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Summary

Perhaps the answers to ontological questions turn on facts about our conventions—how we have collectively decide to think and talk about reality. Some even think of ontological questions as being answerable only relative to a given conceptual, linguistic, or theoretical framework. (Both views come in limited forms  as well, applied to specific ontological questions-- like whether there are fictional entities, possible worlds, or even macro-sized objects.) This category covers a range of metaontological views in the vicinity.

Key works Carnap 1950 Goodman 1978 Putnam 1981 Putnam 1987 Sidelle 1992 Sosa 1999 Hirsch 2005 Chalmers 2009 Thomasson 2007
Introductions Classic works in themselves, there is enough introductory material in the following papers that they may serve as useful beginning points: Sidelle 1992 Sosa 1999 Hirsch 2005 Chalmers 2009 Thomasson 2007. Views of this sort are also surveyed in the introduction to Wasserman et al 2009.
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74 found
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1 — 50 / 74
  1. Can We Be Skeptical About A Priori Knowledge?Sherif Salem -
    In this paper, we present a dialectical argument for a priori skepticism (i.e. the thesis that we can be skeptical about a priori knowledge). Then, we propose a framework that combines elements from inferential contextualism and logical conventionalism to offer a weak transcendental argument against a priori skepticism.
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  2. Relativism. [REVIEW]Ali Hossein Khani - forthcoming - The Philosophical Quarterly:1-3.
  3. The Problem of Religious Relativism: An Interreligious Approach.Subhasis Chattopadhyay - 2021 - Indian Catholic Matters.
    This post is one in a series of posts about the ground-realities of interreligious dialogue. Interreligious dialogue is not the same as ecumenism. And this blog-post shows how Christian and Hindu celibates have veered to discussing categories which are inapplicable to one or the other religion. To quote part of the post: "So the first critique of interreligious dialogue that needs clarification is this problem of religious relativism. The Sanatana Dharma does not admit of relativism, moral or religious because there (...)
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  4. Is Conceptual Relativism a Prerequisite for Philosophy as Conceptual Engineering?Pavol Labuda - 2021 - Filozofia 76 (1):3-17.
    The aim of the paper is to examine whether conceptual relativism is a prerequi-site for conceptual engineering (and if so, then to what extent). In the first part of the paper, I explore and classify varieties of relativism to prepare a distinctive definition of conceptual relativism. In the second part I analyse conceptual relativism and I consequently propose two different readings of conceptual scheme: (i) conceptual scheme as a monolithic, timeless, and determinate systems of meanings, and (ii) conceptual scheme as (...)
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  5. Shadows of Syntax: Revitalizing Logical and Mathematical Conventionalism.Jared Warren - 2020 - New York, USA: Oxford University Press.
    What is the source of logical and mathematical truth? This book revitalizes conventionalism as an answer to this question. Conventionalism takes logical and mathematical truth to have their source in linguistic conventions. This was an extremely popular view in the early 20th century, but it was never worked out in detail and is now almost universally rejected in mainstream philosophical circles. Shadows of Syntax is the first book-length treatment and defense of a combined conventionalist theory of logic and mathematics. It (...)
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  6. Ontology After Carnap Edited by Stephan Blatti and Sandra Lapointe Oxford University Press, 2016, Pp. 241, £45 ISBN: 9780199661985. [REVIEW]Karl Egerton - 2017 - Philosophy 92 (1):135-142.
  7. Review of C. Rovane, The Metaphysics and Ethics of Relativism (Harvard University Press, 2013). [REVIEW]Diego E. Machuca - 2017 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 14 (4):463-466.
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  8. Taking the Concepts of Others Seriously.Terence Rajivan Edward - 2016 - Meta: Research in Hermeneutics, Phenomenology, and Practical Philosophy 8 (1):143-153.
    This paper assesses an argument against the representationalist tradition in anthropology: the tradition of reporting how a cultural group represents the world. According to the argument, anthropologists working within this tradition cannot take the concepts of those they study seriously. I defend the representationalist tradition against this argument.
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  9. A Snowslide of Entities. Does Sosa's Existential Relativism Provide a Barrier Against Being Buried?Markus Seidel & Alexander Thinius - 2016 - In Bahr Amrei & Seidel Markus (eds.), Ernest Sosa. Targeting His Philosophy. Springer. pp. 101-118.
    This paper discusses Sosa’s via media between existential relativism and absolutism. We discuss three implications of Sosa’s account which require some further clarification. First, we distinguish three alternative readings of Sosa’s account – the indexicalist, the homonymist and the (proper) relativist reading – and argue that they differ with respect to two crucial points: (a) they lead to different analyses of the lack of disagreement in existential discourse, and (b) they differ with respect to the question of whether conceptual schemes (...)
