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International Journal for Ontology and Metaphysics

Managing Editor: Koridze, Georg

Ed. by Hüntelmann, Rafael / Meixner, Uwe / Tegtmeier, Erwin

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Editorial Board: Addis, Laird / Davies, Brian / Hochberg, Herbert / Johansson, Ingvar / Kanzian, Christian / Klima, Gyula / Koons, Robert C / Künne, Wolfgang / Löffler, Winfried / Mulligan, Kevin / Nef, Frederic / Oaklander, Nathan / Oderberg, David / Orilia, Francesco / Plantinga, Alvin / Potrc, Matjaz / Rapp, Christof / Reicher-Marek, Maria Elisabeth / Schantz, Richard / Scholz, Oliver / Seibt, Johanna / Simons, Peter / Smith, Barry / Stoecker, Ralf / Strobach, Niko / Trettin, Käthe / Wachter, Daniel

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Structure and Significance in Metaphysics

Andrew J. Graham
Published Online: 2014-03-13 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/mp-2014-0002


This paper discusses recent attempts to defend metaphysics as a worthwhile form of inquiry. According to such views, metaphysics concerns the world’s fundamental structure. I question whether this view can establish that metaphysical disputes are relevant to the rest of our theoretical activities. I take this relevance to be a criterion for whether disputes are worthwhile (or, as I call them, “significant”). I argue that the structure approach is unsatisfactory because appropriately structural disputes need not be worthwhile disputes, and vice versa. So, the structure approach threatens to render metaphysics irrelevant to our broader theorizing, undermining many of its legitimate successes, like the role theorizing about metaphysical modality played in the development of modal logic. Thus these structure-based views provide a poor defense of metaphysics. I then offer an alternative conception of metaphysics as an attempt to understand our most ubiquitous theoretical notions.

Keywords: metaontology; metametaphysics; structure; fundamentality; modality


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About the article

Published Online: 2014-03-13

Published in Print: 2014-04-01

Citation Information: Metaphysica, Volume 15, Issue 1, Pages 25–41, ISSN (Online) 1874-6373, ISSN (Print) 1437-2053, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/mp-2014-0002.

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