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

270 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. Comments on Ferré's “The Practicality of Metaphysics”.George Allan - 2005 - Review of Metaphysics 58 (3):529 - 532.
  6. 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 (...)
  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. Metaphysics as a Science.Frederick Anderson - 1938 - Journal of Philosophy 35 (3):57-66.
  9. Can Metaphysics Be a Science?Leo Apostel - 1963 - Philosophica 1.
  10. Causality: An Empirically Informed Plea for Pluralism.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.
  11. 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.
  12. Continuum Companion to Metaphysics.Robert Barnard & Neil Manson (eds.) - 2012 - Continuum Publishing.
  13. Realism and Social Structure.Elizabeth Barnes - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-17.
    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.
  14. 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).
  15. 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.
  16. 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 (...)
  17. 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.
  18. 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 (...)
  19. From Experience to Metaphysics: On Experience‐Based Intuitions and Their Role in Metaphysics.Jiri Benovsky - 2013 - 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 (...)
  20. 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 (...)
  21. 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 (...)
  22. 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 (...)
  23. Science, Sufficient Ground, and the Possibility of Metaphysics.George A. Blair - 1960 - Dialectica 14 (1):53-79.
  24. 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.
  25. Metaphysics: Should It Be Revisionary or Descriptive?Ron Bontekoe - 1992 - International Philosophical Quarterly 32 (2):147-160.
  26. 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. (...)
  27. 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 (...)
  28. 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.
  29. Simplicity as a Criterion of Theory Choice in Metaphysics.Andrew Brenner - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-21.
    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 (...)
  30. 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.
  31. 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 (...)
  32. Is Scientific Metaphysics Possible?Mario Bunge - 1971 - Journal of Philosophy 68 (17):507-520.
  33. 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 (...)
  34. 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 (...)
  35. Causation, Supervenience, and Method.Keith Campbell - 1991 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 51 (3):637-640.
  36. Metaphysics, Problematic or Science.William E. Carlo - 1967 - Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 41:134-142.
  37. Methods of Metaphysics.Brian Carr - 1989 - Philosophical Books 30 (1):38-39.
  38. Composition, Indiscernibility, Coreferentiality.Massimiliano Carrara & Giorgio Lando - 2016 - Erkenntnis 81 (1):119-142.
    According to strong composition as identity, the logical principles of one–one and plural identity can and should be extended to the relation between a whole and its parts. Otherwise, composition would not be legitimately regarded as an identity relation. In particular, several defenders of strong CAI have attempted to extend Leibniz’s Law to composition. However, much less attention has been paid to another, not less important feature of standard identity: a standard identity statement is true iff its terms are coreferential. (...)
  39. The Surd of Metaphysics.Paul Carus - 1903 - The Monist 13:638.
  40. Metaphilosophical and Model Philosophical Questions.Mihirvikash Chakravarti - 1972 - Centre of Advanced Study in Philosophy, Visva-Bharati.
  41. Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology.D. Chalmers, D. Manley & R. Wasserman (eds.) - 2009 - Oxford University Press.
  42. Corresponding Regressions, Precedural Evidence, and the Dialetics of Substantive Theory, Metaphysics, and Methodology.William Chambers - 1991 - Journal of Mind and Behavior 12 (1):83-92.
    A defense of the method of corresponding regressions was presented. The confounding of formal cause metaphysics with efficient cause methodology was discussed and a rationale for a formal cause methodology was presented. Time-series simulations were used to illustrate the primacy of structural tautologies over temporal transformations. Conclusions supported the use of corresponding regressions as a means of inferring formal causality.
  43. Review of Uwe Meixner, Modelling Metaphysics: The Metaphysics of a Model[REVIEW]Nino Cocchiarella - 2010 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2010 (5).
  44. Assessing Ontologies: The Question of Human Origins and Its Ethical Significance.Daniel Cohnitz & Barry Smith - 2003 - In E. Runggaldier & C. Kanzian (eds.), Persons: An Interdisciplinary Approach. öbv&hpt.
    In their paper “Sixteen Days” Barry Smith and Berit Brogaard try to answer the question: when does a human being begin to exist? In this paper we will address some methodological issues connected with this exercise in ontology. We shall begin by sketching the argument of “Sixteen Days”. We shall then attempt to characterize what is special about the ontological realism of “Sixteen Days” as contrasted to the linguistic constructivism which represents the more dominant current in contemporary analytic philosophy. This (...)
  45. Ontologia de la ausencia. La metáfora en el horizonte de la desconstruccion.Max Colodro (ed.) - 2013 - Editorial Cuarto Propio.
    Metaphor as a central key to understand The metaphisic into The order of language. Deconstruction is a very important process and instrument to iluminate de position of writing for discloseing a New concept of reality.
  46. The Possibility of Metaphysics.F. C. Copleston - 1949 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 50:65 - 82.
  47. The Function of Metaphysics.Frederick C. Copleston - 1953 - Philosophy 28 (104):3 - 15.
    Aristotle stated that philosophy began with “wonder” and that men continue to philosophize because and in so far as they continue to “wonder.” Philosophy, in other words, is rooted in the desire to understand the world, in the desire to find an intelligible pattern in events and to answer problems which occur to the mind in connection with the world. By using the phrase “the world” I do not mean to imply that the world is something finished and complete at (...)
  48. Review of Daniel D. Novotný and Lukáš Novák (Eds.), Neo-Aristotelian Perspectives in Metaphysics. [REVIEW]Phil Corkum - 2014 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 201408:1.
  49. Taking Monism Seriously.David M. Cornell - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (9):2397-2415.
    Monism is the view that there is only a single material object in existence: the world. According to this view, therefore, the ordinary objects of common sense—cats and hats, cars and stars, and so on—do not actually exist; there is only the world. Because of this, monism is routinely dismissed in the contemporary literature as being absurd and obviously false. It is simply obvious that there is a plurality of material things, thus it is simply obvious that monism is false, (...)
  50. Advice for Eleatics.Sam Cowling - forthcoming - In Chris Daly (ed.), Palgrave Handbook of Philosophical Methods.
    Eleaticism ties ontology to causality by denying the impossibility of causally inert entities. This paper examines some challenges regarding the proper formulation and general plausibility of Eleaticism. After suggesting how Eleatics ought to respond to these challenges, I consider the prospects for extending Eleaticism from ontology to ideology by requiring all primitive ideology to be causal in nature. Surprisingly enough, the resulting view delivers an eternalist and possibilist metaphysical picture in the neighborhood of Lewisian modal realism.
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