“Revisionary ontology with no apologies” by David Kovacs, Department of Philosophy, Cornell University
DATE: Thursday, March 24
TIME: 15:40 – 18:00
Revisionary ontologies appear to disagree with common sense about which material objects there are. There are powerful arguments for these views, but even after having provided them, their proponents face the
Problem of Reasonableness: they need to explain why most reasonable people hold beliefs apparently incompatible with the true ontology. According to mainstream approaches to this problem, the mismatch between ordinary belief and the true ontology is either merely apparent or superficial. In their place, I propose my unapologetic view, which consists of a causal and an evaluative component. In the causal component, I argue that our tendencies to form beliefs about material objects were influenced by selective pressures that were independent from the ontological truth. In the evaluative component, I draw a parallel with the New Evil Demon Problem and argue that whatever is the best treatment of this problem, the revisionary ontologist can apply it to ordinary people’s beliefs about material objects. I conclude that the unapologetic view emerges as an attractive, stable, and hitherto overlooked solution to the Problem of Reasonableness.