A modest proposal concerning laws, counterfactuals, and explanations - - Why be Humean? -- Suggestions from physics for deep metaphysics -- On the passing of time -- Causation, counterfactuals, and the third factor -- The whole ball of wax -- Epilogue : a remark on the method of metaphysics.
The relevance of analytic metaphysics has come under criticism: Ladyman & Ross, for instance, have suggested do discontinue the field. French & McKenzie have argued in defense of analytic metaphysics that it develops tools that could turn out to be useful for philosophy of physics. In this article, we show first that this heuristic defense of metaphysics can be extended to the scientific field of applied ontology, which uses constructs from analytic metaphysics. Second, we elaborate on (...) a parallel by French & McKenzie between mathematics and metaphysics to show that the whole field of analytic metaphysics, being useful not only for philosophy but also for science, should continue to exist as a largely autonomous field. (shrink)
There is an old meta-philosophical worry: very roughly, metaphysical theories have no observational consequences and so the study of metaphysics has no value. The worry has been around in some form since the rise of logical positivism in the early twentieth century but has seen a bit of a renaissance recently. In this paper, I provide an apology for metaphysics in the face of this kind of concern. The core of the argument is this: pure mathematics detaches from (...) science in much the same manner as metaphysics and yet it is valuable nonetheless. The source of value enjoyed by pure mathematics extends to metaphysics as well. Accordingly, if one denies that metaphysics has value, then one is forced to deny that pure mathematics has value. The argument places an added burden on the sceptic of metaphysics. If one truly believes that metaphysics is worthless (as some philosophers do), then one must give up on pure mathematics as well. (shrink)
George Molnar came to see that the solution to a number of the problems in contemporary philosophy lay in the development of an alternative to Hume's metaphysics, with real causal powers at its center. Molnar's eagerly anticipated book setting out his theory of powers was almost complete when he died, and has been prepared for publication by Stephen Mumford, who provides a context-setting introduction.
This volume is devoted to Lewis's work in metaphysics and epistemology. Topics covered include properties, ontology, possibility, truthmaking, probability, the mind-body problem, vision, belief, and knowledge. The purpose of this collection, and the volumes that precede and follow it, is to disseminate more widely the work of an eminent and influential contemporary philosopher. The volume will serve as a useful work of reference for teachers and students of philosophy.
When I say that my conception of metaphysics is Aristotelian, or neo-Aristotelian, this may have more to do with Aristotle’s philosophical methodology than his metaphysics, but, as I see it, the core of this Aristotelian conception of metaphysics is the idea that metaphysics is the first philosophy . In what follows I will attempt to clarify what this conception of metaphysics amounts to in the context of some recent discussion on the methodology of metaphysics (...) (e.g. Chalmers et al . (2009), Ladyman and Ross (2007)). There is a lot of hostility towards the Aristotelian conception of metaphysics in this literature: for instance, the majority of the contributors to the Metametaphysics volume assume a rather more deflationary, Quinean approach towards metaphysics. In the process of replying to the criticisms towards Aristotelian metaphysics put forward in recent literature I will also identify some methodological points which deserve more attention and ought to be addressed in future research. (shrink)
This provocative book refurbishes the traditional account of freedom of will as reasons-guided "agent" causation, situating its account within a general metaphysics. O'Connor's discussion of the general concept of causation and of ontological reductionism v. emergence will specially interest metaphysicians and philosophers of mind.
