Synthese 200 (3):1-21 (2022)
AbstractRecent years have seen several studies of metaphysical disputes as disagreement phenomena employing the resources from the research on disagreement in social epistemology. This paper undertakes an analogous study of the metametaphysical disagreement over the substantiveness of metaphysical disputes between inflationists and deflationists. The paper first considers and questions the skeptical argument that the mere existence of the disagreement mandates the suspension of judgement about the substantiveness of metaphysical disputes. Rather, the paper argues that steadfastness in the face of this disagreement is rational, at least for inflationists. Since inflationists are often metaphysicians who were called to this disagreement due to its apparent threat to their first order debates in metaphysics, they can therefore return to these debates in good faith. In contrast, deflationists have no such alternative occupation and the verdict of steadfastness will not alter their engagement in the inflationist/deflationist disagreement: they will continue their attempt to resolve the disagreement to their advantage. Thus, though the verdict of steadfastness is epistemically symmetric between inflationism and deflationism, it induces an asymmetry in the motivation to pursue the inflationist/deflationist disagreement which places the burden of advancing the dialectic of this disagreement with the deflationists while metaphysicians can continue their work as before.
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