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  10. Relativity and Degrees of Relationality.Jack Spencer - 2016 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 92 (2):432-459.
    Some well-known metaphysical arguments against relativism rest on the claim that relativity somehow must be accompanied by relationality. I argue otherwise, and trace the consequences for some prominent disputes between relativists and absolutists.
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  11. The Flying Termite.Laszlo Katona (ed.) - 2015 - Vernon Press.
    ABSTRACT of The Flying Termite by L.L. Katona -/- In this book I would like to show the term “intelligence“ has a universal, non-anthropomorphic meaning. We can perceive intelligence in dogs, dolphins or gorillas without understanding of it, but intelligence can be also seen in many other things from insects and the Solar System to elementary particles or the rules of a triangle. But that doesn’t mean intelligence comes from Intelligent Design, yet alone a Designer, they seems to be the (...)
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  12. Pyrrhonian Relativism.Diego E. Machuca - 2015 - Elenchos: Rivista di Studi Sul Pensiero Antico 36:89-114.
    This paper argues that Sextus Empiricus’s Pyrrhonism is a form of relativism markedly different from the positions typically referred to by this term. The scholars who have explored the relativistic elements found in Sextus’s texts have claimed that his outlook is not actually a form of relativism, or that those elements are inconsistent with his account of Pyrrhonism, or that he is confusing skepticism with relativism. The reason for these views is twofold: first, when employing the term ‘relativism’ one hardly (...)
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  13. Conventionalism, Consistency, and Consistency Sentences.Jared Warren - 2015 - Synthese 192 (5):1351-1371.
    Conventionalism about mathematics claims that mathematical truths are true by linguistic convention. This is often spelled out by appealing to facts concerning rules of inference and formal systems, but this leads to a problem: since the incompleteness theorems we’ve known that syntactic notions can be expressed using arithmetical sentences. There is serious prima facie tension here: how can mathematics be a matter of convention and syntax a matter of fact given the arithmetization of syntax? This challenge has been pressed in (...)
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  14. Quantifier Variance and the Collapse Argument.Jared Warren - 2015 - Philosophical Quarterly 65 (259):241-253.
    Recently a number of works in meta-ontology have used a variant of J.H. Harris's collapse argument in the philosophy of logic as an argument against Eli Hirsch's quantifier variance. There have been several responses to the argument in the literature, but none of them have identified the central failing of the argument, viz., the argument has two readings: one on which it is sound but doesn't refute quantifier variance and another on which it is unsound. The central lesson I draw (...)
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  15. Animal Interrupted, or Why Accepting Pascal's Wager Might Be the Last Thing You Ever Do.Sam Baron & Christina Dyke - 2014 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 52 (S1):109-133.
    According to conventionalist accounts of personal identity, persons are constituted in part by practices and attitudes of certain sorts of care. In this paper, we concentrate on the most well-developed and defended version of conventionalism currently on offer (namely, that proposed by David Braddon-Mitchell, Caroline West, and Kristie Miller) and discuss how the conventionalist appears forced either (1) to accept arbitrariness concerning from which perspective to judge one's survival or (2) to maintain egalitarianism at the cost of making “transfiguring” decisions (...)
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  16. Reading Putnam, Edited by Maria Baghramian. [REVIEW]Tim Button - 2014 - Mind 123 (490):569-575.
    Reading Putnam consists largely of papers from the fantastic ‘Putnam @80’ conference (organised by Maria Baghramian in 2007) together with replies from Hilary Putnam. Given the diversity of Putnam’s work, the papers in this collection cover many different topics. This makes the collection difficulty to read but, ultimately, extremely rewarding. In this review, I focus on the contributions from Michael Devitt, Charles Parsons, Richard Boyd, Ned Block, Charles Travis and John McDowell, together with Putnam’s responses. My aim is to highlight (...)
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  17. Review of The Construction of Logical Space by Agustín Rayo. [REVIEW]Cian Dorr - 2014 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 201406.
  18. Antirealist Essentialism.Jonathan Livingstone-Banks - 2014 - Dissertation, University of Leeds
    This project is an investigation into the prospects for an antirealist theory of essence. Essentialism is the claim that at least some things have some of their properties essentially. Essentialist discourse includes claims such as “Socrates is essentially human”, and “Socrates is accidentally bearded”. Historically, there are two ways of interpreting essentialist discourse. I call these positions ‘modal essentialism’ and ‘neo-Aristotelian essentialism’. According to modal essentialism, for Socrates to be essentially human is for it to be necessary that he be (...)
