Metaphysicians from A to W And How to Improve on Them
Peter Simons (Trinity College, Dublin), Barry Smith (University at Buffalo)

May 25, 2022, 6:30pm - 8:00pm

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  • RATIO - Philosophical Association
  • Istituto di Studi Filosofici - Lugano

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Three of the greatest metaphysicians of the twentieth century, all born before 1900, wrote in English. One was Australian, one English, and one American. They are, in chronological order, Samuel Alexander, Alfred North Whitehead and Donald Cary Williams. Empirical realists all, each espoused a systematic account of the universe in which metaphysics stood at the centre. The lessons we can take from them are varied: from Alexander we have spacetime, mind-brain identity, and emergence; from Whitehead we have mereology and the primacy of dynamic process; from Williams we have tropes and the reasonableness of induction. They all agreed on the central importance of categories, though their treatments differ considerably. They influenced other fine metaphysical thinkers: Anderson, Armstrong and Lewis, to name just the most prominent. But each makes metaphysical choices that are questionable, so the question arises whether we can do better, taking the best from each and welding it together into a system that avoids the pitfalls. Building on both their strengths and their weaknesses, this talk outlines how that can be done.

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May 24, 2022, 9:00am CET

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