The preceding chapter highlighted the contested character of human geography, both in the worlds beyond the ‘academy’ and within the texts, conversations and practices of academic geography. The bulk of chapters focus on attempts to understand the worlds of geography beyond the academy, although attention will frequently be made to the worlds, words and ideas of academic geographers. This chapter, however, will focus exclusively on the words and ideas of human geographers in that it will seek to outline some of the philosophical issues and debates conducted within recent and contemporary Anglo-American human geography. The chapter will seek to provide some insights as to why philosophy might matter, both to the conduct of human geography and more widely. To assist in doing this, the chapter makes use of a distinction between epistemology and ontology to differentiate and discuss a range of philosophies which have been of significance within human geography – or at least Anglo-American human geography – since the mid-twentieth century. Ontologies refer to ‘theories of what exists’ and epistemologies to ‘theories of how we can know what exists’. Philosophies may be seen to reflect particular sets of ontologies and epistemologies, although the emphasis placed on and degree of interconnection between epistemology and ontology can vary considerably between philosophies, as should become evident through the course of the chapter.