Tag Archives: ontology

On “Ontology”

Volume 12.1 of The Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy (JHAP) has now been published online, with full open-access:


It features an article by Sam Whitman McGrath, entitled “On ‘Ontology’: Analyzing the Carnap-Quine Debate as a Case of Metalinguistic Negotiation”. Here is the abstract:

This paper uses the concept of metalinguistic negotiation, drawn from contemporary philosophy of language, to develop a novel interpretation of Carnap and Quine’s debate about ontology. Like recent revisionary accounts of the debate, it argues that the widespread perception of first-order disagreement between the two is misleading, ascribing this misperception to Carnap and Quine’s divergent usage of “ontology” and its cognates. Once this difference is accounted for, their seemingly contradictory claims about the subject can be reconciled, as the two “talk past” each other on the semantic level. Crucially, however, this does not render their dispute merely verbal. Rather, it emerges as a remarkably consequential metalinguistic negotiation over whether the term “ontology” ought to be reinterpreted or replaced for the purposes of positive philosophical theorizing. This reading provides an account of the genuine disagreement that drove Carnap and Quine to engage in their debate and illuminates the broader metaphilosophical convictions that support each of their positions. As such, it addresses an important explanatory challenge facing members of the revisionary camp.

JHAP is a free, open-access, peer-reviewed journal. It is available at https://jhaponline.org/. Submissions welcome!

Sellars’s Argument for an Ontology of Absolute Processes / Review of Work of Russell

Volume 7.1 of The Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy (JHAP) has now been published online, with full open-access.

It features an article by David Landy entitled “Sellars’s Argument for an Ontology of Absolute Processes”. Here is an abstract:

Scholars have rejected Wilfrid Sellars’s argument for an ontology of absolute processes on the grounds that it relies on a dubious and dogmatic appeal to the homogeneity of color. Borrowing from Rosenthal’s recent defense, but ultimate rejection of homogeneity, I defend this claim on Sellarsian/Kantian transcendental grounds, and reconstruct the remainder of his argument. I argue that Sellars has good reason to suppose that homogeneity is a necessary condition of any possible experience, including indirect experience of theoretical-explanatory posits, and therefore good reason to hold that Reductive Materialism, as he conceives it, is an untenable account of color. The remainder of his argument aims to answer the question of what the metaphysical relation is between the state of an experiencing subject that we take color to be and the colorless microphysical particles that we take to constitute that subject. After rejecting Substance Dualism, Epiphenomenalism, and Wholistic or Emergent Materialism as explanatorily inadequate, Sellars proposes that both color-states and micro-physical particles should be understood as manifestations of an underlying ontology on absolute processes.

The volume also contains a review of Samuel Lebens, Bertrand Russell and the Nature of Propositions: A History and Defence of the Multiple Relation Theory of Judgement (New York: Routledge, 2017), written by Rosalind Carey.