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Summary Metaphysical questions often seem intractable, so it is unsurprising that there is no consensus about the best way to engage in metaphysical inquiry. What is the role of conceptual analysis? To what degree are the answers independent from ordinary intuitions-- or are we only engaged in codifying such intuitions? Are there quasi-scientific criteria of theory choice to which we can appeal as providing reason to hold one view over another (such as simplicity, elegance, and explanatory unification)? Methodological questions like these are covered in this category.
Key works Carnap 1950 Quine 1948
Introductions Thomasson 2012
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  1. Jiri Benovsky (2013). From Experience to Metaphysics: On Experience‐Based Intuitions and Their Role in Metaphysics. Noûs 47 (3).
    Metaphysical theories are often counter-intuitive. But they also often are strongly supported and motivated by intuitions. One way or another, the link between intuitions and metaphysics is a strong and important one, and there is hardly any metaphysical discussion where intuitions do not play a crucial role. In this article, I will be interested in a particular kind of such intuitions, namely those that come, at least partly, from experience. There seems to be a route from experience to metaphysics, and (...)
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  2. Francesco Berto (2013). Coincident Entities and Question-Begging Predicates: An Issue in Meta-Ontology. [REVIEW] Metaphysica 14 (1):1-15.
    Meta-ontology (in van Inwagen's sense) concerns the methodology of ontology, and a controversial meta-ontological issue is to what extent ontology can rely on linguistic analysis while establishing the furniture of the world. This paper discusses an argument advanced by some ontologists (I call them unifiers) against supporters of or coincident entities (I call them multipliers) and its meta-ontological import. Multipliers resort to Leibniz's Law to establish that spatiotemporally coincident entities a and b are distinct, by pointing at a predicate F (...)
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  3. James Blachowicz (2010). The Incompletability of Metaphysics. Idealistic Studies 40 (3):257-273.
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  4. D. Chalmers, D. Manley & R. Wasserman (eds.) (2009). Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology. Oxford University Press.
  5. Daniel Cohnitz & Barry Smith (2003). Assessing Ontologies: The Question of Human Origins and Its Ethical Significance. In E. Runggaldier & C. Kanzian (eds.), Persons: An Interdisciplinary Approach. öbv&hpt.
    In their paper “Sixteen Days” Barry Smith and Berit Brogaard try to answer the question: when does a human being begin to exist? In this paper we will address some methodological issues connected with this exercise in ontology. We shall begin by sketching the argument of “Sixteen Days”. We shall then attempt to characterize what is special about the ontological realism of “Sixteen Days” as contrasted to the linguistic constructivism which represents the more dominant current in contemporary analytic philosophy. This (...)
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  6. Max Colodro (ed.) (2013). Ontologia de la ausencia. La metáfora en el horizonte de la desconstruccion. Editorial Cuarto Propio.
    Metaphor as a central key to understand The metaphisic into The order of language. Deconstruction is a very important process and instrument to iluminate de position of writing for discloseing a New concept of reality.
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  7. Phil Corkum (2014). Review of Daniel D. Novotný and Lukáš Novák (Eds.), Neo-Aristotelian Perspectives in Metaphysics. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 201408:1.
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  8. Sam Cowling (forthcoming). Advice for Eleatics. In Chris Daly (ed.), Palgrave Handbook of Philosophical Methods.
    Eleaticism ties ontology to causality by denying the impossibility of causally inert entities. This paper examines some challenges regarding the proper formulation and general plausibility of Eleaticism. After suggesting how Eleatics ought to respond to these challenges, I consider the prospects for extending Eleaticism from ontology to ideology by requiring all primitive ideology to be causal in nature. Surprisingly enough, the resulting view delivers an eternalist and possibilist metaphysical picture in the neighborhood of Lewisian modal realism.
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  9. Sam Cowling (2013). Ideological Parsimony. Synthese 190 (17):3889-3908.
    The theoretical virtue of parsimony values the minimizing of theoretical commitments, but theoretical commitments come in two kinds: ontological and ideological. While the ontological commitments of a theory are the entities it posits, a theory’s ideological commitments are the primitive concepts it employs. Here, I show how we can extend the distinction between quantitative and qualitative parsimony, commonly drawn regarding ontological commitments, to the domain of ideological commitments. I then argue that qualitative ideological parsimony is a theoretical virtue. My defense (...)
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  10. Chris Daly & David Liggins, Hirsch's Charity Argument Against Revisionary Ontology.
