Against Conservatism in Metaphysics

Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 82:45-75 (2018)
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Abstract

In his recent book, Daniel Korman contrasts ontological conservatives with permissivists and eliminativists about ontology. Roughly speaking, conservatives admit the existence of ‘ordinary objects' like trees, dogs, and snowballs, but deny the existence of ‘extraordinary objects', like composites of trees and dogs. Eliminativists, on the other hand, deny many or all ordinary objects, while permissivists accept both ordinary and extraordinary objects. Our aim in this paper is to outline some of our reasons for being drawn to permissivism, as well as some of our misgivings about conservative metaphysics. In the first section, we discuss a tempting epistemic line of argument against conservatism. This isn’t a line of argument we find especially promising. Our most basic complaint against conservatism is not that conservatism has poor epistemic standing even if true, but instead that conservatism is weird. We develop this thought in the second part of the paper. In the final section we discuss some larger methodological issues about the project of ontology.

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Author Profiles

Maegan Fairchild
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
John Hawthorne
University of Southern California

Citations of this work

Debunking arguments.Daniel Z. Korman - 2019 - Philosophy Compass 14 (12):e12638.
How to Be a Spacetime Substantivalist.Trevor Teitel - 2022 - Journal of Philosophy 119 (5):233-278.
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References found in this work

Material Beings.Peter van Inwagen - 1993 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 53 (3):701-708.
Composition as a fiction.Gideon Rosen & Cian Dorr - 2002 - In Richard Gale (ed.), The Blackwell Companion to Metaphysics. Blackwell. pp. 151--174.
Brutal Composition.Ned Markosian - 1998 - Philosophical Studies 92 (3):211 - 249.
Things and Their Parts.Kit Fine - 1999 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 23 (1):61-74.
What Do the Folk Think about Composition and Does it Matter?Daniel Z. Korman & Chad Carmichael - 2017 - In David Rose (ed.), Experimental Metaphysics. New York: Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 187-206.

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