Article

Contemporary Metaphysics

Allan Hazlett

in Philosophy

ISBN: 9780195396577
Published online May 2010 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195396577-0075
Contemporary Metaphysics

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There is no general agreement or consensus about how to define metaphysics. The word itself derives from the title of one of Aristotle’s books, one that deals with decidedly metaphysical issues, but intuitively metaphysical issues are discussed by Aristotle as much in his other works as in the Metaphysics. Contemporary metaphysics ranges over a broad set of questions: questions about what reality is like, at its most fundamental; questions about the nature of human agency and perception; questions about the legitimacy of metaphysics itself. The only way to know what contemporary metaphysics is about is to understand the relevant texts, issues, and figures. Hence this article, which presents important and influential background readings in the various subareas of metaphysics. These “areas” of metaphysics (like the various “areas” of philosophy) are deeply interconnected, to say the least. Indeed the quotes used here indicate doubts about the very idea of distinct “areas.” On this score, the artificiality of the divisions employed here cannot be overemphasized. This article is concerned with contemporary metaphysics in the “analytic” tradition, and as such it ignores some important philosophers. Most importantly, this article does not cover the historical background to contemporary analytic metaphysics, which includes the Aristotelian tradition that still shapes contemporary metaphysical thinking; the Humean empiricism and Kantian idealism to which analytic metaphysicians owe so much; and finally, the “Absolute Idealism” of F. H. Bradley (the negative reaction to which helped spawn “analytic” philosophy as we know it). Nor does it cover early-20th-century analytic philosophy, including logical positivism, or ordinary language philosophy. The aim here is to provide background reading for those concerned with contemporary metaphysics. The texts selected are mostly from the last half of the 20th century, and, for the most part, they are those that have had the most impact on contemporary debates.

Article.  9929 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art ; Epistemology ; Feminist Philosophy ; History of Western Philosophy ; Metaphysics ; Moral Philosophy ; Non-Western Philosophy ; Philosophy of Language ; Philosophy of Law ; Philosophy of Mathematics and Logic ; Philosophy of Mind ; Philosophy of Religion ; Philosophy of Science ; Social and Political Philosophy

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