The paper begins with a more carefully stated version of ontologically neutral (ON) logic, originally introduced in (Hailperin, 1997). A non-infinitistic semantics which includes a definition of potential infinite validity follows. It is shown, without appeal to the actual infinite, that this notion provides a necessary and sufficient condition for provability in ON logic.
Existence questions have been topics for heated debates in metaphysics, but this book argues that they can often be answered easily, by trivial inferences from uncontroversial premises. This 'easy' approach to ontology leads to realism about disputed entities, and to the view that metaphysical disputes about existence questions are misguided.
Relational Ontologies uses the metaphor of a fishing net to represent the epistemological and ontological beliefs that we weave together for our children, to give meaning to their experiences and to help sustain them in their lives. The book describes the epistemological threads we use to help determine what we catch up in our net as the warp threads, and our ontological threads as the weft threads. It asks: what kind of fishing nets are we weaving for our children to (...) help them make sense of their experiences? What weft threads are we including and working to strengthen, and what threads are we removing or leaving out? It is important to carefully re/examine these most basic ways of catching up what sustains us in our ocean of infinite experiences, as the threads we weave for our children will determine what they catch up in their nets, until they are old enough to re/weave their own. Relational Ontologies reweaves America's epistemological and ontological fishing net on a larger scale, turning to indigenous cultures and diverse spiritual beliefs for assistance in reforming American schools. (shrink)
In the era of “big data,” science is increasingly information driven, and the potential for computers to store, manage, and integrate massive amounts of data has given rise to such new disciplinary fields as biomedical informatics. Applied ontology offers a strategy for the organization of scientific information in computer-tractable form, drawing on concepts not only from computer and information science but also from linguistics, logic, and philosophy. This book provides an introduction to the field of applied ontology that is of (...) particular relevance to biomedicine, covering theoretical components of ontologies, best practices for ontology design, and examples of biomedical ontologies in use. After defining an ontology as a representation of the types of entities in a given domain, the book distinguishes between different kinds of ontologies and taxonomies, and shows how applied ontology draws on more traditional ideas from metaphysics. It presents the core features of the Basic Formal Ontology (BFO), now used by over one hundred ontology projects around the world, and offers examples of domain ontologies that utilize BFO. The book also describes Web Ontology Language (OWL), a common framework for Semantic Web technologies. Throughout, the book provides concrete recommendations for the design and construction of domain ontologies. (shrink)
This provocative book attempts to resolve traditional problems of identity over time. It seeks to answer such questions as 'How is it that an object can survive change?' and 'How much change can an object undergo without being destroyed'? To answer these questions Professor Heller presents a theory about the nature of physical objects and about the relationship between our language and the physical world. According to his theory, the only actually existing physical entities are what the author calls 'hunks', (...) four-dimensional objects extending across time and space. This is a major contribution to ontological debate and will be essential reading for all philosophers concerned with metaphysics. (shrink)
'Ontology and Metaontology: A Contemporary Guide' is a clear and accessible survey of ontology, focussing on the most recent trends in the discipline. -/- Divided into parts, the first half characterizes metaontology: the discourse on the methodology of ontological inquiry, covering the main concepts, tools, and methods of the discipline, exploring the notions of being and existence, ontological commitment, paraphrase strategies, fictionalist strategies, and other metaontological questions. The second half considers a series of case studies, introducing and familiarizing the reader (...) with concrete examples of the latest research in the field. The basic sub-fields of ontology are covered here via an accessible and captivating exposition: events, properties, universals, abstract objects, possible worlds, material beings, mereology, fictional objects. -/- The guide's modular structure allows for a flexible approach to the subject, making it suitable for both undergraduates and postgraduates looking to better understand and apply the exciting developments and debates taking place in ontology today. (shrink)
Ontological. Relativity. and. Other. Essays. W. V. QUINE This volume consists of the first of the John Dewey Lectures delivered under the auspices of Columbia University's Philosophy Department as well as other essays by the author.
