Varieties of Things: Foundations of Contemporary Metaphysics
August 2005, Wiley-Blackwell
PART I: METAPHYSICS AND ITS TOOLS .
1: The Nature and Function of Metaphysics.
The Methodology and Subject Matter of Metaphysics.
Aristotle’s Conception of Metaphysics.
Kant’s Conception of Metaphysics.
A Working Conception of Metaphysics.
2: Some Tools of Metaphysics.
Criteria of Ontological Commitment: Two Examples.
‘No Entity Without Identity’: Identity Conditions for Objects.
Individuation Conditions, Identity Conditions, and Metaphysical Kinds.
Principles and Criteria of Identity.
PART II: PARTICULARS.
3: Material Substances.
Our Ontological Commitment to Material Substances.
The Bundle Theory and the Principle of the Identity of Indiscernibles.
Problems with the Bundle Theory.
The Bare Substratum Theory and The Principle of Acquaintance.
Objections to the Bare Substratum Theory.
4: Persons and Personal Identity.
Our Ontological Commitment to Persons.
Candidates for Persistence Conditions for Persons.
The Closest Continuer Theory.
Does the Concept of Identity Apply to Persons?.
The Multiple Occupancy Thesis.
Back to Basics: Continuity and Fission.
Our Ontological Commitment to Events.
Three Criteria: Spatio-temporal Coincidence, Necessary Spatio-temporal Coincidence, and Sameness of Cause and.
The Property Exemplification Account of Events.
PART III: UNIVERSALS.
6: Universals and the Realism/Nominalism Dispute.
Varieties of Nominalism.
Two Conceptions of Universals.
The Regress Charge and Two Unsuccessful Attempts to Meet It.
- A book about the things that we encounter in everyday experience.
- Contains a thorough and accessible discussion of the nature and aims of metaphysics.
- Examines a wide range of ontological categories, including both particulars and universals.
- Mounts a forceful and persuasive case for anti-reductionism.
“An exceptionally good introduction and tour through central topics in contemporary metaphysics. The book could easily be used alone for an upper level course in metaphysics or as a commentary alongside original articles. It is written clearly, with illuminating examples and engaging discussion.”
Review of Metaphysics
"Macdonald’s Varieties of Things: Foundations of Contemporary Metaphysics is an excellent study in ontology. It provides a descriptive metaphysical account of the ontology of material substances, persons, events, and universals. While the book provides a sophisticated account of the issues, it is written in a way that makes it accessible to an advanced undergraduate student audience. And given its novel defenses of some positions, it will also be of considerable interest to professional philosophers working on the issues"
Brian McLaughlin, Rutgers University
"Amongst the book’s most notable virtues are its clarity and the author’s careful attention to detail in setting out arguments and counter-arguments for various positions. The opening chapters on the nature of metaphysics are excellent. The later chapters on material substances, persons, events, and universals are thorough, closely argued and well informed."
Jonathan Lowe, University of Durham