Farewell to Substance: A Differentiated Leave-Taking



For most of the history of metaphysics, the subject has been dominated by the concept of substance. There is an everyday commonsense notion of substance which is perfectly harmless and which I shall defend against attempts to remove it or revise it away. But I deny that substance has to be construed as a primitive even in everyday terms. Borrowing Strawson’s distinction between descriptive and revisionary metaphysics, I press the legitimate claims of revisionary metaphysics and argue that there is no place for a fundamental concept of substance within it, although aspects of the concept are likely to find their place therein.