Edited by T. Parent (Virginia Tech)
About this topic
Summary Following Quine, ontology is here understood as the study of what there is. (Re: neo-Aristotelian ontology, the study of what grounds what, see the "Fundamentality" category.) Our focus is on the existence of the most generic things that populate many philosophers' ontologies, e.g., objects, properties, natural kinds, states-of-affairs, events, etc. We often talk of these things without thinking twice, but the existence of such entities can seem odd on reflection. For instance, it is natural to say that red roses and red firetrucks have something in common, the property of being red. But does this mean there is a single entity that is a constituent of *every* such rose and firetruck? A second example concerns composite objects: Suppose Abe Lincoln replaces the handle of his axe in 1825, and later in 1860 replaces the head. Does this mean he has owned more than one axe in his lifetime? In general, given a puzzling entity X, Realists about X will strive to minimize such oddities--whereas Anti-Realists often try to preserve ordinary talk of X, despite excluding X from their ontology. Questions about ontology can also lead to questions about these questions. Thus, ontology often bleeds into metaontology, the study of the study of what there is. In recent years, the ontology literature has grown dramatically, especially on metaontology and on composition.
Key works Besides Quine 1961, the articles in Chalmers et al 2009 are central to current metaontology. Lewis 1991 is a classic on mereology; see also ch. 4 of Lewis 1986. Other key works on composition are van Inwagen 1990, Sider 2001, and the selections in Rea 1997. Armstrong is the most important author on properties and universals; see Armstrong 1978 (two vols.) and Armstrong 1989. (These also are informative about Armstrong's influential view of states-of-affairs.) Lewis' critical studies of Armstrong are also must reads: Lewis 1983 and Lewis 1986. Some other important works in ontology are Meinong 1960, Benacerraf 1965, Quine 1968, Lewis & Lewis 1970, and Field 1980. An especially important, currently active ontologist is Thomasson; see especially Thomasson 1998 and Thomasson 2007.
Introductions Hofweber 2008, Rosen 2008, and Korman 2011 are especially recommended. Additional entries in the Stanford Encyclopedia are also relevant, e.g., "object," "properties," "intrinsic vs. extrinsic properties," "essential vs. accidental properties," "tropes," "natural kinds," etc. The pertinent chapters in Loux Michael & Zimmerman Dean 2003, Gale 2002, and Kim et al 2009 are also recommended.
Related categories
Events (195)
Existence (194)
Metaontology* (1,093 | 41)
Propositions* (724 | 144)
Objects* (5,812 | 5)
Properties* (1,839 | 86)
Substance (605)
Truthmakers (510)
See also:History/traditions: Ontology

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Material to categorize
  1. Metaphysics of Natural Complexes. [REVIEW]M. A. - 1967 - Review of Metaphysics 20 (4):713-714.
  2. Words and Things. [REVIEW]P. D. M. A. - 1960 - Review of Metaphysics 14 (2):362-362.
  3. The Problem of the Self. [REVIEW]S. C. A. - 1971 - Review of Metaphysics 25 (2):356-356.
  4. VP-Internal Subjects As' Unaccusatives' Burzio's' Object Account'vs.Werner Abraham - 2004 - In Alice G. B. ter Meulen & Werner Abraham (eds.), The Composition of Meaning: From Lexeme to Discourse. John Benjamins. pp. 255--83.
  5. AE Douglas Argument as Affecting the Interpretation of the Substance of the Treatises. 1 Nowhere is the Last-Mentioned Approach More Necessary Than in Reading the Tusculans. They Are Written in a Form Which Cicero.De Finibus Academica & De Divinatione De Natura Deorum - 1995 - In J. G. F. Powell (ed.), Cicero the Philosopher: Twelve Papers. Clarendon Press.
  6. How Does Ontology Supervene on What There Is?Felicia Ackerman - 1995 - In Elias E. Savellos & Ümit D. Yalçin (eds.), Supervenience: New Essays. Cambridge University Press. pp. 264.
    La aproximación filosófica con respecto al hombre tiene diversas metodologías, las más actuales son de índole existencial y hacen especial hincapié en el análisis fenomenológico y hermenéutico en sus distintas modalidades. Principalmente a partir del siglo XX la crítica y la minusvaloración de la metafísica como vía adecuada de conocimiento de la realidad han sido reiteradas. Sin embargo, al estudiar y conocer al hombre desde las citadas aproximaciones, hay quienes no quedan satisfechos y desean profundizar todavía más. Para ello, vuelven (...)
  8. The Problem of Substance.G. P. Adams, J. Loewenberg & S. C. Pepper - 1930 - Mind 39 (156):496-501.
  9. On Knowledge of Particulars.Peter Adamson - 2005 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 105 (3):273–294.
    Avicenna's notorious claim that God knows particulars only 'in a universal way' is argued to have its roots in Aristotelian epistemology, and especially in the "Posterior Analytics". According to Avicenna and Aristotle as understood by Avicenna, there is in fact no such thing as 'knowledge' of particulars, at least not as such. Rather, a particular can only be known by subsuming it under a universal. Thus Avicenna turns out to be committed to a much more surprising epistemological thesis: even humans (...)
