Carnapian theses in metaontology and metaethics
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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In contemporary debates about ontology, one prominent skeptical view emphasizes the existence of different possible languages for doing ontology. Eli Hirsch, in recent years the most prominent proponent of a view like this, has defended the claim that “many familiar questions about the ontology of physical objects are merely verbal. Nothing is substantively at stake in these questions beyond the correct use of language” and the claim that “quantifier expressions can have different meaning in different languages”.1 Ted Sider, while critical of the type of view Hirsch defends, has in many places prominently singled it out for critical discussion. In his (2001), he associates with Carnap the view that “different frameworks employ different semantic rules for the quantifiers”, and says that a theorist in Carnap’s tradition would say that the stuff-ontologist and the thing-ontologist have different “frameworks” and that “[W]ithin these frameworks there are answers to what there is, but any question about which framework is the right framework is metaphysical in the pejorative sense of being a pseudo-question”.2 In his (forthcoming), Sider discusses at length the view that disputants in ontological disputes use the same sentences with different meaning and hence in fact each speak the truth, and what he describes as the attendant view that “there are multiple candidate meanings for the quantifiers”.3 In his (2005), Cian Dorr critically discusses “the idea that there are many different possible languages which differ systematically in the truth-values they assign to general ontological claims”.4..
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