Graduate studies at Western
Noûs 41 (3):519–528 (2007)
|Abstract||In (2001), (2003), and elsewhere, Ted Sider presents two arguments concerning the existential quantifier which are justly central to the recent discussion of metaontology. What we will call Sider's indeterminacy argument is an attempted reductio of the suggestion that the existential quantifier might be semantically indeterminate. What we will call Sider's naturalness argument is an argument for the claim that the semantic value of the existential quantifier is the most eligible existence-like meaning there is, à la David Lewis' eligibility theory of meaning. We will argue that these arguments cannot be jointly maintained: Sider must give up at least one. Before arguing this, we will present Sider's two arguments in a bit more detail, and discuss their relationship. A few remarks on the broader significance of our conclusions are in order at the outset. One may think that since one successful argument for a given conclusion is sufficient the point that Sider's arguments cannot both work is purely academic. But we think that Sider's two arguments at bottom reflect different ways of thinking about metaphysics. Moreover, we think that it is only the naturalness argument that promises to deliver all that Sider wants when it comes to metaontology, and it is only the indeterminacy argument that promises to deliver all that Sider wants when it comes to ontology|
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