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  19. Hysteria, Race, and Phlogiston. A Model of Ontological Elimination in the Human Sciences.David Ludwig - 2014 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 45 (1):68-77.
    Elimination controversies are ubiquitous in philosophy and the human sciences. For example, it has been suggested that human races, hysteria, intelligence, mental disorder, propositional attitudes such as beliefs and desires, the self, and the super-ego should be eliminated from the list of respectable entities in the human sciences. I argue that eliminativist proposals are often presented in the framework of an oversimplified “phlogiston model” and suggest an alternative account that describes ontological elimination on a gradual scale between criticism of empirical (...)
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  20. Realism in the Desert.Achille C. Varzi - 2014 - In Massimo Dell’Utri, Fabio Bacchini & Stefano Caputo (eds.), Realism and Ontology without Myths. Cambridge Scholars Press. pp. 16–31.
    Quine’s desert is generally contrasted with Meinong’s jungle, as a sober ontological alternative to the exuberant luxuriance that comes with the latter. Here I focus instead on the desert as a sober metaphysical alternative to the Aristotelian garden, with its tidily organized varieties of flora and fauna neatly governed by fundamental laws that reflect the essence of things and the way they can be, or the way they must be. In the desert there are no “natural joints”; all the boundaries (...)
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  21. The Endurance/Perdurance Controversy is No Storm in a Teacup.Tobias Hansson Wahlberg - 2014 - Axiomathes 24 (4):463-482.
    Several philosophers have maintained in recent years that the endurance/perdurance debate is merely verbal: these prima facie distinct theories of objects’ persistence are in fact metaphysically equivalent, they claim. The present paper challenges this view. Three proposed translation schemes are examined; all are shown to be faulty. In the process, constructive reasons for regarding the debate as a substantive one are provided. It is also suggested that the theories may have differing practical implications.
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  22. Dharmakirti, Davidson, and Knowing Reality.Lajos Brons - 2013 - Comparative Philosophy 3 (1):30-57.
    If we distinguish phenomenal effects from their noumenal causes, the former being our conceptual(ized) experiences, the latter their grounds or causes in reality ‘as it is’ independent of our experience, then two contradictory positions with regards to the relationship between these two can be distinguished: either phenomena are identical with their noumenal causes, or they are not. Davidson is among the most influential modern defenders of the former position, metaphysical non-dualism. Dharmakīrti’s strict distinction between ultimate and conventional reality, on the (...)
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  23. The Limits of Realism.Tim Button - 2013 - Oxford University Press UK.
    Tim Button explores the relationship between minds, words, and world. He argues that the two main strands of scepticism are deeply related and can be overcome, but that there is a limit to how much we can show. We must position ourselves somewhere between internal realism and external realism, and we cannot hope to say exactly where.
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  24. Carnap's Metaontology.Matti Eklund - 2013 - Noûs 47 (2):229-249.
  25. Quantifier Variance and Realism: Essays in Metaontology. [REVIEW]David Liebesman - 2013 - Philosophical Review 122 (2):310-314.
  26. Fictionalism in Ontology.Achille C. Varzi - 2013 - In Carola Barbero, Maurizio Ferraris & Alberto Voltolini (eds.), From Fictionalism to Realism. Cambridge Scholars Press. pp. 133–151.
    Fictionalism in ontology is a mixed bag. Here I focus on three main variants—which I label after the names of Pascal, Berkeley, and Hume—and consider their relative strengths and weaknesses. The first variant is just a version of the epistemic Wager, applied across the board. The second variant builds instead on the fact that ordinary language is not ontologically transparent; we speak with the vulgar, but deep down we think with the learned. Finally, on the Humean variant it’s the structure (...)
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  27. Bare and Indexical Existence: Integrating Logic and Sensibility in Ontology.Lajos L. Brons - 2012 - In S. Watanabe (ed.), Logic and Sensibility. Keio University Press.
    This is the published version of a talk on meta-ontology in a conference of a multidisciplinary research project on "logic and sensibility". It argues against univocalism about "existence" and for a variety of perspectivism.
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  28. Metaontological Minimalism.Øystein Linnebo - 2012 - Philosophy Compass 7 (2):139-151.
    Can there be objects that are ‘thin’ in the sense that very little is required for their existence? A number of philosophers have thought so. For instance, many Fregeans believe it suffices for the existence of directions that there be lines standing in the relation of parallelism; other philosophers believe it suffices for a mathematical theory to have a model that the theory be coherent. This article explains the appeal of thin objects, discusses the three most important strategies for articulating (...)
