Theories and Models in Metaphysics

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 metaphysical work, especially of the contemporary systematic kind, might best be understood as model-building, in a specific sense of this term that draws on recent philosophy of science.
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DOI harvardreview20061411
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