Duhemian Lessons for Metaphysicians

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Liston, Michael
conference paper description
In this paper I discuss lessons that metaphysicians might learn from Duhem. Given Duhem’s well known antipathy to metaphysics, you will likely think that this is a fairly inauspicious beginning with a predictable ending: i.e., physics is one thing, metaphysics another, and never the twain shall meet. If you will bear with me, however, I hope to persuade you differently. On the contrary, I will argue, Duhem was both a common sense and metaphysical realist, his nuanced views about the relationship between physics and metaphysics are poorly understood, and properly understood contain important lessons for contemporary metaphysics. I’ll spend most of the paper rehabilitating Duhem and finish with some lessons for metaphysicians.