How to be an uncompromising revisionary ontologist
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Revisionary ontologies seem to go against our common sense convictions about which material objects exist. These views face the so-called Problem of Reasonableness: they have to explain why reasonable people don’t seem to accept the true ontology. Most approaches to this problem treat the mismatch between the ontological truth and ordinary belief as superficial or not even real. By contrast, I propose what I call the “uncompromising solution”. First, I argue that our beliefs about material objects were influenced by evolutionary forces that were independent of the ontological truth. Second, I draw an analogy between the Problem of Reasonableness and the New Evil Demon Problem and argue that the revisionary ontologist can always find a positive epistemic status to characterize ordinary people’s beliefs about material objects. Finally, I address the worry that the evolutionary component of my story also threatens to undermine the best arguments for revisionary ontologies.
KeywordsDebunking Material objects Nihilism Organicism New Evil Demon Problem Problem of Reasonableness Revisionary ontology Universalism
For many helpful comments on and discussions about this paper and its topic I’m especially indebted to Dan Korman and Ted Sider. Many thanks also to Jonathan Barker, Karen Bennett, Pat Bondy, Matti Eklund, Andrew Higgins, Mark Moyer, Steve Petersen, Nico Silins, Lu Teng, anonymous referees, and audiences at the 2015 CEU “Ontology and Metaontology” summer school, the department workshop at Cornell University, the 1st Epistemology of Metaphysics Workshop at the University of Helsinki, a conference titled “False but useful Beliefs” at the Regent’s University, London, the 2017 Eastern APA in Baltimore, and department colloquia at Bilkent University, the National University of Singapore and the University of Haifa.
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