Every thing must go * by James Ladyman and Don Ross with David Spurrett and John Collier

Analysis 69 (3):565-567 (2009)
Wisely, the authors begin this book by describing it as a polemic. They argue that most contemporary analytic metaphysics is a waste of time and resources since contemporary ‘neo-scholastic’ metaphysical theorizing cannot hope to attain objective truth given its penchant for making a priori claims about the nature of the world which are backed up by appeal to intuition. In engaging in this activity, metaphysicians have, the authors claim, abandoned hope of locating any interesting connection between their metaphysical pronouncements and how our best empirical theories describe the world. Moreover, the success attained by empirical science just cannot be matched by metaphysical theorizing and so, faced with this asymmetry, empirical science wins: a priori metaphysical theorizing must give way to a naturalistic form of metaphysics, a positive account of which the authors attempt to elucidate in the second and third, rather lengthy chapters of the book.The first chapter consists of a statement of the authors’ negative view, a vigorous, sustained and sometimes withering attack upon contemporary a priori metaphysics. Most ire is reserved for those who indulge in what the authors call ‘pseudo-scientific metaphysics’; that is, those who pay lip service to keeping their metaphysical speculation in tune with physics, only to constrain their ontology in such a way that the entities and processes within it do not even play a role in current physical theory, or are in straightforward contradiction with it. Much philosophy of science and scientific metaphysics is too superficial and simplistic to deserve the name and bears more relation to ‘the philosophy of “A” Level chemistry’. The guilty in this respect include David Lewis, Jaegwon Kim, Jonathan Lowe, Donald Davidson, Jerry Fodor, Crawford Elder, Trenton Merricks among …
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DOI 10.1093/analys/anp036
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