Getting off the Inwagen: A Critique of Quinean Metaontology

Karl Egerton


Much contemporary ontological inquiry takes place within the so-called ‘Quinean tradition’ but, given that some aspects of Quine’s project have been widely abandoned even by those who consider themselves Quineans, it is unclear what this amounts to. Fortunately recent work in metaontology has produced two relevant results here: a clearer characterisation of the metaontology uniting the aforementioned Quineans, most notably undertaken by Peter van Inwagen, and a raft of criticisms of that metaontology. In this paper I critique van Inwagen’s Quinean metaontology, finding that certain challenges, supplemented by pressure to reflect more closely Quine’s work, should drive Quineans to adopt a stronger metaontology incorporating more of Quine’s radical views. I conclude that while van Inwagen’s Quineanism is problematic there are prospects for a viable, more wholeheartedly Quinean, metaontology.

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Karl Egerton
Birkbeck, University of London