Edited by Frederique Janssen-Lauret (University of Manchester)
About this topic

Whereas ontology is concerned with the nature of reality in general, metaontology is concerned with the nature of ontology— whether its questions have substantive and tractable answers, and if so, how best to answer them. More broadly, what we might call ‘metametaphysics’ investigates the prospects and methodology of metaphysics.

Key works Classic works include Ayer 1936Carnap 1950, and Quine 1961. A collection of more recent work can be found in Chalmers et al 2009
Introductions Eklund 2006, Manley 2009, Thomasson 2012
Related categories

1081 found
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Material to categorize
  1. Essays in Ontology.D. P. B. - 1964 - Review of Metaphysics 17 (4):638-638.
  2. Metaphilosophical and Model Philosophical Questions.Mihirvikash Chakravarti - 1972 - Centre of Advanced Study in Philosophy, Visva-Bharati.
  3. Metaphysics and Ultimate Questions.Thomas De Koninck - 2012 - Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture 15 (2):42-63.
  4. The Role and Importance of Self-Existence in the Science of Metaphysics.Charles Denecke - 1945 - Washington.
  5. Reality, Science, and Metaphysics.C. J. Ducasse - 1949 - Synthese 8 (1):9 - 21.
  6. The Conceptual Contingency of Mathematical Objects.Hartry Field - 1993 - Mind 102 (406):285-299.
  7. Make Ontology Easy Again. [REVIEW]Greg Frost-Arnold - forthcoming - Metascience:1-4.
    A book review of Amie Thomasson's defense of Neo-Carnapianism in her "Ontology Made Easy" (2015, Oxford UP).
  8. The Legitimacy of Metaphysics.Susan Haack - 2008 - Philosophical Topics 36 (1):97-110.
    Part of Kant’s legacy to Peirce was a lasting conviction that metaphysics is not irredeemable, but can and should be set “on the secure path of a science”. However, Peirce’s “scientific metaphysics”, unlike Kant’s, uses the method of science, i.e., of experience and reasoning; but requires close attention to experience of the most familiar kind rather than the recherché experience needed by the special sciences. This distinctively plausible reconception of what a genuinely scientific metaphysics would be is part of Peirce’s (...)
  9. The Legitimacy of Metaphysics.Susan Haack - 2007 - Polish Journal of Philosophy 1 (1):97-110.
    Part of Kant’s legacy to Peirce was a lasting conviction that metaphysics is not irredeemable, but can and should be set “on the secure path of a science”. However, Peirce’s “scientific metaphysics”, unlike Kant’s, uses the method of science, i.e., of experience and reasoning; but requires close attention to experience of the most familiar kind rather than the recherché experience needed by the special sciences. This distinctively plausible reconception of what a genuinely scientific metaphysics would be is part of Peirce’s (...)
  10. A Prelude to Metaphysics.Katharine Rose Hanley - 1967 - Englewood Cliffs, N.J., Prentice-Hall.
  11. Suppositions, Presuppositions, and Ontology.Ian Hinckfuss - 1993 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 23 (4):595 - 618.
  12. Is Metaphysics a Waste of Time?Peter G. Jones - 2012 - Philosophy Pathways (171).
    The view that metaphysics is a waste of time appears to be gaining in popularity with every passing day. It is held openly by many scientists and even by many philosophers. I argue here that this is a consequence of the way metaphysics is often done, the futility of a certain approach to it, and not a reason to suppose that there is no useful knowledge to be acquired in metaphysics.
  13. Entity, but No Identity.Decio Krause - unknown
    Inspired in Quine's well known slogans “To be is to be the value of a variable” and "No entity without identity", we provide a way of enabling that non-individual entities (as characterized in the text) can also be values of variables of an adequate "regimented" language, once we consider a possible meaning of the background theory Quine reports to ground his view. In doing that, we show that there may exist also entities without identity, and emphasize the importance of paying (...)
