DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-N127-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 2018
Retrieved April 15, 2021, from

Article Summary

Meta-metaphysics concerns the nature and methodology of metaphysics and metaphysical inquiry. The emergence of meta-metaphysics as a systematic area of study is relatively recent, going back to the late 1990s. But the issues pursued in meta-metaphysics are certainly not novel: an age-old question about the nature of metaphysics is whether it is possible to obtain knowledge about metaphysical matters in the first place, and if it is, how this knowledge is obtained.

The contemporary trend in meta-metaphysics was largely inspired by a well-known debate between Rudolf Carnap and W.V.O. Quine. This debate focused on the notion of existence and the seemingly problematic commitment to the existence of things that, on the face of it, do not exist, such as fictional entities or abstract entities such as numbers. But important as this issue is, contemporary meta-metaphysics has a much broader focus: it attempts to situate the field of metaphysics both within philosophy and within human inquiry more broadly speaking. Hence, meta-metaphysics has close ties to epistemology and philosophy of science, given that a central question in this area is how, or whether, metaphysical inquiry differs from scientific inquiry.

One issue that may cause confusion is that the terms ‘meta-metaphysics’ and ‘metaontology’ are often used synonymously. But there are good reasons to distinguish them. Metaontology has a somewhat stricter focus and continues the tradition of the Quine–Carnap debate; it concerns issues such as the problems related to quantifying over abstract or non-existent entities. Meta-metaphysics also involves other themes than those already mentioned (see Tahko 2015). These include the definition of metaphysical and ontological realism, the discussion surrounding metaphysical grounding and fundamentality (see Bliss and Trogdon 2016), and the epistemology of metaphysics more broadly conceived.

Citing this article:
Tahko, Tuomas E.. Meta-metaphysics, 2018, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-N127-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
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