A conflict between van Inwagen’s metaontology and his ontology
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Peter van Inwagen has in recent decades made significant and influential contributions to metaphysics. In his Material Beings he advanced a novel ontology according to which chairs and other medium-sized dry goods don’t really exist. He went on to make important contributions to metaontology. Parts of his Ontology, Identity, and Modality and Existence: Essays in Ontology defend a broadly Quinean conception of existence questions and how to address them. I argue that the metaontology articulated in those later works is in fact inconsistent with his defense of his ontology advanced in his earlier work.
Keywordsvan Inwagen Metaphysics Ontology Metaontology Eliminativism
Thanks to Hao Hong, Matt Carlson, Liz Jackson, David Charles McCarty, Nick Montgomery, Bradley Rettler, Harrison Waldo, audiences at meetings of the Central States Philosophy Association and the Indiana Philosophical Association, and to two anonymous referees. Special thanks to Gary Ebbs, Kirk Ludwig, Tim O’Connor, and Tim Perrine, whose input on multiple occasions was pivotal to the development of these ideas.
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