Rule Following and Metaontology

Journal of Philosophy 112 (5):247-265 (2015)
Abstract
Wittgenstein’s rule-following argument suggests that linguistic understanding does not consist in knowing interpretations, whereas Kripkenstein’s version suggests that meaning cannot be metaphysically fixed by interpretations. In the present paper, rule-following considerations are used to suggest that certain ontological questions cannot be answered by interpretations. Specifically, if the aim is to specify the ontology of a language, an interpretation cannot answer what object an expression of L denotes, if the interpretations are themselves L-expressions. Briefly, that’s because the ontology of such interpretations would naturally be in question as much as the expressions they interpret. So in order to settle the question of ontology, the interpretations themselves would need to be interpreted, and thus a regress. I conclude that knowing the answer to what ontology underlies L cannot be a matter of knowing interpretations. The paper ends with a quietist conclusion; the slogan is that empirical science is ontology enough, or rather, it is about all the ontology one should expect.
Keywords Sider, Theodore  Metametaphysics  Quine, Willard Van Orman  Ontology
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DOI 10.5840/jphil2015112515
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