Deflationary Metaphysics

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This dissertation consists of three papers on a handful of related metaphysical and metametaphysical topics. The first examines the connection between analyticity and ontology. Some hold that we can trivially resolve longstanding ontological debates by appealing to "ampliative" analytic truths (e.g. 'if Socrates is wise, then wisdom is characteristic of Socrates'). I argue that once we clarify the theoretical role that analyticity needs to play for this view, it turns out that analyticity is ill-suited to play it; rather, what is motivating these theorists is a distinctive sort of equivalence claim - for instance, that 'Socrates is wise' and 'wisdom is characteristic of Socrates' merely provide different means of describing the same fact. I go on to argue that equivalencies of this sort are independent of controversial claims about analyticity, and threaten to hold important consequences for ontological inquiry. The second paper explores the metaphysical underpinnings of this type of equivalence claim. Part of the project is to clarify the content and consequences of such claims, and part is to canvass some motivations for accepting them; but the main goal is to explore two importantly ways of understanding their metametaphysical import. Briefly, one such view allows that 'Socrates is wise' and 'Socrates instantiates wisdom' can describe the same fact, but goes on to suggest that one of these sentences does a better job of carving that fact at its metaphysical joints. Another denies that such distinctions in joint-carvingness can be drawn (these sentences merely provide different means of "carving up" that fact). Although both views face serious challenges, I ultimately recommend the latter. The third paper develops a positive account of this equivalence relation. In contrast to one prominent view found in the literature, according to which this relation is cashed out in terms of a coarse-grained relation of necessary or truthconditional equivalence, I recommend a fine-grained alternative, motivated by way of some traditional assumptions about the connection between facts and truthbearers. I go on to discuss several metaphysical and metametaphysical consequences of this position.
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Metaphysics; Metaontology
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Sider,Theodore R.
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Ph. D., Philosophy
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Doctor of Philosophy
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dissertation or thesis
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