Existence Predicates

The most common philosophical view of existence is that existence amounts to existential quantification or is a second-order concept. A less common philosophical view is that existence is a first-order property distinguishing between nonexistent (past, possible, or merely intentional) objects and existing objects. An even less common philosophical view is that existence divides into different ‘modes of being’ for different kinds of entities. The aim of the present paper is to take a closer look at how the notion of existence is in fact expressed in natural language. In natural language, it appears, existence is not so much expressed by quantification, which can be shown to be neutral as regards any distinction between existent and nonexistent objects that one might draw. Rather existence is expressed by predicates, and that is, first-order predicates, such as in English 'exist', 'occur', and 'obtain'. The semantic behavior of such existence predicates reveals a notion of existence that divides into at least three different kinds of modes being, reflecting the distinction between endurance and perdurance, as well as their space-related analogues, but also the particular mode of being of such entities as states, facts, conditions, and laws.
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