Authors
Jeffrey N. Bagwell
University of California at Santa Barbara
Abstract
Eliminativists sometimes invoke evolutionary debunking arguments against ordinary object beliefs, either to help them establish object skepticism or to soften the appeal of commonsense ontology. I argue that object debunkers face a self-defeat problem: their conclusion undermines the scientific support for one of their premises, because evolutionary biology depends on our object beliefs. Using work on reductionism and multiple realizability from the philosophy of science, I argue that it will not suffice for an eliminativist debunker to simply appeal to some object-free surrogate theory of evolution that results from converting any scientific proposition about some object K into a proposition about simples arranged K-wise. In the process, I examine some hazards peculiar to eliminative reductions of scientific theories, and propose a trilemma for eliminativists who attempt to recoup generality for ontologically sparse reducing theories by appealing to pluralities of simples arranged K-wise. The paper is intended to define and develop the object debunker’s self-defeat problem for further study, and to clarify some of the ways sparse and abundant ontologies interact with scientific theory.
Keywords eliminativism  nihilism  debunking  reductionism  ordinary objects  evolution  skepticism  multiple realizability
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References found in this work BETA

Material Beings.Peter van Inwagen - 1990 - Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
A Darwinian Dilemma for Realist Theories of Value.Sharon Street - 2006 - Philosophical Studies 127 (1):109-166.

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Ordinary Objects.Daniel Z. Korman - 2011 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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