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Masterclasses I



The key question of ontology, for Quine, is ‘What is there?’. The key question of metaontology is ‘What do we mean when we ask “What is there?”’. Additionally, metaontology is about the methodology of ontology: How should we do ontology? Via conceptual analysis, or thought experiments? By looking at our best natural science? By systematizing our intuitions? This course introduces to metaontology, which encompasses a good deal of the most interesting ontological research of the XXI Century. The different options will be applied to questions about time.



The course will present and critically discuss a number of metaontological stances: mainstream Quinean metaontology; ontological pluralism and neo-Fregeanism; neo-Carnapianism; Fictionalism; Meinongianism; and grounding theory. All these metaontological stances will then be applied to the case of the metaphysics of time and of persistence, where theories such as eternalism and presentism, and three- and four-dimensinalism, are presented in Quinean, fictional, and grounding versions, to mention a few.



The course consists of a series of lectures intertwined with disputationes: debates with objections and replies around the topics discussed in the lectures. The students will also be asked to produce a research essay at the end of the course.



F. Berto and M. Plebani, 2015. Ontology and Metaontology, London: Bloomsbury (Parts I and II).

P. van Inwagen, 1990. “Meta-Ontology”, Erkenntnis, 48, pp. 233-50, repr. in his Ontology, Identity and Modality, Cambridge: Cambridge UP, pp. 13-31.

E. Hirsch, 2002. “Quantifier Variance and Realism.” Philosophical Issues 12: Realism and Relativism. Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 51-73.

G. Priest, 2000. “Objects of Thought”, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 78, pp. 494-502.

K. Fine, 2009, “The Question of Ontology”, in Chalmers, Manley and Wasserman 2009 (eds.), Metametaphysics. New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology, Oxford: Clarendon, pp. 157-77.



Berto F.

Course director

Additional information

Academic year
Master of Arts in Philosophy, Core course, 1st and 2nd year