A Metaphysics of Ordinary Things and Why We Need It
Baker (Lynne Rudder)
Source: Philosophy, 83:5–24, 2008
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

  1. Metaphysics has enjoyed a vigorous revival in the last few decades. Even so, there has been little ontological interest in the things that we interact with everyday — trees, tables, other people. It is not that metaphysicians ignore ordinary things altogether. Indeed, they are happy to say that sentences like ‘The daffodils are out early this year’ or ‘My computer crashed again’ are true. But they take the truth of such sentences not to require that a full description of reality mention daffodils or computers. Many metaphysicians now interpret the apparent variety of things in the world as variety only of concepts applied to things that are basically of the same sort — for example, sums of particles or of temporal parts of particles.
  2. I want to challenge this approach by formulating and defending a contrasting line of thought. On the contrasting line of thought, the differences among ordinary things are ontological: a screwdriver is a thing of a fundamentally different kind from a walnut, and both belong in any complete inventory of what exists. They are not redundant. That is, an ontology that mentioned particles but not screwdrivers would be incomplete. My aim here is to vindicate such claims.


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