About this topic
Summary Metaphysical questions often seem intractable, so it is unsurprising that there is no consensus about the best way to engage in metaphysical inquiry. What is the role of conceptual analysis? To what degree are the answers independent from ordinary intuitions-- or are we only engaged in codifying such intuitions? Are there quasi-scientific criteria of theory choice to which we can appeal as providing reason to hold one view over another (such as simplicity, elegance, and explanatory unification)? Methodological questions like these are covered in this category.
Key works Carnap 1950 Quine 1961
Introductions Thomasson 2012
Related categories

335 found
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  1. Aquinas's Commentary on Boethius's De Trinitate.Ariberto Acerbi - 2012 - Review of Metaphysics 66 (2):317-338.
    General remarks on some ontological premises of Aquinas' Epistemology.
  2. Method and Metaphysics.Jan A. Aertsen - 1989 - New Scholasticism 63 (4):405-418.
  3. Science and Metaphysics: Two Kinds of Knowledge.Evandro Agazzi - 1988 - Epistemologia 11:11.
  4. Perspectival Thought: A Plea for Moderate Relativism. [REVIEW]Jonas Åkerman - 2009 - Review of Metaphysics 62 (4).
  5. Existence, Mathematical Nominalism, and Meta-Ontology: An Objection to Azzouni on Criteria for Existence.Farbod Akhlaghi-Ghaffarokh - 2018 - Philosophia Mathematica 26 (2):251-265.
    Jody Azzouni argues that whilst it is indeterminate what the criteria for existence are, there is a criterion that has been collectively adopted to use ‘exist’ that we can employ to argue for positions in ontology. I raise and defend a novel objection to Azzouni: his view has the counterintuitive consequence that the facts regarding what exists can and will change when users of the word ‘exist’ change what criteria they associate with its usage. Considering three responses, I argue Azzouni (...)
  6. Comments on Ferré's “The Practicality of Metaphysics”.George Allan - 2005 - Review of Metaphysics 58 (3):529 - 532.
  7. What Matters in Metaphysics?Sophie R. Allen - unknown
    Can metaphysics ever really be compatible with science? In this paper, I investigate the implications of the methodological approach to metaphysical theorizing known as naturalized metaphysics. In the past, metaphysics has been rejected entirely by empirically-minded philosophers as being too open to speculation and for relying on methods which are not conducive to truth. But naturalized metaphysics aims to be a less radical solution to these difficulties, treating metaphysical theorizing as being continuous with science and restricting metaphysical methods to empirically (...)
  8. What Matters in (Naturalized) Metaphysics?Sophie R. Allen - 2012 - Essays in Philosophy 13 (1):13.
    Can metaphysics ever really be compatible with science? In this paper, I investigate the implications of the methodological approach to metaphysical theorizing known as naturalized metaphysics. In the past, metaphysics has been rejected entirely by empirically-minded philosophers as being too open to speculation and for relying on methods which are not conducive to truth. But naturalized metaphysics aims to be a less radical solution to these difficulties, treating metaphysical theorizing as being continuous with science and restricting metaphysical methods to empirically (...)
  9. A Metaphysics for the Future.Robert Elliott Allinson - 2001 - Philosophy 76 (298):629-632.
    This work is intended to serve not only as an expression of a new idea of a philosophy, but as an apologia for philosophy as a legitimate and independent discipline in its own right. It argues that in the 20th century, truth has not been abandoned, but merely modified. The text proposes a return to truth and suggests that it is only after apprehending the truths of consciousness that the philosopher's mirror may become a kaleidoscope through which reality may be (...)
  10. Metaphysics as a Science.Frederick Anderson - 1938 - Journal of Philosophy 35 (3):57-66.
  11. Can Metaphysics Be a Science?Leo Apostel - 1963 - Philosophica 1.
  12. Causality: An Empirically Informed Plea for Pluralism. [REVIEW]Christopher J. Austin - 2016 - Metascience 25 (2):293-296.
    Phyllis Illari & Federica Russo: Causality: Philosophical Theory Meets Scientific Practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014, 310pp, £29.99 HB.
  13. Commentary on Frank Jackson's From Metaphysics to Ethics. [REVIEW]Katalin Balog - 2001 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 62 (3):645–652.
    Symposium contribution on Frank Jackson’s a priori entailment thesis – which he employs to connect metaphysics and conceptual analysis. In the book he develops this thesis within the two-dimensional framework and also proposes a formal argument for it. I argue that the two-dimensional framework doesn’t provide independent support for the a priori entailment thesis since one has to build into the framework assumptions as strong as the thesis itself.
  14. Expanding the Vector Model for Dispositionalist Approaches to Causation.Joseph A. Baltimore - forthcoming - Synthese.
