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The Primacy of Metaphysics$
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Christopher Peacocke

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198835578

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198835578.001.0001

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Metaphysics and the Theory of Content

Metaphysics and the Theory of Content

(p.3) 1 Metaphysics and the Theory of Content
The Primacy of Metaphysics

Christopher Peacocke

Oxford University Press

Is the metaphysics of a domain prior in the order of philosophical explanation to a theory of intentional contents and meanings about that domain? Or is the opposite true? There is a general argument from the nature of meaning and intentional content that, contrary to Brandom and Dummett, meaning cannot be prior to metaphysics. In every domain, either the metaphysics is prior, or else the case is one of no priority. McDowell treats all cases as no-priority cases; his arguments overlook the case for a metaphysics-first treatment in certain domains. Order of explanation must also be distinguished from order of discovery, something that distinguishes the metaphysics-first view of a domain from that of Devitt. We must distinguish, for each domain, the task of explaining how a metaphysics-involving view can be correct from explaining that it is correct. Consequences for current theories of meaning follow from the metaphysics-involving view.

Keywords:   metaphysics, intentional content, meaning, Robert Brandom, Michael Dummett, John McDowell, order of explanation, theory of meaning, concepts

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