Metaphysical Essays on Ontological Parsimony, Composition, and Truthmaking

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This dissertation consists of three papers on a set of interconnected issues in metaphysics involving ontological parsimony, the metaphysics of composition, and truthmaker theory. The first paper examines the question of whether nonfundamental entities ought to be taken into consideration when assessing a theory for ontological parsimony. By appealing to a series of cases, I argue that nonfundamental entities should be taken into consideration, contrary to what several prominent metaphysicians have contended. This has important implications for a wide variety of debates in metaphysics involving nonfundamental posits, whether those nonfundamental posits are abstract sets, material composites, or social entities like groups or institutions. The second paper of my dissertation develops a novel epistemological objection to radically minimalist views in the metaphysics of composition (such as mereological nihilism or organicism) that eliminate all or most composite objects in favor of the fundamental entities that make them up. I argue that paying careful attention to the content of perceptual experience and to how we gain justified beliefs about the external world reveals that proponents of such views cannot consistently claim to be justified in believing propositions about the arrangements of mereological simples. This has disastrous epistemological consequences for proponents of those views. The argument of the paper demonstrates the importance of paying attention to epistemological considerations in metaphysics, especially when it comes to radically revisionary views. The third paper defends a moderate theory of truthmaking by developing novel objections to two central theses of orthodox truthmaker theory, truthmaker maximalism (the view that every truth has a truthmaker) and truthmaker necessitarianism (the view that truthmakers must necessitate the truth of what they make true). In particular, the paper responds to some recent attempts to defend both maximalism and necessitarianism that have received insufficient attention in the literature.

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120 pages


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Silins, Nicholas

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Bennett, Karen
Kocurek, Alexander W.

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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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