    Eli Hirsch argues that metaphysical debates about material composition are merely verbal and the ontologists who take part in them are talking past each other. According to Hirsch, 'there is no uniquely best ontological language with which to describe the world', a doctrine he calls 'quantifier variance'. Hirsch argues that if we combine quantifier variance with an appeal to interpretative charity, we reach the conclusion that contemporary debates about composition are merely verbal. Much contemporary metaontological discussion has concerned Hirsch’s doctrine (...)
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  11. Chris Daly & David Liggins (2013). Animalism and Deferentialism. Dialectica 67 (4):605-609.
    Animalism is the theory that we are animals: in other words, that each of us is numerically identical to an animal. An alternative theory maintains that we are not animals but that each of us is constituted by an animal. Call this alternative theory neo-Lockean constitutionalism or Lockeanism for short. Stephan Blatti (2012) offers to advance the debate between animalism and Lockeanism by providing a new argument for animalism. In this note, we present our own objection to Blatti's argument, and (...)
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  12. Chris Daly & David Liggins (2011). Deferentialism. Philosophical Studies 156 (3):321-337.
    There is a recent and growing trend in philosophy that involves deferring to the claims of certain disciplines outside of philosophy, such as mathematics, the natural sciences, and linguistics. According to this trend— deferentialism , as we will call it—certain disciplines outside of philosophy make claims that have a decisive bearing on philosophical disputes, where those claims are more epistemically justified than any philosophical considerations just because those claims are made by those disciplines. Deferentialists believe that certain longstanding philosophical problems (...)
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  13. Louis deRosset (forthcoming). Analyticity and Ontology. Oxford Studies in Metaphysics.
    /Analyticity theorists/, as I will call them, endorse the /doctrine of analyticity in ontology/: if some truth P analytically entails the existence of certain things, then a theory that contains P but does not claim that those things exist is no more ontologically parsimonious than a theory that also claims that they exist. Suppose, for instance, that the existence of a table in a certain location is analytically entailed by the existence and features of certain particles in that location. The (...)
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  14. Janice Dowell, J. L. (2008). Serious Metaphysics and the Vindication of Reductions. Philosophical Studies 139 (1):91 - 110.
    What would be sufficient to show of some apparently higher-level property that it is ‘nothing over and above’ some complex configuration of more basic properties? This paper defends a new method for justifying reductions by demonstrating its comparative advantages over two methods recently defended in the literature. Unlike its rivals, what I’ll call “the semantic method” makes a reduction’s truth epistemically transparent without relying on conceptual analyses.
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  15. J. L. Dowell, Janice & Sean Foran (2007). Methodology for Metametaphysics. Philosophical Topics 35 (1/2):19-41.
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  16. Heather Dyke & James Maclaurin (2013). What Shall We Do with Analytic Metaphysics? A Response to McLeod and Parsons. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 91 (1):179 - 182.
    (2013). What Shall We Do with Analytic Metaphysics? A Response to McLeod and Parsons. Australasian Journal of Philosophy: Vol. 91, No. 1, pp. 179-182. doi: 10.1080/00048402.2012.762029.
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  17. Terence Rajivan Edward (2014). Deferentialism and the Territory of Philosophy. Ethos 7 (1):56-62.
    David Liggins and Chris Daly have argued against a recent trend in which some philosophical debate or other is said to be settled by claims from a discipline other than philosophy, because claims from that discipline entail a position on the debate and any claims from that discipline have greater authority than any philosophical claims when the aim is to extend our knowledge. They label this trend deferentialism. This paper presents a dilemma for their argument.
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  18. Matti Eklund (2009). On Some Recent Criticisms of the 'Linguistic' Approach to Ontology. Dialectica 63 (3):313-323.
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  19. Matti Eklund (2008). Book Review. Metaphysics and the Representational Fallacy. Heather Dyke. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.
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  20. Michael Esfeld (2007). Metaphysics of Science Between Metaphysics and Science. Grazer Philosophische Studien 74 (1):199-213.
    The paper argues that metaphysics depends upon science when it comes to claims about the constitution of the real world. That thesis is illustrated by considering the examples of global supervenience, the tenseless vs. the tensed theory of time and existence, events vs. substances, and relations vs. intrinsic properties. An argument is sketched out for a metaphysics of a four-dimensional block universe whose content are events and their sequences, events consisting in physical properties instantiated at space-time points, these properties being (...)
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  21. Michael Esfeld, The Rehabilitation of a Metaphysics of Nature.
    The paper first sketches out a reply to the underdetermination challenge and the incommensurability challenge that rebuts the sceptical conclusions of these challenges and that is sufficient to lay the ground for the project of a metaphysics of nature. That metaphysics is as hypothetical as are our scientific theories. The paper then explains how can one can argue for certain views in the metaphysics of nature based on our current fundamental physical theories, namely a tenseless theory of time and existence (...)
