Ontological anti-realism

In David Chalmers, David Manley & Ryan Wasserman (eds.), Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology. Oxford University Press (2009)
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Abstract

The basic question of ontology is “What exists?”. The basic question of metaontology is: are there objective answers to the basic question of ontology? Here ontological realists say yes, and ontological anti-realists say no. (Compare: The basic question of ethics is “What is right?”. The basic question of metaethics is: are there objective answers to the basic question of ethics? Here moral realists say yes, and moral anti-realists say no.) For example, the ontologist may ask: Do numbers exist? The Platonist says yes, and the nominalist says no. The metaontologist may ask: is there an objective fact of the matter about whether numbers exist? The ontological realist says yes, and the ontological anti-realist says no. Likewise, the ontologist may ask: Given two distinct entities, when does a mereological sum of those entities exist? The universalist says always, while the nihilist says never. The metaontologist may ask: is there an objective fact of the matter about whether the mereological sum of two distinct entities exists? The ontological realist says yes, and the ontological anti-realist says no. Ontological realism is often traced to Quine (1948), who held that we can determine what exists by seeing which entities are endorsed by our best scientific theory of the world. In recent years, the practice of ontology has often presupposed an ever-stronger ontological realism, and strong versions of ontological realism have received explicit statements by Fine (this volume), Sider (2001; this volume), van Inwagen (1998; this volume), and others

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David Chalmers
New York University

Citations of this work

On what grounds what.Jonathan Schaffer - 2009 - In David Manley, David J. Chalmers & Ryan Wasserman (eds.), Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology. Oxford University Press. pp. 347-383.
Verbal Disputes.David J. Chalmers - 2011 - Philosophical Review 120 (4):515-566.
The Combination Problem for Panpsychism.David Chalmers - 2017 - In Brüntrup Godehard & Jaskolla Ludwig (eds.), Panpsychism. Oxford University Press.
The Unity of Grounding.Selim Berker - 2018 - Mind 127 (507):729-777.
Grounding is not a strict order.Gonzalo Rodriguez-Pereyra - 2015 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 1 (3):517-534.

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References found in this work

Knowledge and practical interests.Jason Stanley - 2005 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Science Without Numbers: A Defence of Nominalism.Hartry H. Field - 1980 - Princeton, NJ, USA: Princeton University Press.
Material beings.Peter Van Inwagen - 1990 - Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Four Dimensionalism.Theodore Sider - 1997 - Philosophical Review 106 (2):197-231.

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