Social ontology is the study of the nature and properties of the social world. It is concerned with analyzing the various entities in the world that arise from social interaction. -/- A prominent topic in social ontology is the analysis of social groups. Do social groups exist at all? If so, what sorts of entities are they, and how are they created? Is a social group distinct from the collection of people who are its members, and if so, how is (...) it different? What sorts of properties do social groups have? Can they have beliefs or intentions? Can they perform actions? And if so, what does it take for a group to believe, intend, or act? -/- Other entities investigated in social ontology include money, corporations, institutions, property, social classes, races, genders, artifacts, artworks, language, and law. It is difficult to delineate a precise scope for the field (see section 2.1). In general, though, the entities explored in social ontology largely overlap with those that social scientists work on. A good deal of the work in social ontology takes place within the social sciences (see sections 5.1–5.8). -/- Social ontology also addresses more basic questions about the nature of the social world. One set of questions pertains to the constituents, or building blocks, of social things in general. For instance, some theories argue that social entities are built out of the psychological states of individual people, while others argue that they are built out of actions, and yet others that they are built out of practices. Still other theories deny that a distinction can even be made between the social and the non-social. -/- A different set of questions pertains to how social categories are constructed or set up. Are social categories and kinds produced by our attitudes? By our language? Are they produced by causal patterns? And is there just one way social categories are set up, or are there many varieties of social construction? -/- The term ‘social ontology’ has only come into wide currency in recent years, but the nature of the social has been a topic of inquiry since ancient Greece. As a whole, the field can be understood as a branch of metaphysics, the general inquiry into the nature of entities. (shrink)
Both science and philosophy are interested in questions of ontology- questions about what exists and what these things are like. Science and philosophy, however, seem like very different ways of investigating the world, so how should one proceed? Some defer to the sciences, conceived as something apart from philosophy, and others to metaphysics, conceived as something apart from science, for certain kinds of answers. This book contends that these sorts of deference are misconceived. A compelling account of ontology must appreciate (...) the ways in which the sciences incorporate metaphysical assumptions and arguments. At the same time, it must pay careful attention to how observation, experience, and the empirical dimensions of science are related to what may be viewed as defensible philosophical theorizing about ontology. The promise of an effectively naturalized metaphysics is to encourage beliefs that are formed in ways that do justice to scientific theorizing, modeling, and experimentation. But even armed with such a view, there is no one, uniquely rational way to draw lines between domains of ontology that are suitable for belief, and ones in which it would be better to suspend belief instead. In crucial respects, ontology is in the eye of the beholder: it is Informed by underlying commitments with implications for the limits of inquiry, which inevitably vary across rational inquirers. As a result, the proper scope of ontology is subject to a striking form of voluntary choice, yielding a new and transformative conception of scientific ontology. (shrink)
Though science and philosophy take different approaches to ontology, metaphysical inferences are relevant to interpreting scientific work, and empirical investigations are relevant to philosophy. This book argues that there is no uniquely rational way to determine which domains of ontology are appropriate for belief, making room for choice in a transformative account of scientific ontology.
