Ordinary Objects

Ordinary Objects

Ordinary Objects

Ordinary Objects

Synopsis

Arguments that ordinary inanimate objects such as tables and chairs, sticks and stones, simply do not exist have become increasingly common and increasingly prominent. Some are based on demands for parsimony or for a non-arbitrary answer to the special composition question; others arise from prohibitions against causal redundancy, ontological vagueness, or co-location; and others still come from worries that a common sense ontology would be a rival to a scientific one. Until now, little has been done to address these arguments in a unified and systematic way. Ordinary Objects is designed to fill this gap, demonstrating that the mistakes behind all of these superficially diverse eliminativist arguments may be traced to a common source. It aims to develop an ontology of ordinary objects subject to no such problems, providing perhaps the first sustained defense of a common sense ontology in two generations. The work done along the way addresses a number of major issues in philosophy of language and metaphysics, contributing to debates about analyticity, identity conditions, co-location and the grounding problem, vagueness, overdetermination, parsimony, and ontological commitment. In the end, the most important result of addressing these eliminativist arguments is not merely avoiding their conclusions; examining their failings also gives us reason to suspect that many apparent disputes in ontology are pseudo-debates. For it brings into question widely-held assumptions about which uses of metaphysical principles are appropriate, which metaphysical demands are answerable, and how we should go about addressing such fundamental questions as "What exists?". As a result, the work of Ordinary Objects promises to provide not only the route to a reflective understanding of our unreflective common-sense view, but also a better understanding of the proper methods and limits of metaphysics.

Excerpt

It has become increasingly common to see philosophers of various persuasions argue that ordinary inanimate objects such as sticks and stones, tables and chairs, simply do not exist. These arguments are often met with incredulous stares and claims that it is just common sense that such things do exist. But little has been done to address the arguments thoroughly and as a body, as I will in this volume.

Some may think that detailed diagnoses of and replies to eliminativist arguments are unnecessary, holding (in the style of G. E. Moore’s replies to the skeptic, 1959, 226) that we are much more certain that there are tables, chairs, and other ordinary objects than we are of the soundness of any philosophical arguments to the contrary, so that we may assume that such arguments must have gone wrong somewhere, without needing to pinpoint where. But the past failure to provide unified and detailed responses to these arguments is unfortunate even if one thinks that entrenched common sense claims cannot be threatened by philosophical argumentation. For failure to address the concerns behind the various arguments against ordinary objects means failure to step up to the challenge of showing how our common sense worldview can be developed in a way that avoids conflict or rivalry with science, while also avoiding internal contradictions or conflicting with plausible general metaphysical principles and demands. Showing how, reflectively, we can make sense of our unreflective common sense worldview is arguably one of the chief tasks of philosophy, and we owe a debt to those eliminativists who show us the challenge of doing this . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.