Ontological infidelity

Synthese 165 (1):1 - 12 (2008)
In ethical discourse, it is common practice to distinguish between normative commitments and descriptive commitments. Normative commitments reflect what a person ought to be committed to, whereas descriptive commitments reflect what a person actually is committed to. While the normative/descriptive distinction is widely accepted as a way of talking about ethical commitments, philosophers have missed this distinction in discussing ontological commitments. In this paper, I distinguish between descriptive ontological commitments and normative ontological commitments and discuss several significant benefits of recognizing this distinction. I argue that just as the normative/descriptive distinction is important for fruitful ethical discourse, so too is it important for fruitful discourse concerning our ontological commitments. And, it constitutes a significant step towards resolving some prominent debates concerning our ontological commitments.
Keywords Ontology  Indispensability  Descriptive  Normative
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Clark Glymour (1980). Theory and Evidence. Princeton University Press.

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