AN INSTRUMENTALIST ATTITUDE TO ONTOLOGY
Ontology or the development of an ontological system is not an
end in itself: an ontological system is usually an instrument
for other theories or doctrines. Only if a theory or doctrine
could not be developed by means of any other ontology would this
ontology be basic to it, or an integral part of it. Normally,
however, one can translate the one ontological language into the
other; for example, realist language into nominalist language,
or phenomenalist language into physicalist language, and vice
If such a translation is available and does not result in
a change in the body of (nonontological) principles of the
theory or doctrine itself, then the ontology employed is not
fundamental to it. Moreover, the kind of ontological instrument
chosen may itself not be appropriately classifiable anymore in
traditional terms. As already pointed out, and as will become
clearer later, our own ontology is realistic in one sense, but
nominalistic in another.
And as explained above:
altho it is
definitely not essentialistic in the metaphysical sense, it is
fully compatible with a conventionalist form of essentialism, or
a form of essentialism in which the notion of an essence would
not be more specific than that of a thing.
Since our ontological, conceptual framework is regarded as
a mere instrument, not fundamental to the doctrine to be
developed, and especially not fundamental to the normative
aspects of that doctrine, our attitude towards ontology (and
also logics) is instrumentalistic.
This does not mean that the system's usefulness would determine some
kind of absolute truth; it rather means that the idea that there is and
can be only one correct ontological system is rejected altogether.
(Strictly speaking, this is a kind of nonmonism which might also be
called "pluralism".) We will still have to continue our investigation
tho in order to make sure that we are not going to work
with an inadequate instrument, or an instrument (much) more
inadequate than other conceptual tools. It cannot be denied
that many specialists in the fields of constructional ontology,
logics and related disciplines have wholeheartedly supported
other systems or other interpretations of systems for a long time.