dc.contributor.author Mitchell , Kyle dc.date.accessioned 2018-07-17T14:49:02Z dc.date.available 2018-07-17T14:49:02Z dc.date.issued 2018-08-31 dc.date.submitted 2017-12-07 dc.identifier.uri https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/278191 dc.description.abstract Ontology is the study of what exists. Metaontology is the study of ontology. This dissertation is a work in metaontology. In particular, its goal is to develop, motivate, defend, and explore a distinctively pragmatist metaontology --- a pragmatist account of how to answer existence questions. To do this, I'll argue that pragmatists are entitled to a popular deflationary' metaontology: one which claims that existence questions are so easy to answer that many recent ontological debates are misguided. I call the resulting position ontological pragmatism' and argue for it over a variety of views in ontology and metaontology alike. In chapter 1, I characterise two opposing metaontological camps: the dominate metaontology --- what I call mainstream ontology' --- and a deflationary alternative called easy ontology'. I then present some motivations for exploring a central thesis of the dissertation: that pragmatism and easy ontology might be usefully put together. In chapter 2, I put these two views together by arguing that Amie Thomasson's (2015) easy ontology may be used to construct a pragmatist metaontology, resulting in the view I call ontological pragmatism'. I then argue that mainstream ontology is misguided, from a distinctively pragmatist point of view. In chapter 3, I argue that ontological pragmatism is a plausible position for pragmatists and others to endorse by motiving the view and defending it from objections. In chapter 4, I compare ontological pragmatism to Stephen Yablo's (2005) fictionalist account of mathematics. I argue that pragmatism is more plausible than Yablo's account, establishing pragmatist approaches to mathematics as a new live option in these debates. Finally, in chapter 5, I use ontological pragmatism to respond to Sider's (2011) idea that there is a privileged meaning of exists' said to carve nature at the joints'. I focus on Sider's indispensability argument for this claim and argue that the pragmatist can diffuse his argument by showing that existential quantification is merely pragmatically indispensable for us, given our limitations. I conclude by highlighting some further lines of inquiry. By the end of the dissertation, I'll have (1) developed a pragmatist metaontology, (2) motivated and defended it, (3) applied it to the philosophy of mathematics, and (5) shown how it can defuse the idea that there is a metaphysically privileged meaning of exists'. By doing this, I hope I'll have given pragmatists their own metaontology which may be fruitfully deployed in future debates. dc.description.sponsorship Funded by Trinity College, Cambridge. dc.language.iso en dc.rights All rights reserved dc.rights All Rights Reserved en dc.rights.uri https://www.rioxx.net/licenses/all-rights-reserved/ en dc.subject Ontology dc.subject Pragmatism dc.subject Metametaphysics dc.title Ontological Pragmatism dc.type Thesis dc.type.qualificationlevel Doctoral dc.type.qualificationname Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) dc.publisher.institution University of Cambridge dc.publisher.department Philosophy dc.date.updated 2018-07-17T14:40:01Z dc.identifier.doi 10.17863/CAM.25534 dc.publisher.college Trinity College dc.type.qualificationtitle Doctor of Philosophy in Philosophy cam.supervisor Price, Huw cam.thesis.funding false rioxxterms.freetoread.startdate 2018-07-17
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