An Introduction to Ontology

An Introduction to Ontology

Nikk Effingham

Language: English

Pages: 224

ISBN: 0745652557

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


In this engaging and wide-ranging new book, Nikk Effingham provides an introduction to contemporary ontology - the study of what exists - and its importance for philosophy today.

He covers the key topics in the field, from the ontology of holes, numbers and possible worlds, to space, time and the ontology of material objects - for instance, whether there are composite objects such as tables, chairs or even you and me. While starting from the basics, every chapter is up-to-date with the most recent developments in the field, introducing both longstanding theories and cutting-edge advances. As well as discussing the latest issues in ontology, Effingham also helpfully deals in-depth with different methodological principles (including theory choice, Quinean ontological commitment and Meinongianism) and introduces them alongside an example ontological theory that puts them into practice.

This accessible and comprehensive introduction will be essential reading for upper-level undergraduate and post-graduate students, as well as any reader interested in the present state of the subject.

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F’, we must find some sort of explanation for why ‘a is F’. Realists argue that the explanation involves properties existing. Before going further, note that there are many different types of explanation, and the one sought here is of a specific kind. For instance, one explanation of the Taj Mahal being white is that, when Ustad Ahmad Lahauri (the architect of the Taj Mahal) designed it, he instructed it to be white. That’s a causal explanation. And that’s not the kind of explanation deployed

how we can locate properties in space and time (and thereby avoid problems such as those to do with naturalism, or with epistemological worries concerning how to know about unlocated things). But there are problems with locating properties, one of which is covered in the next subsection. What properties are there? Turn to the other question about what properties are like: which properties exist? We can break that question down into two further questions: (i) can there be properties with no

the bucket, rope and water were the only things that existed with the exception of the distant stars. You might reply that we could simply delete the stars from our thought experiment: ‘Imagine just the bucket and water, and you still get the same result!’, you might claim. Mach would not be happy with this line of reasoning. He believed that we should only ask questions about what went on in our universe – and as our universe comes with the heavens as well as the earth, we shouldn’t run thought

language are vague, then the overall statement can’t be vague either. Therefore, it could never be vague whether there are exactly two things or not. Certainly, the logical connectives aren’t vague – we know exactly how they function: ‘P & Q’ is true if and only if both P and Q are true; ‘P v Q’ is true if and only if either P or Q is true, etc. Nor does it look like it can be vague whether something can be a material object. If there definitely exists something, it’s hard to think you can be

11 am, Statue is identical to Lump, but not at, say, 10 am, or at 2 pm when Statue has been destroyed, at which point it is not identical to Lump. This helps avoid the paradox because relative identity theorists deny the indiscernibility of identicals – they believe that two things can be identical and yet not share all of the same properties. Statue will persist for one length of time, and Lump for another, and yet nevertheless be identical. So the relative identity theorist prevents us from

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