Empiricism and the Problem of Metaphysics
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Empiricism and the Problem of Metaphysics

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If there is one utterly inescapable problem for the metaphysician, it is this: is metaphysics itself a theoretically legitimate discipline? Is it, in other words, capable of a systematic and well-confirmed set of theoretical results? And if not, why not? From its inception, metaphysics has found itself exercised by the nagging worry that its own inquiries might reveal it to be a subject without an object, or a mode of inquiry without a method. Such concerns were voiced as early as Plato's discussion of the battle between the Gods and Giants. Since then, no era of its history has spared metaphysics some rehearsal of this question. In Empiricism and the Problem of Metaphysics, Paul Studtmann defends an empiricist critique of metaphysical theorizing. At the heart of the critique is an empiricist view of a priori knowledge, according to which all a priori knowledge is empirical knowledge of the results of effective procedures. Such a view of a priori knowledge places severe limits on the scope a priori speculation and indeed places beyond our ken the types of claims that metaphysicians as well as traditional epistemologists and ethicists have typically wanted to make.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 180 pages
  • 154.94 x 231.14 x 17.78mm | 430.91g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 0739142550
  • 9780739142554

Review quote

In Empiricism and the Problem of Metaphysics, Studtmann presents a clear, novel, intriguing and extended argument against metaphysics. If sound, it constitutes a devastating critique of the discipline. Studtmann argues that all metaphysics involves modal concepts, but that modal concepts are not theoretically legitimate. Unlike, say, logical positivism, Studtmann's position is itself put forward as an empirical hypothesis, one to be either confirmed or disconfirmed by science itself, but one for which the current evidence is strongly in favor. In the course of his argument he introduces a multitude of startlingly original theses, such as that all so called a priori knowledge is knowledge of the results of effective procedures, and is not really a priori at all. Like Hume, Wittgenstein and Carnap before him, Studtmann aims to leave empirical science, logic and mathematics intact while cutting a broad swathe through both traditional and contemporary metaphysics. This book is compulsory reading for all those who are enthusiastic participants in the contemporary renaissance of metaphysics, but also for sceptics and interested bystanders. -- Graham Oddie, University of Colorado An intellectually intense, intricate, deeply informed, and beautifully stimulating philosophical epic, Paul Studtmann's book is a fast-paced, philosophically powerful page-turner. As Studtmann shows, the philosophers' argument-knight that rides against the metaphysics-dragon is waged in a peculiar battle, a battle that determines the loser never to have legitimately existed. Form, then, is all, of thrust and parry and foe. Moreover, because no dignity can be offered to the defeated, the dignity even of the victor seems especially challenging to achieve. Which contestant does Studtmann's book finally disappear? The suspense concerning this continues even to the objections-and-replies final chapter. Readers will be inspired by the philosophical verve and virtuosity, and many will regard that a victor who truly possesses dignity emerges by the end. -- Philip Catton, University of Canterbury, New Zealand Empiricism and the Problem of Metaphysics moves along at a cracking pace, is occasionally genuinely funny and touches briefly on a very wide range of topics, including sub-arguments relevant to modal logic, additional challenges to claims of modal knowledge, and wider philosophical, mathematical and logical debates. Metascienceshow more

About Paul Studtmann

Paul Studtmann is associate professor of philosophy at Davidson College.show more

Table of contents

Chapter 1 Chapter One. The Problem of Metaphysics Chapter 2 Chapter Two. Modal Concepts Chapter 3 Chapter Three. The A Priori Chapter 4 Chapter Four. Metaphysics-A Historical Survey Chapter 5 Chapter Five. Epistemology-Skeptical Arguments Chapter 6 Chapter Six. Ethics-The Is/Ought Gap Chapter 7 Chapter Seven. Objections and Repliesshow more