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  22. Michael Esfeld (2006). The Impact of Science on Metaphysics and its Limits. Abstracta 2 (2):86-101.
    The paper argues for three theses: (1) Metaphysics depends on science as a source of knowledge. Our current scientific theories commit us to certain metaphysical claims. (2) As far as science is concerned, it is sufficient to spell these claims out in such a way that they amount to a parsimonious ontology. That ontology, however, creates a gap between our experience and the scientific view of the world. (3) In order to avoid that gap and to achieve a complete and (...)
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  23. Sean Foran (2007). Methodology for Metametaphysics. Philosophical Topics 35 (1/2):19-41.
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  24. María G. Navarro (2014). Fotografía de un método. Revista Cronopio 51 (12 june).
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  25. Peter Godfrey-Smith (2006). Theories and Models in Metaphysics. The Harvard Review of Philosophy 14 (1):4-19.
    Metaphysics is once again a thriving subdiscipline within philosophy, despite a long tradition of challenges to the very viability of the metaphysical enterprise. The criticisms have not so much been satisfactorily answered, as shouldered aside by the vigorous development of the field. Some focused meta-theoretic discussion has recently arisen within mainstream metaphysics.1 The present paper is written more from an outsider's vantage point. I attempt to give a new meta-theory for some parts of metaphysics. The central claim is that much (...)
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  26. Dale Gottlieb (1976). A Method for Ontology, with Applications to Numbers and Events. Journal of Philosophy 73 (18):637-651.
  27. Dirk Greimann (2000). No Entity Without Identity. Grazer Philosophische Studien 60:13-29.
    Quine has persuasively shown that the empiricist "dogma of reductionism", which is the belief that each meaningfiil statement of science can be reduced to statements about immediate sense experience, must be abandoned. However, Quine's methodology of ontology seems to incorporate an analogous physicalistic dogma according to which the identity conditions of each scientifically respectable sort of abstract objects can be reduced to the identity conditions of physical objects. This paper aims to show that the latter dogma must be abandoned, too. (...)
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  28. Nat Hansen (2014). Contemporary Ordinary Language Philosophy. Philosophy Compass 9 (8):556-569.
    There is a widespread assumption that ordinary language philosophy was killed off sometime in the 1960s or 70s by a combination of Gricean pragmatics and the rapid development of systematic semantic theory. Contrary to that widespread assumption, however, contemporary versions of ordinary language philosophy are alive and flourishing but going by various aliases – in particular (some versions of) ‘contextualism’ and (some versions of) ‘experimental philosophy’. And a growing group of contemporary philosophers are explicitly embracing the title as well as (...)
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  29. Kevin J. Harrelson (2012). Idealistic Ontological Arguments in Royce, Collingwood, and Others. Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 48 (4):411-435.
    This essay examines how, in the early twentieth century, ontological arguments were employed in the defense of metaphysical idealism. The idealists of the period tended to grant that ontological arguments defy our usual expectations in logic, and so they were less concerned with the formal properties of Anselmian arguments. They insisted, however, that ontological arguments are indispensable, and they argued that we can trust argumentation as such only if we presume that there is a valid ontological argument. In the first (...)
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  30. Matthew C. Haug (ed.) (2013). Philosophical Methodology: The Armchair or the Laboratory? Routledge.
    What methodology should philosophers follow? Should they rely on methods that can be conducted from the armchair? Or should they leave the armchair and turn to the methods of the natural sciences, such as experiments in the laboratory? Or is this opposition itself a false one? Arguments about philosophical methodology are raging in the wake of a number of often conflicting currents, such as the growth of experimental philosophy, the resurgence of interest in metaphysical questions, and the use of formal (...)
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  31. Thomas Hofweber (2009). Ambitious, yet Modest, Metaphysics. In David John Chalmers, David Manley & Ryan Wasserman (eds.), Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology. Oxford University Press. 260--289.
    There is a long history of worrying about whether or not metaphysics is a legitimate philosophical discipline. Traditionally such worries center around issues of meaning and epistemological concerns. Do the metaphysical questions have any meaning? Can metaphysical methodology lead to knowledge? But these questions are, in my opinion, not as serious as they have sometimes (historically) been taken to be. What is much more concerning is another set of worries about metaphysics, which I take to the greatest threat to metaphysics (...)
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  32. John Horden (forthcoming). Devious Stipulations. Oxford Studies in Metaphysics.