What is the rationale for the methodological innovations of experimental philosophy? This paper starts from the contention that common answers to this question are implausible. It then develops a framework within which experimental philosophy fulfills a specific function in an otherwise traditionalist picture of philosophical inquiry. The framework rests on two principal ideas. The first is Frank Jackson’s claim that conceptual analysis is unavoidable in ‘serious metaphysics’. The second is that the psychological structure of concepts is extremely intricate, much (...) more so than early practitioners of conceptual analysis had realized. This intricacy has implications for the activity of analyzing concepts: while the central, coarser, more prominent contours of a concept may be identified from the armchair, the finer details of the concept’s structure require experimental methods to detect. (shrink)
Recent philosophy of science has been seized by what may appear a schizophrenic attitude towards analytic metaphysics. Some philosophers of science have embraced metaphysical theorizing as an important tool for interpreting and extending scientific theories, while others reject analytic metaphysics as misguided, futile, or epistemically impotent. The idea of naturalized metaphysics—metaphysics appropriately ‘grounded’ in the details of empirical science—offers one possibility of a rapprochement between these seemingly conflicting attitudes. In this chapter, however, it is argued that (...) the crucial notion of ‘grounding’, and hence the idea of naturalized metaphysics itself, have not yet been articulated in a compelling manner. The beginnings of an articulation are sketched. (shrink)
Critics of contemporary metaphysics argue that it attempts to do the hard work of science from the ease of the armchair. Physics, not metaphysics, tells us about the fundamental facts of the world, and empirical psychology is best placed to reveal the content of our concepts about the world. Exploring and understanding the world through metaphysical reflection is obsolete. In this paper, I will show why this critique of metaphysics fails, arguing that metaphysical methods used to make (...) claims about the world are similar to scientific methods used to make claims about the world, but that the subjects of metaphysics are not the subjects of science. Those who argue that metaphysics uses a problematic methodology to make claims about subjects better covered by natural science get the situation exactly the wrong way around: metaphysics has a distinctive subject matter, not a distinctive methodology. The questions metaphysicians address are different from those of scientists, but the methods employed to develop and select theories are similar. In the first section of the paper, I will describe the sort of subject matter that metaphysics tends to engage with. In the second section of the paper, I will show how metaphysical theories are classes of models and discuss the roles of experience, common sense and thought experiments in the construction and evaluation of such models. Finally, in the last section I will discuss the way these methodological points help us to understand the metaphysical project. Getting the right account of the metaphysical method allows us to better understand the relationship between science and metaphysics, to explain why doing metaphysics successfully involves having a range of different theories, to understand the role of thought experiments involving fictional worlds, and to situate metaphysical realism in a scientifically realist context. (shrink)
This chapter examines the status of inference to the best explanation in naturalistic metaphysics. The methodology of inference to the best explanation in metaphysics is studied from the perspective of contemporary views on scientific explanation and explanatory inferences in the history and philosophy of science. This reveals serious shortcomings in prevalent attempts to vindicate metaphysical "explanationism" by reference to similarities between science and naturalistic metaphysics. This critique is brought out by considering a common gambit of methodological unity: (...) (1) Both metaphysics and science employ inference to the best explanation. (2) One has no reason to think that if explanationism is truth-conducive in science, it is not so in metaphysics. (3) One has a positive reason to think that if explanationism is truth-conducive in science, it is also so in metaphysics. (shrink)
Jonathan Lowe argues that metaphysics should be restored to a central position in philosophy, as the most fundamental form of inquiry, whose findings underpin those of all other disciplines. He portrays metaphysics as charting the possibilities of existence, by identifying the categories of being and the relations between them. He sets out his own original metaphysical system, within which he seeks to answer many of the deepest questions in philosophy. 'a very rich book... deserves to be read carefully (...) by anyone interested in any of the many subjects he discusses.' Katherine Hawley, British Journal of the Philosophy of Science. (shrink)
In this chapter I offer an interpretation of Judith Butler’s metaphysics of sex and gender and situate it in the ontological landscape alongside what has long been the received view of sex and gender in the English speaking world, which owes its inspiration to the works of Simone de Beauvoir. I then offer a critique of Butler’s view, as interpreted, and subsequently an original account of sex and gender, according to which both are constructed—or conferred, as I would put (...) it— albeit in different ways and subject to different constraints. (shrink)
This is a critical, but sympathetic, examination of the manifesto for naturalized metaphysics that forms the first chapter of James Ladyman and Don Ross's 2006 book, Every Thing Must Go, but it has wider implications than this description suggests.
