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Curiosity Kills the Categories: A Dilemma about Categories and Modality

Sophie R. Allen
From the journal Metaphysica


This paper argues that it is implausible to treat philosophical categories as if they exist as a matter of necessity, and implausible to deny that they do. The former because it restricts the modal range which can be characterized, thereby violating the principle of plenitude with respect to all possibilities; and the latter because it results in there being no stable, univocal way of characterizing those very possibilities, resulting in the range of what there is becoming a pluralist patchwork of distinct and potentially incompatible collections of categories which lack any unifying ontological principle. Some potential responses to this observation are then briefly explored, including restricting categories or modality by stipulation, treating categories as instrumental, or finding a way in which the apparently competing systems of categories can be unified.


Many thanks are due to Alastair Wilder for discussions and suggestions about the arguments in this paper.


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Published Online: 2015-6-26
Published in Print: 2015-9-18

©2015 by De Gruyter

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