Ontology; Social Ontology; Metaontology; Metaphysics of Race; Metaphysics of Gender


Metaontological discourse, inquiring into the nature, methodology, and aims of ontology, has functioned as the war ground for those skeptical of ontological projects against those who believe that ontological inquiry is substantive (i.e., meaningful, important, worth pursuing). I call the inquiry which engages in determining criteria to distinguish substantive from nonsubstantive inquiry/discourse: “the metaphysics of discourse”. In this project, I identify three frameworks in the metaphysics of discourse: Easy Ontology, The “Merely Verbal” Framework, and Metaphysical Structuralism. My primary concern is to show that these discourse frameworks or dismissive strategies all fail to provide sufficient criteria to properly delineate substantive from non-substantive inquiry. My approach is to accept a dismissive strategy, apply it to disputes in the metaphysics of race and gender, and run through its consequences. Each framework, when applied to disputes in the metaphysics of race and gender, incorrectly renders the disputes non-substantive. These implications are unacceptable, because the disputes in metaphysics of race and gender are prima facie substantive disputes. We find that each application of a dismissive strategy provides us the basis for developing a web of problematic assumptions running throughout the metaphysics of discourse. Namely: 1) that the metaphysics of discourse itself can be robustly normatively neutral, 2) that discovering linguistic defects in an inquiry (often about “the meaning” or “the right meaning” of terms) is sufficient to conclude that an inquiry is non-substantive and that 3) we determine a better candidate for theory choice in substantive inquiry by determining which candidate is more objectively accurate (in a vague sense). I will conclude that these assumptions lead to an oppressive metaphysics of discourse, then I briefly suggest a feminist, pragmatist, and democratic-objective basis for a new one.

Thesis Completion Year


Thesis Completion Semester


Thesis Chair

Mason Cash


College of Arts and Humanities


Department of Philosophy

Thesis Discipline




Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus Access


Campus Location

Orlando (Main) Campus