This essay provides an opinionated survey of some recent developments in the literature on ontological dependence. Some of the most popular definitions of ontological dependence are formulated in modal terms; others in non-modal terms (e.g., in terms of the explanatory connective, ‘because’, or in terms of a non-modal conception of essence); some (viz., the existential construals of ontological dependence) emphasise requirements that must be met in order for an entity to exist; others (viz., the essentialist construals) focus on conditions that (...) must be satisfied in order for an entity to be the very entity it is at each time at which it exists; some are rigid, in the sense that they concern a relation between particular entities; others are generic, in the sense that they involve only a relation between an entity and some entities or other, which bear certain characteristics. I identify three potential measures of success with respect to which these different definitions of ontological dependence can be evaluated and consider the question of how well they in fact meet these desiderata. I end by noting that certain challenges face even the most promising essentialist construals of ontological dependence. (shrink)
Formal ontology as a main branch of metaphysics investigates categories of being. In the formal ontological approach to metaphysics, these ontological categories are analysed by ontological forms. This analysis, which we illustrate by some category systems, provides a tool to assess the clarity, exactness and intelligibility of different category systems or formal ontologies. We discuss critically different accounts of ontological form in the literature. Of ontological form, we propose a character- neutral relational account. In this metatheory, ontological forms of entities (...) are their standings in internal relations whose holding is neutral on the character of their relata. These relations are “formal ontological relations”. Entities belong to ontological categories because they stand in the same formal ontological relations. We hold a nominalist relationalism about ontological categories and forms. We conclude by showing that our metatheory is useful for understanding categorial fundamentality/non- fundamentality, different formal ontologies, and for unifying metaphysical questions. (shrink)
First published in 1988 as volume 63 of his Collected Works, Ontology—The Hermeneutics of Facticity is the text of Heidegger's lecture course at the University of Freiburg during the summer of 1923. In these lectures, Heidegger reviews and makes critical appropriations of the hermeneutic tradition from Plato, Aristotle, and Augustine to Schleiermacher and Dilthey in order to reformulate the question of being on the basis of facticity and the everyday world. Specific themes deal with the history of ontology, the development (...) of phenomenology and its relation to Hegelian dialectic, traditional theological and philosophical concepts of man, the present situation of philosophy, and the influences of Aristotle, Luther, Kierkegaard, and Husserl on Heidegger's thinking. Students of Heidegger will find initial breakthroughs in his unique elaboration of the meaning of human experience and the "question of being," which received mature expression in Being and Time. (shrink)
John Locke is the greatest English philosopher. _An Essay Concerning Human Understanding_, one of the most influential books in the history of thought, is his greatest work. In this study the historical meaning and philosophical significance of Locke's _Essay_ are investigated more comprehensively than ever before. _Locke_ was originally published in two volumes, _Epistemology_ and _Ontology_. This paperback edition has within its covers the full text of both volumes.
The aim of this paper is to summarize a particular approach of doing metaphysics through physics - the primitive ontology approach. The idea is that any fundamental physical theory has a well-defined architecture, to the foundation of which there is the primitive ontology, which represents matter. According to the framework provided by this approach when applied to quantum mechanics, the wave function is not suitable to represent matter. Rather, the wave function has a nomological character, given that its role in (...) the theory is to implement the law of evolution for the primitive ontology. (shrink)
Genres inform our appreciative practices. What it takes for a work to be a good work of comedy is different than what it takes for a work to be a good work of horror, and a failure to recognize this will lead to a failure to appreciate comedies or works of horror particularly well. Likewise, it is not uncommon to hear people say that a film or novel is a good work, but not a good work of x (where x (...) is the genre of that work). A work can be good all things considered, but genre membership provides us with an additional set of evaluative criteria over and above those of the medium, which colors how we interpret and appreciate the work. Given this importance, it is not surprising that philosophers of art have been interested in providing an account of what, exactly, a genre is. Despite this interest, there is not widespread agreement about what it takes for something to be a genre, nor what kinds of considerations are relevant in determining whether a work is a member of that genre. Beyond this, we might also want to know to what degree we ought to consider genre in evaluating a work of art and why it should matter at all. Here, I explore the variety of recent theories that philosophers have taken up on the topic of genre and why we should ultimately think of genres as artistic practices rather than the alternatives. (shrink)