  14. Mathematics Without Foundations.Hilary Putnam - 1967 - Journal of Philosophy 64 (1):5-22.
  15. Nominalism Through de-Nominalization.Agustin Rayo & Stephen Yablo - 2001 - Noûs 35 (1):74–92.
  16. Thought Experiments, Ontology, and Concept-Dependent Truthmakers.Howard Robinson - 2004 - The Monist 87 (4):537-553.
  17. The Refutation of Nominalism (?).Gideon Rosen - 1993 - Philosophical Topics 21 (2):141--86.
  18. Can Truthmaker Theorists Claim Ontological Free Lunches?Peter Schulte - 2014 - European Journal of Philosophy 22 (2):249-268.
    Truthmaker theorists hold that propositions about higher-level entities (e.g. the proposition that there is a heap of sand) are often made true by lower-level entities (e.g. by facts about the configuration of fundamental particles). This generates a problem: what should we say about these higher-level entities? On the one hand, they must exist (since there are true propositions about them), on the other hand, it seems that they are completely superfluous and should be banished for reasons of ontological parsimony. Some (...)
  19. The Play of Masks.Frithjof Schuon - 1992
  20. Is There a True Metaphysics of Material Objects?Alan Sidelle - 2002 - Philosophical Issues 12 (1):118-145.
    I argue that metaphysical views of material objects should be understood as 'packages', rather than individual claims, where the other parts of the package include how the theory addresses 'recalcitant data', and that when the packages meet certain general desiderata - which all of the currently competing views *can* meet - there is nothing in the world that could make one of the theories true as opposed to any of the others.
  21. Identity and the Identity-Like.Alan Sidelle - 1992 - Philosophical Topics 20 (1):269-292.
    Some relations - like supervenience and composition - can appear very much like identity. Sometimes, the relata differ only in modal, or modally-involved features. Yet, in some cases, we judge the pairs to be identical (water/H2O; Hesperus/Phosphorus), while in others, many judge one of the weaker relations to hold (c-fiber firing/pain; statues/lumps). Given the seemingly same actual properties these pairs have, what can justify us in sometimes believing identity is the relation, and sometimes something weaker? I argue that it can (...)
  22. Criteria of Personal Identity and the Limits of Conceptual Analysis.Theodore Sider - 2001 - Philosophical Perspectives 15 (s15):189-209.
    When is there no fact of the matter about a metaphysical question? When multiple candidate meanings are equally eligible, in David Lewis's sense, and fit equally well with ordinary usage. Thus given certain ontological schemes, there is no fact of the matter whether the criterion of personal identity over time is physical or psychological. But given other ontological schemes there is a fact of the matter; and there is a fact of the matter about which ontological scheme is correct.
  23. Four Dimensionalism: An Ontology of Persistence and Time.Theodore Sider - 2001 - Oxford University Press.
    Four- Dimensionalism defends the thesis that the material world is composed of temporal as well as spatial parts. This defense includes a novel account of persistence over time, new arguments in favour of the four-dimensional ontology, and responses to the challenges four- dimensionalism faces." "Theodore Sider pays particular attention to the philosophy of time, including a strong series of arguments against presentism, the thesis that only the present is real. Arguments offered in favour of four- dimensionalism include novel arguments based (...)
  24. Beyond Concepts: Ontology as Reality Representation.Barry Smith - 2004 - In Formal Ontology in Information Systems (FOIS).
    The present essay is devoted to the application of ontology in support of research in the natural sciences. It defends the thesis that ontologies developed for such purposes should be understood as having as their subject matter, not concepts, but rather the universals and particulars which exist in reality and are captured in scientific laws. We outline the benefits of a view along these lines by showing how it yields rigorous formal definitions of the foundational relations used in many influential (...)
  25. Meinongian Scorekeeping.Vojko Strahovnik - 2005 - In Alfred Schramm (ed.), Meinong Studien. De Gruyter. pp. 309-330.
    Some commitments at the interface of semantics and ontology, such as numbers or symphonies, tend to appear problematic. The scorekeeping approach to semantics introduces contextually shifting parameters that allow for construal of truth as indirect correspondence. Meinong did recognize diversity and richness that is made possible by the non-reductionist engagement of the scorekeeping approach. Because of his commitment to the deep presupposition of direct correspondence construal of truth though, Meinong had to interpret richness of normative discursive scorekeeping commitments as richness (...)
