An apology for conflicts between metaphysics and science in naturalized metaphysics
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionEuropean Journal for Philosophy of Science. 2021, 11 (3), 1-24. 10.1007/s13194-021-00390-5
According to naturalized metaphysics, metaphysics should be informed by our current best science and not rely on a priori reasoning. Consequently, naturalized metaphysics tends to dismiss metaphysicians’ attempts to quarrel with science. This paper argues that naturalized metaphysics should instead welcome such conflicts between metaphysics and science. Naturalized metaphysics is not (and should not be) eliminative of metaphysics. So, if such conflicts are driven by the immediate absence in science of an answer to a metaphysical question, then the conflict should not be dismissed, but instead be received as an occasion to do (more) naturalized metaphysics. That conflicts between metaphysics and science might be beneficial for naturalized metaphysics is exemplified by the case of non-spatial theories of quantum gravity. These theories are criticized by metaphysicians who, often following David Lewis, argue that spatial distance is an indispensable fundamental element in any coherent metaphysics due to its role as the world-making relation. The resulting conflict, however, is found to be well-motivated since the non-spatial theories of quantum gravity offer no alternative world-making relation to spatial distance. Rather than dismissing this conflict, naturalized metaphysics should therefore receive the Lewisians’ resistance as a call to search for one. How this plays out as a negotiation between the scientific theory and the metaphysical question is exemplified in the last part of the paper where entanglement is proposed as an alternative world-making relation in loop quantum gravity.