Rethinking Outside the Toolbox: Reflecting Again on the Relationship between Metaphysics and Philosophy of Physics

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French, Steven; McKenzie, Kerry
preprint description
In a recent work, ‘Thinking Outside the Toolbox’, we mounted a qualified defence of analytic metaphysics in the face of ardent criticism. While sympathizing with other philosophers of science in decrying the lack of engagement of metaphysicians with real science when addressing central metaphysical problems, we also wanted to acknowledge the role that analytic metaphysics has played in providing useful tools for naturalistic metaphysicians. This double-edged stance compels us to identify what feature it is that marks out as problematic some, but not all, analytic metaphysics, and this we thought we could do by appeal to something we call here the compatibility principle. It now strikes us, however, that the approach we took in that earlier work is fundamentally unstable. After giving a streamlined presentation of our earlier argument, we will identify where we take the instability to lie. From there we shall make a more nuanced proposal for how naturalistic metaphysicians should regard the work of their analytic counterparts.