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July 02, 2005


Damon Woolsey

It is possible to both be an ontological realist and accept that the "correctness [or truth] of certain absolute ontological existence assertions" is relative [or indeterminate].

Common sense ontology depends upon whatever objects a given type of mind picks out in the world. This categorization of the world need not correspond to our proper ontology, because a mind instantiates its own "domain-determination function".

So if you ask how many objects are on the table, speaking from a proper ontology, I would say "What table?" (or, "What is a table?"); but from a humanistic common sense ontology, I would say "two". The way to bridge this gap is through an understanding of the mind.

Gregg Rosenberg

A few years ago I guest edited an issue of the Electronic Journal of Analytic Philosophy on the same topics. The theme was how to do philosophical ontology and if it is even possible. It has papers by Huw Price and Amie Thomasson on the topics it sounds like they spoke on at this meeting, along with papers by others.

The url for anyone interested is:


John Dupre's approach, at least in _The Disorder of Things_, might also be seen as both ontological realist and conceptual relativist. I don't know if that's the best way to understand his "promiscious realism", but it seems a fairly natural one. (It's a position I have lots of sympathy for, as well.)

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