Who’s Afraid of Conceptual Analysis?

In Miguel Garcia-Godinez (ed.), Thomasson on Ontology. Springer Verlag. pp. 85-108 (2023)
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Amie Thomasson’s work provides numerous ways to rethink and improve our approach to metaphysics. This chapter is my attempt to begin to sketch why I still think the easy approach leaves room for substantive metaphysical work, and why I do not think that metaphysics need rely on any ‘epistemically metaphysical’ knowledge. After distinguishing two possible forms of deflationism, I argue that the easy ontologist needs to accept (implicitly or explicitly) that there are worldly constraints on what sorts of entities could exist, and could co-exist. I argue this leaves room for a substantive role for metaphysics if (following the work of E.J. Lowe) we take metaphysics to be concerned with the possible ways that reality could be. I explain how this conception does not need to appeal to any ‘epistemically metaphysical’ knowledge, and need only make use of conceptual and/or empirical means to arrive at views on what could exist (and co-exist). Thus, the answer I propose to the question posed in the title, at least in my view, is no-one. Or, at least, no-one should be afraid of conceptual analysis. Not even metaphysicians.

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James (J.T.M.) Miller
Durham University


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