Familiar Objects and their Shadows

Familiar Objects and their Shadows

by Crawford L. Elder


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Most contemporary metaphysicians are sceptical about the reality of familiar objects such as dogs and trees, people and desks, cells and stars. They prefer an ontology of the spatially tiny or temporally tiny. Tiny microparticles 'dog-wise arranged' explain the appearance, they say, that there are dogs; microparticles obeying microphysics collectively cause anything that a baseball appears to cause; temporal stages collectively sustain the illusion of enduring objects that persist across changes. Crawford L. Elder argues that all such attempts to 'explain away' familiar objects project downwards, onto the tiny entities, structures and features of familiar objects themselves. He contends that sceptical metaphysicians are thus employing shadows of familiar objects, while denying that the entities which cast those shadows really exist. He argues that the shadows are indeed really there, because their sources – familiar objects – are mind-independently real.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781107665781
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Publication date: 09/19/2013
Series: Cambridge Studies in Philosophy
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 5.51(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.47(d)

About the Author

Crawford L. Elder is Professor and Head of the Philosophy Department at the University of Connecticut.

Table of Contents

Introduction; 1. Two false friends of an ontology of familiar objects; 2. Conventionalism as ontological relativism; 3. Realism about material objects: persistence, persistence conditions, and natural kinds; 4. Ontological preference for the temporally small; 5. Ontological preference for microphysical causes; 6. Ontological preference for the spatially small; 7. A third false friend of familiar objects: universal mereological composition; 8. Concluding Hegelian postscript; Appendix: 'mutually interfering' dimensions of difference; Reference.

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