Strawson's descriptive metaphysics

In Glock, Hans Johann . Strawson's Descriptive Metaphysics. In: Haaparanta, Leila; Koskinnen, Heikki J. Categories of Being. Essays on Metaphysics and Logic. New York: Oxford University Press, 391-419 (2012)

Hans-Johann Glock
University of Zürich
Strawson's descriptive metaphysics was the first explicit and elaborate rehabilitation of metaphysics within the analytic tradition. This chapter discusses Strawson's contributions to metaphysics with a particular view to his conception of the nature of metaphysics-cum-ontology. This chapter first dwells on the background of Strawson's metaphysics. Next it introduces Strawson's idea of descriptive metaphysics and of connective analysis. Sections 3–8 discuss Strawson's main claims: self-conscious experience presupposes a distinction between experience and its mind-independent objects, objective particulars must be situated in a spatio-temporal framework, material bodies are ontologically prior because they sustain this framework, experience and discourse revolve around a fundamental distinction between reference and predication, both particulars and universals are among our objects of reference. This chapter tries to reconstruct the main lines of argument by combining ideas from Individuals and Bounds of Sense. Sections 9–11 defend Strawson's modest conception of metaphysics as a second-order description of our conceptual scheme.
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