The paper outlines a tentative genealogy of the Platonic metaphysics of sight by thematizing pre-Platonic thought, particularly Heraclitus and Parmenides. By “metaphysics of sight” it understands the features of Platonic-Aristotelian metaphysics expressed with the help of visual metaphors. It is argued that the Platonic metaphysics of sight can be regarded as the result of a synthesis of the Heraclitean and Parmenidean approaches. In pre-Platonic thought, the visual paradigm is still marginal. For Heraclitus, the basic structure of (...) being is its discursive articulation (logos) into conceptual pairs of binary opposites, an articulation that at the same time binds differences together into a tensional unity. The fundamental grasping of this ultimate unity-in-difference is conceived primarily through acoustic terms as a non-sensory “hearing.” For Parmenides, the ultimate unity of contraries is based on the capacity of thinking (noos) to intend anything as present; in fragment B 4, the exclusive relationship of thinking to intelligible presence is finally visualized in terms of a seeing or looking (leusso). (shrink)
Analyzing the position of two philosophers whose views are recognizably divergent, W. O. Quine and M. Dummett, we intend to support a striking point of agreement between them: the idea that our logical principles constitute our principles about what there is, and therefore, that logic is metaphysics.
The viability of metaphysics as a field of knowledge has been challenged time and again. But in spite of the continuing tendency to dismiss metaphysics, there has been considerable progress in this field in the 20th- and 21st- centuries. One of the newest − though, in a sense, also oldest − frontiers of metaphysics is the grounding project. In this paper I raise a methodological challenge to the new grounding project and propose a constructive solution. Both the (...) challenge and its solution apply to metaphysics in general, but grounding theory puts the challenge in an especially sharp focus. The solution consists of a new methodology, holistic grounding or holistic metaphysics. This methodology is modeled after a recent epistemic methodology, foundational holism, that enables us to pursue the foundational project of epistemology without being hampered by the problems associated with foundationalism. (shrink)
In Metaphysics A, Aristotle offers some objections to Plato’s theory of Forms to the effect that Plato’s Forms would not be explanatory in the right way, and seems to suggest that they might even make the explanatory project worse. One interesting historical puzzle is whether Aristotle can avoid these same objections to his own theory of universals. The concerns Aristotle raises are, I think, cousins of contemporary concerns about the usefulness and explanatoriness of abstract objects, some of which have (...) recently been receiving attention in the philosophy of mathematics. After discussing Aristotle’s objections and their contemporary cousins, the paper discusses some of the main available lines of response to these sorts of challenges, before concluding with an examination of whether these responses could assist Plato or Aristotle in responding to these challenges. (shrink)
Since Descartes, the nature of doubt has played a central role in the development of metaphysics both positively and negatively. Despite this fact, there has been very little discussion centering round the specific nature of doubt which led, for example, to the Cartesian discovery of the cogito. Certainly, the role of doubt has been well recognized: through doubt Descartes arrives at his indubitable first principle. But what can it mean to doubt the existence of the sensible world? This would (...) seem to rest upon the assumption that we have clear and distinct knowledge of the precise nature of what it means to exist and indeed of what it means to be. As it stands, Descartes’ initiates his Meditations upon certain definite assumptions that demand more thorough interrogation. In this paper and presentation, I examine the possible assumptions inherent in the Cartesian method of doubt within the first and second meditation and the manner in which this leads to the discovery of the cogito. I consider a number of essential questions in light of this: What presuppositions lie at bottom to Cartesian doubt? What is the precise nature of metaphysical doubt? What can it mean to doubt the existence of the sensible world? (shrink)
This essay expounds Avicenna’s doctrine of the analogy of being and examine the function it plays in his Metaphysics of the Healing. In the first part addresses the question: What is Avicenna’s doctrine of the analogy of being? The essay begins by situating Avicenna’s doctrine of the analogy of being within the epistemological framework of his account of metaphysics as an Aristotelian science. It then explicates Avicenna’s own presentation of analogy within his account of names of univocity, analogy, (...) resemblance, and equivocity, and elucidates his division of absolute and relational analogies. The second part probes the question: Is Avicenna’s doctrine of the analogy of being consistent with his account of the subject of metaphysics as being qua being? This part shows why Avicenna rejects that being is univocal and presents two ways for interpreting consistently his doctrine of the analogical character of being qua being. (shrink)