Ontology as a branch of philosophy is the science of what is, of the kinds and structures of objects, properties, events, processes and relations in every area of reality. ‘Ontology’ in this sense is often used by philosophers as a synonym of ‘metaphysics’ (a label meaning literally: ‘what comes after the Physics’), a term used by early students of Aristotle to refer to what Aristotle himself called ‘first philosophy’. But in recent years, in a development hardly noticed by philosophers, the (...) term ‘ontology’ has gained currency in the field of computer and information science, and in information-driven research in bioinformatics and related areas. We examine these new developments in applied ontology, and show what lessons they might have for both philosophers and information scientists. (shrink)
Ontological pluralism is the view that there are different ways to exist. It is a position with deep roots in the history of philosophy, and in which there has been a recent resurgence of interest. In contemporary presentations, it is stated in terms of fundamental languages: as the view that such languages contain more than one quantifier. For example, one ranging over abstract objects, and another over concrete ones. A natural worry, however, is that the languages proposed by the pluralist (...) are mere notational variants of those proposed by the monist, in which case the debate between the two positions would not seem to be substantive. Jason Turner has given an ingenious response to this worry, in terms of a principle that he calls ‘logical realism’. This paper offers a counter-response on behalf of the ‘notationalist’. I argue that, properly applied, the principle of logical realism is no threat to the claim that the languages in question are notational variants. Indeed, there seems to be every reason to think that they are. (shrink)
One famous scene in The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) is the dialogue between the young Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) and the expert trader Mark Hanna (Matthew McConaughey). Hanna is complaining that the stock market is unpredictable; it’s “fugazi … it’s fairy dust. It doesn’t exist. It’s never landed. It is not matter. It’s not on the element chart. It’s not real”. But the fact that something is unpredictable and non-physical does not imply that it does not exist. On the (...) other hand, its unpredictability, non-physicality, and the fact that the stock market trend is largely determined by investors’ beliefs, do make its nature difficult to grasp. -/- This special issue of Rivista di Estetica aims to explore the financial sector from an ontological point of view. While the ontology of money has been extensively studied, few scholars have focused on the stock market and, more generally, on those entities belonging to the investment landscape. Matters are made more complicated by the fact that the financial sector is characterized by an ever-increasing use of digital technology, including software elements that trade in the market themselves. We believe that a careful study of this phenomenon may help us better to understand the role of artificial agents in the social world. (shrink)
In this chapter, I examine Lewis's ideas about ontological innocence, ontological commitment and double-counting, in his discussion of composition as identity in Parts of Classes. I attempt to understand these primarily as epistemic or methodological claims: how far can we get down this route without adopting radical metaphysical theses about composition as identity?
This volume presents a systematic philosophical theory related to the collectivism-versus-individualism debate in the social sciences. A weak version of collectivism (the "we-mode" approach) that depends on group-based collective intentionality is developed in the book. The we-mode approach is used to account for collective intention and action, cooperation, group attitudes, social practices and institutions as well as group solidarity.
This book gathers together thirteen of Peter van Inwagen's essays on metaphysics, several of which have acquired the status of modern classics in their field. They range widely across such topics as Quine's philosophy of quantification, the ontology of fiction, the part-whole relation, the theory of 'temporal parts', and human knowledge of modal truths. In addition, van Inwagen considers the question as to whether the psychological continuity theory of personal identity is compatible with materialism, and defends the thesis that possible (...) states of affairs are abstract objects, in opposition to David Lewis's 'extreme modal realism'. A specially-written introduction completes the collection, which will be an invaluable resource for anyone interested in metaphysics. (shrink)