  26. Istrazivanje Pradozivljaja.C. Svetomir B. Nikolajevi & C. Mihailo Markovi - 1985 - Srpska Akademija Nauka I Umetnosti.
  27. Nominalism.Zoltán Gendler Szabó - 2003 - In Michael J. Loux & Dean W. Zimmerman (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Metaphysics. Oxford University Press.
    …entities? 2. How to be a nominalist 2.1. “Speak with the vulgar …” 2.2. “…think with the learned” 3. Arguments for nominalism 3.1. Intelligibility, physicalism, and economy 3.2. Causal..
  28. Dubious by Nature.Jonathan Tallant - 2013 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 43 (1):97-116.
    There is a charge sometimes made in metaphysics that particular commitments are ‘hypothetical’, ‘dubious’ or ‘suspicious’. There have been two analyses given of what this consists in—due to Crisp (2007) and Cameron (2011). The aim of this paper is to reject both analyses and thereby show that there is no obvious way to press the objection against said commitments that they are ‘dubious’ and objectionable. Later in the paper I consider another account of what it might be to be ‘dubious’, (...)
  29. The Pursuit of the Natural.Scott Tanona - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 148 (1):79 - 87.
    In recent years, it has become common to defend science against charges of bias against the supernatural by explaining that science must remain methodologically natural but does not assume metaphysical naturalism. While such a response is correct, some details about the distinction between methodological naturalism and ontological or metaphysical naturalism have been lacking, as has a clear understanding of the distinction between the methodological restriction of science to natural explanations and naturalistic claims about the scope of those methods. We still (...)
  30. Answerable and Unanswerable Questions.Amie Thomasson - 2009 - In David John Chalmers, David Manley & Ryan Wasserman (eds.), Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology. Oxford University Press.
    While fights about ontology rage on in the ring, there’s long been a suspicion whispered in certain corners of the stadium that some of the fights aren’t real. Granted the disputants all think they are really disagreeing—it’s not the sincerity of the serious ontologists that’s in question, but rather their judgment that they are engaged in a real debate about genuine issues of substance.
  31. Meta-Ontology and Accidental Unity.Patrick Toner - 2006 - Philosophical Quarterly 56 (225):550–561.
    My wife and I and our three children may stand in various relations: being a family, being a basketball team, and so on. I show that Frege's doctrine of existence, when coupled with this simple point, easily solves the problem of material constitution and blocks the overdetermination argument for eliminativism. It does all this work while providing a plausible and clear reductionistic account of material objects. These seem to be very good reasons for accepting Frege's doctrine of existence.
  32. Meta-Ontology.van Inwagen Peter - 1999 - The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy 1999 (2-3):233-250.
    Quine has called the question, ‘What is there?’ the “ontological question.” But if we call this question by that name, what name shall we use for the question, ‘What are we asking when we ask “What is there?”’? I shall call it ‘the meta-ontological question’. I shall call the attempt to answer the meta-ontological question ‘meta-ontology’ and any proposed answer to it ‘a meta-ontology’. In this essay, I shall briefly sketch a meta-ontology. The meta-ontology I shall present is broadly Quinean. (...)
  33. Material Beings.Peter van Inwagen - 1990 - Cornell University Press.
    The topic of this book is material objects. Like most interesting concepts, the concept of a material object is one without precise boundaries.
  34. Worldviews, Science and Us: Studies of Analytical Metaphysics.Robrecht Vanderbeeken & Bart D'Hooghe (eds.) - 2009 - World Scientific.
  35. Ontologia.Achille C. Varzi - 2005 - Laterza.
    An introduction to analytic ontology. Part 1 deals with the question, What is ontology?, focusing on (i) the interplay between ontological and broadly metaphysical concerns, and (ii) the difference between material ontology and formal ontology. Part 2 deals with the question, How is ontology done?, focusing on (i) the delicate interplay between ontology and truth-making (or: between meaning and existence), and (ii) the differences between revolutionary vs. hermeneutic, prescriptive vs. descriptive, and absolute vs. relative approaches to ontology. Part 3 surveys (...)
