Well here I find myself at the airport again. I wanted to draw attention to Harman’s three responses to Vitale and Robert Jackson’s excellent summary of the discussion. I’m writing from my phone at the airport, so I’ll have to add the links later. The only thing that I wanted to add to Graham’s post is that there seems to be a common tendency to conflate our ability to identify or categorize objects with objects themselves. Vitale, for example, asks who gets to decide what an object is and criticizes me for using the passive voice in my abbreviated account of the genesis of objects. In another discussion he asks whether his 7 year old nephew is right in referring to two distinct species of frogs or whether the biologist is right in her more detailed categorizations. But this way of posing the question conflates the being of objects with how they are categorized. Moreover, if Vitale is right and the being of an object is identical with its categorization, some pretty ugly consequences immediately follow. At the risk of violating Godwin’s law, for example, Vitale’s position commits him to the view that the Nazis were right about the Jews as being-Jewish is nothing more than another being’s perspective on Jews. If he rejects this implication, then this can only be because his position harbors implicit ontological assumptions that he’s not thinking through, i.e., that objects have independent existence.

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