Immaterial Beings

The Monist 90 (3):349-371 (2007)
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This paper defends a view that falls somewhere between the two extremes of inflationary and deflationary accounts of holes, and it does so by rejecting the initial conceptualisation of holes in terms of absences. Once we move away from this conception, I argue, we can see that there are no special metaphysical problems associated with holes. Rather, whatever one’s preferred metaphysics of paradigm material objects, that account can equally be applied to holes. This means that like the deflationist, I am entity monist: I reject the idea that there are any immaterial beings. On the other hand, like the inflationist I reject the idea that we should identify holes with parts or surfaces of paradigm objects. Like the inflationist, I hold that there exist entities in roughly the regions of space-time where pre-theoretically we would say there exist holes, and those entities are holes. Call this latter part of the view—that where the folk are apt to claim there is a hole, that hole has roughly the dimensions that the folk attribute to it—hole-instinctivism (the view that our instincts about hole location/dimension are roughly right). Ultimately I embrace hole conventionalism, a view that includes commitment to both entity monism and hole-instinctivism. According to hole conventionalism, holes are no more ontologically problematic than statues, nor are they of a fundamentally different ontological kind from statues.
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