  36. All the Existences That There Are.Alberto Voltolini - 2012 - Disputatio 32 (32):361-383.
    In this paper, I will defend the claim that there are three existence properties: the second-order property of being instantiated, a substantive first-order property (or better a group of such properties) and a formal, hence universal, first-order property. I will first try to show what these properties are and why we need all of them for ontological purposes. Moreover, I will try to show why a Meinong-like option that positively endorses both the former and the latter first-order property is the (...)
  37. The Realm of Metaphysics in Antiquity.Hans Urs von Balthasar & John Kenneth Riches - 1989
  38. Everything.Timothy Williamson - 2003 - Philosophical Perspectives 17 (1):415–465.
    On reading the last sentence, did you interpret me as saying falsely that everything — everything in the entire universe — was packed into my carry-on baggage? Probably not. In ordinary language, ‘everything’ and other quantifiers (‘something’, ‘nothing’, ‘every dog’, ...) often carry a tacit restriction to a domain of contextually relevant objects, such as the things that I need to take with me on my journey. Thus a sentence of the form ‘Everything Fs’ is true as uttered in a (...)
  39. Frege's Conception of Numbers as Objects.Crispin Wright - 1983 - Aberdeen University Press.
  40. Abstract Objects: A Case Study.Stephen Yablo - 2002 - Noûs 36 (s1):220 - 240.
  41. Apriority and Existence.Stephen Yablo - 2000 - In Paul Boghossian & Christopher Peacocke (eds.), New Essays on the A Priori. Oxford University Press. pp. 197--228.
Metaontology, Misc
  1. Perspectival Thought: A Plea for Moderate Relativism. [REVIEW]Jonas Åkerman - 2009 - Review of Metaphysics 62 (4).
  2. Transcendental Dialectic: Critique of Metaphysics in the Philosophy of Ghazali and Kant.Ilyas Altuner - 2011 - Philosophy and Social-Political Sciences (31):49-57.
    Our study aims to deal with different and similar conditions between Ghazzali and Kant, as characters at whom can show two different thinking form and two different cultural structure in their thoughts, in the context of the same subject. The article investigates the stages of these two thinkers approaches to the topic of transcendental dialectic and tries to display that why and how two different cultural worlds incline to this subject.
  3. Anti‐Metaphysicalism, Necessity, and Temporal Ontology.Mark Balaguer - 2014 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 89 (1):145-167.
    This paper argues for a certain kind of anti-metaphysicalism about the temporal ontology debate, i.e., the debate between presentists and eternalists over the existence of past and future objects. Three different kinds of anti-metaphysicalism are defined—namely, non-factualism, physical-empiricism, and trivialism. The paper argues for the disjunction of these three views. It is then argued that trivialism is false, so that either non-factualism or physical-empiricism is true. Finally, the paper ends with a discussion of whether we should endorse non-factualism or physical-empiricism. (...)
  4. Emergence and Fundamentality.Elizabeth Barnes - 2012 - Mind 121 (484):873-901.
    In this paper, I argue for a new way of characterizing ontological emergence. I appeal to recent discussions in meta-ontology regarding fundamentality and dependence, and show how emergence can be simply and straightforwardly characterized using these notions. I then argue that many of the standard problems for emergence do not apply to this account: given a clearly specified meta-ontological background, emergence becomes much easier to explicate. If my arguments are successful, they show both a helpful way of thinking about emergence (...)
  5. Charity and Error‐Theoretic Nominalism.Arvid Båve - 2015 - Ratio 28 (3):256-270.
    I here investigate whether there is any version of the principle of charity both strong enough to conflict with an error-theoretic version of nominalism about abstract objects, and supported by the considerations adduced in favour of interpretive charity in the literature. I argue that in order to be strong enough, the principle, which I call (Charity), would have to read, “For all expressions e, an acceptable interpretation must make true a sufficiently high ratio of accepted sentences containing e”. I next (...)
  6. Metametaphysics.Helen Beebee - 2010 - The Philosophers' Magazine 50:24-25.
  7. Tonk, Plonk and Plink.Nuel Belnap - 1962 - Analysis 22 (6):130-134.
  8. Mathematical Truth.Paul Benacerraf - 1973 - Journal of Philosophy 70 (19):661-679.
  9. What Numbers Could Not Be.Paul Benacerraf - 1965 - Philosophical Review 74 (1):47-73.
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