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Metaontology

Edited by Frederique Janssen-Lauret (Nottingham University)
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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. Jonas Åkerman (2009). Perspectival Thought: A Plea for Moderate Relativism. [REVIEW] Review of Metaphysics 62 (4).
  2. D. P. B. (1964). Essays in Ontology. Review of Metaphysics 17 (4):638-638.
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  3. Elizabeth Barnes (2009). Review of David Chalmers, David Manley, Ryan Wasserman (Eds.), Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2009 (10).
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  4. Helen Beebee (2010). Metametaphysics. The Philosophers' Magazine 50:24-25.
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  5. S. Berry (2015). The Construction of Logical Space, by Augustin Rayo. Mind 124 (496):1375-1379.
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  6. 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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  7. Mihirvikash Chakravarti (1972). Metaphilosophical and Model Philosophical Questions. Centre of Advanced Study in Philosophy, Visva-Bharati.
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  8. Patricia Smith Churchland (1974). Logical Form and Ontological Decisions. Journal of Philosophy 71 (17):599-600.
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  9. Josef Donat (1944). Ontologia. Herder.
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  10. James M. DuBois (1992). Handbook of Metaphysics and Ontology. Review of Metaphysics 46 (2):391-392.
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  11. Zhao Dunhua (2006). Metaphysics in China and in the West: Common Origin and Later Divergence. Frontiers of Philosophy in China 1 (1):22-32.
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  12. 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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  13. Hartry Field (1993). The Conceptual Contingency of Mathematical Objects. Mind 102 (406):285-299.
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  14. Hartry Field (1988). Realism, Mathematics and Modality. Philosophical Topics 16 (1):57-107.
  15. Hartry Field (1980). Science Without Numbers. Princeton University Press.
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  16. Kit Fine (2002). The Limits of Abstraction. Oxford University Press.
    Kit Fine develops a Fregean theory of abstraction, and suggests that it may yield a new philosophical foundation for mathematics, one that can account for both our reference to various mathematical objects and our knowledge of various mathematical truths. The Limits ofion breaks new ground both technically and philosophically.
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  17. 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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  18. Dale Gottlieb (1978). The Truth About Arithmetic. American Philosophical Quarterly 15 (2):81 - 90.
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  19. Douglas Greenlee (1974). Particulars and Ontological Parity. Metaphilosophy 5 (3):216–231.
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  20. Douglas Greenlee (1968). The Similarity of Discernibles. Journal of Philosophy 65 (23):753-763.
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  21. 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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  22. 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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  23. Volker Haarslev (2007). The Ecology of Ontologies in the Public Domain. The Monist 90 (4):585-601.
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  24. Bob Hale (ed.) (2001). The Reason's Proper Study: Essays Towards a Neo-Fregean Philosophy of Mathematics. Oxford University Press.
    Here, Bob Hale and Crispin Wright assemble the key writings that lead to their distinctive neo-Fregean approach to the philosophy of mathematics. In addition to fourteen previously published papers, the volume features a new paper on the Julius Caesar problem; a substantial new introduction mapping out the program and the contributions made to it by the various papers; a section explaining which issues most require further attention; and bibliographies of references and further useful sources. It will be recognized as the (...)
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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. A. P. Hazen (1993). Against Pluralism. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 71 (2):132 – 144.
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  28. Richard Heck (1999). Frege's Theorem: An Introduction. The Harvard Review of Philosophy 7 (1):56-73.
    A brief, non-technical introduction to technical and philosophical aspects of Frege's philosophy of arithmetic. The exposition focuses on Frege's Theorem, which states that the axioms of arithmetic are provable, in second-order logic, from a single non-logical axiom, "Hume's Principle", which itself is: The number of Fs is the same as the number of Gs if, and only if, the Fs and Gs are in one-one correspondence.
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  29. Ian Hinckfuss (1993). Suppositions, Presuppositions, and Ontology. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 23 (4):595 - 618.
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  30. Harold T. Hodes (1984). Logicism and the Ontological Commitments of Arithmetic. Journal of Philosophy 81 (3):123-149.
  31. Maurice R. Holloway (1965). Essays in Ontology. Modern Schoolman 42 (3):328-328.
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  32. Jan Hudzik (2008). Metaphysics After Metaphysics And The Realism Of The Constituted World. Studia Philosophica Wratislaviensia 3 (3):21-44.
    In this paper I undertake to confront two modes of thinking about social reality; one based on metaphysics as pursued by the so-called Lublin school of classical philosophy, and the other which takes as its starting point the critique of metaphysics. In so doing, I venture upon the well-known landscape of the debate about metaphysics after metaphysics. In part one of the paper I discus two solutions to the question of ontology of social beings, one of the classical, the other (...)
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  33. Peter Hylton (2006). Quine on Reference and Ontology. In Gibson (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Quine. Cambridge University Press 115--50.
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  34. Guido Imaguire (2010). Review of Metametaphysics. [REVIEW] Disputatio 3:321-329.
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  35. Frank Jackson (1994). Armchair Metaphysics. In John O'Leary-Hawthorne & Michaelis Michael (eds.), Philosophy in Mind. Kluwer 23--42.
  36. Ludger Jansen (2010). What is a Formal Ontology? Some Meta-Ontological Remarks. In Klaus Mainzer (ed.), ECAP10. VIII European Conference on Computing and Philosophy. Hut 256-260.
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  37. Frederique Janssen-Lauret (2016). Committing to an Individual: Ontological Commitment, Reference and Epistemology. Synthese 193 (2):583-604.
    When we use a directly referential expression to denote an object, do we incur an ontological commitment to that object, as Russell and Barcan Marcus held? Not according to Quine, whose regimented language has only variables as denoting expressions, but no constants to model direct reference. I make a case for a more liberal conception of ontological commitment—more wide-ranging than Quine’s—which allows for commitment to individuals, with an improved logical language of regimentation. The reason for Quine’s prohibition on commitment to (...)
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  38. 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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  39. 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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  40. 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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  41. 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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  42. 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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  43. 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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  44. David Lewis (1991). Parts of Classes. Blackwell.
  45. David Lewis (1984). Putnam's Paradox. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 62 (3):221 – 236.
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  46. David Lewis & Stephanie Lewis (1970). Holes. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 48 (2):206 – 212.
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  47. 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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  48. E. J. Lowe (1995). The Metaphysics of Abstract Objects. Journal of Philosophy 92 (10):509-524.
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  49. 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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  50. 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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