Artifacts in Metaphysics

Amie L. Thomasson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

21 Scopus citations


The reason artifacts have largely been neglected in analytic metaphysics over the past century or so are not difficult to unearth. The small portion of metaphysics that survived the positivist assault was that dedicated to serving as the handmaiden of the natural sciences by explicating their fundamental concepts-a role that left little room for undertaking metaphysics of artifacts and other objects of the social and human sciences. The idea that metaphysics could provide insight to what exists-not merely to the language and concepts-has been revived in post-Quinean metaphysics. Metaphysics is conceived of explicitly as of a piece with the natural sciences. Following Quine, those seeking to revive metaphysics have embraced the idea that the proper methods of determining an ontology involve determining what the best scientific theories (with physics as the paradigm) must quantify over. As long the "best scientific theories" are considered to include only those of the natural sciences, this method provides a more explicit ground for justifying the neglect by holding that one needs not accept artifacts and other social and cultural objects in the ontology. © 2009

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPhilosophy of Technology and Engineering Sciences
Number of pages22
ISBN (Print)9780444516671
StatePublished - Dec 1 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)


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