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.
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.
The central task of cognitive neuroscience to map cognitive capacities to neural mechanisms faces three interlocking conceptual problems that together frame the problem of cognitive ontology. First, they must establish which tasks elicit which cognitive capacities, and specifically when different tasks elicit the same capacity. To address this operationalization problem, scientists often assess whether the tasks engage the same neural mechanisms. But to determine whether mechanisms are of the same or different kinds, we need to solve the abstraction problem (...) by determining which mechanistic differences are and are not relevant, and also the boundary problem by distinguishing the mechanism from its background conditions. Solving these problems, in turn, requires understanding how cognitive capacities are elicited in tasks. These three problems, which have been noted and discussed elsewhere in the literature, together form a ‘cycle of kinds’ that frames the central problem-space of cognitive ontology. We describe this cycle to clarify the intellectual challenges facing the cognitive ontologist and to reveal the kind of iterative process by which ontological revision in cognitive neuroscience is likely to unfold. (shrink)
Temporal ontology is concerned with the ontological status of the past, the present and the future, with presentism and eternalism as main contenders since the second half of the last century. In recent years several philosophers have argued that the presentism/eternalism dispute is not substantial. They have embraced, one may say, deflationism. Denying or downplaying the meaningfulness of tenseless language and wielding the so-called triviality objection have been their main argumentative tools. Other philosophers have opposed this trend, thereby holding (...) fast to what could be named substantialism. Their leading defensive strategy has consisted in bringing to the fore tenselessness or unrestricted quantification in an attempt to resist the triviality objection. Despite this reaction, the past few years have hosted a new wave of deflationism, wherein the triviality objection and qualms about the legitimacy of tenselessness and unrestricted quantification still loom large. This paper counters this trend, by providing a new clarification of tenseless predication, unrestricted quantifiers and their role in rescuing substantialism from the triviality objection. A crucial ingredient is this: the appeal to unrestricted quantifiers and to tenseless predication are not alternative strategies, but rather two sides of the same coin, since substantialism requires quantifiers that are both tenseless and unrestricted. (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)
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)
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)
Ontological dependence is a relation—or, more accurately, a family of relations—between entities or beings. For there are various ways in which one being may be said to depend upon one or more other beings, in a sense of “depend” that is distinctly metaphysical in character and that may be contrasted, thus, with various causal senses of this word. More specifically, a being may be said to depend, in such a sense, upon one or more other beings for its existence or (...) for its identity. Some varieties of ontological dependence may be analyzed in modal terms—that is, in terms of distinctly metaphysical notions of possibility and necessity—while others seem to demand an analysis in terms of the notion of essence. The latter varieties of ontological dependence may accordingly be called species of essential dependence. Notions of ontological dependence are frequently called upon by metaphysicians in their proposed analyses of other metaphysically important notions, such as the notion of substance. (shrink)
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)
The Ontology for Biomedical Investigations (OBI) is an ontology that provides terms with precisely defined meanings to describe all aspects of how investigations in the biological and medical domains are conducted. OBI re-uses ontologies that provide a representation of biomedical knowledge from the Open Biological and Biomedical Ontologies (OBO) project and adds the ability to describe how this knowledge was derived. We here describe the state of OBI and several applications that are using it, such as adding semantic (...) expressivity to existing databases, building data entry forms, and enabling interoperability between knowledge resources. OBI covers all phases of the investigation process, such as planning, execution and reporting. It represents information and material entities that participate in these processes, as well as roles and functions. Prior to OBI, it was not possible to use a single internally consistent resource that could be applied to multiple types of experiments for these applications. OBI has made this possible by creating terms for entities involved in biological and medical investigations and by importing parts of other biomedical ontologies such as GO, Chemical Entities of Biological Interest (ChEBI) and Phenotype Attribute and Trait Ontology (PATO) without altering their meaning. OBI is being used in a wide range of projects covering genomics, multi-omics, immunology, and catalogs of services. OBI has also spawned other ontologies (Information Artifact Ontology) and methods for importing parts of ontologies (Minimum information to reference an external ontology term (MIREOT)). The OBI project is an open cross-disciplinary collaborative effort, encompassing multiple research communities from around the globe. To date, OBI has created 2366 classes and 40 relations along with textual and formal definitions. The OBI Consortium maintains a web resource providing details on the people, policies, and issues being addressed in association with OBI. (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.
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)
'Ontological Semantics' introduces a comprehensive approach to the treatment of text meaning by computer, arguing that being able to use meaning is crucial to the success of natural language processing applications.
