This paper aims to better motivate the naturalization of metaphysics by identifying and criticizing a class of theories I call ’free range metaphysics’. I argue that free range metaphysics is epistemically inadequate because the constraints on its content—consistency, simplicity, intuitive plausibility, and explanatory power—are insufficiently robust and justificatory. However, since free range metaphysics yields clarity-conducive techniques, incubates science, and produces conceptual and formal tools useful for scientifically engaged philosophy, I do not recommend its discontinuation. I do recommend, however, ending the (...) discipline’s bad faith. That is, I urge that free range metaphysics not be taken to have fully satisfactory epistemic credentials over and above its pragmatic ones. (shrink)
A naturalistic impulse has taken speculative analytic metaphysics in its critical sights. Importantly, the claim that it is desirable or requisite to give metaphysics scientific moorings rests on underlying epistemological assumptions or principles. If the naturalistic impulse toward metaphysics is to be well-founded and its prescriptions to have normative force, those assumptions or principles should be spelled out and justified. In short, advocates of naturalized or scientific metaphysics require epistemic infrastructure. This paper begins to supply it. The author first sketches (...) her conception of suitably naturalized or scientific metaphysics. She then lays out a number of candidate epistemic principles centring around the notion of theoretical constraint. The author offers several arguments for the principles, based on statistical likeliness, agreement, falsity avoidance, and methodological efficiency and inefficiency. Finally, she shows how scientific metaphysics satisfies the epistemic principles and is therefore preferable to its traditional rivals. (shrink)
Philosophers have recently highlighted substantial affinities between causation and grounding, which has inclined some to import the conceptual and formal resources of causal interventionism into the metaphysics of grounding. The prospect of grounding interventionism raises two important questions: exactly what are grounding interventions, and why should we think they enable knowledge of grounding? This paper will approach these questions by examining how causal interventionists have addressed (or might address) analogous questions and then comparing the available options for grounding interventionism. I (...) argue that grounding interventions must be understood in worldly terms, as adding something to or deleting something from the roster of entities, or making some fact obtain or fail to obtain. I consider three bases for counterfactual assessment: imagination, structural equation models, and background theory. I conclude that grounding interventionism requires firmer epistemological foundations, without which the interventionist's epistemology of grounding is incomplete and ineffectually rationalist. (shrink)
This chapter considers potential applications of grounding to the formulation of physicalism. I begin with an overview of competing conceptions of the physical and of physicalism. I then consider whether grounding physicalism overcomes well-known and seemingly fatal problems with supervenience physicalism. I conclude that while grounding physicalism improves upon supervenience physicalism in certain respects, it arguably falls victim to some of the same difficulties.
This paper surveys some of the grounding literature searching for points of contact between theories of ground and science. I find that there are some places where a would-be naturalistic grounding theorist can draw inspiration. I synthesize a list of recommendations for how science may be put to use in theories of ground. I conclude that the prospects for naturalizing the metaphysics of ground are bright.
The word ‘naturalism’ has a bewildering array of uses in philosophy. Roughly speaking, it connotes pro-scientific attitudes and approaches. This article introduces the subject of naturalism by sketching a history of pro-scientific attitudes and approaches in philosophy, from their origins in the early modern period through to the present day. It then distinguishes a number of distinct families of naturalism: metaphysical, logico-linguistic, epistemological, and methodological. The resulting taxonomy encompasses a plurality of loosely related views rather than a number of variations (...) on a single clear and unified theme. (shrink)
I introduce the symposium on Anjan Chakravartty’s Scientific Ontology by summarizing the book’s main claims. In my commentary, I first challenge Chakravartty’s claim that naturalized metaphysics cannot be indexed to science simpliciter. Second, I argue that there are objective truths regarding what conduces to particular epistemic aims, and that Chakravartty is therefore too permissive regarding epistemic stances and their resultant ontologies. Third, I argue that it is unclear what stops epistemic stances from having unlimited influence. Finally, I argue that Chakravartty’s (...) epistemic stance voluntarism is inadequately motivated and lacks empirical support for its psychological content. (shrink)
This chapter considers the assumptions required to make scientisms of different forms genuinely threatening to philosophers, where a genuine threat would consist of a concrete risk to their statuses, the value of their teaching and research, their livelihoods, their preferred research methods, or the health of the discipline. I will find that strong and weak forms of scientism alike require substantive assumptions to make them threatening in those regards. In particular, they require sometimes heavy-handed circumscriptions of philosophy and science, as (...) well as their epistemic credentials and achievements, methods, and subject matters. They also require restrictive pronouncements upon the epistemic and non-epistemic goods that are valuable, worth promoting in academic contexts, and relevant to disciplinary health. My aim in this chapter will not to be defeat those assumptions but rather to make them explicit and to emphasize their frequent strength and contentiousness. (shrink)
There is an apparent conflict in Quine’s work between, on the one hand, his clear commitment to the rational revisability of logic and, on the other, his principle of charitable translation and ‘change of logic, change of subject’ argument. I argue that the apparent conflict is mostly resolved under close exegesis, but that the translation argument normatively rules out collaborative revision and allows only revision by individuals. However, I articulate a Neo-Quinean view that preserves the rational acceptability of collaborative revision. (...) On that view, everything is rationally revisable in some manner or other — it’s just that the logical principles that laypersons find (actually or potentially) obvious and tacitly use to govern their everyday inferences can’t be rationally revised quickly and all at once. Since, in Quine’s view, what most people find obvious resists change, rational changes to laymen’s logic must be gradual. (shrink)