This essay focuses on the similarities between Nietzsche’s and Carnap’s views on metaphysics, without ignoring their obvious differences. The essay argues that Nietzsche and Carnap endorse but interpret differently an overcoming metametaphysics characterized by the conjunction of the following three claims: an overcoming of metaphysics ought to be performed; this overcoming is to be performed by adopting a method of linguistic analysis that is suspicious of the metaphysical use of language and that interprets such use through a different use (...) of language which aims to avoid metaphysics; and this overcoming contributes to the political task of resisting “diseased” metaphysical practices and promoting “healthy” non-metaphysical practices. (shrink)
How do we come to know metaphysical truths? How does metaphysical inquiry work? Are metaphysical debates substantial? These are the questions which characterize metametaphysics. This book, the first systematic student introduction dedicated to metametaphysics, discusses the nature of metaphysics - its methodology, epistemology, ontology and our access to metaphysical knowledge. It provides students with a firm grounding in the basics of metametaphysics, covering a broad range of topics in metaontology such as existence, quantification, ontological commitment and ontological (...) realism. Contemporary views are discussed along with those of Quine, Carnap and Meinong. Going beyond the metaontological debate, thorough treatment is given to novel topics in metametaphysics, including grounding, ontological dependence, fundamentality, modal epistemology, intuitions, thought experiments and the relationship between metaphysics and science. The book will be an essential resource for those studying advanced metaphysics, philosophical methodology, metametaphysics, epistemology and the philosophy of science. (shrink)
In his important book The Construction of Logical Space, Agustín Rayo lays out a distinctive metametaphysical view and applies it fruitfully to disputes concerning ontology and concerning modality. In this article, I present a number of criticisms of the view developed, mostly focusing on the underlying metametaphysics and Rayo’s claims on its behalf.
This paper examines an often-ignored aspect of the evaluation of metaphysical analyses, namely, their ontological commitments. Such evaluations are part of metaphysical methodology, and reflection on this methodology is itself part of metametaphysics. I will develop a theory for assessing what these commitments are, and then I will apply it to an important historical and an important contemporary metaphysical analysis of the concept of an individual substance (i.e., an object, or thing). I claim that in evaluating metaphysical analyses, we (...) should not only rule out counterexamples, but also compare them with respect to their ontological commitments, and we should hold that if they are comparable in other respects, then an analysis with fewer such commitments is preferable to one with more (There is, of course, a connection between counterexamples and ontological commitments. If the existence or possible existence of something one is committed to the existence or possible existence of is incompatible with an analysis, then one should reject that analysis as inadequate to the data. On the other hand, if one is uncertain about the existence or possible existence of something that is incompatible with an analysis, then while this does not refute the analysis for one, it raises doubts about it. The fewer such doubts are raised by an analysis, the better it is.). (shrink)
According to the standard view of his metaphysics, Leibniz endorses idealism: the thesis that the world is made up solely of minds or monads and their perceptual and appetitive states. Recently,this view has been challenged by some scholars, who argue that Leibniz can be seen as admitting corporeal substances, that is, animals or embodied souls, into his ontology, and that, therefore, it is false to attribute a strict idealism to him. Subtler accounts suggest that Leibniz begins his philosophical career as (...) an advocate of (some form of) the modern ‘mechanical’ philosophy and ends his career as an idealist, raising the issue when and why Leibniz adopts his monadological metaphysics. This article argues that, given a constellation of metaphysical, logical, and theological views, Leibniz is committed to the ontological primacy of mind or form even in his ‘middle years’. (shrink)
Is arguing over ontology a mistake? A recent proposal by Karen Bennett suggests that some metaphysical disputes, such as those over constitution and composition, can be dismissed on epistemic grounds. Given that both sides in a dispute try to minimize the differences between them, there are no good metaphysical grounds for choosing between them. In this paper, I expand on her epistemic dismissivism, arguing that given the Quinean conception of the task and method of metaphysics, we are warranted in believing (...) that all ontological disputes will end in a draw, even if they have not yet done so. By a draw, I mean that while both sides in a dispute are genuinely disagreeing about what there is and there are still moves open to them, there are no moves remaining that will advance the discourse further. (shrink)
