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A meta-ontological criticism of Eli Hirsch’s semanticist attack on physical object ontology

Murphy, Carl 2017. A meta-ontological criticism of Eli Hirsch’s semanticist attack on physical object ontology. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Physical object ontology is a sub-branch of ontology which is primarily concerned with three interrelated issues. These are the composition, material constitution, and manner of persistence for physical objects. Philosophers who take up positions on such issues often disagree over what objects they think the world contains – for example a mereological nihilist will argue that there are no composite objects, and thus would say that the ordinary objects that appear to be all around us do not actually exist. Such disputes are thought to be substantive and depend for their truth on what the world itself is actually like. Against this Eli Hirsch develops a meta-ontological argument which states that the debates in physical object ontology are merely verbal, and that what is going in these debates is that each side is simply speaking an alternate language in which their claims come out trivially true and the claims of their opponent come out trivially false. Thus there is no actual disagreement over the facts. This position of Hirsch’s I call semanticism. The purpose of this thesis is to articulate Hirsch’s position, demonstrating its Carnapian roots, but also showing how Hirsch, by making several key commitments, intends his position to be distinctive from a thoroughgoing Carnapianism and its potentially unattractive commitments to anti-realism and/or verificationism. However, in this thesis I develop a number of problems for Hirsch’s position, showing that his modified version of Carnapianism is untenable, and that he is forced between giving up his central contention or retreating into a more thoroughgoing Carnapianism.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 11 October 2017
Last Modified: 03 Nov 2018 02:30

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