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Re: [ontolog-forum] Two

To: "Chris Partridge" <mail@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Cc: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: Pat Hayes <phayes@xxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 18 Jun 2007 15:57:57 -0500
Message-id: <p06230910c29c9d9193a0@[]>
>I am not too bothered about the name itself. However, one reason I would
>suggest for being aware of the name, if not actually using it, is that so
>much work has been done in (blue-sky, impractical) philosophy in rigorously
>laying out the choices - and the name 'metaphysics' (or 'metaphysical
>choices') points to this work. It would be a pity if people were not aware
>of it.    (01)

Well, I guess I agree and disagree. Obviously it 
is hard to argue with the proposition that it 
would be nice if people were aware of stuff. On 
the other hand, there is a dangerous tendency, 
which others in these lists have noted, for 
philosophical writings to be treated with a kind 
of uncritical awe by non-philosophers, so that 
they - the texts - are treated with a reverence 
that they do not deserve. One should never forget 
that most philosophers work not by doing anything 
empirical or even by talking to people who do 
anything empirical, but by reading and 
criticizing what other philosophers have written. 
The result can be rather in-bred, and indeed is 
often so remote from the actual world that it is 
hard to even make any sensible connection between 
the concerns of a good deal of philosophy 
(including metaphysics) and anything in the real 
world at all. Recent debates about twin-Earth, 
Mary the color expert and zombies provide a host 
of examples.    (02)

On the whole, I suggest, it is probably better to 
re-do ones own metaphysics from scratch than to 
try to read through the history of philosophy and 
sort out the very small fraction that may be 
relevant. Just be aware of a few common mental 
traps, such as not making the use/mention 
confusion, and you should do OK.    (03)

Pat    (04)

>>-----Original Message-----
>>From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:ontolog-forum-
>>bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of John F. Sowa
>>Sent: 16 June 2007 13:38
>>To: [ontolog-forum]
>>Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Two ontologiesthat areinconsistent but
>>I would suggest dropping the word "metaphysical" because many
>>people confuse that word with blue-sky theory that has no
>>practical applications.
>>CP> It seems to me that these choices are metaphysical, in the
>>  > sense that no amount of empirical data can decide the issue.
>>There are four very strong kinds of constraints:
>>   1. Language (which encodes many generations of what people
>>      call "common sense"):  Do the categories of the ontology
>>      have a smooth mapping to and from the way people talk
>>      about the subject?
>>   2. Science:  Can the categories be mapped consistently to and
>>      from the best empirical evidence as codified in well tested
>>      scientific theories?  (This is essentially refined common
>>      sense supported by instrumentation that extends and enhances
>>      the human senses.)
>>   3. Logic:  Are the categories compatible, in the sense that
>>      they can fit together in a consistent description of the
>>      subject matter of interest?
>>   4. Applications:  Do the categories cover all the available
>>      data that is relevant to the subject matter?
>>Those four constraints characterize good metaphysics, and it
>>takes a lot of very hard work to satisfy all four of them.
>>What gives the word 'metaphysical' bad connotations is laziness
>>on the part of people who write down a bunch of symbols without
>>testing them in sufficient detail against all four constraints.
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>    (05)

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