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13 - Common Sense and Ontological Commitment

from Part II

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 November 2020

Rik Peels
Affiliation:
Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam
René van Woudenberg
Affiliation:
Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam
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Summary

How ontologically committal is common sense? Is the common-sense philosopher beholden to a florid ontology in which all manner of objects, substances, and processes exist and are as they appear to be to common sense, or can she remain neutral on questions about the existence and nature of many things because common sense is largely non-committal? This chapter explores and tentatively evaluates three different approaches to answering these questions. The first applies standard accounts of ontological commitment to common-sense claims. This leads to the surprising and counter-intuitive result that common sense has metaphysically heavyweight commitments. The second approach emphasizes the superficiality and locality of common-sense claims. On this approach, however, common sense comes out as almost entirely non-committal. The third approach questions the seriousness of ontological commitment as such. If ontological commitment is cheap, it becomes possible both to accept the commitments of common sense at face value and to avoid the counter-intuitive consequences of heavyweight metaphysical commitments.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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