Composition, Colocation, and Metaontology
Bennett (Karen)
Source: Chalmers (David), Manley (David) & Wasserman (Ryan) - Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

  1. The paper is an extended discussion of what I call the ‘dismissive attitude’ towards metaphysical questions.
  2. It has three parts.
    • In the first part, I distinguish three quite different versions of dismissivism. I also argue that there is little reason to think that any of these positions is correct about the discipline of metaphysics as a whole; it is entirely possible that some metaphysical disputes should be dismissed and others should not be. Doing metametaphysics properly requires doing metaphysics first. I then put two particular disputes on the table to be examined in the rest of the paper: the dispute over whether composite objects exist, and the dispute about whether distinct objects can be colocated.
    • In the second part of the paper, I argue against the claim that these disputes are purely verbal disputes.
    • In the third part of the paper, I present a new version of dismissivism, and argue that it is probably the correct view about the two disputes in question. They are not verbal disputes, and the discussion about them to date has not remotely been a waste of time.
  3. At this stage, however, our evidence has run out. I argue that neither side of either dispute is simpler than the other, and that the same objections in fact arise against both sides. (For example, the compositional nihilist does not in fact escape the problem of the many1, and the one-thinger does not in fact escape the grounding problem.)

  1. ’That’s a Stupid Question’
  2. Three Kinds of Dismissivism
  3. A Methodological Suggestion
  4. Two Metaphysical Disputes
    • Constitution
    • Composition
    • Preliminary Analogies
  5. Difference Minimization I: Downplaying Excess
  6. Against Semanticism
    • Hirsch’s Notion of a Verbal Dispute
    • The Linking Principles are not Analytic
  7. Difference Minimization II: Up-Playing Expressive Power
    • The Nihilist
    • The One-Thinger
  8. The Costs of Up-Playing Expressive Power
  9. Problems Rearising for the Low-Ontologist
  10. The Third Dismissive Attitude


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