Ontology Made Easy

Ontology Made Easy

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In the decades following Quine, debates about existence have taken center stage in the metaphysics. But neo-Quinean ontology has reached a crisis point, given the endless proliferation of positions and lack of any clear idea of how to resolve debates. The most prominent challenge to mainstream ontological debates has come from the idea that disputants can be seen as using the quantifier with different meanings, leaving the dispute merely verbal. Nearly all of the
work in defense of hard ontology has gone into arguing against quantifier variance.

This volume argues that hard ontology faces an entirely different challenge, which remains even if the threat of quantifier variance can be avoided. The challenge comes from the 'easy approach to ontology': a view that is arguably the heir to Carnap's own position. The idea of the easy approach is that many ontological questions can be answered by undertaking trivial inferences from uncontroversial premises, making prolonged disputes about the questions out of place. This book aims to develop
the easy approach to ontology, showing how it leads to both a first-order simple realism about the disputed entities and a form of meta-ontological deflationism that takes ontological disputes themselves to be misguided, since existence questions may be answered by straightforward conceptual and/or
empirical work. It also aims to defend the easy approach against a range of arguments wielded against it and to show it to be a viable and attractive alternative to the quagmire of hard ontology.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 362 pages
  • 141 x 210 x 21mm | 398g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 0190878665
  • 9780190878665
  • 636,253

Review quote

Amie L. Thomasson lays out in a lively and clear fashion her preferred view on ontological questions, traces it back to Rudolf Carnap, and compares and contrasts the view with many competing views from the literature...There is much else of value in the book...I happily recommend it to readers interested in ontological and metaontological debates. Thomasson lays out an interesting case for an important view on ontological questions. In the course of so doing she also
provides an overview of alternative views, and sometimes, e.g. in the case of fictionalism, the remarks she makes about those views are significant in their own right. * Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
* Ontology Made Easy has many virtues. It is thoroughly conversant with the best and most influential current work in ontology, and Thomasson situates her positions
and arguments within cutting-edge work very well. Thomasson's writing is admirably clear and uncluttered. And her arguments and positions are consistently very sensible: Thomasson consistently avoids overly subtle technical distinctions or recondite formalism, whenever a more natural and intuitive way of expressing a point is available. So, if you wonder whether ''Empiricism, Semantics, and Ontology'' could withstand the scrutiny of modern-day metaphysicians, you should read Thomasson's book. * Metascience
* The book's chief virtue lies in how methodically and artfully it collates and re-evaluates the criticisms that have kept easy approaches to ontology at bay for the past fifty years. Thomasson ingeniously defends the view against a variety of challenges, including the charge that the approach is implicitly circular in its reasoning and the accusation that easy approaches to ontology render the question of what exists implausibly dependent on human activity. * Tom Graham, The Times Literary Supplement * This important book offers an interpretation and defence of the neo-Carnapian deflationist view of ontology - a view which, as Thomasson persuasively argues, has been widely misunderstood. It fills a significant gap in the literature, and does so with Thomasson's characteristic thoroughness, insight and clarity. * Huw Price, Bertrand Russell Professor of Philosophy, Cambridge * Ontology Made Easy is an original and thought-provoking book, which will probably appeal to all those philosophers who, like the author of these lines, for a long time have been looking for a more modest and fruitful way of doing analytic ontology. * Luc Schneider (Saarland University), Dialectica *
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About Amie Thomasson

Amie Thomasson is Professor of Philosophy and Cooper Fellow in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Miami. She is the author of Ordinary Objects and Fiction and Metaphysics, and co-editor (with David W. Smith) of Phenomenology and Philosophy of Mind. In addition, she has published more than 50 book chapters and articles on topics in metaphysics, metaontology, fiction, philosophy of mind and phenomenology, the
philosophy of art, and social ontology.
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