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  29. Boundaries in Reality.Tuomas E. Tahko - 2012 - Ratio 25 (4):405-424.
    This paper defends the idea that there must be some joints in reality, some correct way to classify or categorize it. This may seem obvious, but we will see that there are at least three conventionalist arguments against this idea, as well as philosophers who have found them convincing. The thrust of these arguments is that the manner in which we structure, divide or carve up the world is not grounded in any natural, genuine boundaries in the world. Ultimately they (...)
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  30. Applied Relativism and Davidson's Arguments Against Conceptual Schemes.Lajos L. Brons - 2011 - The Science of Mind 49:221-240.
    This paper argues that Davidson's argument against conceptual schemes fail against so-called "Applied Relativisms", i.e. theories of conceptual relativism found outside philosophy such as Whorf's. These theories make no metaphysical claims, which Davidson seems to assume. Ultimately, the misunderstanding (and resulting strawman argument) illustrates (the effect of) differences in conceptual schemes more than that it undermines it.
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  31. Toward a Conceptualist Solution of the Grounding Problem.Iris Einheuser - 2011 - Noûs 45 (2):300-314.
    This paper defends a conceptualist answer to the question how objects come by their modal properties. It isolates the controversial metaphysical assumptions that are needed to get ontological conceptualism off the ground, outlines the conceptualist answer to the question and shows that conceptualism is not in as bad a shape as some critics have maintained.
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  32. Familiar Objects and Their Shadows.Crawford L. Elder - 2011 - Cambridge University Press.
    Most contemporary metaphysicians are sceptical about the reality of familiar objects such as dogs and trees, people and desks, cells and stars. They prefer an ontology of the spatially tiny or temporally tiny. Tiny microparticles 'dog-wise arranged' explain the appearance, they say, that there are dogs; microparticles obeying microphysics collectively cause anything that a baseball appears to cause; temporal stages collectively sustain the illusion of enduring objects that persist across changes. Crawford L. Elder argues that all such attempts to 'explain (...)
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  33. Can Persistence Be a Matter of Convention?Tobias Hansson Wahlberg - 2011 - Axiomathes 21 (4):507-529.
    This paper asks whether persistence can be a matter of convention. It argues that in a rather unexciting de dicto sense persistence is indeed a matter of convention, but it rejects the notion that persistence can be a matter of convention in a more substantial de re sense. However, scenarios can be imagined that appear to involve conventional persistence of the latter kind. Since there are strong reasons for thinking that such conventionality is impossible, it is desirable that our metaphysical-cum-semantic (...)
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  34. 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 (...)
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  35. La pragmatica del vuoto in Nagarjuna.Giacomo Foglietta - 2010 - Nóema 1:1-26.
    Nāgārjuna, vissuto in India attorno al primo secolo dopo Cristo, è certamente una delle figure più importanti del pensiero buddhista. In una delle sue opere principali, le ‘Strofe sulla via di mezzo ’, egli elabora in modo compiuto la nozione di ‘vuoto’, che diverrà uno dei concetti fondamentali di tutto il buddhismo successivo, dando vita alla ‘scuola del vuoto’, la quale avrà grande fortuna in Tibet, Cina e Giappone. Per vuoto non si intende certo il nulla, bensì l’inconsistenza rivelata dal (...)
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  36. Is the Hirsch–Sider Dispute Merely Verbal?Gerald Marsh - 2010 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 88 (3):459-469.
    There is currently debate between deflationists and anti-deflationists about the ontology of persisting objects. Some deflationists think that disputes between, for example, four-dimensionalists (e.g. Ted Sider and David Lewis) and quasi-nihilists (e.g. Peter Van Inwagen and Trenton Merricks) are merely verbal disputes. Anti-deflationists deny this. Eli Hirsch is a deflationist who maintains that many ontological disputes are merely verbal. Theodore Sider maintains that the disputes are not merely verbal. Hirsch and Sider are thus engaged in a metaontological dispute. In this (...)
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  37. Context Dependence, Perspective and Relativity.François Recanati, Isidora Stojanovic & Neftalí Villanueva (eds.) - 2010 - Mouton de Gruyter.
    Aims and Scope -/- This volume brings together original papers by linguists and philosophers on the role of context and perspective in language and thought. Several contributions are concerned with the contextualism/relativism debate, which has loomed large in recent philosophical discussions. In a substantial introduction, the editors survey the field and map out the relevant issues and positions.