    Recent attempts to answer ontological questions through conceptual analysis have been controversial. Nonetheless, contemporary metaphysicians mostly agree that if the existence of certain things analytically follows from sentences we already accept, then there is no further ontological commitment involved in affirming the existence of those things. More generally, it is plausible that whenever a sentence analytically entails another, the conjunction of those sentences requires nothing more of the world for its truth than the former sentence alone. In his ‘Analyticity and (...)
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  33. Nurbay Irmak (2014). Purpose-Relativity and Ontology. Dissertation, University of Miami
  34. Nurbay Irmak (2013). The Privilege of the Physical and the Status of Ontological Debates. Philosophical Studies 166 (1 Supplement):1-18.
    Theodore Sider in his latest book provides a defense of the substantivity of the first-order ontological debates against recent deflationary attacks. He articulates and defends several realist theses: (a) nature has an objective structure, (b) there is an objectively privileged language to describe the structure, and (c) ontological debates are substantive. Sider’s defense of metaontological realism, (c), crucially depends on his realism about fundamental languages, (b). I argue that (b) is wrong. As a result, Sider’s metaontological realism fails to establish (...)
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  35. Uriah Kriegel (2014). L'empirisme introspectif: un coup d’œil sous le voile des phénomènes. Philosophie 124:53-79.
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  36. Uriah Kriegel (2013). The Epistemological Challenge of Revisionary Metaphysics. Philosophers' Imprint 13 (12).
    This paper presents a systematic challenge to the viability of revisionary metaphysics. The challenge is to provide epistemic grounds on which one might justifiably believe that a revisionary-metaphysical theory in some area is more likely to be true than its competitors. I argue that upon close examination, the main candidates for providing such grounds — empirical evidence, intuition, and the theoretical virtues — all turn out to be unsatisfactory.
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  37. Felipe Ledesma (2008). Método y transcendentalidad en el Tractatus. In Luis Fernández Moreno (ed.), Para leer a Wittgenstein. Lenguaje y pensamiento. 155-188.
    This article is a commentary of the section 5.552 of the Tractatus, about the “experience” that is necessary to understand logic, from the point of view of the so called continental philosophy. In this commentary are tackled some questions: what is exactly this “experience”?; what does mean that logic is a speculative image of the world?; how are the relations between logic and metaphysics (the two components of philosophy, according to Wittgenstein)? All these questions lead us to the conception of (...)
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  38. Laureano Luna (forthcoming). No Successful Infinite Regress. Logic and Logical Philosophy.
    We model infinite regress structures -not arguments- by means of ungrounded recursively defined functions in order to show that no such structure can perform the task of providing determination to the items composing it, that is, that no determination process containing an infinite regress structure is successful.
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  39. Laureano Luna (2014). No Successfull Infinite Regress. Logic and Logical Philosophy 23 (2).
    We model infinite regress structures -not arguments- by means of ungrounded recursively defined functions in order to show that no such structure can perform the task of providing determination to the items composing it, that is, that no determination process containing an infinite regress structure is successful.
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  40. Christy Mag Uidhir (2013). Art, Metaphysics, & the Paradox of Standards. In , Art & Abstract Objects. Oxford University Press.
    I consider the field of aesthetics to be at its most productive and engaging when adopting a broadly philosophically informative approach to its core issues (e.g., shaping and testing putative art theoretic commitments against the relevant standard models employed in philosophy of language, metaphysics, and philosophy of mind) and to be at its most impotent and bewildering when cultivating a philosophically insular character (e.g., selecting interpretative, ontological, or conceptual models solely for fit with pre-fixed art theoretic commitments). For example, when (...)
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  41. Stephen Maitzen (2013). Questioning the Question. In Tyron Goldschmidt (ed.), The Puzzle of Existence: Why is There Something Rather than Nothing? Routledge. 252-271.
    Why is there something rather than nothing? Apparently many people regard that question as a challenge to naturalism because they think it’s too fundamental or too sweeping for natural science to answer, even in principle. I argue, on the contrary, that the question has a simple and adequate naturalistic answer: ‘Because there are penguins.’ I then diagnose various confusions underlying the suspicion that the question can’t have such an answer and, more generally, that the question, or else some variant of (...)
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  42. David Manley (2009). When Best Theories Go Bad. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 78 (2):392-405.
    It is common for contemporary metaphysical realists to adopt Quine’s criterion of ontological commitment while at the same time repudiating his ontological pragmatism. Drawing heavily from the work of others--especially Joseph Melia and Stephen Yablo--I will argue that the resulting approach to metaontology is unstable. In particular, if we are metaphysical realists, we need not accept ontological commitment to whatever is quantified over by our best first-order theories.