  10. Xi &Ast;—on Knowledge of Particulars.Peter Adamson - 2005 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 105 (3):273-294.
  11. Aristotle and the Independence of Substances.Laird Addis - 1972 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 33 (1):107-111.
  12. Ruminations on Intermittent Existence.Anthony Adrian - 2011 - Stance 4:39-48.
    Can objects exist, cease to exist, and then exist once more? I lay out three ways to think about intermittent existence . The first section is based on intuitions. The second section will show that the intuitions are bolstered by the concept of supervenience. The final section will argue that the strongest way to think about IE, and about supervenience, is in terms of mereology, the theory of parts and wholes.
  13. Some Facts.Median Age - 1965 - Eugenics Review 1501 (1961):42.
  14. The Relation Between Existence and Quiddity in the Philosophies of Aristotle and Ibn Sina.Reza Akbarian & Suhrab Haqiqat - unknown - Kheradnameh Sadra Quarterly 53.
    In his philosophy, Aristotle, on the one hand, has created a close relation between existence and substance so that he can reduce questions about existence to those about substance, and, on the other hand, believes in the substance-essence relation. That is why it is very difficult in his philosophy to distinguish existence, substance, and essence from each other. This has led experts on Aristotle to wonder if there is a distinction between existence and essence in his philosophy. Moreover, they ask, (...)
  15. Objection to Simons' Nuclear Theory.Takeshi Akiba - 2008 - Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 17:7-13.
    A number of philosophers today endorse the view thatmaterial substances (ex. cats, stones, atoms) can be analyzed asbundles of “particular properties” or “tropes”. Among severaldevelopments, the theory that P. Simons proposed is seen as themost successful one. Simons’ theory seems to owe its high reputationto mainly two advantages which he claims for his theory: thecapacity for avoiding infinite regress, and the explanatory adequacyfor phenomenon of change. In this paper, however, I try to object tothis high appraisal, by showing that the (...)
  16. Art and Ontology.H. Albert - 1995 - Indian Philosophical Quarterly 22 (2):133.
  17. Problem neutralności metaetyki.Hans Albert - 1973 - Etyka 11.
  18. II. Forms of Particular Substances in Aristotle's Metaphysics.Rogers Albritton - 1957 - Journal of Philosophy 54 (22):699-708.
  19. The Problem of Metaphysics and the Meaning of Metaphysical Explanation: An Essay in Definitions.Hartley Burr Alexander - 1903 - Philosophical Review 12 (2):231-232.
  20. Jean Améry: Resentment as Ethic and Ontology. [REVIEW]C. Fred Alford - 2012 - Topoi 31 (2):229-240.
    Against the view that trauma cripples the survivor’s ability to account for his or her own experience, Jean Améry, a survivor of Auschwitz, argued that trauma speaks a language of its own. In this language, what may be taken as a clinical symptom, the inability to let go of a traumatic past, is actually an ethical stance on behalf of history’s victims. Améry wrote about aging in similar terms. Aging and death are an assault on the values of life, an (...)
  21. Modern Secular Man and the Problem of the Unity of Mankind.S. Takdir Alisjahbana - 1974 - In Aurobindo Ghose, Srinivasa Iyengar & R. K. (eds.), Sri Aurobindo: A Centenary Tribute. Sri Aurobindo Ashram Press. pp. 244.
  22. Ontologically Speaking, Things Are ….Edwin B. Allaire - 1976 - Theoria 42 (1-3):93-114.
  23. Essays in Ontology.Edwin Bonar Allaire (ed.) - 1963 - Iowa City, University of Iowa.
  24. The Intellectual Cognition of Particulars.Rudolf Allers - 1941 - The Thomist 3:95-163.
  25. DeWitt H. Parker. Experience and Substance. [REVIEW]Rudolph Allers - 1941 - The Thomist 3:670.
  26. Kinds of Knowledge.Elaine Alligood - 1976 - In David Batty (ed.), Knowledge and its Organization. College of Library and Information Services, University of Maryland. pp. 8--16.
  27. A Proposal to Evaluate Ontology Content.Mauricio Barcellos Almeida - 2009 - Applied Ontology 4 (3-4):245-265.
  28. Varlık Ve Insan: Kemalpaşazâde Bağlamında Bir Tasavvurun Yeniden Inşası.Ömer Mahir Alper - 2010 - Klasik.
  29. Naming and Necessity.J. E. J. Altham - 1981 - Philosophical Books 22 (1):36-37.
  30. Exemplification and Expression.Charles Altieri - 2010 - In Garry Hagberg & Walter Jost (eds.), A Companion to the Philosophy of Literature. Wiley-Blackwell.
  31. Prolegómenos a Uma Ontologia Pluridimensional: Dialéctica, Ascensional, Plenificante.Angelo Alves - 2005 - Imprensa Nacional-Casa da Moeda.
