November 19, 2021
University of Washington, USA
Metaphysical explanation has received a lot of attention in the literature recently. In this talk, I develop a functionalist account of metaphysical explanation founded on the Ramsey-Carnap-Lewis doctrine of theoretical terms. In developing this account I take as my departure Lewis’s methodology more generally. Broadly speaking, on this account of metaphysical explanation, entities explain facts or data by filling specified roles. In doing so, these entities earn the label of the name associated with the role. This account can be generalised to accommodate most kinds of philosophical analysis, where ontology and ideology play an important part in offering explanations and analyses. After outlining the general features of this account, I survey its benefits and consider a challenge due to Lewis, which makes an important cost explicit. Lastly, I explore ways in which this functionalist account of metaphysical explanation interacts with the new project of conceptual engineering.