The basic question of ontology is “What exists?”. The basic question of metaontology is: are there objective answers to the basic question of ontology? Here ontological realists say yes, and ontological anti-realists say no. (Compare: The basic question of ethics is “What is right?”. The basic question of metaethics is: are there objective answers to the basic question of ethics? Here moral realists say yes, and moral anti-realists say no.) For example, the ontologist may ask: Do numbers exist? The Platonist (...) says yes, and the nominalist says no. The metaontologist may ask: is there an objective fact of the matter about whether numbers exist? The ontological realist says yes, and the ontological anti-realist says no. Likewise, the ontologist may ask: Given two distinct entities, when does a mereological sum of those entities exist? The universalist says always, while the nihilist says never. The metaontologist may ask: is there an objective fact of the matter about whether the mereological sum of two distinct entities exists? The ontological realist says yes, and the ontological anti-realist says no. Ontological realism is often traced to Quine (1948), who held that we can determine what exists by seeing which entities are endorsed by our best scientiﬁc theory of the world. In recent years, the practice of ontology has often presupposed an ever-stronger ontological realism, and strong versions of ontological realism have received explicit statements by Fine (this volume), Sider (2001; this volume), van Inwagen (1998; this volume), and others. (shrink)
Ontological pluralism is the view that there are different ways of being. Historically, ways of being are aligned with the ontological categories. This paper is about to investigate why there is such a connection, and how it should be understood. Ontological pluralism suffers from an objection, according to which ontological pluralism collapses into ontological monism, i.e., there is only one way to be. Admitting to ontological categories can save ontological pluralism from this objection if ways of being ground ontological categories. (...) -/- . (shrink)
Latest version of my SEP entry on ontological arguments, which first appeared in 1996. General discussion of ontological arguments. Includes a brief historical overview, a taxonomy of different kinds of ontological arguments, a brief survey of objections to the different kinds of ontological arguments identified in the taxonomy, and more extended discussions of Anselm's ontological argument (Proslogion 2), Godel's ontological argument, and Plantinga's ontological argument.
Metaphysicians should pay attention to quantum mechanics. Why? Not because it provides definitive answers to many metaphysical questions-the theory itself is remarkably silent on the nature of the physical world, and the various interpretations of the theory on offer present conflicting ontological pictures. Rather, quantum mechanics is essential to the metaphysician because it reshapes standard metaphysical debates and opens up unforeseen new metaphysical possibilities. Even if quantum mechanics provides few clear answers, there are good reasons to think that any adequate (...) understanding of the quantum world will result in a radical reshaping of our classical world-view in some way or other. Whatever the world is like at the atomic scale, it is almost certainly not the swarm of particles pushed around by forces that is often presupposed. This book guides readers through the theory of quantum mechanics and its implications for metaphysics in a clear and accessible way. The theory and its various interpretations are presented with a minimum of technicality. The consequences of these interpretations for metaphysical debates concerning realism, indeterminacy, causation, determinism, holism, and individuality are explored in detail, stressing the novel form that the debates take given the empirical facts in the quantum domain. While quantum mechanics may not deliver unconditional pronouncements on these issues, the range of possibilities consistent with our knowledge of the empirical world is relatively small-and each possibility is metaphysically revisionary in some way. This book will appeal to researchers, students, and anybody else interested in how science informs our world-view. (shrink)
Bio-ontologies are essential tools for accessing and analyzing the rapidly growing pool of plant genomic and phenomic data. Ontologies provide structured vocabularies to support consistent aggregation of data and a semantic framework for automated analyses and reasoning. They are a key component of the Semantic Web. This paper provides background on what bio-ontologies are, why they are relevant to botany, and the principles of ontology development. It includes an overview of ontologies and related resources that are relevant to plant science, (...) with a detailed description of the Plant Ontology (PO). We discuss the challenges of building an ontology that covers all green plants (Viridiplantae). Key results: Ontologies can advance plant science in four keys areas: 1. comparative genetics, genomics, phenomics, and development, 2. taxonomy and systematics, 3. semantic applications and 4. education. Conclusions: Bio-ontologies offer a flexible framework for comparative plant biology, based on common botanical understanding. As genomic and phenomic data become available for more species, we anticipate that the annotation of data with ontology terms will become less centralized, while at the same time, the need for cross-species queries will become more common, causing more researchers in plant science to turn to ontologies. (shrink)
