Physical-object ontology, verbal disputes, and common sense

Authors
Eli Hirsch
Brandeis University
Abstract
Two main claims are defended in this paper: first, that typical disputes in the literature about the ontology of physical objects are merely verbal; second, that the proper way to resolve these disputes is by appealing to common sense or ordinary language. A verbal dispute is characterized not in terms of private idiolects, but in terms of different linguistic communities representing different positions. If we imagine a community that makes Chisholm's mereological essentialist assertions, and another community that makes Lewis's four-dimensionalist assertions, the members of each community speak the truth in their respective languages. This follows from an application of the principle of interpretive charity to the two communities.
Keywords Analytic Philosophy  Contemporary Philosophy  Philosophy of Mind
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ISBN(s) 0031-8205
DOI 10.1111/j.1933-1592.2005.tb00506.x
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