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Durham e-Theses
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The necessity of metaphysics

Tahko, Tuomas E. (2008) The necessity of metaphysics. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



The purpose of this thesis is to demonstrate that metaphysics is a necessary discipline - necessary in the sense that all areas of philosophy, all areas of science, and in fact any type of rational activity at all would be impossible without a metaphysical background or metaphysical presuppositions. Because of the extremely strong nature of this claim, it is not possible to put forward a very simple argument, although I will attempt to construct one. A crucial issue here is what metaphysics in fact is - the nature of metaphysics. The conception of metaphysics which I support could be called Aristotelian, as opposed to Kantian: metaphysics is the first philosophy and the basis of all other philosophical and scientific inquiry. I will argue that this is indeed the most plausible conception of metaphysics. The thesis consists of a brief historical introduction of certain important views concerning the nature of metaphysics, namely Aristotle's, Kant's, Camap's and Quine's, and of a longer survey of the status of metaphysics in the context of contemporary analytic metaphysics. I make some critical observations of recent accounts by people like Hilary Putnam, Michael Dummett, Frank Jackson and Eli Hirsch before launching into a thorough analysis of the relationship between metaphysics and other philosophical and scientific disciplines. The central argument of the thesis is that our a priori capabilities, which I claim to be grounded in metaphysical modality and ultimately in essences, are necessary for rational inquiry. Detailed accounts of a priori knowledge and modality will be offered in support of this claim. In fact, my accounts of the a priori and modality are perhaps the most important contributions of the thesis, as given this basis, the 'necessary' role of metaphysics in other disciplines should be quite obvious. I also pursue topics like the metaphysical status of logic and the law of non-contradiction as well as truthmaking, the substance of metaphysical debates, and the methodology of metaphysics. There is, however, a distinct theme which connects the broad range of topics that I discuss: they are all analysed from a metaphilosophical point of view. Indeed, it could be said that this is a metametaphysical survey of the status of metaphysics. The upshot is an original account of the status of metaphysics in contemporary analytic philosophy - the conclusion that metaphysics is the core of all our rational activities, from natural science to logic, semantics and truth.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:2008
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:08 Sep 2011 18:28

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