Should Ontology be Explanatory?
Amie Thomasson (Dartmouth College)

November 20, 2020, 3:30pm - 5:00pm

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Since Quine, it has been common to hold that the goal of ontology is to determine what entities we should or must ‘posit’ as part of a best total explanatory theory. Accordingly, whether putative entities such as meanings, properties, or numbers contribute explanatory power is often taken as a central criterion for whether we should accept that they exist.

I will argue that this is a mistake. The explanatory power criterion arises from failing to understand the diverse functions that different areas of discourse can serve. A deeper understanding of the way these forms of discourse enter language, and of the functional roles they play, makes clear why we should reject the explanatory power criterion, and reject the explanatory conception of ontology. I will close with some remarks about how we should rethink our approach to existence questions—and, more deeply, how we should re-focus our philosophical efforts.

Topic: Talk: Amie Thomasson, "Should Ontology be Explanatory?"
Time: Nov 20, 2020 03:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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