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)
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)
Because climate change can be seen as the blind spot of contemporary philosophy of technology, while the destructive side effects of technological progress are no longer deniable, this article reflects on the role of technologies in the constitution of the (post)Anthropocene world. Our first hypothesis is that humanity is not the primary agent involved in world-production, but concrete technologies. Our second hypothesis is that technological inventions at an ontic level have an ontological impact and constitutes world. As we object to (...) classical philosophers of technology like Ihde and Heidegger, we will sketch the progressive contribution of our conceptuality to understand the role of technology in the Anthropocene world. Our third hypothesis is that technology has emancipatory potential and in this respect, can inaugurate a post-Anthropocene World. We consider these three hypotheses to develop a philosophical account of the ontology of technology beyond an abstract and deterministic understanding. This concept enables us to philosophically reflect on the role of technology in the Anthropocene World in general, and its contribution to the transition to the post-Anthropocene World in particular. (shrink)
Ontological nihilism is the radical-sounding thesis that there is nothing at all. This chapter first discusses how the most plausible forms of this thesis aim to be slightly less radical than they sound and what they will have to do in order to succeed in their less radical ambitions. In particular, they will have to paraphrase sentences of best science into ontologically innocent counterparts. The chapter then points out the defects in two less plausible strategies, before going on to argue (...) that strategies that look more promising, including one based on Quine's predicate-functor language, face the same defects. (shrink)
This article is a brief overview of major ontological arguments. The most noteworthy feature of this article is the statement of a new parody of the Anselmian and Cartesian arguments that is obviously immune to objections adverting to intrinsic minima and maxima.
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)
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)
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)
The concept of an ontological category is central to metaphysics. Metaphysicians argue about which category of existence an object should be assigned to, whether one category can be reduced to another one, or whether there might be different equally adequate systems of categorization. Answers to these questions presuppose a clear understanding of what precisely an ontological category is, and Jan Westerhoff now provides the first in-depth analysis. After examining a variety of attempted definitions, he proceeds to argue for a new (...) understanding of ontological categories, according to which they are systematizations of our knowledge of the world rather than essential characteristics of the world itself. Metaphysicians will find his work highly stimulating. (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)
The Salivaomics Knowledge Base (SKB) is designed to serve as a computational infrastructure that can permit global exploration and utilization of data and information relevant to salivaomics. SKB is created by aligning (1) the saliva biomarker discovery and validation resources at UCLA with (2) the ontology resources developed by the OBO (Open Biomedical Ontologies) Foundry, including a new Saliva Ontology (SALO). We define the Saliva Ontology (SALO; http://www.skb.ucla.edu/SALO/) as a consensus-based controlled vocabulary of terms and relations dedicated (...) to the salivaomics domain and to saliva-related diagnostics following the principles of the OBO (Open Biomedical Ontologies) Foundry. The Saliva Ontology is an ongoing exploratory initiative. The ontology will be used to facilitate salivaomics data retrieval and integration across multiple fields of research together with data analysis and data mining. The ontology will be tested through its ability to serve the annotation ('tagging') of a representative corpus of salivaomics research literature that is to be incorporated into the SKB. Background Saliva (oral fluid) is an emerging biofluid for non-invasive diagnostics used in the detection of human diseases. The need to advance saliva research is strongly emphasized by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), and is included in the NIDCR's 2004- 2009 expert panel long-term research agenda . The ability to monitor health status, disease onset, progression, recurrence and treatment outcome through noninvasive means is highly important to advancing health care management. Saliva is a perfect medium to be explored for personalized individual medicine including diagnostics, offering a non-invasive, easy to obtain means for detecting and monitoring diseases. Saliva testing potentially allows the patient to collect their own saliva samples at home, yielding convenience for the patient and savings in health costs, and facilitating multiple sampling. Specimen collection is less objectionable to patients and easier in children and elderly individuals. Due to these advantages. (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.
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..
