A puzzle about ontology

Noûs 39 (2):256–283 (2005)
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Ontology is the philosophical discipline that tries to find out what there is: what entities make up reality, what is the stuff the world is made from? Thus, ontology is part of metaphysics, and in fact it seems to be about half of all of metaphysics. It tries to establish what (kinds of) things there are, the other half tries to find out what the (general) properties of these things are and what (general) relations they have to each other. Settling questions in ontology would bring with it major progress in metaphysics. And it would bring with it major progress in a variety of areas in philosophy outside of metaphysics as well. Many philosophical debates outside of metaphysics are quite directly influenced by how things turn out in ontology. Whether or not there are certain entities will give rise to quite different answers in various philosophical debates. I would like to very briefly describe three debates where ontological questions play a central role. These debates are either directly from metaphysics or from other areas of philosophy and they will be of central importance throughout this paper.



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Thomas Hofweber
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Citations of this work

On what grounds what.Jonathan Schaffer - 2009 - In Ryan Wasserman, David Manley & David Chalmers (eds.), Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. pp. 347-383.
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Realism, Mathematics, and Modality.Hartry Field - 1988 - Philosophical Topics 16 (1):57-107.

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