What do we seek in metaphysical reflection on the world we live in? Kant thought the urge is “something more than a mere thirst for knowledge.” Here I introduce the question whether we could ever gain sufficient “distance” from our knowing the things we know about the world to arrive at satisfyingly independent verdicts about the metaphysical status of what appear to be indispensable ingredients of our conception of the world and of ourselves as agents within it. Could we consistently explain the necessity with which certain truths are true, or the causal connections we believe to hold between certain events, or the values we ascribe to certain objects or actions, as not really part of the way things are independently of our speaking and thinking and acting in the ways we do? The question is whether and how we could consistently accept such apparently negative metaphysical conclusions while continuing to understand ourselves and the world in the ways we do.
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