SOPhiA 2017

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Carnap's Deflationary Metaontology and the Internal-External Distinction
(Metaphysics and Ontology, English)

Recent deflationary views in metaontology trace back their attitude to Carnap's "Empiricism, Semantics and Ontology" (1950). In his paper, Carnap makes a tripartite distinction between internal questions asked within a language, questions asked external to any language, and pragmatic questions concerning language choice. Existence internal questions are trivially true or false. Ontological questions are external, and thus lack any truth-value. Recently Matti Eklund (2009, 2013, 2016) has advanced an influential reading of Carnap's article as presenting two possible positions: language pluralism and relativism. For Eklund, even though the language pluralist reading seems closer to Carnap, both positions ultimately fail. In this paper I argue instead for a reading of Carnap that veers in between Eklund's two positions. To this aim, I first compare Carnap's deflationism to Eli Hirsch's (2002) quantifier variance, the thesis that there there are a plurality of different senses to the existential quantifier, and no privileged ontological language. Contrary to Hirsch and Eklund's language pluralist, I argue that for Carnap metaphysical debates are not merely verbal. Metaphysicians do talk in the same terms and agree on their sense of existence. To sustain the deflationary project, what is crucial for Carnap is the internal/external distinction. I conclude by arguing that the external/internal distinction ultimately rests on epistemic grounds, and thus Carnap's deflationary project is best read as epistemological, and not merely linguistic. I will argue that this challenge to metaphysics remain relevant.

Chair: Kyrke Otto
Time: 15:05-15:35, 14 September 2017 (Thursday)
Location: SR 1.003

Lucas Battich 
(Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands)

Lucas Battich is a Research Master student in Philosophy at Radboud University Nijmegen. His research interests are in metaphysics and philosophy of mind and cognition, and the interaction between these areas. In metaphysics, his work also centres on metaontology and methodological issues. Other research interests and competence include the history of analytic philosophy, especially Carnap, and its interaction with the phenomenological tradition.

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