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A Functional Approach to Ontology

Nathaniel Gan ORCID logo
From the journal Metaphysica

Abstract

There are two ways of approaching an ontological debate: ontological realism recommends that metaphysicians seek to discover deep ontological facts of the matter, while ontological anti-realism denies that there are such facts; both views sometimes run into difficulties. This paper suggests an approach to ontology that begins with conceptual analysis and takes the results of that analysis as a guide for which metaontological view to hold. It is argued that in some cases, the functions for which we employ a part of our conceptual scheme might give us reasons to posit ontological facts regarding certain objects. The proposed approach recommends ontological realism about an object just in case our conceptual scheme gives us reason to. This yields a mixed overall metaontological view that adopts ontological realism to some issues and ontological anti-realism to others, and that avoids the difficulties that typically arise for the two views.


Corresponding author: Nathaniel Gan, Department of Philosophy, School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry, University of Sydney, A14 Main Quadrangle, Sydney, NSW2006, Australia, E-mail:

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Published Online: 2021-03-15
Published in Print: 2021-04-27

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