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Ontology

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 2016 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.
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Subcategories:
Events (192)
Existence (179)
Metaontology* (1,060 | 62)
Propositions* (658 | 112)
Objects* (5,459 | 28)
Properties* (1,760 | 84)
Substance (587)
Truthmakers (525)
See also:History/traditions: Ontology
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  1. M. A. (1967). Metaphysics of Natural Complexes. [REVIEW] Review of Metaphysics 20 (4):713-714.
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  2. P. D. M. A. (1960). Words and Things. [REVIEW] Review of Metaphysics 14 (2):362-362.
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  3. S. C. A. (1971). The Problem of the Self. [REVIEW] Review of Metaphysics 25 (2):356-356.
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  4. Felicia Ackerman (1995). How Does Ontology Supervene on What There Is? In Elias E. Savellos & Ümit D. Yalçin (eds.), Supervenience: New Essays. Cambridge University Press. pp. 264.
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  5. Miguel Acosta (2006). Las potencias operativas. Estructura y dinámica desde la metafísica realista. Madrid, España: Publicep.
    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 (...)
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  6. G. P. Adams, J. Loewenberg & S. C. Pepper (1930). The Problem of Substance. Mind 39 (156):496-501.
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  7. Peter Adamson (2005). On Knowledge of Particulars. 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 (...)
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  8. Peter Adamson (2005). Xi &Ast;—on Knowledge of Particulars. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 105 (3):273-294.
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  9. Laird Addis (1972). Aristotle and the Independence of Substances. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 33 (1):107-111.
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  10. Median Age (1965). Some Facts. Eugenics Review 1501 (1961):42.
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  11. Reza Akbarian & Suhrab Haqiqat, The Relation Between Existence and Quiddity in the Philosophies of Aristotle and Ibn Sina. 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, (...)
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  12. Takeshi Akiba (2008). Objection to Simons' Nuclear Theory. 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 (...)
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  13. H. Albert (1995). Art and Ontology. Indian Philosophical Quarterly 22 (2):133.
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  14. Hans Albert (1973). Problem neutralności metaetyki. Etyka 11.
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  15. Rogers Albritton (1957). II. Forms of Particular Substances in Aristotle's Metaphysics. Journal of Philosophy 54 (22):699-708.
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  16. C. Fred Alford (2012). Jean Améry: Resentment as Ethic and Ontology. [REVIEW] 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 (...)
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  17. Edwin Bonar Allaire (ed.) (1963). Essays in Ontology. Iowa City, University of Iowa.
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  18. Rudolf Allers (1941). The Intellectual Cognition of Particulars. The Thomist 3:95-163.
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  19. Rudolph Allers (1941). DeWitt H. Parker. Experience and Substance. [REVIEW] The Thomist 3:670.
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  20. Mauricio Barcellos Almeida (2009). A Proposal to Evaluate Ontology Content. Applied Ontology 4 (3-4):245-265.
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  21. Ömer Mahir Alper (2010). Varlık Ve Insan: Kemalpaşazâde Bağlamında Bir Tasavvurun Yeniden Inşası. Klasik.
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  22. Angelo Alves (2005). Prolegómenos a Uma Ontologia Pluridimensional: Dialéctica, Ascensional, Plenificante. Imprensa Nacional-Casa da Moeda.
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  23. Eileen Amari-Vaught & W. Vaught (1996). Don't I Count? Hastings Center Report 27 (2):23.
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  24. D. Ambrose, Film, Nihilism and the Restoration of Belief.
    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. (...)
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  25. James Anderson, Dependence, Duty, and Universal Requirements.
    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 (...)
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  26. James F. Anderson (1952). Some Basic Propositions Concerning Metaphysical Analogy. Review of Metaphysics 5 (3):465 -.
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  27. Weekes Anderson (forthcoming). Acknowledging Ralph Pred. 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 (...)
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  28. Hajnal Andréka, Ivo Düntsch & István Németi (1995). Expressibility of Properties of Relations. 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.
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  29. Natalie Angier (2004). My God Problem. Free Inquiry 24.
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  30. De Anima (2001). David Wiggins. In Elijah Millgram (ed.), Varieties of Practical Reasoning. MIT Press. pp. 279.
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  31. Rani Lill Anjum (2016). Evidence Based or Person Centered? An Ontological Debate. 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 (...)
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  32. Miroslava Anđelković (1995). Epistemic Aspects of Identity. Theoria 38 (4):49-69.
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  33. Maritain as an Interpreter Of Aquinas (1996). On the Problem of Individuaron. Sapientia 199:103.
