Physical-object ontology, verbal disputes, and common sense

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 70 (1):67–97 (2005)
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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.

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Eli Hirsch
Brandeis University

Citations of this work

Verbal Disputes.David J. Chalmers - 2011 - Philosophical Review 120 (4):515-566.
Ontological anti-realism.David J. Chalmers - 2009 - In Ryan Wasserman, David Manley & David Chalmers (eds.), Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Ordinary objects.Daniel Z. Korman - 2011 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
A dilemma for Epicureanism.Travis Timmerman - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (1):241-257.

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Individualism and the mental.Tyler Burge - 1979 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 4 (1):73-122.
Can there be vague objects?Gareth Evans - 1978 - Analysis 38 (4):208.
A plea for excuses.J. L. Austin - 1964 - In Vere Claiborne Chappell (ed.), Ordinary language: essays in philosophical method. New York: Dover Publications. pp. 1--30.
The Roots of Reference.W. V. Quine - 1974 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 27 (1):93-96.

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