    Neuron diagrams are heavily employed in academic discussions of causation. Stephen Mumford and Rani Lill Anjum, however, offer an alternative approach employing vector diagrams, which this paper attempts to develop further. I identify three ways in which dispositionalists have taken the activities of powers to be related: stimulation, mutual manifestation, and contribution combination. While Mumford and Anjum do provide resources for representing contribution combination, which might be sufficient for their particular brand of dispositionalism, I argue that those resources are not (...)
  15. Continuum Companion to Metaphysics.Robert Barnard & Neil Manson (eds.) - 2012 - Continuum Publishing.
  16. Realism and Social Structure.Elizabeth Barnes - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (10):2417-2433.
    Social constructionism is often considered a form of anti-realism. But in contemporary feminist philosophy, an increasing number of philosophers defend views that are well-described as both realist and social constructionist. In this paper, I use the work of Sally Haslanger as an example of realist social constructionism. I argue: that Haslanger is best interpreted as defending metaphysical realism about social structures; that this type of metaphysical realism about the social world presents challenges to some popular ways of understanding metaphysical realism.
  17. Review of David Chalmers, David Manley, Ryan Wasserman (Eds.), Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology[REVIEW]Elizabeth Barnes - 2009 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2009 (10).
  18. Metaphysics as Fairness.Sam Baron - 2016 - Synthese 193 (7):2237-2259.
    What are the rules of the metaphysical game? And how are the rules, whatever they are, to be justified? Above all, the rules should be fair. They should be rules that we metaphysicians would all accept, and thus should be justifiable to all rational persons engaged in metaphysical inquiry. Borrowing from Rawls’s conception of justice as fairness, I develop a model for determining and justifying the rules of metaphysics as a going concern.
  19. On the Ontology of Linguistic Frameworks Toward a Comprehensive Version of Empiricism.Majid Davoody Beni - 2015 - Philosophia Scientiae 19 (1):115-126.
    Can the abstract entities be designated? While the empiricists usually took the positive answer to this question as the first step toward Platonism, in his ``Empiricism, Semantics, and Ontology’’ [Carnap 1950], Carnap tried to make a reconciliation between the language referring to abstract entities on the one hand, and empiricism on the other. In this paper, firstly, I show that the ingenuity of Carnap’s approach notwithstanding, it is prone to criticism from different aspects. But I also show how, even without (...)
  20. There is No Special Problem with Metaphysics.Karen Bennett - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (1):21-37.
    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.
  21. From Experience to Metaphysics: On Experience‐Based Intuitions and Their Role in Metaphysics.Jiri Benovsky - 2015 - Noûs 49 (3):684-697.
    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 metaphysics, and (...)
  22. Tropes or Universals: How to Make One's Choice.Jiri Benovsky - 2014 - Metaphilosophy 45 (1):69-86.
    This article discusses a familiar version of trope theory as opposed to a familiar version of the theory of universals, examining how these two rivals address the problem of “attribute agreement”—a problem that has been at the root of the very reason for developing these theories in the first place. The article shows that there is not much of a difference between the ways these two theories handle the problem, and in a more general way it argues that there is (...)
  23. Relational and Substantival Ontologies, and the Nature and the Role of Primitives in Ontological Theories.Jiri Benovsky - 2010 - Erkenntnis 73 (1):101-121.
    Several metaphysical debates have typically been modeled as oppositions between a relationist approach and a substantivalist approach. Such debates include the Bundle Theory and the Substratum Theory about ordinary material objects, the Bundle (Humean) Theory and the Substance (Cartesian) Theory of the Self, and Relationism and Substantivalism about time. In all three debates, the substantivalist side typically insists that in order to provide a good treatment of the subject-matter of the theory (time, Self, material objects), it is necessary to postulate (...)
  24. Multimodal and Intuitionistic Logics in Simple Type Theory.Christoph Benzmueller & Lawrence Paulson - 2010 - Logic Journal of the IGPL 18 (6):881-892.
    We study straightforward embeddings of propositional normal multimodal logic and propositional intuitionistic logic in simple type theory. The correctness of these embeddings is easily shown. We give examples to demonstrate that these embeddings provide an effective framework for computational investigations of various non-classical logics. We report some experiments using the higher-order automated theorem prover LEO-II.
  25. Coincident Entities and Question-Begging Predicates: An Issue in Meta-Ontology.Francesco Berto - 2013 - Metaphysica 14 (1):1-15.
    Meta-ontology (in van Inwagen's sense) concerns the methodology of ontology, and a controversial meta-ontological issue is to what extent ontology can rely on linguistic analysis while establishing the furniture of the world. This paper discusses an argument advanced by some ontologists (I call them unifiers) against supporters of or coincident entities (I call them multipliers) and its meta-ontological import. Multipliers resort to Leibniz's Law to establish that spatiotemporally coincident entities a and b are distinct, by pointing at a predicate F (...)
