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Minimal Realism about ordinary objects

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posted on 2021-11-23, 12:37 authored by Chrissy van HulstChrissy van Hulst

In 2015 Daniel Korman published an incredibly important book called Objects: Nothing out of the ordinary, in which he defends a position known as conservatism about ordinary objects. He contrasts this position with two other positions – eliminativism and permissivism – and provides comprehensive arguments against these two positions. Korman takes eliminativism to be the view that ordinary objects do not exist. Even though this is indeed one of the claims eliminativists make, by itself it is not a good description of what eliminativism entails. For eliminativism, as ordinarily conceived, contains three main claims: i) the anti-realist claim that certain entities do not exist, ii) the claim that we are making an error when we assert that those entities do exist, and iii) the prescriptive claim that we should eliminate talking and thinking about those entities. These three claims together entail eliminativism. Korman, however, identifies eliminativism merely with the first anti-realist claim. Since Korman‟s focus is on the anti-realist claim, this thesis departs from Korman‟s tripartite division and instead frames the debate in terms of Minimal Realism and Minimal Anti-Realism about ordinary objects. Minimal Realism is simply the view that ordinary objects exist, and includes views such as conservatism and permissivism. Minimal Anti-Realism, by contrast, is the view that ordinary objects do not exist, such as eliminativism as Korman defines it. By refocussing the debate in terms of Minimal Realism and Minimal Anti-Realism, it becomes apparent that there are a variety of Minimal Realist positions which claim that ordinary objects do indeed exist, but which have been left out by Korman. My goal is to supplement Korman‟s arguments with literature published since the publication of his book, and to show how Minimal Realism responds to the arguments for eliminativism. In particular, I focus on the Debunking Argument, the Argument from Arbitrariness, the Overdetermination Argument, the Argument from Vagueness, the Argument from Material Constitution, and the Problem of the Many. After setting out these arguments, I discuss some recent objections, and show how Minimal Realism can respond to the proposed arguments and objections.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

970122 Expanding Knowledge in Philosophy and Religious Studies

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations


Brock, Stuart