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Bennett, Karen, , . There is no special problem with metaphysics
2016, Philosophical Studies 173 (1):21-37
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Naomi Osorio-Kupferblum

Abstract: I argue for the claim in the title. Along the way, I also address an independently interesting question: what is metaphysics, anyway? I think that the typical characterizations of metaphysics are inadequate, that a better one is available, and that the better one helps explain why metaphysics is no more problematic than the rest of philosophy

Comment: A defence of metaphysics; talks of the role metaphysics should play in analytic philosophy (viz. provide the toolbox for the other disciplines) and what belongs to it.

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Hawley, Katherine, , . Science as a guide to Metaphysics?
2006, Synthese 149(3): 451-470.
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Added by: Laura Jimenez, Contributed by:

Abstract: Analytic metaphysics is in resurgence; there is renewed and vigorous interest in topics such as time, causation, persistence, parthood and possible worlds. Those who share this interest often pay lip-service to the idea that metaphysics should be informed by modern science; some take this duty very seriously. But there is also a widespread suspicion that science cannot really contribute to metaphysics, and that scientific findings grossly underdetermine metaphysical claims. Can science guide metaphysics? The author links this question to the the choice between Radical Pessimism on the one hand and either Moderate Pessimism or Optimism on the other.

Comment: This paper investigates the relevance of science to metaphysics and could be used as a reading for postgraduate courses in philosophy of science (or metaphysics). It is especially useful for students who want to research the relationship between presentism and special relativity.

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Mikkola, Mari, , . On the Apparent Antagonism Between Feminist and Mainstream Metapysics
2016, Philosophical Studies 174(10): 2435-2448.
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Added by: Emily Paul, Contributed by:

Abstract: The relationship between feminism and metaphysics has historically been strained. Metaphysics has until recently remained dismissive of feminist insights, and many feminist philosophers have been deeply skeptical about any value that metaphysics might have when thinking about advancing gender justice. Nevertheless, feminist philosophers have in recent years increasingly taken up explicitly metaphysical investigations. Such feminist investigations have expanded the scope of metaphysics in holding that metaphysical tools can help advance debates on topics outside of traditional metaphysical inquiry (e.g. the nature of gender, sex, or sexuality). Moreover, feminist philosophers typically bring new methodological insights to bear on traditional ways of doing philosophy. Feminist metaphysicians have also recently begun interrogating the methods of metaphysics and they have raised questions about what metaphysics as a discipline is in the business of doing. In discussing such methodological issues, Elizabeth Barnes has recently argued that some prevalent conceptions of metaphysics rule out feminist metaphysics from the start and render it impossible. This is bad news for self-proclaimed feminist metaphysicians in suggesting that they are mistaken about the metaphysical status of their work. With this worry in mind, the paper asks: how does feminist metaphysics fare relative to ‘mainstream’ metaphysics? More specifically, it explores how feminist and ‘mainstream’ debates intersect, on what grounds do they come apart (if at all), and whether feminist metaphysics qualifies as metaphysics ‘proper’.

Comment: Great to include in an intermediate/advanced metaphysics course, or in a feminist metaphysics/philosophy course. Could be particularly useful at the end of the course, to encourage reflective discussion on the relationship between feminist metaphysics and metaphysics, and what gets to count as metaphysics and why.

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Sullivan, Meghan, , Peter Van Inwagen. Metaphysics
2016, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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Added by: Laura Jimenez, Contributed by:

Introduction: It is not easy to say what metaphysics is. Ancient and Medieval philosophers might have said that metaphysics was, like chemistry or astrology, to be defined by its subject matter: metaphysics was the ‘science’ that studied ‘being as such’ or ‘the first causes of things’ or ‘things that do not change’. It is no longer possible to define metaphysics that way. First, a philosopher who denied the existence of those things that had once been seen as constituting the subject-matter of metaphysics – first causes or unchanging things – would now be considered to be making thereby a metaphysical assertion. Second, there are many philosophical problems that are now considered to be metaphysical problems (or at least partly metaphysical problems) that are in no way related to first causes or unchanging things – the problem of free will, for example, or the problem of the mental and the physical.

The first three sections of this entry examine a broad selection of problems considered to be metaphysical and discuss ways in which the purview of metaphysics has expanded over time. The central problems of metaphysics were significantly more unified in the Ancient and Medieval eras. Which raises a question – is there any common feature that unites the problems of contemporary metaphysics? The final two sections of the entry discuss some recent theories of the nature and methodology of metaphysics, including those that consider metaphysics as an impossible enterprise.

Comment: Essential article for introducing metaphysics to undergraduete students.The article offers a clear overview of the main problems of metaphysics as well as of the historical evolution from antient to contemporary metaphysics.

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Thomasson, Amie L., , . Research Problems and Methods in Metaphysics
2012, In Robert Barnard & Neil Manson (eds.), The Continuum Companion to Metaphysics. Continuum International.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Nora Berenstain

Abstract: This article offers a guide to a key area on metaphysics and covers the fundamental questions asked in metaphysics – areas that have continued to attract interest historically as well as topics that have emerged more recently as active areas of research. It is especially focused on research methods and problems.

Comment: [This is a stub entry. Please add your comments to help us expand it]

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Thomasson, Amie L., , . The controversy over the existence of ordinary objects
2010, Philosophy Compass 5 (7):591-601.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Naomi Osorio-Kupferblum

Abstract: The basic philosophical controversy regarding ordinary objects is: Do tables and chairs, sticks and stones, exist? This paper aims to do two things: first, to explain why how this can be a controversy at all, and second, to explain why this controversy has arisen so late in the history of philosophy. Section 1 begins by discussing why the ‘obvious’ sensory evidence in favor of ordinary objects is not taken to be decisive. It goes on to review the standard arguments against the existence of ordinary objects – including those based on problems with causal redundancy, parsimony, co-location, sorites arguments, and the special composition question. Section 2 goes on to address what it is about the contemporary approach to metaphysics that invites and sustains this kind of controversy, and helps make evident why debates about ordinary objects lead so readily to debates in metametaphysics about the nature of metaphysics itself.

Comment: This is an excellent overview of arguments for and against the existence of ordinary objects.
[This is a stub entry. Please add your comments to help us expand it]

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