Chapter 3. On Determining What There Isn't

  1. Dominic Murphy Senior Lecturer2 and
  2. Michael Bishop Professor3
  1. Michael Devitt Distinguished Professor

Published Online: 14 APR 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9781444308709.ch3

Stich: And His Critics

Stich: And His Critics

How to Cite

Devitt, M. (2009) On Determining What There Isn't, in Stich: And His Critics (eds D. Murphy and M. Bishop), Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444308709.ch3

Editor Information

  1. 2

    The University of Sydney, Australia

  2. 3

    Florida State University, USA

Author Information

  1. The Graduate Center, City University of New York, New York, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 14 APR 2009
  2. Published Print: 20 MAR 2009

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405112079

Online ISBN: 9781444308709



  • on determining what there isn't;
  • Stich attracted to arguments for eliminativism about the mind – arguments against “intentional realism”;
  • theory of reference as folk semantics – Stich, usual epistemic one but rather a special metaphysical/methodological one;
  • Theory of Reference as Proto-Science - Stich describing proto-science account;
  • metaphysics before semantics - Stich's gloom about theory of reference leads and “semantic ascent”;
  • empirical metaphysics and empirical semantics;
  • “How are we to go about deciding whether or not the entities posited by any false theory exist?”;
  • Stich is absolutely right - it was a mistake to tackle ontological issues, including that of intentional realism, by appeal to theory of reference


This chapter contains sections titled:

  • Introduction

  • The Theory of Reference as Folk Semantics

  • The Theory of Reference as Proto-Science

  • Metaphysics Before Semantics

  • How Then Do We Do the Metaphysics?

  • Conclusion

  • References