Ordinary Objects

Amie L. Thomasson

Research output: Book/ReportBook

212 Scopus citations


Arguments that ordinary inanimate objects such as tables and chairs, sticks and stones, simply do not exist have become increasingly common. Some arguments for eliminativism are based on demands for parsimony or for a non-arbitrary answer to the special composition question; others arise from prohibitions against causal redundancy, ontological vagueness, or colocation; and others still come from worries that a common sense ontology would be a rival to a scientific one. This book makes the case that the mistakes behind all of these superficially diverse eliminativist arguments may be traced to a common source, and may be successfully resisted by adopting a small cluster of interrelated and independently plausible theses about reference, analyticity, and modality. By adopting these theses, we can make sense of our common sense world view without internal contradiction, violation of plausible metaphysical principles, or rivalry with a scientific ontology. In the end, however, the most important result of addressing these eliminativist arguments is not merely avoiding their conclusions. It also leads to important metaontological results, bringing into question widely held assumptions about which uses of metaphysical principles are appropriate, which metaphysical demands are answerable, and how we incur ontological commitments. As a result, the work of this book hopes to provide not only the route to a reflective understanding of our unreflective common sense world view, but also a better understanding of the proper methods and limits of metaphysics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages288
ISBN (Electronic)9780199869602
ISBN (Print)9780195319910
StatePublished - Sep 1 2007


  • Analyticity
  • Causal redundancy
  • Colocation
  • Common sense
  • Metaontology
  • Modality
  • Ontological commitment
  • Parsimony
  • Vagueness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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