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Varieties of Things : Foundations of Contemporary Metaphysics - Cynthia MacDonald

Varieties of Things

Foundations of Contemporary Metaphysics


Published: 1st August 2005
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Varieties of Things: Foundations of Contemporary Metaphysics explores the fundamental ontological categories of things; things that we encounter in everyday life, such as material substances, persons, events and universals. The author begins with a thorough and accessible discussion of the nature and aims of metaphysics. She then goes on to develop tools that can be used to engage in metaphysical thinking about the basic varieties of things that there are. The book both surveys existing accounts of the natures of these kinds of things, and argues for unique original positions of its own. The arguments support a systematically anti-reductionist view of the basic ontological categories.

"[This] book is well written in a no-nonsense style. First Rate."The Philosophical Quarterly

"An exceptionally good introduction and tour throughcentral topics in contemporary metaphysics. The book could easilybe used alone for an upper level course in metaphysics or as acommentary alongside original articles. It is written clearly, withilluminating examples and engaging discussion."
Review of Metaphysics

"Macdonald's Varieties of Things: Foundations ofContemporary Metaphysics is an excellent study in ontology. Itprovides a descriptive metaphysical account of the ontology ofmaterial substances, persons, events, and universals. While thebook provides a sophisticated account of the issues, it is writtenin a way that makes it accessible to an advanced undergraduatestudent audience. And given its novel defenses of some positions, it will also be of considerable interest to professionalphilosophers working on the issues"
Brian McLaughlin, Rutgers University

"Amongst the book's most notable virtues are its clarityand the author's careful attention to detail in setting outarguments and counter-arguments for various positions. The openingchapters on the nature of metaphysics are excellent. The laterchapters on material substances, persons, events, and universalsare thorough, closely argued and well informed."
Jonathan Lowe, University of Durham

Preface vii

Part I: Metaphysics and Its Tools

1 The Nature and Function of Metaphysics 3

The Methodology and Subject Matter of Metaphysics 4

Aristotle’s Conception of Metaphysics 8

Kant’s Conception of Metaphysics 11

A Working Conception of Metaphysics 14

2 Some Tools of Metaphysics 36

Criteria of Ontological Commitment: Two Examples 36

‘No Entity without Identity’: Identity Conditions for Objects 56

Individuation Conditions, Identity Conditions, and Metaphysical Kinds 59

Principles and Criteria of Identity 63

Part II: Particulars

3 Material Substances 79

Our Ontological Commitment to Material Substances 79

The Bundle Theory and the Principle of the Identity of Indiscernibles 81

Problems with the Bundle Theory 84

The Bare Substratum Theory and the Principle of Acquaintance 110

Objections to the Bare Substratum Theory 113

An Alternative 114

4 Persons and Personal Identity 135

Our Ontological Commitment to Persons 135

Candidates for Persistence Conditions for Persons 138

The Closest Continuer Theory and Its Problems 150

Does the Concept of Identity Apply to Persons? 155

The Multiple Occupancy Thesis 162

Back to Basics: Continuity and Fission 164

A Suggestion 169

5 Events 181

Our Ontological Commitment to Events 183

Three Criteria: Spatio-temporal Coincidence, Necessary Spatio-temporal Coincidence, and Sameness of Cause and Effect 186

The Property Exemplification Account of Events (PEE) 193

Part III: Universals

6 Universals and the Realism/Nominalism Dispute 219

The Issue 223

Varieties of Nominalism 225

Two Conceptions of Universals 236

The Regress Charge and Two Unsuccessful Attempts to Meet It 239

An Alternative 245

Bibliography 260

Index 272

ISBN: 9780631186953
ISBN-10: 0631186956
Series: Contemporary Philosophy S
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 288
Published: 1st August 2005
Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Ltd
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 22.86 x 17.12  x 1.98
Weight (kg): 0.5
Edition Number: 1