Does ontology exist?

Philosophy 77 (2):235-260 (2002)
Early analytic philosophers like Carnap, Wittgenstein and Ryle regarded ontology as a branch of metaphysics that is either trivial or meaningless. But at present it is generally assumed that philosophy can make substantial discoveries about what kinds of things exist and about the essence of these kinds. My paper challenges this ontological turn. The currently predominant conceptions of the subject, at any rate, do not license the idea that ontology can provide distinctively philosophical insights into the constituents of reality. I distinguish four main sources of analytic ontology—Strawson's descriptive metaphysics, Kripke's realist semantics, the Austro-Australian truth-maker principle, Quine's naturalistic conception of ontology—and indicate briefly why the first three do not rehabilitate ontology. In the remainder, I concentrate on the most influential and promising position. Quinean ontology seeks to bring out and reduce the ontological commitments of our best scientific theories through logical paraphrase. Against this programme, I argue that Quine's conception of ontological commitment is inadequate, and that his logical paraphrase cannot contribute to the exploration of reality, but at most to the clarification of our conceptual framework.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 9,351
External links
  •   Try with proxy.
  • Through your library Configure
    References found in this work BETA

    No references found.

    Citations of this work BETA

    No citations found.

    Similar books and articles

    Monthly downloads

    Added to index


    Total downloads

    88 ( #11,385 of 1,088,371 )

    Recent downloads (6 months)

    2 ( #42,603 of 1,088,371 )

    How can I increase my downloads?

    My notes
    Sign in to use this feature

    Start a new thread
    There  are no threads in this forum
    Nothing in this forum yet.