John Duns Scotus authored two works on Aristotle's metaphysics, the Questions on the Metaphysics and the Remarks on the Metaphysics. The Questions were copied several times and were soon regarded as one of Scotus's major works. A close study of Scotus's views on the nature, method, and limits of metaphysics in the Questions provides an access key to an otherwise intractable work. Scotus had a particularly lofty conception of metaphysics as the discipline that both considers (...) anything whatsoever with regard to its most general features and inquires into the deeper structure of reality. Scotus was acutely aware of some severe cognitive limitations that actually mar our current practice of metaphysics. Scotus developed an original conception of how it is possible to overcome the current cognitive limitations and grasp the deeper structure of reality by the exercise of purely intellectual powers. (shrink)
In his rich and complex narrative of the different routes of Anglo-American philosophy in the past decades, Karl Ameriks diagnoses a recent and growing “interest in the metaphysical side of German philosophy.” What is more, he embraces this “metaphysical turn,” arguing that there is “no responsible way” to approach the merits of the classical German tradition without engaging such metaphysical questions. Since both the content of his diagnosis and his plea for a renewed engagement with ‘metaphysics’ depend on his (...) specific use of this term, I will make two comments meant to clarify Ameriks’ understanding of this concept. I will suggest that, if we abide by his specific conception, much of the ‘new desire for metaphysics’ that the editors of this volume see at work in contemporary philosophy will remain unsatisfied. The first indication of this lies in the fact that, (I) it seems far from obvious that ‘metaphysical’ philosophy as Ameriks understands it is actually opposed to a number of self-proclaimed ‘post-metaphysical’ projects in contemporary philosophy. The second, more substantive point I want to highlight (II) is the specifically modest, defensive, and reflexive understanding of metaphysics that underlies Ameriks’ account. (shrink)
The paper outlines a deflationary interpretation of Hegel’s metaphysics, as presented in the Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences. It focuses mainly on the Science of Logic as a theory of categories, which explores the movement of the Concept. The major idea is to read Hegel’s identification of logic and metaphysics as a thesis on deflating metaphysics into logic and semantics. Hegel’s metaphysics, which may better be called logico-metaphysics, does not describe the objective world directly. Rather, (...) as a second-order theory, it unfolds and makes transparent the fundamental concepts that are necessary for our understanding of the world and our orientation in it. -/- The paper begins with a brief discussion of Hegel’s idea of philosophy as system. The argument is made that Hegel should be interpreted holistically, in contrast to the popular approach of distinguishing between what is living and what is dead in his philosophy. In the second and third parts of the paper, an analysis is given of Hegel’s criticism of Kant, with an explanation of how Hegel’s Logic further develops Kant’s project of transforming traditional metaphysics. Here, the interesting fact that Hegel’s logical categories are not derived from an absolute first principle is pointed out. Instead, the task of Hegel’s Logic is to comprehend and systematize the concepts that have already been evolved in the history of philosophy. In the last part of the paper, the deflationary approach is extended to Hegel’s Realphilosophie. While Hegel’s Logic takes the place of ontology, his Philosophy of Nature and Spirit offers a comprehensive metaphysica specialis, laying conceptual foundations for understanding various dimensions of reality, from nature through the ethical-political world to different cultural domains. The paper takes Hegel’s Philosophy of Objective Spirit as an example to illustrate how the deflationary interpretation sheds light on Hegel’s “practical” philosophy as a second-order theory that does not aim to uncover first-order normative principles for guiding actions, but rather to develop the concepts necessary for normative judgments. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to (i) reject the notion that one can ascribe no metaphysical commitments to Hegel; and (ii) argue that the kind of metaphysics one ought to ascribe to Hegel is a robust yet immanent/naturalist variety. I begin by exploring two reasons why one may think Hegel’s philosophical system has no metaphysical commitments. I argue that one of these reasons is based on a particular understanding of Hegel as a post-Kantian philosopher, whereas the second reason (...) is centred on a particular understanding of the philosophical viability of metaphysics as a form of enquiry simpliciter. My discussion of these ways of seeing the motivation for regarding Hegel in an anti-metaphysical way concludes with a rejection of the interpretation of conceiving Hegelianism without metaphysics. I then move on to address what I take to be the more pertinent and serious issue of what kind of metaphysician Hegel was. To this end, I argue that the best way of understanding Hegelian metaphysics is by conceiving of it as a combination of Aristotelian first philosophy and Kantian critique. To put this in the form of a slogan, I interpret Hegel’s metaphysics as a form of speculative naturalism. (shrink)
This article makes a distinction between pure and naturalized metaphysics and characterized F. H. Bradley's metaphysics as the former, according to which pure reason alone independent of the natural sciences discovers the true nature of reality. Bradley's view is critically evaluated via the the naturalized views of A. N. Whitehead and W. V. Quine.
