In the decades following Quine, debates about existence have taken center stage in the metaphysics. But neo-Quinean ontology has reached a crisis point, given the endless proliferation of positions and lack of any clear idea of how to resolve debates. The most prominent challenge to mainstream ontological debates has come from the idea that disputants can be seen as using the quantifier with different meanings, leaving the dispute merely verbal. Nearly all of the work in defense of hard ontology has gone into arguing against quantifier variance.
This volume argues that hard ontology faces an entirely different challenge, which remains even if the threat of quantifier variance can be avoided. The challenge comes from the 'easy approach to ontology': a view that is arguably the heir to Carnap's own position. The idea of the easy approach is that many ontological questions can be answered by undertaking trivial inferences from uncontroversial premises, making prolonged disputes about the questions out of place. This book aims to develop the easy approach to ontology, showing how it leads to both a first-order simple realism about the disputed entities and a form of meta-ontological deflationism that takes ontological disputes themselves to be misguided, since existence questions may be answered by straightforward conceptual and/or empirical work. It also aims to defend the easy approach against a range of arguments wielded against it and to show it to be a viable and attractive alternative to the quagmire of hard ontology.
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