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Ordinary Objects$
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Amie L. Thomasson

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195319910

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195319910.001.0001

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 Parsimony and Ontological Commitment

 Parsimony and Ontological Commitment

Chapter:
(p.151) Nine. Parsimony and Ontological Commitment
Source:
Ordinary Objects
Author(s):

Amie L. Thomasson (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195319910.003.0010

If we don't need ordinary objects in our causal explanations, it is often held, Occam's razor enjoins us to eliminate them. This chapter examines these arguments from parsimony, suggesting first that Occam's razor does not generalize to cases in which there are analytic entailments between existence claims. Moreover, it is argued that eliminativists, such as van Inwagen and Merricks who seek to paraphrase claims, for example, about baseballs in terms of claims about atoms arranged baseballwise, don't really offer a more parsimonious theory, since their paraphrased claims may be pleonastically transformed into claims that are explicitly committed to ordinary objects. This provides the basis for an argument for the existence of ordinary objects, and against Quine's criterion of ontological commitment. In closing, this chapter considers whether this also entails commitment to extraordinary objects, and whether more severe forms of eliminativism can do better.

Keywords:   Occam's razor, eliminativism, Quine, paraphrase, pleonastic transformation, van Inwagen, Merricks

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