Every Thing Must Go: Metaphysics Naturalized Kindle Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199276196
ISBN-10: 0199276196
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Editorial Reviews

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"In this title, the authors make a case for a truly naturalistic metaphysics. In so doing, they aim to unify hypotheses and theories that are taken seriously by contemporary science....Every Thing Must Go argues that the only kind of metaphysics that can contribute to objective knowledge is one based on contemporary science as it really is in reality, and not on philosophers' a priori intuitions, common sense, or simplifications of science...I recommend it without hesitation."--Bradford McCall as reviewed in Minds & Machines


About the Author

Ladyman is Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Bristol, UK.

Don Ross is Professor of Philosophy and Professor of Economics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Professor of Economics at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. He is the author of "Economic Theory and Cognitive Science: Microexplanation" (MIT Press, 2005), companion volume to "Midbrain Mutiny."

John Collier (1901-1980) was born in Britain, but spent much of his life in the U.S., where he wrote screenplays for Hollywood (The African Queen, Sylvia Scarlet, and I Am a Camera among them) and short stories for The New Yorker and other magazines. He was also a poet, editor, and reviewer.

Product Details

  • File Size: 3664 KB
  • Print Length: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Clarendon Press; 1 edition (August 23, 2007)
  • Publication Date: August 23, 2007
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001DWGDWI
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  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #727,939 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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By D. Glick on May 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Everything Must Go is bold attempt to replace our standard metaphysical picture of the world with a radically different view. The motivation for this change comes from taking science, and especially fundamental physics, seriously. The basic structure of the book is as follows. The authors begin by calling into question the methodology of current "armchair" metaphysics. A new naturalistic methodology is proposed according to which the goal of metaphysics is to unify the various sciences. Using this methodology, Ladyman et al proceed to argue for a version of ontic structural realism about fundamental physics. According to this view, our best physical theories tell us only about structure - not entities - because there are no entities. In other words, at the fundamental level, there are no things (hence the title). Finally, the authors attempt to explain how the successful deploying of objects and causation in the special sciences can be justified when neither is found in fundamental physics nor is reducible to it. The key to reconciling the special sciences with fundamental physics is an understanding of objects of the former in terms of Dennett's real patterns. Essentially, objects (and causation) in the special sciences are real patterns that track important features of the structure of reality at a non-fundamental level of resolution.

Given the broad scope of the book, many issues are not treated in the detail they deserve, but rest assured, there are plenty of references to follow if something piques your interest.
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[What follows is an extract from two essays published at Rationally Speaking dot org; check also a forthcoming episode of the Rationally Speaking podcast featuring an interview with James Ladyman.] I must admit that the title of the first chapter -- "In defense of scientism" -- did not dispose me well toward the book. I think the term scientism ought to be reserved for what it has traditionally indicated, an unwarranted over reliance on science (yes, there is such a thing), or the thoughtless application of science where it doesn't belong (ditto), and it pisses me off to no end when philosophers actually use it as a positive term (as, most egregiously, in Alex Rosenberg's so-called Atheist's Guide to Reality). However, I got past the initial annoyance, and started to appreciate the (complex) arguments made by Ladyman, Ross and their occasional co-writers. Indeed, by the end of the book it turns out that Every Thing Must Go is, among other things, a pretty good argument against the sort of scientism that worries me, and in particular against the nowadays very popular physical reductionism espoused by the likes of Rosenberg, Harris & co. ... The surprising upshot of all of this is that physicalist reductionism -- the idea that all the special sciences and their objects of study will eventually reduce to physics and its objects of study -- is out of the question. And it is out of the question because of a metaphysics (ontic structural realism) that is based on the best physics available! If you are not blown away by this you may not have caught the thing in its entirety and may want to go back and re-read this post (or, if your philosophical and physical chops are adequate, ETMG).Read more ›
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Ladyman and Ross provide an account of ontic structural realism (OSR) with some new concepts and arguments that Ladyman and Franch have not included in their previous articles. OSR challenges the traditional ontology of "things" or "stuff" and adds freshness to the metaphysical debates. The book is an essential reading for those interested in the philosophy of science and philosophy of mathematics. OSR is still very controversial but it exposes some problems with traditional metaphysics.

Among the difficulties of OSR is its view that only the mathematical structure can be known and that it is all what exist, i.e., nothing exists in the real world other than the structure. Even particles like electrons or photons do not exist as real relata but are devices meant to attain knowledge of the structure. The idea that the relational structure has no relata (entities between which there can be relations) is counterintuitive, and has been ruthlessly criticized. So far the proponents of OSR could not clarify their contention that the mathematical structure is also physical. In spite of the inadequacy of arguments for OSR, the position remains interesting and bold.
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Anybody interested in the foundational importance of physics for doing metaphysics should read this book. My only complaint is that, like most metaphysical discussions, the presentation is a bit tedious at times. Nevertheless, Ladyman et.al. manage to make a strong case that all metaphysics must be anchored in fundamental physics if it is to have any probative value.
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