intervening years. It is as if he has been asleep at the wheel for almost half a century!
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  50. Arthur Prior (1967). The Runabout Inference Ticket. In Peter Strawson (ed.), Analysis. Oxford University Press 38-9.
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