If I understand it right, Karen Bennett in her ‘Composition, Colocation, and Metaontology’ aims three different things: (i) to distinguish three different dismissivist positions; (ii) to argue against one possible way of implementing one possible “semanticist” position with respect to one particular debate; and (iii) to motivate a claim that is a consequence of, among others, the “epistemicist” position. In my view, it is not clear that she succeeds with respect to any of these three. In this post, however, I will focus just on (i).
Most think, I guess, that some disputes in metaphysics are genuinely ontological. In my view, the dispute between universalists and restrictivists wrt composition is a case at hand—and I think that the former are right :-)! Most think, I guess, that some disputes in metaphysics are genuine all the same, but of a semantic character. In my view, the dispute between defenders of the many and of the supervaluationist solution wrt the problem of the many is a case at hand—and, again, I think that the former are right :-)! Now some think that some apparent disputes in metaphysics are just merely apparent: in a certain sense—that need not be easy to specify (hopefully, we’ll have some discussion of this here!)—the views are just “variants of each other”, “equivalent”, or something along these lines. One candidate case at hand is of course the dispute between 3D/4D, and so it has been claimed to be by Sidelle 2002, Miller 2005, McCall & Lowe 2006, among many others. I take this to be characteristic of the attitude that Bennett aptly proposes to call dismissivism, see the introductory pages, the first remark at section 9 etc.
Unfortunately, this seems to be none of the three positions she considers:
(1) Antirealism is characterised as the position that ‘There are Fs’ does not have a determinate truth-value. This lacks the appropriate generality—which would be the candidate ‘F’ for the 3D/4D debate?— and anyway is something dismissivists need not endorse: more likely they would hold the views are all equally true, or equally false but having a shared true kernel or …
(2) Semanticism (although attributed also to Sidelle) is characterized as the position that the disputants assign different meanings to their terms. More plausibly, I take it, that they differ as to their views about the semantics of a certain disputed terms (this is in effect the case at the Martini example and with Hirsh 2005). But then the dispute is certainly genuine, nothing there to be dismissed!
(3) Epistemicism is characterized as the negation of the preceding plus the contention that there is little justification for believing either of the views. Again, on the face of it, a situation like does not look as one for dismissing inquiry, but rather precisely calling for further investigation! (Maybe the thought could be elaborated like: there couldn’t be justification for believing one as opposed to the other, given their… “equivalence”? This might be closer to dismissivism after all, but the required elucidation is still missing.)