Writing the Book of the World

Sider, Theodore

In order to describe the world perfectly, one must describe it in its own terms. In this ambitious and comprehensive book, Theodore Sider argues that for a representation to be fully successful, truth is not enough; the representation must also use the right concepts - concepts that "carve at the joints" - so that its conceptual structure matches reality's structure. There is an objectively correct way to "write the book of the world".Sider's argument begins from the assertion that metaphysics is about the fundamental structure of reality. Not about what's necessarily true; not about what properties are essential; not about conceptual analysis; and not about what there is. While inquiry into necessity, essence, concepts, or ontology might help to illuminate reality's structure, the ultimate goal is insight into this structure. Part of Sider's theory of structure is an account of how structure connects to other concepts. For example, structure can be used to illuminate laws of nature, explanation, reference, induction, physical geometry, substantivity, conventionality, objectivity, and metametaphysics. Another part is an account of how structure behaves. Since structure is a way of thinking about fundamentality, Sider's account implies distinctive answers to questions about the nature of fundamentality. These answers distinguish his theory of structure - which is a generalization and extension of David Lewis's theory of natural properties - from other recent theories of fundamentality, including Kit Fine's theory of ground and reality, the theory of truthmaking, and Jonathan Schaffer's theory of ontological dependence. The book concludes by applying the theory of structure to four topics: ontology, logic, time, and modality.

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