David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Midwest Studies in Philosophy 17 (1):160-176 (1992)
Metaphysics-—the enquiry into the constitution of reality-seems like the very crown of philosophy. What could be more exciting, more important, and more substantive than the pursuit of such a discipline? The majority of philosophers have been content to assume that metaphysics is a viable enterprise; they have held various metaphysical views and engaged in metaphysical arguments. But there has always been a small but persistent maverick minority of philosophers who have cast aspersions on the whole undertaking. Metaphysics, they tell us, cannot be what it seems. There is something desperately wrong at the heart of the discipline. The jewel is a fake; it is in fact worthless glass. Philosophers make a lot of noise about metaphysics, but perhaps there are really no genuine metaphysical issues—only a lot of bogus hot air. Perhaps metaphysics is a meaningless tale told by idiot philosophers—full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. These pessimistic philosophers may have been few, but they rank among their numbers no less than Wittgenstein, the positivists, and perhaps Kant. So the attitude is to be taken seriously.
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