Much contemporary metaphysics, moved by an apparent necessity to take reality to consist of given beings and properties, presents us with what appear to be deep problems requiring radical changes in the common sense conception of persons and the world. Contemporary meta-ethics ignores questions about logical form and formulates questions in ways that make the possibility of correct value judgments mysterious. In this book, Wheeler argues that given a Davidsonian understanding of truth, predication, and interpretation, and given a relativised version of Aristotelian essentialism compatible with Davidson’s basic thinking, many metaphysical problems are not very deep. Likewise, many philosophers' claims that common sense needs to be modified are unfounded. He argues further that a proper consideration of questions of logical form clarifies and illuminates meta-ethical questions. Although the analyses and arguments he gives are often at odds with those at which Davidson arrived, they apply the central Davidsonian insights about semantics, understanding, and interpretation.
"Neo-Davidsonian Metaphysics is the most important and sustained elaboration of Davidsonian thinking that has appeared outside Davidson's own work. It takes up Davidson's ideas in a way that is original and innovative, and yet also true to the spirit of Davidson. In the course of providing new insights into Davidsonian thinking, Wheeler also shows how many contemporary philosophical problems can be dealt with by a careful working through and some judicious modification of key Davidsonian concepts and approaches. In particular, Wheeler's elaboration of the position he calls 'relative essentialism' is a groundbreaking development that deserves wide consideration by anyone interested in contemporary analytic thought." – Jeff Malpas, Distinguished Professor, University of Tasmania, Australia
"Wheeler's book is invaluable in articulating and clearing up all sorts of confusions about Davidson's metaphysical views. It brings the view closer to the thinking of contemporary metaphysicians and semanticists by eliminating some of its inessential or refuted assumptions." - Zoltán Gendler Szabó, Yale University
"Wheeler takes some of the core ideas of Davidson’s philosophy, and more than Davidson himself ever did, forges those into a single, clear and coherent theory." - Lajos Brons, Nihon University, Tokyo
Introduction 1. Davidsonian Truth and its Consequences 2. Against Absolute Essentialism 3. Natures, Necessity, and Relative Essentialism 4. Kinds of Events 5. Modals and Conditionals 6. Properties, Propositions, and Facts 7. Future Contingents and Temporary Intrinsics 8. The Sorites and Davidsonian Innocuous Epistemicism 9. The Good 10. What We Ought to Do