This collection addresses metaphysical issues at the intersection between philosophy and science. A unique feature is the way in which it is guided both by history of philosophy, by interaction between philosophy and science, and by methodological awareness. In asking how metaphysics is possible in an age of science, the contributors draw on philosophical tools provided by three great thinkers who were fully conversant with and actively engaged with the sciences of their day: Kant, Husserl, and Frege. -/- Part I (...) sets out frameworks for scientifically informed metaphysics in accordance with the meta-metaphysics outlined by these three self-reflective philosophers. Part II explores the domain for co-existent metaphysics and science. Constraints on ambitious critical metaphysics are laid down in close consideration of logic, meta-theory, and specific conditions for science. Part III exemplifies the role of language and science in contemporary metaphysics. Quine’s pursuit of truth is analysed; Cantor’s absolute infinitude is reconstrued in modal terms; and sense is made of Weyl’s take on the relationship between mathematics and empirical aspects of physics. -/- With chapters by leading scholars, Metametaphysics and the Sciences is an in-depth resource for researchers and advanced students working within metaphysics, philosophy of science, and the history of philosophy. (shrink)
Nonrelativistic quantum mechanics (QM) works perfectly well for all practical purposes. Once one admits, however, that a successful scientific theory is supposed not only to make predictions but also to tell us a story about the world in which we live, a philosophical problem emerges: in the specific case of QM, it is not possible to associate with the theory a unique scientific image of the world; there are several images. The fact that the theory may be compatible with distinct (...) ontologies, and that those ontologies may themselves be associated with a plurality of metaphysical approaches, gives rise to the problem of metaphysical underdetermination. This paper concludes that the available metametaphysical criteria fail to deliver objectivity in theory choice, and it puts forward its own criterion based on a tension between two methods of metaphysical inquiry: one that is closely related to science and another that is not. (shrink)
Metaphysics is concerned with the foundations of reality. It asks questions about the nature of the world, such as: Aside from concrete objects, are there also abstract objects like numbers and properties? Does every event have a cause? What is the nature of possibility and necessity? When do several things make up a single bigger thing? Do the past and future exist? And so on. -/- Metametaphysics is concerned with the foundations of metaphysics. It asks: Do the questions of (...) metaphysics really have answers? If so, are these answers substantive or just a matter of how we use words? And what is the best procedure for arriving at them—common sense and conceptual analysis? Or assessing competing hypotheses with quasi-scientific criteria? -/- This volume gathers together sixteen new essays that are concerned with the semantics, epistemology, and methodology of metaphysics. My aim is to introduce these essays within a more general (and mildly opinionated) survey of contemporary challenges to metaphysics . (shrink)
ABSTRACT: Rudolf Carnap’s “Empiricism, Semantics and Ontology” (ESO) has received a good deal of sympathetic interest over the years from philosophers who are not particularly sympathetic to verificationism, or suspicious of metaphysics in general. Recent work has favorably cited ESO in connection with doubts about the genuine content of debates in the metaphysics of material objects. But, when we look at how Carnap introduces his central notion of a ‘framework’, and the questions he wants to use it to deflate, there (...) seem to be significant differences in his approach and aim from that of contemporary deflationists about the metaphysics of material objects. This paper first looks at some of these differences, and suggests a way of seeing them as arising more from differences in focus and interest than fundamental approach. However, a further question is whether philosophers who may entirely disagree with Carnap about abstract entities, or the substantiveness of the debate between Realists and Idealists – possibly all of his negative conclusions in ESO - can really be seen as heirs to his approach and argument therein. We look first at his discussion of the Realism/Idealism debate, to sort out different aspects of his analysis, and determine to what extent one can disagree with it while not thinking this undermines other analyses using the same general strategy. In the course of this, we are able to distinguish the basic Carnapian analysis of metaphysical disputes, from the question of whether, if the analysis is correct, this actually subverts the disputes. I suggest that, if we put verificationism aside, ESO really provides us with an approach and a type of skeptical challenge more than an argument, and it is open to contemporary philosophers to think that this skeptical challenge can (or can’t) be met, or can be supplemented by further argument, on a case by case basis. (shrink)
Using meta-metaphysical instruments, the paper analyzes the dispute between ‘reductionist’ Humean categoricalism and ‘bold’ Anti-Humean dispositionalism. It is argued that both views are non-Quinean, hence, heavyweight ontological realisms: careful analysis of specific scientific theories alone is not sufficient. Further, sophisticated philosophical reasoning is needed to defend Anti-Humeanism as well as Humeanism. The paper finally suggests that most if not all ontological disputes are unavoidably “speculative” due to essentialism which cannot be read off contemporary physical theories.