According to dispositional realism, or dispositionalism, the entities inhabiting our world possess irreducibly dispositional properties – often called ‘powers’ – by means of which they are sources of change. Dispositionalism has become increasingly popular among metaphysicians in the last three decades as it offers a realist account of causation and provides novel avenues for understanding modality, laws of nature, agency, free will and other key concepts in metaphysics. At the same time, dispositionalism is receiving growing interest among philosophers of (...) science. This reflects the substantial role scientific findings play in arguments for dispositionalism which, as a metaphysics of science, aims to elucidate the very foundations of science. In this introductory chapter, I give an overview of the state of the debate and explain the twofold aim of the present collection of essays which is (i) to explore the ontological commitments of dispositionalism and (ii) to discuss these against the background of latest scientific research, by bringing together perspectives from both metaphysics and the philosophy of science. I finally provide a summary of this intellectual journey. (shrink)
In the last few decades of the twentieth century there was a revolution in metaphysics: the intensional revolution. Many metaphysicians rejected the doctrine, associated with Quine and Davidson, that extensional analyses and theoretical resources were the only acceptable ones. Metaphysicians embraced tools like modal and counterfactual analyses, claims of modal and counterfactual dependence, and entities such as possible worlds and intensionally individuated properties and relations. The twenty-first century is seeing a hypterintensional revolution. Theoretical tools in common use carve more (...) finely than by necessary equivalence: two pieces of language can apply to the same entities across all possible worlds but not be equivalent; thoughts can be necessarily equivalent in truth value but not synonymous. This paper argues that hyperintensional resources are valuable in metaphysics outside theories of representation, and discusses some promising areas of hyperintensional metaphysics. (shrink)
This anthology introduces advanced undergraduates and beginning graduate students to today's debates in metaphysics. The book consists of essays by contemporary metaphysicians, and all but one appear here for the first time. For each of nine topics, there are two essays, one "pro-" and one "con-".
What is the self? Does it exist? If it does exist, what is it like? It's not clear that we even know what we're asking about when we ask these large, metaphysical questions. The idea of the self comes very naturally to us, and it seems rather important, but it's also extremely puzzling. As for the word "self"--it's been taken in so many different ways that it seems that you can mean more or less what you like by it and (...) come up with almost any answer. Galen Strawson proposes to approach the (seeming) problem of the self by starting from the thing that makes it seem there is a problem in the first place: our experience of the self, our experience of having or being a self, a hidden, inner mental presence or locus of consciousness. He argues that we should consider the phenomenology (experience) of the self before we attempt its metaphysics (its existence and nature). And when we have considered what it's like for human beings (assuming we can generalize about ourselves), we need to consider what it might be like for other possible creatures: what's the very least that might count as experience of oneself as a self? This, he proposes, will give us a good idea of what we ought to be looking for when we go on to ask whether there is such a thing-an idea worth following wherever it leads. It leads Strawson to conclude that selves, inner subjects of experience, do indeed exist. But they bear little resemblance to traditional conceptions of the self. (shrink)
_Metaphysics: A Contemporary Introduction_ is for students who have already completed an introductory philosophy course and need a fresh look at the central topics in the core subject of metaphysics. It is essential reading for any student of the subject. This Fourth Edition is revised and updated and includes two new chapters on Parts and Wholes, and Metaphysical Indeterminacy or vagueness. This new edition also keeps the user-friendly format, the chapter overviews summarizing the main topics, concrete examples to clarify (...) difficult concepts, annotated further reading at the end of each chapter, endnotes, and a full bibliography. Topics addressed include: the problem of universals the nature of abstract entities the problem of individuation the nature of modality identity through time the nature of time the nature of parts and wholes the problem of metaphysical indeterminacy the Realism/anti-Realism debate. Wherever possible, Michael J. Loux and Thomas M. Crisp relate contemporary views to their classical sources in the history of philosophy. As experienced teachers of philosophy and important contributors to recent debates, Loux and Crisp are uniquely qualified to write this book. (shrink)