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  34. Gonzalo Arango & Eduardo Escobar (1980). Gonzalo Arango, Correspondencia Violada. Instituto Colombiano de Cultura Universidad de Antioquia Gobernación Del Departamento de Antioquia.
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  35. Aranyosi Ezgi Ulusoy (2012). An Enquiry Into Sufi Metaphysics. 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 (...)
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  36. Alexandra Arapinis (2013). Referring to Institutional Entities: Semantic and Ontological Perspectives. Applied Ontology 8 (1):31-57.
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  37. Alexandra Arapinis & Laure Vieu (2015). A Plea for Complex Categories in Ontologies. Applied Ontology 10 (3-4):285-296.
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  38. Aristotle (2007). The Metaphysics. Dover Publications.
    A central part of academic inquiry and scholarly education, metaphysics was regarded as "the Queen of Sciences" even before the age of Aristotle. This multipart essay by the prominent philosopher examines the nature of existence, along with issues related to causation, form and matter, mathematics, and God.
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  39. Aristotle (1999). Metaphysics Book B and K 1–2.
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  40. Matija Arko (2006). Is If-Then-Ism Still an Option? Synthesis Philosophica 21 (1):95-101.
    In this paper I am going to try to prove that if-then-ism is not an option. I will focus on if-then-ism as a strategy to reduce ontological commitments in mathematics. I will start with the definition of if-then-ism in The Principles of Mathematics. Then I am going to discuss the Putnam’s criticism of if-then-ism. Next I will move on to some arguments of Cian Dorr that support it. In the end, I will talk about ontological parsimony as the general motivation (...)
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  41. Andrew W. Arlig (2011). Mereology. In H. Lagerlund (ed.), Encyclopedia of Medieval Philosophy. Springer. pp. 763--771.
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  42. D. M. Armstrong, PHIL 420: Metaphysics.
    A particular thing is nothing but a bundle (a collection) of all its properties. Other than these properties (including spatial, temporal properties), there is nothing. [Space and time, being physical properties, are among the things that have to be constructed as bundles of universals.].
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  43. D. M. Armstrong, Revisions and Quiddities.
    I used to think of the connection between a particular and a universal that it instantiates as a contingent one. Now I think that this is not quite right. This revision, as I now see it, is not a very large one. I still think that the states of affairs (Russell’s facts in his great Lectures on Logical Atomism) that unite particulars and universals are contingent beings. But the connection within states of affairs is, in a certain way, necessary.
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  44. D. M. Armstrong (1996). Place and Armstrong's Views Compared. In Tim Crane (ed.), Dispositions: A Debate. New York: Routledge. pp. 33--48.
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  45. F. Aronadio (2004). Plato on Parts and Wholes. The Metaphysics of Structure. [REVIEW] Elenchos 25 (2).
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  46. M. Aronoff, R. W. Ashby, H. Atmanspacher, S. Avrutin, B. Baars, J. Balling, J. Balogh, A. Bandura, R. G. Barker & J. Barkow (1999). 139-43, 148, 186; Co-Author of Chapter 6; See Also Grafton, ST Et Al.; Jeannerod, M. Et Al. Armstrong, DF: Et Al. 128 Armstrong, SL: Et Al 10-11, 21, 41-2. [REVIEW] In Philip R. Loockvane (ed.), The Nature of Concepts: Evolution, Structure, and Representation. Routledge.
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  47. Arp (2008). Ontologies of Cellular Networks. Science Signalling 1 (50):1-3.
    As part of a series of workshops on different aspects of biomedical ontology sponsored by the National Center for Biomedical Ontology (NCBO), a workshop titled "Ontologies of Cellular Networks" took place in Newark, New Jersey, on 27 to 28 March 2008. This workshop included more than 30 participants from various backgrounds in biomedicine and bioinformatics. The goal of the workshop was to provide an introduction to the basic tools and methods of ontology, as well as to enhance coordination between groups (...)
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  48. Robin Attfield (1973). How Things Exist: A Difficulty. Analysis 33 (4):141 - 143.
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  49. Paul Audi (2016). Property Identity. Philosophy Compass 11 (12):829-840.
    The question of how properties are individuated is extremely important. Consider the following proposals. To be in pain is to be in a certain neurological state. To be red is to appear red to normal observers in standard conditions. To be obligatory is to maximize the good. Each makes a claim of property identity. Each is a substantive metaphysical thesis of wide interest. None can be studied with due scrutiny in the absence of a general account of property identity. Here, (...)
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  50. Sergeĭ Shalvovich Avaliani (2006). Pʻsevdoabsoluturis Pʻilosopʻia. Gamomcʻemloba "Universali".
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