Say that metaphysical indeterminacy occurs just when there is a fact such that neither it nor its negation obtains. The aim of this work is to shed light on the issue of whether orthodox quantum mechanics provides any evidence of metaphysical indeterminacy by discussing the logical, semantic, and broadly methodological presuppositions of the debate. I argue that the dispute amounts to a verbal disagreement between classical and quantum logicians, given Eli Hirsch’s account of substantivity; but that it need not be (...) so if Ted Sider’s naturalness-based account of substantivity is adopted instead. Given the latter approach, can anything be said in order to tip the balance of the dispute either way? Some prima facie reasonable constraints on naturalness entail that the classicist is right, and the quantum world is therefore determinate. Nevertheless, there are reasons for weakening those constraints, to the effect that the dispute remains very much open. Finally, I discuss alternative accounts of metaphysical indeterminacy, and argue that they are unsuitable for framing the quantum indeterminacy debate. (shrink)
Philosophical questions regarding the nature and methodology of philosophical inquiry have garnered much attention in recent years. Perhaps nowhere are these discussions more developed than in relation to the field of metaphysics. The Routledge Handbook of Metametaphysics is an outstanding reference source to this growing subject. It comprises thirty-eight chapters written by leading international contributors, and is arranged around five themes: • The history of metametaphysics • Neo-Quineanism (and its objectors) • Alternative conceptions of metaphysics • The epistemology (...) of metaphysics • Science and metaphysics. Essential reading for students and researchers in metaphysics, philosophical methodology, and ontology, The Routledge Handbook of Metametaphysics will also be of interest to those in closely related subjects such as philosophy of language, logic, and philosophy of science. (shrink)
In ontological terms, what can we learn from the current state of the art in Epidemiology? Applying the Quinean criterion of ontological commitment, we can learn that there are several fundamental entities for the theory to work. One is a virus type entity, in which the (in)famous Coronavirus is a particular case. In metaphysical terms, this entity can, in principle, be understood in several ways. One of those ways, apparently, and perhaps intuitively, is the notion of object. Applying the metametaphysical (...) method of Unavailable Metaphysical Stories, we found that Epidemiology is incompatible with an object metaphysics. (shrink)
W. V. Quine stands out as one of the foremost figures of twentieth-century analytic philosophy. This chapter aims to show that a significant part of his work’s enduring value lies in its contribution to metametaphysics, which will include showing how some more contentious aspects of Quine’s thought can be seen as indispensable to it; we will problematise the widespread belief that one can isolate basic elements of Quine’s metametaphysics without eroding their warrant. -/- §1 introduces the broad context. (...) §2 examines Quine’s most clearly metametaphysical work (and the desired backdrop for many analytic philosophers): ‘On what there is’. Finding the story incomplete here, we explore other elements of Quine’s corpus in turn. §3 analyses the nascent naturalism evident in ‘Two dogmas of empiricism’, §4 explores how the principle of charity becomes significant in Word & Object, and §5 shows how the eponymous principle of ‘Ontological relativity’ aims to defuse the puzzles of indeterminacy. In the process we will see how Quine’s concerns stemming from naturalism in general, and from the problems of indeterminacy in particular, make it hard to separate the basic picture from his more controversial fullblown approach – hard, that is, to avoid ontological relativity. This is bad news for those wishing to use Quine as a neutral backdrop to analytic metaphysical debate, but good news for those who value the distinctive philosophical tradition within which Quine’s work is a key development. (shrink)
