Against Metaphysical Structuralism

Grazer Philosophische Studien 98 (1):90-122 (2020)
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Abstract

Inductive Metaphysics combines an anti-aprioristic emphasis on an empirical and scientific basis for metaphysics with an insistence on a specifically philosophical abductive theory-building. Since the latter specifically philosophical work is not empirical itself, it may in a liberal sense be called apriori. This paper highlights this apriori dimension within IM by a case study on Structuralism, the view that fundamental reality consists of a network of relations, which a number of philosophers consider to be suggested by modern physics. Focussing on Dasgupta’s algebraic Generalism, the author argues that Structuralism suffers from a severe entailment problem, because the relations-spanning apparatus must stand for metaphysically fundamental forms. Schaffer’s contention that there are no entailment problems is rejected. Advocates of IM are well advised to take seriously their own insistence on metaphysical abduction and not to one-sidedly emphasise the empirical input: the elaboration of exact metaphysical theories and the apriori evaluation of their inherent tenability is a constituent of IM no less important than the consideration of scientific input. More traditional ways of metaphysical reasoning inevitably survive as an essential dimension within IM.

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Ralf Busse
Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz

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