IX—How Is Metaphysics Possible?

Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 123 (3):231-252 (2023)
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In the Introduction to the Critique of Pure Reason Kant raises a famous question: how is metaphysics possible as a science? Kant posed this question for his predecessors in early modern philosophy. I raise this question anew for the resurgence of metaphysics within analytic philosophy. I begin by dividing the question of the possibility of metaphysics into separate questions about its semantic and epistemic possibility, and translate them into contemporary terms as: (1) Why do terms in metaphysical theories refer? (2) How do we have knowledge in metaphysics? I then argue that the inflationary conception of metaphysics cannot explain the semantic possibility of metaphysics and, consequently, cannot explain its epistemic possibility. I then argue, more briefly, that a deflationary conception cannot satisfactorily answer the Kantian questions either. The critical path alone remains open.



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Nicholas Stang
University of Toronto, St. George

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References found in this work

Monism: The Priority of the Whole.Jonathan Schaffer - 2010 - Philosophical Review 119 (1):31-76.
Empiricism, Semantics and Ontology.Rudolf Carnap - 1950 - Revue Internationale de Philosophie 4 (11):20-40.
Philosophical Explanations.Robert Nozick - 1981 - Mind 93 (371):450-455.
Putnam’s paradox.David Lewis - 1984 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 62 (3):221 – 236.
Fact, Fiction, and Forecast.Nelson Goodman - 1955 - Philosophy 31 (118):268-269.

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