Berkeley and modern metaphysics

Notoriously, Berkeley combines his denial of the existence of mind-independent matter with the insistence that most of what common sense claims about physical objects is perfectly true (1975a, 1975b).1 As I explain (§ 1), he suggests two broad strategies for this reconciliation, one of which importantly subdivides. Thus, I distinguish three Berkeleyian metaphysical views. The subsequent argument is as follows. Reflection, both upon Berkeley’s ingenious construal of science as approaching towards an essentially indirect identification of the causal-explanatory ground of the order and nature of our ideas in God’s volitional strategy, and also upon the currently orthodox status of a Humean principle about the a posteriority of causation, points towards an isomorphism between the three Berkeleyian views and three more modern metaphysical views, explicitly advertised as realist, in at least some sense which is supposed to be in stark contrast with Berkeley’s anti-realist immaterialism (§ 2). The real distinctions between the three modern views, and, correspondingly, between the three Berkeleyian views, are semantic rather than genuinely metaphysical (§ 3). All six views share a fundamental assumption, that the causal explanatory grounds of the order and nature of our experiences are distinct from the direct objects of those experiences, in a techinical sense to be made precise, in virtue of which they fail ultimately to sustain our intuitive commitment to empirical realism, the thesis that physical objects are, both the very things which are presented..
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