  26. Review of Kenneth Aizawa and Carl Gillett’s Scientific Composition and Metaphysical Grounding. [REVIEW]Michael Bertrand - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science Review of Books:N/A.
  27. The Incompletability of Metaphysics.James Blachowicz - 2010 - Idealistic Studies 40 (3):257-273.
    If a metaphysics identifies transcendental principles with formal principles, the inevitable result will be a reductionist collapse, that is, a theory of the nature of reality that will exclude as inessential significant differences among existing things. To avoid this result, we must take some such material differences as transcendental in nature. This produces a metaphysics in which the concept of ontological emergence is central—a metaphysics that will depend essentially on the material content of the natural sciences. While both Aristotle and (...)
  28. Science, Sufficient Ground, and the Possibility of Metaphysics.George A. Blair - 1960 - Dialectica 14 (1):53-79.
  29. Indefinitely Descending Ground.Einar Duenger Bohn - forthcoming - In Ricki Bliss & Graham Priest (eds.), Reality and its Structure. Oxford University Press.
    In this paper I argue against grounding being necessarily well-founded, and provide some reasons to think it's actually not well-founded.
  30. Unity of Knowledge.Niels Bohr - 1958 - In Atomic Physics and Human Knowledge. Wiley. pp. 67--82.
  31. Metaphysics: Should It Be Revisionary or Descriptive?Ron Bontekoe - 1992 - International Philosophical Quarterly 32 (2):147-160.
  32. On Metaphysical Analysis.David Braddon-Mitchell & Kristie Miller - 2015 - In Jonathan Schaffer & Barry Loewer (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to David Lewis. Wiley-Blackwell.
    Metaphysics is largely an a priori business, albeit a business that is sensitive to the findings of the physical sciences. But sometimes what the physical sciences tell us about our own world underdetermines what we should think about the metaphysics of how things actually are, and even how they could be. This chapter has two aims. The first is to defend a particular conception of the methodology of a priori metaphysics by, in part, exemplifying that methodology and revealing its results. (...)
  33. Conceptual Analysis and Philosophical Naturalism.David Braddon-Mitchell & Robert Nola (eds.) - 2008 - Bradford.
    Many philosophical naturalists eschew analysis in favor of discovering metaphysical truths from the a posteriori, contending that analysis does not lead to philosophical insight. A countercurrent to this approach seeks to reconcile a certain account of conceptual analysis with philosophical naturalism; prominent and influential proponents of this methodology include the late David Lewis, Frank Jackson, Michael Smith, Philip Pettit, and David Armstrong. Naturalistic analysis is a tool for locating in the scientifically given world objects and properties we quantify over in (...)
  34. Philosophers Should Prefer Simpler Theories.Darren Bradley - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (12):3049-3067.
    Should philosophers prefer simpler theories? Huemer (Philos Q 59:216–236, 2009) argues that the reasons to prefer simpler theories in science do not apply in philosophy. I will argue that Huemer is mistaken—the arguments he marshals for preferring simpler theories in science can also be applied in philosophy. Like Huemer, I will focus on the philosophy of mind and the nominalism/Platonism debate. But I want to engage with the broader issue of whether simplicity is relevant to philosophy.
  35. Review of 'Ontology After Carnap' Edited by Stephan Blatti and Sandra Lapointe. [REVIEW]Darren Bradley - 2017 - Analysis 77 (4):858-861.
    © The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Analysis Trust. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com‘Carnap is not completely unknown to us’ comments Richard Creath in his contribution to this book. ‘We often know just enough to be baffled’. It will be no surprise to anyone when I say that this book will not unbaffle us. But it does give us a collection of rewarding papers that each wrestle with the legacy Carnap has (...)
  36. Objecto e método da metafísica.João Branquinho - 2004 - Critica.
    O presente artigo apresenta a disciplina de Ontologia aos estudantes do Departamento de Filosofia da Faculdade de Letras da Universidade de Lisboa.
  37. Ahistoricity in Analytic Theology.Beau Branson - 2018 - American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 92 (1):195-224.
    Analytic theology has sometimes been criticized as ahistorical. But what this means, and why it is problematic, have often been left unclear. This essay explicates and supports one way of making that charge while simultaneously showing this ahistoricity, although widespread within analytic theology, is not essential to it. Specifically, some analytic theologians treat problematic doctrines as metaphysical puzzles, constructing speculative accounts of phenomena such as the Trinity or Incarnation and taking the theoretical virtues of such accounts to be sufficient in (...)
  38. Easy Ontology, Application Conditions and Infinite Regress.Andrew Brenner - 2018 - Analysis 78 (4):605-614.
    In a number of recent publications Thomasson has defended a deflationary approach to ontological disputes, according to which ontological disputes are relatively easy to settle, by either conceptual analysis, or conceptual analysis in conjunction with empirical investigation. Thomasson’s “easy” approach to ontology is intended to derail many prominent ontological disputes. In this paper I present an objection to Thomasson’s approach to ontology. Thomasson’s approach to existence assertions means that she is committed to the view that application conditions associated with any (...)