Carnap’s 1931 attack against metaphysics notoriously utilises Heidegger’s work to exemplify the meaninglessness of metaphysical pseudo‐statements. This paper interprets Carnap’s metametaphysics as concerned with delimiting theoretical dialogue in such a manner as to exclude unresolvable disagreements. It puts forth a revised version of Carnap’s argument against the viability of metaphysics, by setting aside his stronger claims that rely on verificationism and focusing instead on his account of metaphysical claims as mere expressions of what he calls “Lebensgefühl,” or a general (...) attitude towards life. Such attitudes, Carnap argues, are unsuitable objects of theoretical dialogue, insofar as disagreements that concern them are unresolvable. Carnap thus recommends abandoning the attempt to resolve metaphysical disagreements as if they were theoretical. As long as it does not enter into unresolvable disagreements, art, rather than theory, is the appropriate medium for expressing Lebensgefühl. (shrink)
This paper proposes a theological grounding for the possibility of metaphysics. After a brief critique of the seeming contemporary revival of analytic philosophy as characterized by linguisticism, the two main sections give a Christological and ultimately Mariological foundation for the possibility of metaphysics. The Christological section starts with the role of the second person of the Trinity in creation, and subsequently points to the hypostatic union as ensuring that creation is therefore accessible to the human mind. It also implies that (...) reality is fundamentally of a personal nature, and that personal knowledge can be relatively unproblematically acquired by other persons. The Mariological section starts from Plato’s Diotima as a prefigurement of Mary, and subsequently portrays Mary as the perfect metaphysician, guaranteeing the possibility of metaphysics as an enterprise of natural reason. Doing justice to the critique of an at times overly naive pre-modern metaphysics can then be done by advocating a Christological and Mariological turn for the Copernican revolution, e.g. fully taking into account the historicity of being and thinking. In conclusion, Mary as the handmaid of the Lord is analogous to metaphysics as the handmaid of theology, in a relationship of a loving daughter, mother and bride. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to propose a new reading of eliminative materialism concerning propositional attitudes, along the lines of broadly understood Carnapian metametaphysics. According to the proposed reading, eliminativism should be seen as a normative metalinguistic claim that we should dispose of terms like “beliefs” and associated linguistic rules. It will be argued that such reading allows a significant philosophical problem which besets eliminativism to be solved: the problem of representation. The general idea of the problem of (...) representation, which is taken to be one of the aspects of the celebrated “cognitive suicide” issue, is that an eliminativist has a problem with maintaining that her position represents reality. It will be argued that on the Carnapian reading an eliminativist might put forward a negative ontological claim without the need to invoke any representationalistic notions. (shrink)
This paper gives an outline of natural language ontology as a subdiscipline of both linguistics and philosophy. It argues that part of the constructional ontology reflected in natural language is in significant respects on a par with syntax (on the generative view).
Title in English translation: Metametaphysics - with and without Categories. A comment paper on An Introduction to Metametaphysics by Tuomas Tahko. Ehdotan artikkelissa uutta olevan ja sen muodon välistä erottelua. Erottelun avulla voidaan antaa täsmällinen käsitys ontologisen kategorian käsitteestä ja metafysiikan tutkimuskohteesta. Argumentoin myös, että metafysiikan epistemologiaa ja semantiikkaa sekä metafyysistä selitttämistä pitää lähestyä kategorianäkökulmasta. Artikkeli on kommentti Tuomas Tahkon oppikirjaan An Introduction to Metametaphysics.
