Ontological and Conceptual Relativity and the Self

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This article takes up, in six sections, issues of realism and of ontological and conceptual relativity. The first section briefly lays out the kind of absolutist realism of interest in what follows. The second section considers arguments against ordinary common-sense entities such as bodies, and for the view that subjects enjoy a superior ontological position. No such argument is found persuasive. The third lays out three options in ontology, opts for a kind of conceptual relativism, and takes up three problems for the proposed view. The fourth section then offers a compromise position based on a kind of existential relativity meant to accommodate our most settled beliefs about what there is, while retaining a fundamentally realist and objectivist ontology. The main argument of that section relies on a distinction between (a) semantical relativity and (b) ontological relativity.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Metaphysics
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191577284
ISBN (Print)9780199284221
StatePublished - Sep 2 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


  • Absolutist realism
  • Common-sense entities
  • Conceptual relativity
  • Objectivist ontology
  • Ontological relativity


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