I argue that the most promising approach to understanding J.J. Gibson's "affordances" takes affordances themselves as ontological primitives, instead of treating them as dispositional properties of more primitive things, events, surfaces, or substances. These latter are best treated as coalescences of affordances present in the environment (or "coalescences of use-potential," as in Sanders (1994) and Hilditch (1995)). On this view, even the ecological approach's stress on the complementary organism/environment pair is seen as expressing a particular affordance relation between the world (...) and the analyst. That the world is parsed in any way among events and objects, perceivers and worlds, etc., reflects equally features of certain real or possible perspectives on the world and features of the world itself. In section 1, I begin by contending that, contrary to the apparent expectations of some in the field, the bare existence of affordances is surely quite uncontroversial. In section 2, I argue that the most reasonable approach to foundational ontology is a relativistic one. In section 3, I address the claim that affordances must be ontologically complemented by effectivities for the sake of completeness, and I shall argue against that claim on grounds that I take to reflect some of Gibson's most important insights. This work will help to clarify the way affordances are to be used in the fourth and final section, where I argue that ontological work, even within special sciences, should not be merely "regional," and that the most attractive general approach to ontological questions is one that is based on affordances, rather than upon things, events, surfaces, and the like. (shrink)
Ontological expressivism is the view that ontological existence claims express non-cognitive mental states. I develop a version of ontological expressivism that is modeled after Gibbard’s (2003) norm-expressivism. I argue that, when speakers assess whether, say, composite objects exist, they rely on assumptions with regard to what is required for composition to occur. These assumptions guide their assessment, similar to how norms may guide the assessment of normative propositions. Against this backdrop, I argue that “some objects have parts”, uttered in the (...) context of an ontological disagreement, expresses a noncognitive disposition to assess the truth of propositions by using only rules of assessment according to which the proposition that some objects have parts is to be evaluated as true. (shrink)
Ontological pluralism is the view that there are different fundamental ways of being. Trenton Merricks has recently raised three objections to combining pluralism with a generic way of being enjoyed by absolutely everything there is: first, that the resulting view contradicts the pluralist’s core intuition; second, that it is especially vulnerable to the charge—due to Peter van Inwagen—that it posits a difference in being where there is simply a difference in kind; and, third, that it is in tension with various (...) historically influential motivations for pluralism. I reply to each of these objections in turn. My replies will help to bring out the true nature of the pluralist’s basic commitments. (shrink)
The term ‘intelligence’ as used in this paper refers to items of knowledge collected for the sake of assessing and maintaining national security. The intelligence community (IC) of the United States (US) is a community of organizations that collaborate in collecting and processing intelligence for the US. The IC relies on human-machine-based analytic strategies that 1) access and integrate vast amounts of information from disparate sources, 2) continuously process this information, so that, 3) a maximally comprehensive understanding of world actors (...) and their behaviors can be developed and updated. Herein we describe an approach to utilizing outcomes-based learning (OBL) to support these efforts that is based on an ontology of the cognitive processes performed by intelligence analysts. Of particular importance to the Cognitive Process Ontology is the class Representation that is Warranted. Such a representation is descriptive in nature and deserving of trust in its veridicality. The latter is because a Representation that is Warranted is always produced by a process that was vetted (or successfully designed) to reliably produce veridical representations. As such, Representations that are Warranted are what in other contexts we might refer to as ‘items of knowledge’. (shrink)
Helen Steward puts forward a radical critique of the foundations of contemporary philosophy of mind, arguing that it relies too heavily on insecure assumptions about the sorts of things there are in the mind--events, processes, and states. She offers a fresh investigation of these three categories, clarifying the distinctions between them, and argues that the category of state has been very widely and seriously misunderstood.
