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Putting Metaphysics FirstEssays on Metaphysics and Epistemology$
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Michael Devitt

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199280803

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199280803.001.0001

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On Determining What There Isn't *

On Determining What There Isn't *

Chapter:
(p.303) 15 On Determining What There Isn't*
Source:
Putting Metaphysics First
Author(s):

Michael Devitt (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199280803.003.0016

Stich points out that typical arguments for eliminativism about the mind presuppose a description theory of reference. His gloomy view of theories of reference leads him to a gloomy view of ontological issues in general. What has gone wrong? Stich thinks that the mistake came in looking to such theories to settle ontological issues. This chapter argues that Stich is right about that, but for the wrong reasons. We should not share his gloom about theories of reference, taken as proto-science. Still, an appropriately modest view of the accomplishments of this proto-science counts against using it to settle ontological issues. We should put metaphysics first. How then are we to settle ontological issues? Stich's answer is very much along the right lines. We do not have any principles adequate to help us with the difficult cases and it may be that some of these are indeterminate.

Keywords:   Stich, eliminativism, mind, description theories of reference, ontology, proto-science, ontological issues, indeterminacy

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