World food production is facing exorbitant challenges like climate change, use of resources, population growth, and dietary changes. These, in turn, raise major ethical and political questions, such as how to uphold the right to adequate nutrition, or the right to enact a gastronomic culture and to preserve the conditions to do so. Proposals for utopic solutions vary from vertical farming and lab meat to diets filled with the most fanciful insects and seaweeds. Common to all proposals is a polarized (...) understanding of food and diets, famously captured by Warren Belasco in the contraposition between technological fixes and anthropological fixes. According to the first, technology will deliver clean, just, pleasurable, affordable food; future generations will not need to adjust much of their dietary cultures. According to the second, future generations should dramatically change their dietary habits (what they eat and how they eat it) to achieve a sustainable diet. The two fixes found remarkably distinct perspectives over dietary politics and the ethics of food production and consumption. In this paper we argue that such polarized thinking rests on a misrepresentation of the ontological status of food, which in turn affects the underlying ethical and political issues. Food is a socially constructed object that draws in specific ways on habits, norms, traditions, geographical, and climatic conditions. Although this thesis seems somewhat obvious, its consequences on the ethical and political perspectives on the future of food have not been derived properly. After introducing the issue at stake (¤1), we point out the polarities that characterize food utopias (¤2) and their ontological faults (¤3). We hence suggest that a socio-ontological analysis of food can better deliver the principles for a foundation of food utopias (¤4). (shrink)
This book is a unique contribution to the philosophy of religion. It offers a comprehensive discussion of one of the most famous arguments for the existence of God: the ontological argument. The author provides and analyses a critical taxonomy of those versions of the argument that have been advanced in recent philosophical literature, as well as of those historically important versions found in the work of St Anselm, Descartes, Leibniz, Hegel and others. A central thesis of the book is that (...) ontological arguments have no value in the debate between theists and atheists. There is a detailed review of the literature on the topic (separated from the main body of the text) and a very substantial bibliography, making this volume an indispensable resource for philosophers of religion and others interested in religious studies. (shrink)
Words form a fundamental basis for our understanding of linguistic practice. However, the precise ontology of words has eluded many philosophers and linguists. A persistent difficulty for most accounts of words is the type-token distinction [Bromberger, S. 1989. “Types and Tokens in Linguistics.” In Reflections on Chomsky, edited by A. George, 58–90. Basil Blackwell; Kaplan, D. 1990. “Words.” Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume LXIV: 93–119]. In this paper, I present a novel account of words which differs from the atomistic and (...) platonistic conceptions of previous accounts which I argue fall prey to this problem. Specifically, I proffer a structuralist account of linguistic items, along the lines of structuralism in the philosophy of mathematics [Shapiro, S. 1997. Philosophy of Mathematics: Structure and Ontology. Oxford University Press], in which words are defined in part as positions in larger linguistic structures. I then follow Szabò [1999. “Expressions and Their Representations.” The Philosophical Quarterly 49 (195): 145–163] and Parsons [1990. “The Structuralist View of Mathematical Objects.” Synthese 84: 303–346] in further defining words as quasi-concrete objects according to a representation relation. This view aims for general correspondence with contemporary generative linguistic approaches to the study of language. (shrink)
This paper defends an interventionist account of causation by construing this account as a contribution to methodology, rather than as a set of theses about the ontology or metaphysics of causation. It also uses the topic of causation to raise some more general issues about the relation between, on the one hand, methodology, and, on the other hand, ontology and metaphysics, as these are understood in contemporary philosophical discussion, particularly among so-called analytic metaphysicians. It concludes with the suggestion (...) that issues about the ontology of causation often can be fruitfully reconstrued as methodological proposals. (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?
The thesis of methodological individualism in social science is commonly divided into two different claims—explanatory individualism and ontological individualism. Ontological individualism is the thesis that facts about individuals exhaustively determine social facts. Initially taken to be a claim about the identity of groups with sets of individuals or their properties, ontological individualism has more recently been understood as a global supervenience claim. While explanatory individualism has remained controversial, ontological individualism thus understood is almost universally accepted. In this paper I argue (...) that ontological individualism is false. Only if the thesis is weakened to the point that it is equivalent to physicalism can it be true, but then it fails to be a thesis about the determination of social facts by facts about individual persons. Even when individualistic facts are expanded to include people’s local environments and practices, I shall argue, those still underdetermine the social facts that obtain. If true, this has implications for explanation as well as ontology. I first consider arguments against the local supervenience of social facts on facts about individuals, correcting some flaws in existing arguments and affirming that local supervenience fails for a broad set of social properties. I subsequently apply a similar approach to defeat a particularly weak form of global supervenience, and consider potential responses. Finally, I explore why it is that people have taken ontological individualism to be true. (shrink)
'Ontological dependence' is a term of philosophical jargon which stands for a rich family of properties and relations, often taken to be among the most fundamental ontological properties and relations. Notions of ontological dependence are usually thought of as 'carving reality at its ontological joints', and as marking certain forms of ontological 'non-self-sufficiency'. The use of notions of dependence goes back as far as Aristotle's characterization of substances, and these notions are still widely used to characterize other concepts and to (...) formulate metaphysical claims. This paper first gives an overview of the varieties of these notions, and then discusses some of their main applications. (shrink)