This challenging study places fiction squarely at the centre of the discussion of metaphysics. Philosophers have traditionally treated fiction as involving a set of narrow problems in logic or the philosophy of language. By contrast Amie Thomasson argues that fiction has far-reaching implications for central problems of metaphysics. The book develops an 'artifactual' theory of fiction, whereby fictional characters are abstract artifacts as ordinary as laws or symphonies or works of literature. By understanding fictional characters we come to (...) understand how other cultural and social objects are established on the basis of the independent physical world and the mental states of human beings. (shrink)
A systematic overview of modern metaphysics, A Survey of Metaphysics covers all of the most important topics in the field. It adopts the fairly traditional conception of metaphysics as a subject that deals with the deepest questions that can be raised concerning the fundamental structure of reality as a whole. The book is divided into six main sections that address the following themes: identity and change, necessity and essence, causation, agency and events, space and time, and universals (...) and particulars. It focuses on contemporary views and issues throughout, rather than on the history of metaphysics. (shrink)
In a lot of domains in metaphysics the tacit assumption has been that whichever metaphysical principles turn out to be true, these will be necessarily true. Let us call necessitarianism about some domain the thesis that the right metaphysics of that domain is necessary. Necessitarianism has flourished. In the philosophy of maths we find it held that if mathematical objects exist, then they do of necessity. Mathematical Platonists affirm the necessary existence of mathematical objects (see for instance Hale (...) and Wright 1992 and 1994; Wright 1983 and 1988; Schiffer 1996; Resnik 1997; Shapiro 1997 and Zalta 1988) while mathematical nominalists, usually in the form of fictionalists, hold that necessarily such objects fail to exist (see for instance Balaguer 1996 and 1998; Rosen 2001 and Yablo 2005). In metaphysics more generally, until recently it was more or less assumed that whatever the right account of composition—the account of under what conditions some xs compose a y—that account will be necessarily true (for a discussion of theories of composition see Simons 1987 and van Inwagen 1987 and 1990; the modal status of the composition relation is explicitly addressed in Schaffer 2007; Parsons 2006 and Cameron 2007). Similarly, it has generally been assumed that whatever the right account is of the nature of properties, whether they be universals, tropes, or whether nominalism is true, that account will be necessarily true (though see Rosen 2006 for a recent suggestion to the contrary). In considering theories of persistence it has been widely held that whether objects endure or perdure through time is a matter of necessity (Sider 2001; though see Lewis 1999 p227 who defends contingent perdurantism). And with respect to theories of time it is frequently held that whichever of the A- or B-theory is true is necessarily true. A-theorists often argue that there is time in a world only if the A-theory is true at that world (see for instance McTaggart 1903; Markosian 2004; Bigelow 1996; Craig 2001) while B-theorists often argue that the A-theory is internally inconsistent (Smart 1987; Mellor 1998; Savitt 2000 and Le Poidevin 1991). Once again, we find a few recent contingentist dissenters. Bourne (2006) suggests that it is a contingent feature of time that it is tensed, and thus that the A-theory is contingently true. Worlds in which there exist only B-theoretic properties are worlds with time, it is just that time in those worlds time is radically different to the way it is actually. Other defenders of the B-theory, though not expressly contingentists, do offer arguments against versions of the A-theory that try to show that such A-theories theories are inconsistent with the actual laws of nature (see for instance Saunders 2002 and Callender 2000); these arguments, at least, leave room for the possibility that the A-theories in question are contingently false (at least on the assumption that the laws of nature are themselves contingent, an assumption that not everyone accepts). Despite some notable exceptions, necessitarianism has flourished in many, if not most, domains in metaphysics. One such exception is Lewis’ famous defence of Humean supervenience as a contingent claim about our world. Lewis does not argue that necessarily, the supervenience base for all matters of fact in a world is nothing but a vast mosaic of local matters of particular fact. Rather, he thinks that we have reason to think that our world is one in which Humean supervenience holds (see Lewis 1986 p9-10 and 1994). Another exception to the necessitarian orthodoxy is to be found in the lively debate about the modal status of the laws of nature. Here, if anything, contingentism has been the dominating force, with it generally being held that there are possible worlds in which different laws of nature hold (this view is defended by, among