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Scientific Metaphysics$
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Don Ross, James Ladyman, and Harold Kincaid

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199696499

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199696499.001.0001

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Scientific Ontology and Speculative Ontology

Scientific Ontology and Speculative Ontology

Chapter:
(p.51) 3 Scientific Ontology and Speculative Ontology
Source:
Scientific Metaphysics
Author(s):

Paul Humphreys

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199696499.003.0003

This chapter provides six arguments in favor of scientifically based ontology and against speculative ontology, a branch of analytic metaphysics. Parts of contemporary speculative ontology are untenable because they are factually false; intuitions are not domain-invariant; conceptual analysis is too closely tied to everyday experience; what counts as an acceptable philosophical idealization is left unarticulated; the world is not scale-invariant; and anthropocentric epistemology does not always minimize epistemic risk. Nevertheless, specifically philosophical arguments are necessary when making ontological claims and complete deference to scientific consensus is unreasonable. The overall strategy is to recognize that different domains of reality require different methods of discovery and justification, and that a significant part of contemporary metaphysics is employing methods that are inappropriate to its goals.

Keywords:   Intuition, scientific ontology, speculative ontology, conceptual analysis, idealizations, analytic metaphysics, epistemic risk

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