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  38. Trivial, Platitudinous, Boring? Searle on Conceptual Relativism.Markus Seidel & Arne Weber - 2010 - In Dirk Franken, Attila Karakus & Jan Michel (eds.), John R. Searle. Thinking About the Real World. Ontos.
    In this paper we explore Searle’s defense of conceptual relativism. It emerges that Searle formulates the thesis in many different ways and that contrary to his contention not all are trivial and platitudinous. Specifically he does not distinguish clearly between an ontological and a linguistic version of conceptual relativism as well as between weak difference and stronger incommensurability of conceptual schemes. This has consequences for Searle’s defense of external realism.
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  39. Il mondo messo a fuoco. Storie di allucinazioni e miopie filosofiche.Achille C. Varzi - 2010 - Laterza.
    At the beginning, all there is is world. It’s not all alike: here is mama, there is cold, over there—noise. Soon we begin to distinguish and to recognize: more mama, more cold, more noise! Yet initially these things appear to be all of a type. Each is, in Quine’s words, just a history of sporadic encounter, a mere portion of all there is. Only with time does this fluid totality in which we are immersed begin to take shape: sensations recur; (...)
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  40. 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).
  41. The Metaphysics of Resemblance.Ghislain Guigon - 2009 - Dissertation, University of Geneva
    The topic of this study is the resemblance of individuals. The underlying contention of this dissertation is that the resemblance of individuals is a taxing and challenging philosophical topic. Two main claims are defended in this study to support this contention. The first of these claims is that resemblance is not a binary relation but a monadic multigrade property. The second of these claims is that the metaphysics of resemblance and the metaphysics of properties are distinct, although not independent, philosophical (...)
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  42. The Metaontology of Abstraction.Bob Hale & Crispin Wright - 2009 - In David John Chalmers, David Manley & Ryan Wasserman (eds.), Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology. Oxford University Press. pp. 178-212.
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  43. Superficialism in Ontology.John Hawthorne - 2009 - In David John Chalmers, David Manley & Ryan Wasserman (eds.), Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology. Oxford University Press. pp. 213--30.
    draft, forthcoming Chalmers, Manley and Wasserman eds., Metametaphysics.
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  44. Ontology and Alternative Languages.Eli Hirsch - 2009 - In David John Chalmers, David Manley & Ryan Wasserman (eds.), Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology. Oxford University Press. pp. 231--58.
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  45. Ontological Realism.Theodore Sider - 2009 - In David John Chalmers, David Manley & Ryan Wasserman (eds.), Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology. Oxford University Press. pp. 384--423.
    In , Peter van Inwagen asked a good question. (Asking the right question is often the hardest part.) He asked: what do you have to do to some objects to get them to compose something---to bring into existence some further thing made up of those objects? Glue them together or what?1 Some said that you don’t have to do anything.2 No matter what you do to the objects, they’ll always compose something further, no matter how they are arranged. Thus we (...)
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  46. Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology.Ryan Wasserman, David Manley & David Chalmers (eds.) - 2009 - Oxford University Press.
  47. Putnam on Ontology.Matti Eklund - 2008 - Poznan Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities 95 (1):203-222.
    I here critically discuss Hilary Putnam's views on ontology, especially as recently expounded in his Ethics without Ontology. In particular, I discuss Putnam's thesis of conceptual relativity and his criticism of the thesis that objectivity requires objects. Although I think that much of what Putnam says is important, and that there are important elements of truth to it, my points will largely be negative. Along the way I will discuss Putnam's and Wittgenstein's views in the philosophy of mathematics, and I (...)
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  48. The Picture of Reality as an Amorphous Lump.Matti Eklund - 2008 - In Theodore Sider, John Hawthorne & Dean W. Zimmerman (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Metaphysics. Blackwell. pp. 382--96.
    (1) Abstract objects. The nominalist (as the label is used today) denies that there exist abstract objects. The platonist holds that there are abstract objects. One example is numbers. The nominalist denies that there are numbers; the platonist typically affirms it.
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  49. The Donkey Problem.Mark Heller - 2008 - Philosophical Studies 140 (1):83-101.
    The Donkey Problem (as I am calling it) concerns the relationship between more and less fundamental ontologies. I will claim that the moral to draw from the Donkey Problem is that the less fundamental objects are merely conventional. This conventionalism has consequences for the 3D/4D debate. Four-dimensionalism is motivated by a desire to avoid coinciding objects, but once we accept that the non-fundamental ontology is conventional there is no longer any reason to reject coincidence. I therefore encourage 4Dists to become (...)
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  50. Ontological Deflationism in Madhyamaka.Matthew MacKenzie - 2008 - Contemporary Buddhism 9 (2):197-207.
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