Formal Ontology

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (2023)
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Formal ontology as a main branch of metaphysics investigates categories of being. In the formal ontological approach to metaphysics, these ontological categories are analysed by ontological forms. This analysis, which we illustrate by some category systems, provides a tool to assess the clarity, exactness and intelligibility of different category systems or formal ontologies. We discuss critically different accounts of ontological form in the literature. Of ontological form, we propose a character- neutral relational account. In this metatheory, ontological forms of entities are their standings in internal relations whose holding is neutral on the character of their relata. These relations are “formal ontological relations”. Entities belong to ontological categories because they stand in the same formal ontological relations. We hold a nominalist relationalism about ontological categories and forms. We conclude by showing that our metatheory is useful for understanding categorial fundamentality/non- fundamentality, different formal ontologies, and for unifying metaphysical questions.

Author Profiles

Markku Keinänen
Tampere University
Jani Hakkarainen
Tampere University


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