Ethics vs Metaphysics

On my reading, the original “metaphysics” (Aristotle’s) was developed mainly as a kind of dialectical semantics. It is fundamentally about higher-order interpretation of contents we have already encountered, not about exotic existence claims. In the later tradition, however, this became greatly confused, and “metaphysics” acquired a completely different meaning.

Although Aristotle regarded ethics as of pivotal importance and recognized that all reasoning has a normative aspect, he seems to have valued theoretical reason even more than practical reason. It is to Kant that we owe the refinement of a clearly expressed thought of the primacy of practical reason. This perspective was taken up by Hegel, and later by Brandom. Things like Hegelian Spirit are mainly ethical concepts.

In the spirit of both of these, I have been developing a philosophical account of subjectivity grounded in ethics, rather than metaphysics in the usual modern sense. From this perspective, metaphysics as dialectical semantics is subsumed under ethics and meta-ethics. (See also Ethos; Aristotelian Dialectic; Aristotelian Semantics; Material Inference; Metaphysical, Nonmetaphysical.)