  39. Simplicity as a Criterion of Theory Choice in Metaphysics.Andrew Brenner - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (11):2687-2707.
    Metaphysicians frequently appeal to the idea that theoretical simplicity is truth conducive in metaphysics, in the sense that, all other things being equal, simpler metaphysical theories are more likely to be true. In this paper I defend the notion that theoretical simplicity is truth conducive in metaphysics, against several recent objections. I do not give any direct arguments for the thesis that simplicity is truth conducive in metaphysics, since I am aware of no such arguments. I do argue, however, that (...)
  40. The Philosophical Challenge From China.Bruya Brian (ed.) - 2015 - Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
    This collection of new articles brings together major scholars working at the intersection of traditional Chinese philosophy and mainstream analytic philosophy. For some 2,500 years, China's best minds have pondered the human condition, and yet their ideas are almost entirely ignored by mainstream philosophers and philosophy programs. The proposed volume is intended to take a step in remedying that situation by directing sinological resources to current topics in philosophy and doing so in a manner that speaks to practicing philosophers. Contributions (...)
  41. What is a Possible Ontological and Epistemological Framework for a True Universal 'Information Science'?: The Suggestion of a Cybersemiotics.Søren Brier - 1997 - World Futures 49 (3):287-308.
    (1997). What is a possible ontological and epistemological framework for a true universal ‘information science'?: The suggestion of a cybersemiotics. World Futures: Vol. 49, The Quest for a Unified Theory of Information, pp. 287-308.
  42. Deprioritizing the A Priori Arguments Against Physicalism.Richard Brown - 2010 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 17 (3-4):47-69.
    In this paper I argue that a priori arguments fail to present any real problem for physicalism. They beg the question against physicalism in the sense that the argument will only seem compelling if one is already assuming that qualitative properties are nonphysical. To show this I will present the reverse-zombie and reverse-knowledge arguments. The only evidence against physicalism is a priori arguments, but there are also a priori arguments against dualism of exactly the same variety. Each of these parity (...)
  43. Naturalizing Grounding: How Theories of Ground Can Engage Science.Amanda Bryant - 2018 - Philosophy Compass:e12489.
    This paper surveys some of the grounding literature searching for points of contact between theories of ground and science. I find that there are some places where a would-be naturalistic grounding theorist can draw inspiration. I synthesize a list of recommendations for how science may be put to use in theories of ground. I conclude that the prospects for naturalizing the metaphysics of ground are bright.
  44. Keep the Chickens Cooped: The Epistemic Inadequacy of Free Range Metaphysics.Amanda Bryant - 2017 - Synthese:1-21.
    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 (...)
  45. Is Scientific Metaphysics Possible?Mario Bunge - 1971 - Journal of Philosophy 68 (17):507-520.
  46. Linceo e la presbiopia ontologica. Considerazioni sul nominalismo di Achille Varzi.Francesco F. Calemi - forthcoming - Isonomía. Revista de Teoría y Filosofía Del Derecho.
    According to Varzi's nominalism properties are typical examples of ontological hallucinations. In this brief paper I'll focus on an interesting argument that Varzi puts forward against the Realists’ tenet according to which predicates have properties as ontological correlates. I’ll argue that even if Varzi's argument is not convincing, the metalinguistic nominalism he espouses has sufficient resources to meet the realists' challenge concerning the phenomenon of predication. Furthermore, I'll make some methodological remarks about the relationship holding between the «dot quote» analysis (...)
  47. The Inconceivable Popularity of Conceivability Arguments.Douglas I. Campbell, Jack Copeland & Zhuo-Ran Deng - 2017 - Philosophical Quarterly 67 (267):223-240.
    Famous examples of conceivability arguments include (i) Descartes’ argument for mind-body dualism, (ii) Kripke's ‘modal argument’ against psychophysical identity theory, (iii) Chalmers’ ‘zombie argument’ against materialism, and (iv) modal versions of the ontological argument for theism. In this paper, we show that for any such conceivability argument, C, there is a corresponding ‘mirror argument’, M. M is deductively valid and has a conclusion that contradicts C's conclusion. Hence, a proponent of C—henceforth, a ‘conceivabilist’—can be warranted in holding that C's premises (...)
  48. Causation, Supervenience, and Method. Reflections on Jonathan Bennett's Events and Their Names.Keith Campbell - 1991 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 51 (3):637-640.
  49. Metaphysics, Problematic or Science.William E. Carlo - 1967 - Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 41:134-142.
  50. Gabriel's Metaphysics of Sense.Taylor Carman - 2016 - The Harvard Review of Philosophy 23:53-59.
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