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The rationality of metaphysics


In this paper, it is argued that metaphysics, conceived as an inquiry into the ultimate nature of mind-independent reality, is a rationally indispensable intellectual discipline, with the a priori science of formal ontology at its heart. It is maintained that formal ontology, properly understood, is not a mere exercise in conceptual analysis, because its primary objective is a normative one, being nothing less than the attempt to grasp adequately the essences of things, both actual and possible, with a view to understanding as far as we can the fundamental structure of reality as a whole. Accordingly, it is urged, the deliverances of formal ontology have a modal and epistemic status akin to those of other a priori sciences, such as mathematics and logic, rather than constituting rivals to the claims of the empirical sciences, such as physics.

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Correspondence to E. J. Lowe.

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Lowe, E.J. The rationality of metaphysics. Synthese 178, 99–109 (2011).

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  • Categories
  • Empiricism
  • Essence
  • Formal ontology
  • Metaphysics
  • Modality
  • Rationality
  • Realism