Analytic vs Naturalised Metaphysics

First joint GAP-GWP-Colloquium at the 9th GAP Conference

in Collaboration with the DFG Group Causation & Explanation

15th September, 9:00–12:00

Osnabrück, Germany




Holger Lyre & Thomas Reydon of the Gesellschaft für Wissenschaftsphilosophie (GWP / Society for Philosophy of Science): 

Markus Schrenk & Oliver R. Scholz of the DFG Group Causation & Explanation (Münster branch of the group): 




Steven French (University of Leeds) — Toying with the Toolbox: How Metaphysics Can (Still) Make a Contribution

Katherine Hawley (University of St Andrews) — Social Metaphysics and Social Science

Tobias Rosefeldt (Humboldt Universität Berlin) — The linguistic turn




09:00—09:10 Introduction by Holger Lyre and Markus Schrenk

09:10—09:35 Tobias Rosefeldt – The linguistic turn

09:35—09:45 Commentary

09:45—09:55 Q&A


10:05—10:30 Katherine Hawley – Social Metaphysics and Social Science

10:30—10:40 Commentary

10:40—10:50 Q&A


11:00—11:25 StevenFrench – Toying with the Toolbox

11:25—11:35 Commentary

11:35—11:45 Q&A

11:45—12:00 Afterthoughts



Colloquium Themes 

The goal of this workshop is to explore both the relation between science and metaphysics and to shed light on the methods and possibilities of analytic and naturalized metaphysics.

Traditionally, metaphysics has been seen as the inquiry into what lies behind or comes before experience, yet, which nonetheless concerns the fundamental structure of reality. However, because metaphysical claims seem not to be empirically testable, the meaningfulness of metaphysics has been contested ever since the classical empiricists, culminating in 20th century logical empiricism which denounced metaphysics as nonsensical altogether. Logical empiricism is also one of the founding fathers of modern philosophy of science, yet, ironically, some present day philosophers of science have again turned emphatically towards metaphysical reasoning and propose grand (speculative) systems in order to answer questions like what is a law of nature, what are natural kinds, what is causation, etc.

However, in the last decade analytic metaphysics has come under fire again and is critically evaluated. Philosophers have again started to debate which kind of metaphysics is and is not allowed. The relationship between metaphysics and science plays a special role in this debate. In fact, more than a few philosophers today believe that science provides the safest guide to modern metaphysics. Some even go so far as to claim that metaphysics should be naturalized. On the other hand, science and scientific reasoning themselves sometimes seem to need support from metaphysical reasoning.

This colloquium shall focus on the particular interconnections between metaphysics and science, and shall critically evaluate those sources, methods, and guidelines that were proposed as being acceptable for metaphysics in the recent literature. Particular questions of interest are the following:

  • Is metaphysics grounded in science?
  • Is it even part of science (and if so, to which extend)?
  • Should scientific realism be seen as a (necessary) presupposition
    for scientific metaphysics?
  • What can be said about the boundary between the metaphysical and the empirical?
  • What role do intuitions play, and are they either gained from everyday or scientific (linguistic) practice?
  • How do questions about the relationship between metaphysics
    and science pertain to the different special sciences? Do they
    possess different answers regarding different special sciences?
  • Should reduction and unification requests play a role as guidelines in metaphysics?
  • What posits within metaphysics of science could be illuminating also in other areas of philosophy as, for example, in mental causation, free will, etc.?