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The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 2, 1999


Peter van Inwagen
Pages 65-72

A Brief Introduction

Quine has called the question, ‘What is there?’ the “ontological question.” But if we call this question by that name, what name shall we use for the question, ‘What are we asking when we ask “What is there?”’? I shall call it ‘the meta-ontological question’. I shall call the attempt to answer the meta-ontological question ‘meta-ontology’ and any proposed answer to it ‘a meta-ontology’. In this essay, I shall briefly sketch a meta-ontology. The meta-ontology I shall present is broadly Quinean. I am, in fact, willing to call it an exposition of Quine’s meta-ontology.

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