Zum Inhalt springenZur Suche springen

Workshop: Abduction and Modelling in Metaphysics (December 6th to 7th, 2018)

Event Series

  • December 4, 2018: Public Evening Talk of Timothy Williamson
  • December 4-5, 2018: Reading Group with Timothy Williamson
  • December 6-7, 2018: Workshop on Abduction and Modelling in Metaphysics


The events were organised by the DFG funded research group Inductive Metaphysics the goal of which is to establish how empirical sources and inductive forms of inference play a role in metaphysical research.

·         Organisers: Christian J. Feldbacher-Escamilla, Siegfried Jaag, Markus Schrenk, Gerhard Schurz

·         undefinedWebsite


·         Funding: German Research Foundation (DFG), research unit: Inductive Metaphysics FOR 2495

Workshop: Abduction and Modelling in Metaphysics

Description: Methodological questions have been in the focus of many recent philosophical debates. The role of thought experiments, the method of cases, intuitions, etc. has been studied intensively within metaphilosophy. This reflective attitude is often considered to be a characteristic feature of philosophical investigation and, hence, it is no surprise that occasionally it results in some kind of self-application. In metaphysics, recent severe criticism of traditional investigations led to quite versatile metametaphysical stances: There is the radical sceptical approach according to which metaphysical studies better dissolve in the corresponding branches of science rather than being performed in an encapsulated way; and there is the other end of the spectrum according to which metaphysics is a self-standing endeavour to be conducted in an a priori fashion. In between are more moderate stances proposing that metaphysical investigation ought to employ both, scientific findings and methods on the one hand, and conceptual analysis and methods of traditional metaphysics on the other. Inductive metaphysics, for example, aims at applying the abductive and modelling methodology of science within metaphysical investigation. Such an approach, however, raises several questions: What does the abductive methodology exactly consist in and what is its epistemic rationale? How are metaphysical models to be characterised and evaluated and what constitutes metaphysical data and evidence? What distinguishes such an inductive metaphysical approach from naturalising metaphysics? This workshop aimed at exploring some of these and related questions regarding the theoretical presuppositions of metaphysical methodology.


Date: December 6 to 7, 2018

Place: Haus der Universität (Schadowplatz 14, 40212 Duesseldorf) of the University of Duesseldorf


Speakers and Programme

December 6, 2018

10:00-11:00: Stephen Biggs (Iowa State): Towards an Abduction-based Epistemology of Metaphysics

11:00-11:30: Coffee Break

11:30-12:30: Ilkka Niiniluoto (Helsinki): Abductive Arguments for Ontological Realism

12:30-14:30: Lunch Break

14:30-15:30: Gerhard Schurz (DCLPS, Duesseldorf): Abduction as a Method of Inductive Metaphysics

15:30-16:00: Coffee Break

16:00-17:00: Timothy Williamson (Oxford): Abduction in Logic and Mathematics

18:00-: Dinner

December 7, 2018

10:00-11:00: Tim Maudlin (NYU): Abduction in Logic and Mathematics

11:00-11:30: Coffee Break

11:30-12:30: Helen Beebee (Manchester): Peer Disagreement and Scepticism in Metaphysics

12:30-14:30: Lunch Break

14:30-15:30: Meghan Sullivan (Notre Dame): Modal Logic and the Methodology of Metaphysics: A Case Study in the Relationship Between Formalism and Abduction

15:30-16:00: Coffee Break

16:00-17:00: Igor Douven (CNRS, Paris): Putting Prototypes in Place: An Engineering Approach

18:00-: Dinner

Public Evening Talk

The workshop was preceded by a public evening talk of Timothy Williamson on “undefinedMorally Loaded Examples in Philosophy”; the evening lecture took place on December 4, 2018, from 18:30 to 20:00, at the Haus der Universitaet (Schadowplatz 14, 40212 Duesseldorf).

Reading Group

There was also a reading group with Timothy Williamson which took place from December 4 to 5, 2018, at the Campus of the University of Duesseldorf.

Dates and Venue:

Tuesday, December 4, 2018, 10:00 till lunch, HHU Duesseldorf (Rektoratsraeume)

  • Welcome and Introduction by Siegfried Jaag and Markus Schrenk
  • Discussion of papers

Wednesday, December 5, 10:00 till lunch, HHU Duesseldorf (Rektoratsraeume)

  • Discussions of papers

At the reading groups, the following papers and selected book chapters that are related to inductive metaphysics were discussed:

Core reading

  • Abductive Philosophy.
  • Model-Building in Philosophy.
  • Methodological Afterword of Modal Logic As Metaphysics.
  • Doing Philosophy. (chs. 6-7 and 10)

Further reading

  • Sider: Williamson on Modality. (esp. §4)
  • Williamson Reply to Sider.
  • Semantic Paradoxes and Abductive Methodology.
  • Modal Science.


  • Precis of Modal Logic as Metaphysics. (Esp. Sullivan Teil + Reply)
  • Alternative Logics and Applied Mathematics.

Some texts have additional subject matters but we focussed on the abductive method including model building in philosophy.