Jani Hakkarainen (Tampere University):
Metaphysics without Metaphysical Realism, Mostly
Nowadays it is typical for the metaphysicians to assume that (general) metaphysics or ontology studies entities that are, roughly, mind-independent in their existence, nature and ground (I set aside social ontology as a special metaphysics). For example, their fundamentality structure is independent from our conceptualizations trying to capture it. I call this assumption metaphysical realism about metaphysics. I think that beginning from this assumption is a mistake only playing to the hand of the sceptic. My more positive argument is that the main problem-setting of metaphysics is neutral on metaphysical realism about metaphysics. This question-setting consists of being as being, its features (e.g. unitarity and plurality) and principles (e.g. the principle of non-contradiction) when we are talking about general metaphysics. In ontology, as a branch of metaphysics, the main problem is, what is there and on what ground? It is only when being is qualified as mind-independent being in a metaphysical study that metaphysical realism about metaphysics comes into play. This happens for example in an ontological problem whether there are mathematical objects as Platonic universals or whether there are laws of nature as universals. The point is, though, that the main general metaphysical and ontological questions can be set, and their consideration initiated without presuming metaphysical realism about metaphysics.