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The Monist

Volume 97, Issue 4, October 2014


Giorgio Lando, Giuseppe Spolaore
Pages 592-620
DOI: 10.5840/monist201497434

Transcendental Disagreement

In metaphysical theorizing, it is common to use expressions whose function is that of denoting or being true of absolutely everything. Adopting a scolastic term, these may be called ‘transcendentals’. Different metaphysical theories may adopt different transcendentals, the most usual candidates being ‘thing’, ‘entity’, ‘object’, ‘be’, ‘exist’, and their counterparts in various languages dead or alive. We call ‘transcendental disagreement’ any dissent between philosophical theories or traditions that may be described as a disagreement in the choice of transcendentals. Examples of transcendental disagreement include the debate about Lewis’s conception of actuality and a number of recent discussions between Meinongians and their ‘Quinean’ rivals. A case is made for the conclusion that, as such, transcendental disagreements are purely terminological in character. It is argued that transcendental disagreements are generally to be assessed on pragmatic rather than on metaphysical grounds. Finally, the paper makes a start in the analysis of those pragmatic grounds which include the pursuit of univocity, fairness, and ease of comparison between theories.