Metaphysical and ontological debates – debates about what exists and the nature of reality – have long been among the most researched debates in philosophy. However, some argue that ontological debates are non-substantive, pointless, trivial, incoherent, or impossible. Debates about the nature of reality, or about whether tables exist, are taken to be defective in some way. This has led to a burgeoning literature studying the nature of metaphysical disputes themselves.
Major contributions to metaontological research have recently focused on the language of ontology. Under one view, ontology is not a substantive discipline because there cannot be an objectively best language that accurately describes the objective similarities and differences in reality. Instead, different languages might mark different sorts of objective similarities and differences in nature and thus have equal claim to be ‘objectively best’.
Few would expect that natural languages like English, French, or Irish, are the objectively best language, but the principle carries over to the languages of the physicist, biologist, economist, and the metaphysician. This makes all-encompassing questions about existence, and the nature of those things that exist, impossible to answer.
The objective of this conference is to bring together those investigating these issues to facilitate a higher level of collaboration in our attempts to understand what the limits of our language are, what ontological questions are about, and how they can be decided (if they can).