When I say that my conception of metaphysics is Aristotelian, or neo-Aristotelian, this may have more to do with Aristotle’s philosophical methodology than his metaphysics, but, as I see it, the core of this Aristotelian conception of metaphysics is the idea that metaphysics is the first philosophy . In what follows I will attempt to clarify what this conception of metaphysics amounts to in the context of some recent discussion on the methodology of metaphysics (e.g. Chalmers et al . (2009), (...) Ladyman and Ross (2007)). There is a lot of hostility towards the Aristotelian conception of metaphysics in this literature: for instance, the majority of the contributors to the Metametaphysics volume assume a rather more deflationary, Quinean approach towards metaphysics. In the process of replying to the criticisms towards Aristotelian metaphysics put forward in recent literature I will also identify some methodological points which deserve more attention and ought to be addressed in future research. (shrink)
Every paper in this collection is worth reading, for one reason or another. Still, due to certain problematic metametaphysical presuppositions most of these discussions miss the deeper mark, on the pessimist as well as the optimist side. My reasons for thinking this come from considering how best to answer three metametaphysical questions. First, why be pessimistic about metaphysics – why be Carnapian in a post-positivist age? There is, I’ll suggest, a post-positivist strategy for reviving Carnapian pessimism, but it is almost (...) entirely neglected here; and the motivations that pessimists offer instead are not compelling. Second, why think that the best way to approach metametaphysical questions is by attention to features of language, and in particular to quantifier semantics, in ordinary or ontological language(s)? Here again we are offered little motivation for this supposition, which, notwithstanding its acceptance by nearly all contributors, faces clear difficulties. Third, granting that quantification is somehow bound up with first-order questions about what exists, what is the nature of this connection, and what are the associated implications for metametaphysics? Here I find the accounts of the connection on offer implausible, especially as compared to an alternative that makes better sense of metaphysical practice and disagreement. The moral following consideration of these questions is that real progress in metametaphysics is likely to occur less by attention to semantic issues pertaining to representation, translation and quantification and more to non-semantic issues pertaining to epistemology and metaphysical determinacy. (shrink)
The aim of this article is to develop an argument against metaphysical debates about the existence of human races. I argue that the ontology of race is underdetermined by both empirical and non-empirical evidence due to a plurality of equally permissible candidate meanings of "race." Furthermore, I argue that this underdetermination leads to a deflationist diagnosis according to #hich disputes about the existence of human races are non-substantive verbal disputes. $hile this diagnosis resembles general deflationist strategies in contemporary metaphysics" I (...) show that my argument does not presuppose controversial metametaphysical assumptions. (shrink)
Perhaps the most fundamental disagreement concerning Nietzsche's view of metaphysics is that some commentators believe Nietzsche has a positive, systematic metaphysical project, and others deny this. Those who deny it hold that Nietzsche believes metaphysics has a special problem, that is, a distinctively problematic feature that distinguishes metaphysics from other areas of philosophy. In this paper, I investigate important features of Nietzsche's metametaphysics in order to argue that Nietzsche does not, in fact, think metaphysics has a special problem. The (...) result is that, against a long-standing view held in the literature, we should be reading Nietzsche as a metaphysician. (shrink)
In what does philosophical progress consist? 'Vertical' progress corresponds to development within a specific paradigm/framework for theorizing (of the sort associated, revolutions aside, with science); 'horizontal' progress corresponds to the identification and cultivation of diverse paradigms (of the sort associated, conservativism aside, with art and pure mathematics). Philosophical progress seems to involve both horizontal and vertical dimensions, in a way that is somewhat puzzling: philosophers work in a number of competing frameworks (like artists or mathematicians), while typically maintaining that only (...) one of these is correct (like scientists). I diagnose this situation as reflecting that we are presently quite far from the end of inquiry into philosophical methodology. The good news is that we appear to be making advances on this score. The bad news is that failure to recognize or make explicit that our standards are in flux often leads to dogmatism, as I illustrate by attention to three assumptions presently operative in metaphysical and metametaphysical contexts. I close by identifying a tension between vertical and horizontal progress in philosophy, and suggesting an updated version of Carnap's principle of tolerance for new philosophical forms. (shrink)