others, Lewis 1986 and 2010; Schaffer 2005 and Sidelle 2002). Necessitarian dissenters hold that the laws of nature are necessary, frequently because they think it is necessary that fundamental properties have the causal or nomic profiles they do (see for instance Shoemaker 1980 and 1988; Swoyer 1982; Bird 1995; Ellis and Lierse 1994). Nevertheless, when it comes to thinking about the nature of the laws themselves, the necessitarian presumption is back on firm footing. Though there is disagreement about whether the laws are generalisations that feature in the most virtuous true axiomatisation of all the particular matters of fact (often known as the Humean view of laws and defended by Ramsey 1978; Lewis 1986 and Beebee 2000) or whether laws are relations of necessity that hold between universals (a view defended by Armstrong 1983; Dretske 1977; Tooley 1977 and Carroll 1990) no one has seriously suggested that it might be a contingent matter which of these is the right account of laws. The necessitarian orthodoxy is not surprising since metaphysics is largely an a priori process. While a priori reasoning may be used to determine whether a proposition is necessary or contingent, it is not well placed (in the absence of a posteriori evidence) to determine whether a contingent proposition is actually true or false. Since metaphysicians aim to tell us which principles are true in which worlds, on the face of it the discovery that metaphysical principles are contingent seems to make part of the task of metaphysics epistemically intractable. In what follows I consider two reasons one might end up embracing contingentism and whether this would lead one into epistemic difficulty. The following section considers a route to contingent metaphysical truths that proceeds via a combination of conceptual necessities and empirical discoveries. Section 3 considers whether there might be synthetic contingent metaphysical truths, and the final section raises the question of whether if there were such truths we would be well placed to come to know them. (shrink)
Both science and philosophy are interested in questions of ontology- questions about what exists and what these things are like. Science and philosophy, however, seem like very different ways of investigating the world, so how should one proceed? Some defer to the sciences, conceived as something apart from philosophy, and others to metaphysics, conceived as something apart from science, for certain kinds of answers. This book contends that these sorts of deference are misconceived. A compelling account of ontology must (...) appreciate the ways in which the sciences incorporate metaphysical assumptions and arguments. At the same time, it must pay careful attention to how observation, experience, and the empirical dimensions of science are related to what may be viewed as defensible philosophical theorizing about ontology. The promise of an effectively naturalized metaphysics is to encourage beliefs that are formed in ways that do justice to scientific theorizing, modeling, and experimentation. But even armed with such a view, there is no one, uniquely rational way to draw lines between domains of ontology that are suitable for belief, and ones in which it would be better to suspend belief instead. In crucial respects, ontology is in the eye of the beholder: it is Informed by underlying commitments with implications for the limits of inquiry, which inevitably vary across rational inquirers. As a result, the proper scope of ontology is subject to a striking form of voluntary choice, yielding a new and transformative conception of scientific ontology. (shrink)
I propose that we approach the epistemology of modality by putting modal metaphysics first and, specifically, by investigating the metaphysics of essence. Following a prominent Neo-Aristotelian view, I hold that metaphysical necessity depends on the nature of things, namely their essences. I further clarify that essences are core properties having distinctive superexplanatory powers. In the case of natural kinds, which is my focus in the paper, superexplanatoriness is due to the fact that the essence of a kind is (...) what causes all the many properties and behaviors that are typically shared by all the instances of the kind. Accordingly, we know what is necessarily true of kinds by knowing what is essential to them in the sense of actually playing such causal-explanatory roles. Modal reasoning aimed at discovering metaphysical necessity thus proceeds via essentialist deduction: we move from essentialist truths to reach necessary truths. (shrink)
This book is concerned with the history of metaphysics since Descartes. Taking as its definition of metaphysics 'the most general attempt to make sense of things', it charts the evolution of this enterprise through various competing conceptions of its possibility, scope, and limits. The book is divided into three parts, dealing respectively with the early modern period, the late modern period in the analytic tradition, and the late modern period in non-analytic traditions. In its unusually wide range, A. (...) W. Moore's study refutes the tired old cliché that there is some unbridgeable gulf between analytic philosophy and philosophy of other kinds. It also advances its own distinctive and compelling conception of what metaphysics is and why it matters. Moore explores how metaphysics can help us to cope with continually changing demands on our humanity by making sense of things in ways that are radically new. (shrink)
