The Journal of Philosophy

Volume 111, Issue 9/10, September/October 2014

Ontological Disagreement

C. S. I. Jenkins
Pages 454-469

Serious Verbal Disputes: Ontology, Metaontology, and Analyticity

This paper builds on some important recent work by Amie Thomasson, wherein she argues that recent disputes about the existence of ordinary objects have arisen due to eliminiativist metaphysicians’ misunderstandings. Some, she argues, are mistaken about how the language of quantification works, while others neglect the existence and significance of certain analytic entailments. Thomasson claims that once these misunderstandings are cleared away, it is trivially easy to answer existence questions about ordinary objects using everyday empirical methods of investigation. She reveals how two conflicting metaontologies can lead to different positions in the first-order debate. In this paper, I bring a third metaontological perspective to the table: one that enables us to maintain that ontological disputes about ordinary objects are not trivially easy to settle, even if we agree with Thomasson that they are merely verbal. These are serious verbal disputes.