Against Conservatism in Metaphysics
Fairchild (Maegan) & Hawthorne (John)
Source: Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplements, Volume 82 (Metaphysics) - July 2018, pp. 45-75
Paper - Abstract

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Authors’ Abstract

  1. In his recent book1, Daniel Korman contrasts ontological conservatives with permissivists and eliminativists about ontology. Roughly speaking,
    1. Conservatives admit the existence of ‘ordinary objects’ like trees, dogs, and snowballs, but deny the existence of ‘extraordinary objects’, like composites of trees and dogs (‘trogs’).
    2. Eliminativists, on the other hand, deny many or all ordinary objects, while
    3. Permissivists accept both ordinary and extraordinary objects.
  2. Our aim in this paper is to outline some of our reasons for being drawn to permissivism, as well as some of our misgivings about conservative metaphysics.
  3. In the first section, we discuss a tempting epistemic line of argument against conservatism. This isn’t a line of argument we find especially promising.
  4. Our most basic complaint against conservatism is not that conservatism has poor epistemic standing even if true, but instead that conservatism is weird. We develop this thought in the second part of the paper.
  5. In the final section we discuss some larger methodological issues about the project of ontology.

In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 1: Daniel Korman, Objects: Nothing Out of the Ordinary (Oxford University Press, 2015).

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