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  43. Nicholas Maxwell (2014). Three Criticisms of Newton’s Inductive Argument in the Principia. Advances in Historical Studies 3 (1):2-11.
    In this paper, I discuss how Newton’s inductive argument of the Principia can be defended against criticisms levelled against it by Duhem, Popper and myself. I argue that Duhem’s and Popper’s criticisms can be countered, but mine cannot. It requires that we reconsider, not just Newton’s inductive argument in the Principia, but also the nature of science more generally. The methods of science, whether conceived along inductivist or hypothetico-deductivist lines, make implicit metaphysical presuppositions which rigour requires we make explicit within (...)
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  44. Andrew Melnyk (2009). Naturalism as a Philosophical Paradigm. Philo 12 (2):188-199.
    I develop the conjecture that “naturalism” in philosophy names not a thesis but a paradigm in something like Thomas Kuhn’s sense, i.e., a set of commitments, shared by a group of investigators, whose acceptance by the members of the group powerfully influences their day-to-day investigative practice. I take a stab at spelling out the shared commitments that make up naturalism, and the logical and evidential relations among them.
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  45. Moti Mizrahi (2014). Essentialism: Metaphysical or Psychological? Croatian Journal of Philosophy 1 (40):65-72.
    In this paper, I argue that Psychological Essentialism (PE), the view that essences are a heuristic or mental shortcut, is a better explanation for modal intuitions than Metaphysical Essentialism (ME), the view that objects have essences, or more precisely, that (at least some) objects have (at least some) essential properties. If this is correct, then the mere fact that we have modal intuitions is not a strong reason to believe that objects have essential properties.
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  46. Friederike Moltmann (2013). The Semantics of Existence. Linguistics and Philosophy 36 (1):31-63.
    The notion of existence is a very puzzling one philosophically. Often philosophers have appealed to linguistic properties of sentences stating existence. However, the appeal to linguistic intuitions has generally not been systematic and without serious regard of relevant issues in linguistic semantics. This paper has two aims. On the one hand, it will look at statements of existence from a systematic linguistic point of view, in order to try to clarify what the actual semantics of such statements in fact is. (...)
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  47. Friederike Moltmann (2004). Properties and Kinds of Tropes: New Linguistic Facts and Old Philosophical Insights. Mind 113 (449):1-41.
    Terms such as 'wisdom' or 'happiness' are commonly held to refer to abstract objects that are properties. On the basis of a greater range of linguistic data and with the support of some ancient and medieval philosophical views, I argue that such terms do not stand for objects, but rather for kinds of tropes, entities that do not have the status of objects, but only play a role as semantic values of terms and as arguments of predicates. Such ‘non-objects’ crucially (...)
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  48. Matteo Morganti (2013). Combining Science and Metaphysics. Palgrave Macmillan.
    Science and philosophy both express, and attempt to quench, the distinctively human thirst for knowledge. Today, their mutual relationship has become one of conflict or indifference rather than cooperation. At the same time, scientists and philosophers alike have moved away from at least some of our ordinary beliefs. But what can scientific and philosophical theories tell us about the world, in isolation from each other? And to what extent does a sophisticated investigation into the nature of things force us to (...)
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  49. Alyssa Ney (2012). Neo-Positivist Metaphysics. Philosophical Studies 160 (1):53-78.
    Some philosophers argue that many contemporary debates in metaphysics are “illegitimate,” “shallow,” or “trivial,” and that “contemporary analytic metaphysics, a professional activity engaged in by some extremely intelligent and morally serious people, fails to qualify as part of the enlightened pursuit of objective truth, and should be discontinued” (Ladyman and Ross, Every thing must go: Metaphysics naturalized , 2007 ). Many of these critics are explicit about their sympathies with Rudolf Carnap and his circle, calling themselves ‘neo-positivists’ or ‘neo-Carnapians.’ Yet (...)
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  50. Daniel Nolan (2007). Contemporary Metaphysicians and Their Traditions. Philosophical Topics 35 (1-2):1-18.
    When invited to consider the methodology of contemporary metaphysics, quite a number of procedures spring to mind as part of the metaphysician's toolkit. These include: eliciting and relying on intuitions; solving location problems and using “conceptual analysis”; inference to the best theory, both on internal metaphysical grounds and drawing from the theoretical reaches of the sciences; working on topics clearly close to, or even overlapping, those of other areas of inquiry using techniques of those other areas; achieving coherence with other (...)
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