Metametaphysics and Substance: Two Case Studies [Book Review]

Axiomathes 21 (4):491-505 (2011)
Abstract
This paper examines an often-ignored aspect of the evaluation of metaphysical analyses, namely, their ontological commitments. Such evaluations are part of metaphysical methodology, and reflection on this methodology is itself part of metametaphysics. I will develop a theory for assessing what these commitments are, and then I will apply it to an important historical and an important contemporary metaphysical analysis of the concept of an individual substance (i.e., an object, or thing). I claim that in evaluating metaphysical analyses, we should not only rule out counterexamples, but also compare them with respect to their ontological commitments, and we should hold that if they are comparable in other respects, then an analysis with fewer such commitments is preferable to one with more (There is, of course, a connection between counterexamples and ontological commitments. If the existence or possible existence of something one is committed to the existence or possible existence of is incompatible with an analysis, then one should reject that analysis as inadequate to the data. On the other hand, if one is uncertain about the existence or possible existence of something that is incompatible with an analysis, then while this does not refute the analysis for one, it raises doubts about it. The fewer such doubts are raised by an analysis, the better it is.)
Keywords Aristotle  Substance  Metametaphysics  Ontology  Ontological commitments  E. J. LOWE  Philosophical analysis
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