Metaphysical theories are often counter-intuitive. But they also often are strongly supported and motivated by intuitions. One way or another, the link between intuitions and metaphysics is a strong and important one, and there is hardly any metaphysical discussion where intuitions do not play a crucial role. In this article, I will be interested in a particular kind of such intuitions, namely those that come, at least partly, from experience. There seems to be a route from experience to (...) class='Hi'>metaphysics, and this is the core of my interest here. In order to better understand such ‘arguments from experience’ and the kind of relationship there is between this type of intuitions and metaphysical theories, I shall examine four particular cases where a kind of experience-based intuition seems to motivate or support a metaphysical theory. At the end of the day, I shall argue that this route is a treacherous one, and that in all of the four cases I shall concentrate on, phenomenological considerations are in fact orthogonal to the allegedly ‘corresponding’ metaphysical claims. An anti-realist view of metaphysics will emerge. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to show that (elementary) topology may be useful for dealing with problems of epistemology and metaphysics. More precisely, I want to show that the introduction of topological structures may elucidate the role of the spatial structures (in a broad sense) that underly logic and cognition. In some detail I’ll deal with “Cassirer’s problem” that may be characterized as an early forrunner of Goodman’s “grue-bleen” problem. On a larger scale, topology turns out to be (...) useful in elaborating the approach of conceptual spaces that in the last twenty years or so has found quite a few applications in cognitive science, psychology, and linguistics. In particular, topology may help distinguish “natural” from “not-so-natural” concepts. This classical problem that up to now has withstood all efforts to solve (or dissolve) it by purely logical methods. Finally, in order to show that a topological perspective may also offer a fresh look on classical metaphysical problems, it is shown that Leibniz’s famous principle of the identity of indiscernibles is closely related to some well-known topological separation axioms. More precisely, the topological perspective gives rise in a natural way to some novel variations of Leibniz’s principle. (shrink)
In this paper I defend the metaphysics of race as a valuable philosophical project against deflationism about race. The deflationists argue that metaphysical debate about the reality of race amounts to a non-substantive verbal dispute that diverts attention from ethical and practical issues to do with ‘race.’ In response, I show that the deflationists mischaracterize the field and fail to capture what most metaphysicians of race actually do in their work, which is almost always pluralist and very often normative (...) and explicitly political. Even if debates about the reality of race turn out to be verbal disputes, they are substantive, and worth having. (shrink)
Hud Hudson offers a fascinating examination of philosophical reasons to believe in hyperspace. He explores non-theistic reasons in the first chapter and theistic ones towards the end; in the intervening sections he inquires into a variety of puzzles in the metaphysics of material objects that are either generated by the hypothesis of hyperspace or else informed by it, with discussions of receptacles, boundaries, contact, occupation, and superluminal motion. Anyone engaged with contemporary metaphysics, and many philosophers of religion, will (...) find much to stimulate them here. (shrink)
I argue for the claim in the title. Along the way, I also address an independently interesting question: what is metaphysics, anyway? I think that the typical characterizations of metaphysics are inadequate, that a better one is available, and that the better one helps explain why metaphysics is no more problematic than the rest of philosophy.
This paper aims to better motivate the naturalization of metaphysics by identifying and criticizing a class of theories I call 'free range metaphysics'. I argue that free range metaphysics is epistemically inadequate because the constraints on its content — consistency, simplicity, intuitive plausibility, and explanatory power — are insufficiently robust and justificatory. However, since free range metaphysics yields clarity-conducive techniques, incubates science, and produces conceptual and formal tools useful for scientifically engaged philosophy, I do not recommend (...) its discontinuation. I do recommend, however, ending the discipline's bad faith. That is, I urge that free range metaphysics not be taken to have fully satisfactory epistemic credentials over and above its pragmatic ones. (shrink)