Ontic Generation: Getting Everything from the Basics
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Citation:Ontic Generation: Getting Everything from the Basics, Alexander Hieke and Hannes Leitgeb, Reduction Abstraction Analysis. Proceedings of the 31st International Wittgenstein Symposium, Frankfurt am Main, Ontos, 2009, 137 - 152, Peter Simons
Properly executed, metaphysics consists in part of painstaking ontological detail and in part of grand systematic speculation. The distinction between these two aspects is not new: it is inspired by Wolff?s distinction between metaphysica generalis sive ontologia and metaphysica specialis, Husserl?s distinction between formal and regional ontology, and finally D. C. Williams?s distinction between analytic ontology and speculative cosmology.1 The detail concerns the basic kinds of entity and the ways in which they are discerned, analysed, fitted together and wielded in explanation. In this, analytic philosophy excels, but it cannot take place in a speculative vacuum. The speculation concerns hypotheses for which evidence is partial and inadequate to ground them without demur or risk. The classic metaphysical positions of Platonism, Aristotelianism, Cartesian dualism, Leibnizian monism, and Hegelian idealism all unabashedly adopt such metaphysical speculations. Analytic philosophers have tried generally to steer away from grand speculation because it got a bad name with Hegel and because it tends to undermine their self-sought credentials as ?scientific?. The upshot has been that their cosmological positions have been largely tacit or shamefaced: commonsense ordinary-language Moorean realism, Carnapian disavowal, Wittgensteinian quietism. But several significant twentieth century philosophers have been unafraid to speculate: Alexander, Whitehead, Quine and Lewis being examples. In my view it is part of a metaphysician?s?nay any philosopher?s?responsibility, to articulate the speculative hypothetical framework with which his or her detailed work takes its place.