In: Oxfordbibliographies in Philosophy (2013), Duncan Pritchard, ed., New York: Oxford University Press.
Abstract: Metametaphysics is the study of metaphysics. It asks, of the questions posed by metaphysicians, how they (and their answers) ought to be characterized, if they make any sense, what answers to them can be taken to describe, whether answers to them can even be known, and how we can know them (if we can), and so on. Here the topic will be approached via a distinction between “metaontology” and “metametaphysics”, a distinction which, in turn, is assumed to more or less coincide with that of two metametaphilosophical traditions; the socalled “Quinean” and “Aristotelian” traditions. As we shall see, whereas philosophers belonging to the Quinean tradition (whether they be proponents of that tradition – so called “neo-Quineans” – or critics of it – what is here called “neo-Carnapians”) constitute a rather close-knit group, brought together by their belief that whatever questions about the possibility and practice of metaphysics need to be answered, this answer should be sought through a close study of (logically regimented) language and, in particular, of the semantics of the existential quantifier(s). Philosophers belonging to the “Aristotelian” tradition are much more gerrymandered although subgroups belonging to this tradition can be identified in terms of more than their opposition to the basic ideas common to the Quineans. One important such group hold that metaphysics ought to be primarily concerned with spelling out what grounds/constitutes/explains what exists, rather than, as the Quinean would have it, with what exists (period). It is precisely because many who profess to belong to the Aristotelian tradition repudiate the central Quinean idea that metaphysics is primarily concerned with answering the question “Are there Fs?”, that the distinction between Quinean and Aristotelian (meta)metaphysics to a large extent coincides with the distinction between metaontology and metametaphysics (as (meta)ontology is normally understood as the (study of) the study of what there is, whereas (meta)metaphysics is taken to have a wider scope including, apart from questions concerning existence, questions concerning the nature of that which exists, etc.). On the grounds of these distinctions, the present entry is subdivided into two main parts: One which discusses metaontology, primarily as set out in the Quinean tradition, and one which discusses issues in metametaphysics, as these have been debated (at least for the most part) by what may be described as proponents of a primarily Aristotelian tradition. Please keep in mind that, though this way of setting things up is by no means unnatural and has good support in the existing literature, it is nevertheless – and unavoidably – somewhat arbitrary.