What is the ontology of collective action? I have in mind three connected questions. 1. Do the truth conditions of action sentences about groups require there to be group agents over and above individual agents? 2. Is there a difference, in this connection, between action sentences about informal groups that use plural noun phrases, such as ‘We pushed the car’ and ‘The women left the party early’, and action sentences about formal or institutional groups that use singular noun phrases, such (...) as ‘The United States declared war on Japan on December 8th, 1941’ and ‘The Supreme Court ruled that segregation is unconstitutional in 1954 in Brown vs. Board of Education’? 3. Under what conditions does it make sense to speak of a group doing something together, and what, if anything, is a collective action? In this paper, I argue that a) understanding action sentences about groups does not commit us to the existence of group agents per se, but only to the existence of individual agents; b) there is no difference in this regard between sentences which attribute actions to informal groups on the one hand and institutional groups on the other; c) collective action can be both intentional and unintentional; d) any random group of agents each of whom does something is also a group which does something together; e) while there is a sense in which groups per se perform no primitive collective actions, and therefore no actions at all, f) there is a sensible extension of talk of actions to groups, though it should be treated strictly speaking, like talk of group agents, as a façon de parler, for g) the only agents per se are individuals and the only actions are theirs. -/-. (shrink)
Medical terminology collects and organizes the many different kinds of terms employed in the biomedical domain both by practitioners and also in the course of biomedical research. In addition to serving as labels for biomedical classes, these names reflect the organizational principles of biomedical vocabularies and ontologies. Some names represent invariant features (classes, universals) of biomedical reality (i.e., they are a matter for ontology). Other names, however, convey also how this reality is perceived, measured, and understood by health professionals (i.e., (...) they belong to the domain of epistemology). We analyze terms from several biomedical vocabularies in order to throw light on the interactions between ontological and epistemological components of these terminologies. We identify four cases: 1) terms containing classification criteria, 2) terms reflecting detectability, modality, uncertainty, and vagueness, 3) terms created in order to obtain a complete partition of a given domain, and 4) terms reflecting mere fiat boundaries. We show that epistemology-loaded terms are pervasive in biomedical vocabularies, that the “classes” they name often do not comply with sound classification principles, and that they are therefore likely to cause problems in the evolution and alignment of terminologies and associated ontologies. (shrink)
relations between events both require a more complex structure on the domain underlying the meaning representations than is commonly assumed. This paper proposes an ontology based on such notions as causation and consequence, rather than on purely temporal primitives. A central notion in the ontology..
Prince of Networks is the rst treatment of Bruno Latour speci cally as a philosopher. Part One covers four key works that display Latour’s underrated contributions to metaphysics: Irreductions, Science in Action, We Have Never Been Modern, and Pandora’s Hope. Harman contends that Latour is one of the central gures of contemporary philosophy, with a highly original ontology centred in four key concepts: actants, irreduction, translation, and alliance.
Many significant problems in metaphysics are tied to ontological questions, but ontology and its relation to larger questions in metaphysics give rise to a series of puzzles that suggest that we don't fully understand what ontology is supposed to do, nor what ambitions metaphysics can have for finding out about what the world is like. Thomas Hofweber aims to solve these puzzles about ontology and consequently to make progress on four metaphysical debates tied to ontology: the philosophy of arithmetic, the (...) metaphysics of ordinary objects, the problem of universals, and the question of whether the fact-like aspect of reality is independent of us. Crucial parts of the proposed solution involve considerations about quantification and its relationship to ontology, the place of reference in natural languages, the relationship between syntactic form and focus, whether there could be any ineffable facts, and others. (shrink)
