Scientific Ontology and Speculative Ontology

Paul Humphreys

in Scientific Metaphysics

Published in print January 2013 | ISBN: 9780199696499
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191744983 | DOI:
Scientific Ontology and Speculative Ontology

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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

Chapter.  11279 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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