SOPhiA 2017

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Naturalized Metaphysics as Second-Level Explanation. How Metaphysics can explain Scientific Ontologies
(Metaphysics and Ontology, English)

Laurie Paul (2012) defends naturalized metaphysics claiming that the empirical sciences and naturalized metaphysics share the common method of Inference to the Best Explanation (IBE). The IBE has proven successful in the sciences and since metaphysical IBEs are not fundamentally different, Paul concludes that "if we accept IBE in scientific theorizing, we should accept it in metaphysical theorizing." (Paul 2012, 22)
She conceptualizes the methods of the sciences and of naturalized metaphysics as "running in parallel". In general the method of IBE yields the best explanans for a given explanandum. For Paul, the explananda of scientific and metaphysical IBEs differ and so do the explanantia which are to be determined. While the sciences explain experimental data proposing scientific theories, metaphysics explains our ordinary experience proposing metaphysical theories (cf. Paul 2012, 16).
Against Paul, I argue that the explananda of naturalized metaphysics are scientific ontologies, i. e. the set of a theory's ontological commitments. Thus results of scientific IBEs become an input of metaphysical theorizing and metaphysical explanations are second-level explanations (of scientific ones). Scientific ontologies assume a role for metaphysical theorizing analogous to the role of experimental data for scientific theorizing. The adequacy of metaphysical theories is measured by scientific ontologies but such ontologies underdetermine metaphysical theory-choice so that the method of IBE is to be pursued.
In this picture, the sciences and naturalized metaphysics are more closely linked than Paul suggests. Furthermore, metaphysics inherits inductive risks from the sciences and adds additional risks. This explains why naturalized metaphysics is less certain than the sciences and it confines the impetus of revisionary metaphysics on the sciences.

Paul, Laurie (2012): "Metaphysics as modeling. The handmaiden's tale", in: Philos Stud 160, pp. 1-29.

Chair: Kyrke Otto
Time: 14:30-15:00, 14 September 2017 (Thursday)
Location: SR 1.003

Julian Husmann 
(Münster University, Germany)

Julian Husmann is a graduate student in Philosophy at Münster University. His main areas of interest are general philosophy of science and metaphysics of science. At Münster University he works as a tutor for scientific writing and as a student assistant. He is member of the German Society for Philosophy of Science (GWP), the German Society for Analytic Philosophy (GAP) and the Münster-based Center for Philosophy of Science (ZfW).

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