How does the critical Kant view ontology? There is no shared scholarly answer to this question. Norbert Hinske sees in the Critique of Pure Reason a “farewell to ontology,” albeit one that took Kant long to bid (Hinske 2009). Karl Ameriks has found evidence in Kant’s metaphysics lectures from the critical period that he “was unwilling to break away fully from traditional ontology” (Ameriks 1992: 272). Gualtiero Lorini argues that a decisive break with the tradition of ontology is essential to (...) Kant’s critical reform of metaphysics, as is reflected in his shift from “ontology” to “transcendental philosophy,” two notions that Lorini takes to be related by mere “analogy” (Lorini 2015). I agree with Lorini that a thorough reform of ontology is a pivotal part of Kant’s critical plan for metaphysics and that ontology somehow “survives within the critical philosophy” (Lorini 2015: 76). To make this case, however, I deem it important to identify “ontology” and “transcendental philosophy” in the sense of extensional equivalence. While we can detect this identification in Kant’s writings, only from his metaphysics lectures can we get a full sense of its historical and philosophical significance. In this chapter I focus on how it represents a definitive turn from as well as notable continuity with traditional treatments of ontology, particularly the Wolffian one. (shrink)
[Stephen Yablo] The usual charge against Carnap's internal/external distinction is one of 'guilt by association with analytic/synthetic'. But it can be freed of this association, to become the distinction between statements made within make-believe games and those made outside them-or, rather, a special case of it with some claim to be called the metaphorical/literal distinction. Not even Quine considers figurative speech committal, so this turns the tables somewhat. To determine our ontological commitments, we have to ferret out all traces of (...) nonliterality in our assertions; if there is no sensible project of doing that, there is no sensible project of Quinean ontology. /// [Andre Gallois] I discuss Steve Yablo's defence of Carnap's distinction between internal and external questions. In the first section I set out what I take that distinction, as Carnap draws it, to be, and spell out a central motivation Carnap has for invoking it. In the second section I endorse, and augment, Yablo's response to Quine's arguments against Carnap. In the third section I say why Carnap's application of the distinction between internal and external questions runs into trouble. In the fourth section I spell out what I take to be Yablo's version of Carnap. In the last I say why that version is especially vulnerable to the objection raised in the second. (shrink)
Our experience of objects is very rich. We perceive objects as possessing individuation conditions. This, however, is a projection of our senses and thinking. Azzouni shows the resulting austere metaphysics tames many ancient philosophical problems about constitution, as well as contemporary puzzles about reductionism.
This book contains selected papers from the First International Conference on the Ontology of Spacetime. Its fourteen chapters address two main questions: first, what is the current status of the substantivalism/relationalism debate, and second, what about the prospects of presentism and becoming within present-day physics and its philosophy? The overall tenor of the four chapters of the book’s first part is that the prospects of spacetime substantivalism are bleak, although different possible positions remain with respect to the ontological status of (...) spacetime. Part II and Part III of the book are devoted to presentism, eternalism, and becoming, from two different perspectives. In the six chapters of Part II it is argued, in different ways, that relativity theory does not have essential consequences for these issues. It certainly is true that the structure of time is different, according to relativity theory, from the one in classical theory. But that does not mean that a decision is forced between presentism and eternalism, or that becoming has proved to be an impossible concept. It may even be asked whether presentism and eternalism really offer different ontological perspectives at all. The writers of the last four chapters, in Part III, disagree. They argue that relativity theory is incompatible with becoming and presentism. Several of them come up with proposals to go beyond relativity, in order to restore the prospects of presentism. · Space and time in present-day physics and philosophy · Relatively low level of technicality, easily accessible · Introduction from scratch of the debates surrounding time · Top authors explaining their positions · Broad spectrum of approaches, coherently represented. (shrink)
The view of nature we adopt in the natural attitude is determined by common sense, without which we could not survive. Classical physics is modelled on this common-sense view of nature, and uses mathematics to formalise our natural understanding of the causes and effects we observe in time and space when we select subsystems of nature for modelling. But in modern physics, we do not go beyond the realm of common sense by augmenting our knowledge of what is going on (...) in nature. Rather, we have measurements that we do not understand, so we know nothing about the ontology of what we measure. We help ourselves by using entities from mathematics, which we fully understand ontologically. But we have no ontology of the reality of modern physics; we have only what we can assert mathematically. In this paper, we describe the ontology of classical and modern physics against this background and show how it relates to the ontology of common sense and of mathematics. (shrink)