Putting Metaphysics First: Essays on Metaphysics and Epistemology

Paperback | February 7, 2010

byMichael Devitt

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Michael Devitt presents a series of essays in which he argues for an uncompromisingly realist worldview. He starts with realism about universals, dismissing Plato's notorious "one over many" problem. Several chapters argue for a fairly uncompromisingly realist view of the external physicalworld of commonsense and science. Both the nonfactualism of moral noncognitivism and positivistic instrumentalism and deflationism about truth are found to rest on an antirealism that is hard to characterize. A case is presented for moral realism. Various biological realisms are considered. Finally,an argument is presented for an unfashionable biological essentialism. The second part of the book is epistemological. Devitt argues against the a priori and for a Quinean naturalism. The intuitions that so dominate "armchair philosophy" are empirical not a priori. Throughout the book there is an emphasis on the distinction between metaphysical issues about what there is and what it's like from semantic issues about meaning, truth, and reference. Another central theme, captured in the title, is that we should "put metaphysics first". We should approachepistemology and semantics from a metaphysical perspective rather than vice versa. The epistemological turn in modern philosophy, and the linguistic turn in contemporary philosophy, were something of disasters.

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Michael Devitt presents a series of essays in which he argues for an uncompromisingly realist worldview. He starts with realism about universals, dismissing Plato's notorious "one over many" problem. Several chapters argue for a fairly uncompromisingly realist view of the external physicalworld of commonsense and science. Both the non...

Michael Devitt (PhD Harvard, BA Sydney) is a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He taught at the University of Sydney from 1971 until 1987 and the University of Maryland from 1988 to 1999. His main research interests are in the philosophy of language and mind, and in issues...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:336 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.07 inPublished:February 7, 2010Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199576971

ISBN - 13:9780199576975

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Table of Contents

Metaphysics1. "Ostrich Nominalism" or "Mirage Realism"?Postscript to "'Ostrich Nominalism' or 'Mirage Realism'?"2. Aberrations of the Realism DebatePostscript to "Aberrations of the Realism Debate"3. Underdetermination and Commonsense Realism4. Scientific RealismPostscript to "Scientific Realism"5. Incommensurability and the Priority of MetaphysicsPostscript to "Incommensurability and the Priority of Metaphysics"6. Global Response Dependency and Worldmaking7. The Metaphysics of Nonfactualism8. The Metaphysics of Truth9. Moral Realism: A Naturalistic Perspective10. Natural Kinds and Biological Realisms11. Resurrecting Biological EssentialismEpistemology12. Naturalism and the A Priori13. No Place for the A Priori14. Intuitions15. On Determining What There Isn't