  32. Don't I Count?Eileen Amari-Vaught & W. Vaught - 1996 - Hastings Center Report 27 (2):23.
  33. Film, Nihilism and the Restoration of Belief.D. Ambrose - unknown
    Despite the clichés which govern much of its current forms, the cinema continues to have a vital political and aesthetic significance. Our commitment to, and our sincerity towards, our ways of being in the world have become catastrophically eroded. Nihilism and despair have taken hold. We must find a way to renew our faith in our capacity to transform the world, a faith that will give us back the reality of a world eroded by the restrictive capitalist ontology of modernity. (...)
  34. The Problem of God.E. S. Ames & Edgar Sheffield Brightman - 1933 - Philosophical Review 42 (3):332.
  35. Cyclic Indiscernibles and Skolem Functions.D. A. Anapolitanos - 1981 - Zeitschrift fur mathematische Logik und Grundlagen der Mathematik 27 (23‐24):353-362.
  36. Dependence, Duty, and Universal Requirements.James Anderson - manuscript
    An important element in the criticism of liberalism by some communitarians and feminists is the notion of our embeddedness in relationships of dependence. The criticism in general is that liberal theory is deficient in that it generally attaches no special meaning to such relations, thus justifying a social structure that weakens them. However, the questions of precisely what sort of moral significance these relationships have, why they are morally significant, and what types of dependence relationships possess this significance, have largely (...)
  37. Some Basic Propositions Concerning Metaphysical Analogy.James F. Anderson - 1952 - Review of Metaphysics 5 (3):465 -.
  38. Acknowledging Ralph Pred.Weekes Anderson - forthcoming - In Jakub Dziadkowiec & Lukasz Lamza (eds.), Beyond Whitehead: Recent Advances in Process Thought. Lanham: Lexington Books. pp. 97–114.
    At the time of his death in May of 2012, Ralph Pred was working on a critical social theory inspired by process philosophy. In the book manuscript he left unfinished, Syntax and Solidarity, he develops a “radically empirical” sociology that enables him to identify and critically evaluate the different forms that social solidarity has taken in the history of civilization. The purpose of this paper is to draw attention to the importance of his unfinished project. The executors of Pred’s literary (...)
  39. Expressibility of Properties of Relations.Hajnal Andréka, Ivo Düntsch & István Németi - 1995 - Journal of Symbolic Logic 60 (3):970-991.
    We investigate in an algebraic setting the question of which logical languages can express the properties integral, permutational, and rigid for algebras of relations.
  40. Relationships Over Entities.Matteo Andreozzi - unknown
  41. My God Problem.Natalie Angier - 2004 - Free Inquiry 24.
  42. David Wiggins.De Anima - 2001 - In Elijah Millgram (ed.), Varieties of Practical Reasoning. MIT Press. pp. 279.
  43. Evidence Based or Person Centered? An Ontological Debate.Rani Lill Anjum - 2016 - European Journal for Person Centered Healthcare 4 (2):421-429.
    Evidence based medicine (EBM) is under critical debate, and person centered healthcare (PCH) has been proposed as an improvement. But is PCH offered as a supplement or as a replacement of EBM? Prima facie PCH only concerns the practice of medicine, while the contended features of EBM also include methods and medical model. I here argue that there are good philosophical reasons to see PCH as a radical alternative to the existing medical paradigm of EBM, since the two seem committed (...)
  44. Verbal-Pictoric Translation in Steinberg's Labyrinth.Silvia Simone Anspach - 1986 - Semiotics:170-178.
  45. Epistemic Aspects of Identity.Miroslava Anđelković - 1995 - Theoria 38 (4):49-69.
  46. On the Problem of Individuaron.Maritain as an Interpreter Of Aquinas - 1996 - Sapientia 199:103.
  47. Gonzalo Arango, Correspondencia Violada.Gonzalo Arango & Eduardo Escobar - 1980 - Instituto Colombiano de Cultura Universidad de Antioquia Gobernación Del Departamento de Antioquia.
  48. An Enquiry Into Sufi Metaphysics.Aranyosi Ezgi Ulusoy - 2012 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 20 (1):3 - 22.
    The fact that Sufi metaphysics is usually taken to be merely the writings of Islamic philosophers, like Ibn al-'Arabi, seems to underestimate the philosophical indications of literary texts in the Sufi tradition. When Sufi literary texts are examined for philosophical content, that content is sought within and through the traditional Sufist approach. However, there appears to be a lack of correspondence between the traditional approach on the main conceptions (of God, of the universe, etc.) in Sufism and what literary texts (...)
  49. Referring to Institutional Entities: Semantic and Ontological Perspectives.Alexandra Arapinis - 2013 - Applied Ontology 8 (1):31-57.
  50. A Plea for Complex Categories in Ontologies.Alexandra Arapinis & Laure Vieu - 2015 - Applied Ontology 10 (3-4):285-296.
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