In recent years philosophers have been interested in the methodology of metaphysics. Most of these developments are related to formal work in logic or physics, often against the backdrop of the Carnap-Quine debate on ontology. Drawing on Quine’s later work, I argue that a psychological or cognitive perspective on metaphysical topics may be a valuable addition to contemporary metametaphysics. The method is illustrated by means of cognitive studies of the notions “identity,” “vagueness,” and “object” and is compared to other (...) extant metametaphysical positions. (shrink)
Resumo Neste artigo o autor apresenta cinco abordagens diferentes ao debate entre o platonismo e o nominalismo: a quantificacional, a reducionista, a dependência da mente / linguagem, a extensional versus intensional, a hierárquica. Cada uma apresenta suas vantagens e desvantagens que devem ser discutidas em detalhe. Palavras-chave : existência, meta-metafísica, nominalismo, platonismoIn this paper I present five different approaches to the debate between Platonism and Nominalism: the quantifier approach, the reductionist approach, the mind / language dependence approach, the extension versus (...) intension approach and the hierarchichal approach. Each one has its advantages and disadvantages that have to be discussed in detail. Keywords : existence, metametaphysics, nominalism, platonism. (shrink)
[A comment paper on Tuomas Tahko's book An Introduction to Metametaphysics (CUP, 2016).] Pyrin tässä artikkelissa selvittämään, missä määrin Tuomas Tahkon kirjan An Introduction to Metametaphysics luvussa 9 esittämä käsitys tieteen ja metafysiikan suhteesta tuo selvyyttä metafysiikan luonteeseen itsenäisenä tutkimusalana. Analyyttinen metafysiikka on joutunut viimeisten viidentoista vuoden aikana kasvavan kritiikin kohteeksi. James Ladymanin (2012) mukaan viime aikoina suosittu käsitys metafyysisen teorian valinnasta teoreettisten hyveiden perusteella kohtaa niin sanotun vahvan globaalin alimääräytyneisyyden ongelman. Tahko pyrkii vastaamaan näihin huoliin esittämällä synteesiin (...) E.J. Lowen metafysiikkakäsityksen ja Laurie Paulin (2002) esittämien ideoiden välillä. Argumentoin, että Tahkon vastaus on sikäli puutteellinen, että se jättää avoimeksi kysymyksen parhaan ontologisen kategoriajärjestelmän valinnasta. Teen ehdotuksia siitä, miten voimme välttää alimääräytyneisyyshuolen myös tässä tapauksessa. (shrink)
Some philosophers argue that many contemporary debates in metaphysics are “illegitimate,” “shallow,” or “trivial,” and that “contemporary analytic metaphysics, a professional activity engaged in by some extremely intelligent and morally serious people, fails to qualify as part of the enlightened pursuit of objective truth, and should be discontinued” (Ladyman and Ross, Every thing must go: Metaphysics naturalized , 2007 ). Many of these critics are explicit about their sympathies with Rudolf Carnap and his circle, calling themselves ‘neo-positivists’ or ‘neo-Carnapians.’ Yet (...) despite the fact that one of the main conclusions of logical positivism was that metaphysical statements are meaningless, many of these neo-positivists are themselves engaged in metaphysical projects. This paper aims to clarify how we may see a neo-positivist metaphysics as proceeding in good faith, one that starts with serious engagement with the findings of science, particularly fundamental physics, but also has room for traditional, armchair methods. (shrink)
In order to perfectly describe the world, it is not enough to speak truly. One must also use the right concepts - including the right logical concepts. One must use concepts that "carve at the joints", that give the world's "structure". There is an objectively correct way to "write the book of the world". Much of metaphysics, as traditionally conceived, is about the fundamental nature of reality; in the present terms, this is about the world's structure. Metametaphysics - inquiry (...) into the status of metaphysical questions - turns on structure. The question of whether ontological, causal, or modal questions are "substantive" is in large part a question of whether the world has ontological, causal, and modal structure - whether quantifiers, causal relations, and modal operators carve at the joints. (shrink)
In Writing the Book of the World, Ted Sider argues that David Lewis’s distinction between those predicates which are ‘perfectly natural’ and those which are not can be extended so that it applies to words of all semantic types. Just as there are perfectly natural predicates, there may be perfectly natural connectives, operators, singular terms and so on. According to Sider, one of our goals as metaphysicians should be to identify the perfectly natural words. Sider claims that there is a (...) perfectly natural first-order quantifier. I argue that this claim is not justified. Quine has shown that we can dispense with first-order quantifiers, by using a family of ‘predicate functors’ instead. I argue that we have no reason to think that it is the first-order quantifiers, rather than Quine’s predicate functors, which are perfectly natural. The discussion of quantification is used to provide some motivation for a general scepticism about Sider’s project. Shamik Dasgupta’s ‘generalism’ and Jason Turner’s critique of ‘ontological nihilism’ are also discussed. (shrink)
I argue for the claim in the title. Along the way, I also address an independently interesting question: what is metaphysics, anyway? I think that the typical characterizations of metaphysics are inadequate, that a better one is available, and that the better one helps explain why metaphysics is no more problematic than the rest of philosophy.