Philosophical Studies

, Volume 149, Issue 1, pp 73–97 | Cite as

Getting priority straight

  • Louis deRosset

Consider the kinds of macroscopic concrete objects that common sense and the sciences allege to exist: 1 tables, raindrops, tectonic plates, galaxies, and the rest. Are there any such things? Opinions differ. Ontological liberals say they do; ontological radicals say they don’t. Liberalism seems favored by its plausible acquiescence to the dictates of common sense abetted by science; radicalism by its ontological parsimony. Priority theorists claim we can have the virtues of both views. They hold that tables, raindrops, etc., exist, but they aren’t fundamental. The ontological liberal’s ontology provides the correct inventory of existent individuals. The ontological radical’s more restricted ontology provides the correct inventory of fundamental individuals. The priority theorist claims that the derivative individuals are “no addition in being” to the fundamental ones, 2so we can have our cake and eat it too. It would be nice if priority theorists were right. In this paper I argue,...


Tectonic Plate Fundamental Fact Ontological Commitment Priority Theorist Global Supervenience 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This paper was read at the 2009 Bellingham Summer Philosophy Conference and at the University of Toronto. Thanks to those audiences, and Ross Cameron, David Christensen, Andrew Cortens, Tyler Doggett, Michael Fara, Benj Hellie, Mark Moyer, Derk Pereboom, Jonathan Schaffer, Theodore Sider, Jason Turner, Jessica Wilson, Byeong-Uk Yi, and an anonymous referee for comments on earlier drafts. Thanks to Geoffrey Ferrari for discussion.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentUniversity of VermontBurlingtonUSA

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