Chapter  4 : Metaphysics


For now perhaps thinking about this matter can be simplified a bit by considering that what we are thinking and talking about are claims about what is real and the basic claim about reality itself.  How do we know of the claims we make about what is true are correct or not?  Consider the different types of claim that people make.

  • Claims about the shape of the earth or any other physical claim can be determined in theory and most in practice to be true or not by using scientific method.  There is but one physical universe. More about this in the chapter on Epistemology.

  • Claims in mathematics and its branches (e.g., arithmetic, geometry, algebra, topology..) can also be determined to be true or false by using the rules of the mathematical systems.

  • Most , not all, claims about logical propositions can also be determined to be true or false by using the rules or laws of logic.

  • Claims about the meaning of words can also be determined to be true or false by using a dictionary.

  • Claims about what is beautiful or what is morally correct can not be determined to be true or false using any absolute and universal or objective schema or set of criteria because such ideas are social constructs and vary from one society and culture to another.  But these claims are not claims about what exists and is real but rather they are claims about what people think about their own experiences and behaviors.  More about this in the chapter on Epistemology and claims about truth and in the chapters on Ethics and Aesthetics for claims about what is morally good or beautiful.

So claims about what is real fall under claims that are called cognitive claims and persons making those claims are asserting that what they claim is true.  Claims about what is real can be resolved using a method for falsifying or verifying claims about physical reality.  How can we know if the claims are true?  That is the subject of the next chapter.

End of chapter.

Creative Commons License
Introduction to Philosophy by Philip A. Pecorino is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Return to:                Table of Contents for the Online Textbook