pp 1–22 | Cite as

Explication as a strategy for revisionary philosophy

  • Eve Kitsik
S.I.: PhilMethods


I will defend explication, in a Carnapian sense, as a strategy for revisionary ontologists and radical sceptics. The idea is that these revisionary philosophers should explicitly commit to using expressions like “S knows that p” and “Fs exist” (or “There are Fs”) differently from how these expressions are used in everyday contexts. I will first motivate this commitment for these revisionary philosophers. Then, I will address the main worries that arise for this strategy: the unintelligibility worry (that we no longer understand the issue that the philosophers are addressing) and the topic shift worry (that the philosophers are addressing the wrong issue). I will focus on the latter worry and provide a solution that makes use of a distinction between practically and theoretically oriented beliefs (beliefs-1 and beliefs-2). On my view, the revisionary philosophers who admit to departing from the everyday language can still criticize everyday knowledge and existence claims, by arguing that while the language embedded in these claims is suitable for beliefs-1, it is not suitable for beliefs-2.


Explication Revisionary philosophy Metaontology Scepticism Belief 



I wish to thank the audiences of the workshop on Philosophical Methods at the University of Duisburg-Essen and of a summer work-in-progress seminar at the University of Tartu, where I presented previous versions of this article. I also thank Daniel Cohnitz and two anonymous referees for helpful comments. This research has been supported by the University of Tartu ASTRA Project PER ASPERA, which is financed by the European Regional Development Fund, and by the Centre of Excellence in Estonian Studies (European Union, European Regional Development Fund), and is related to research project IUT20-5 (Estonian Ministry of Education and Research).


  1. Carnap, R. (1950a). Logical foundations of probability. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  2. Carnap, R. (1950b). Empiricism, semantics, and ontology. Revue Internationale de Philosophie, 4, 20–40.Google Scholar
  3. Carnap, R. (1963). P. F. Strawson on linguistic naturalism. In P. A. Schilpp (Ed.), The philosophy of Rudolf Carnap (pp. 933–939). LaSalle, IL: Open Court.Google Scholar
  4. Chrisman, M. (2007). From epistemic contextualism to epistemic expressivism. Philosophical Studies, 135(2), 225–254.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Descartes, R. (1641). Meditationes de prima philosophia, in qua Dei existentia et animae immortalitas demonstrantur. Paris: Michel Soly.Google Scholar
  6. Donnellan, K. S. (1966). Reference and definite descriptions. The Philosophical Review, 75(3), 281–304.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Eklund, M. (2005). Fiction, indifference, and ontology. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 71(3), 557–579.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Fantl, J., & McGrath, M. (2002). Evidence, pragmatics, and justification. The Philosophical Review, 111(1), 67–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Hawthorne, J., & Stanley, J. (2008). Knowledge and action. Journal of Philosophy, 105(10), 571–590.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hofweber, T. (2016). Ontology and the ambitions of metaphysics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Horgan, T., & Potrč, M. (2008). Austere realism: Contextual semantics meets minimal ontology. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Korman, D. (2015). Objects: Nothing out of the ordinary. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. McDaniel, K. (2013). Degrees of being. Philosophers’ Imprint, 13(19), 1–18.Google Scholar
  14. Merricks, T. (2001). Objects and persons. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Plunkett, D. (2015). Which concepts should we use? Metalinguistic negotiations and the methodology of philosophy. Inquiry, 58(7–8), 828–874.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Plunkett, D., & Sundell, T. (2013). Disagreement and the semantics of normative and evaluative terms. Philosophers’ Imprint, 13(23), 1–37.Google Scholar
  17. Sider, T. (2011). Writing the book of the world. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Strawson, P. (1963). Carnap’s view on constructed systems versus natural languages in analytic philosophy. In P. A. Schlipp (Ed.), The philosophy of Rudolph Carnap (pp. 503–518). LaSalle, IL: Open Court.Google Scholar
  19. Thomasson, A. L. (2015). Ontology made easy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Unger, P. (1975). Ignorance: A case for scepticism. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  21. Unger, P. (1980). The problem of the many. Midwest Studies in Philosophy, 5, 411–468.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. van Inwagen, P. (1990). Material beings. Ithaca; London: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  23. van Inwagen, P. (2014). Introduction: Inside and outside the ontology room. Existence: Essays in ontology (pp. 1–14). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Wright, C. (1975). On the coherence of vague predicates. Synthese, 30(3–4), 325–365.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Yablo, S. (1998). Does ontology rest on a mistake? Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 72(1), 229–262.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy, Institute of Philosophy and SemioticsUniversity of TartuTartuEstonia

Personalised recommendations