Every Thing Must Go: Metaphysics Naturalized

JAC Ladyman, Don Ross

Research output: Book/ReportAuthored book

785 Citations (Scopus)


This book argues that the only kind of metaphysics that can contribute to objective knowledge is one based specifically on contemporary science as it really is, and not on philosophers' a priori intuitions, common sense, or simplifications of science. In addition to showing how recent metaphysics has drifted away from connection with all other serious scholarly inquiry as a result of not heeding this restriction, this book demonstrates how to build a metaphysics compatible with current fundamental physics (“ontic structural realism”), which, when combined with metaphysics of the special sciences (“rainforest realism”), can be used to unify physics with the other sciences without reducing these sciences to physics itself. Taking science metaphysically seriously, this book argues, means that metaphysicians must abandon the picture of the world as composed of self-subsistent individual objects, and the paradigm of causation as the collision of such objects. The text assesses the role of information theory and complex systems theory in attempts to explain the relationship between the special sciences and physics, treading a middle road between the grand synthesis of thermodynamics and information, and eliminativism about information. The consequences of the books' metaphysical theory for central issues in the philosophy of science are explored, including the implications for the realism versus empiricism debate, the role of causation in scientific explanations, the nature of causation and laws, the status of abstract and virtual objects, and the objective reality of natural kinds.
Translated title of the contributionEvery Thing Must Go: Metaphysics Naturalized
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages358
ISBN (Electronic)978-0-19-170612-7
ISBN (Print)978-0-19-927619-6 (hbk), 978-0-19-957309-7 (pbk)
Publication statusPublished - 2007

Bibliographical note

Other identifier: 0199276196

Structured keywords

  • Centre for Science and Philosophy
  • Centre_for_science_and_philosophy


  • metaphysics
  • ontic structural realism
  • rainforest realism
  • thermodynamics
  • philosophy of science
  • physics
  • information theory
  • complex systems theory
  • eliminativism
  • causation


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