Explaining Eliminativism
Merricks (Trenton)
Source: Merricks - Objects and Persons, 2001, Chapter 1
Paper - Abstract

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Folk ontology includes statues1. Eliminativism denies that statues2 exist but says that there are atoms arranged statuewise3. In this chapter, I explain eliminativism and define 'arranged statuewise4'. I also argue that eliminativism is neither obviously false nor contradictory. In presenting this argument, I consider, among other things, 'reductionism' and composition as identity.

  1. Eliminitivism: The Basic Idea
  2. Eliminitivism: Not as Bad as you might Think
  3. The Linguistic Charge of Contradiction
  4. The Metaphysical Charge of Contradiction
  5. Conclusion: Many disputed metaphysical theses are, if true at all, necessarily true. To establish that such a thesis is possibly true just is to establish that it is actually true. Thus establishing that a disputed metaphysical thesis is possibly true cannot be a prerequisite for presenting arguments for that thesis. Nevertheless, we should ask the metaphysician, before she presents her arguments, what thesis she purports to defend. After all, if we don’t know what thesis she is defending, we cannot possibly judge whether her arguments adequately support it.
    I have not tried to establish that eliminativism is possibly true. But I have tried to explain what eliminitivism is. I have explained the eliminitivist’s thesis that there are atoms arranged statuewise5 but no statues6. And I have countered two versions of the charge that the first half of that thesis contradicts the second. This should be enough to get us started. We should now understand eliminitivism well enough to follow and evaluate arguments for its truth.

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