Current controversies about knowledge integration reflect conflicting ideas of what it means to “take Indigenous knowledge seriously”. While there is increased interest in integrating Indigenous and Western scientific knowledge in various disciplines such as anthropology and ethnobiology, integration projects are often accused of recognizing Indigenous knowledge only insofar as it is useful for Western scientists. The aim of this article is to use tools from philosophy of science to develop a model of both successful integration and integration failures. On the (...) one hand, I argue that cross-cultural recognition of property clusters leads to an ontological overlap that makes knowledge integration often epistemically productive and socially useful. On the other hand, I argue that knowledge integration is limited by ontological divergence. Adequate models of Indigenous knowledge will therefore have to take integration failures seriously and I argue that integration efforts need to be complemented by a political notion of ontological self-determination. (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)
Priority Monism, as defined by Jonathan Schaffer, has a number of components. It is the view that: the cosmos exists; the cosmos is a maximal actual concrete object, of which all actual concrete objects are parts; the cosmos is basic—there is no object upon which the cosmos depends, ontologically; ontological dependence is a primitive and unanalysable relation. In a recent attack, Lowe has offered a series of arguments to show that Monism fails. He offers up four tranches of argument, with (...) different focuses. These focal points are: being a concrete object; aggregation and dependence; analyses of ontological dependence; Schaffer’s no-overlap principle. These are all technical notions, but each figures at the heart of a cluster of arguments that Lowe puts forward. To respond, I work through each tranche of argument in turn. Before that, in the first section, I offer a cursory statement of Monism, as Schaffer presents it in his 2010 paper, Monism: The Priority of the Whole. I then respond to each of Lowe’s criticisms in turn, deploying material from Schaffer’s 2009 paper Spacetime: the One Substance, as well as various pieces of conceptual machinery from Lowe’s own works to deflect Lowe’s attacks. In the process of defending Monism from Lowe, I end up offering some subtle refinements to Schaffer’s view and explain how the resulting ‘hybrid’ view fares in the wider dialectic. (shrink)
In Being and Time, Martin Heidegger introduces a unique interpretation of death as a kind of world-collapse or breakdown of meaning that strips away our ability to understand and make sense of who we are. This is an ‘ontological death’ in the sense that we cannot be anything because the intelligible world that we draw on to fashion our identities and sustain our sense of self has lost all significance. On this account, death is not only an event that we (...) can physiologically live through; it can happen numerous times throughout the finite span of our lives. This paper draws on Arthur Frank’s narrative of critical illness to concretize the experience of ‘ontological death’ and illuminate the unique challenges it poses for health care professionals. I turn to Heidegger’s conception of ‘resoluteness’ to address these challenges, arguing for the need of health care professionals to help establish a discursive context whereby the critically ill can begin to meaningfully express and interpret their experience of self-loss in a way that acknowledges the structural vulnerability of their own identities and is flexible enough to let go of those that have lost their significance or viability. (shrink)
The paper outlines a new interpretation of informational privacy and of its moral value. The main theses defended are: (a) informational privacy is a function of the ontological friction in the infosphere, that is, of the forces that oppose the information flow within the space of information; (b) digital ICTs (information and communication technologies) affect the ontological friction by changing the nature of the infosphere (re-ontologization); (c) digital ICTs can therefore both decrease and protect informational privacy but, most importantly, they (...) can also alter its nature and hence our understanding and appreciation of it; (d) a change in our ontological perspective, brought about by digital ICTs, suggests considering each person as being constituted by his or her information and hence regarding a breach of one’s informational privacy as a form of aggression towards one’s personal identity. (shrink)
The standard account of ontological commitment is quantificational. There are many old and well-chewed-over challenges to the account, but recently Kit Fine added a new challenge. Fine claimed that the ‘‘quantificational account gets the basic logic of ontological commitment wrong’’ and offered an alternative account that used an existence predicate. While Fine’s argument does point to a real lacuna in the standard approach, I show that his own account also gets ‘‘the basic logic of ontological commitment wrong’’. In response, I (...) offer a full quantificational account, using the resources of plural logic, and argue that it leads to a complete theory of natural language ontological commitment. (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)
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 aim of this article is to argue that ontological choices in scientific practice undermine common formulations of the value-free ideal in science. First, I argue that the truth values of scientific statements depend on ontological choices. For example, statements about entities such as species, race, memory, intelligence, depression, or obesity are true or false relative to the choice of a biological, psychological, or medical ontology. Second, I show that ontological choices often depend on non-epistemic values. On the basis (...) of these premises, I argue that it is often neither possible nor desirable to evaluate scientific statements independently of non-epistemic values. Finally, I suggest that considerations of ontological choices do not only challenge the value-free ideal but also help to specify positive roles of non-epistemic values in an often neglected area of scientific practice. (shrink)
In many different ontological debates, anti-arbitrariness considerations push one towards two opposing extremes. For example, in debates about mereology, one may be pushed towards a maximal ontology (mereological universalism) or a minimal ontology (mereological nihilism), because any intermediate view seems objectionably arbitrary. However, it is usually thought that anti-arbitrariness considerations on their own cannot decide between these maximal or minimal views. I will argue that this is a mistake. Anti-arbitrariness arguments may be used to motivate a certain popular (...) thesis in the philosophy of mathematics that rules out the maximalist view in many different ontological debates. (shrink)