Graduate studies at Western
Philosophical Studies:1-16 (forthcoming)
|Abstract||Terms such as ‘exist’, ‘actual’, etc., (hereafter, “ontic terms”) are recognized as having ontologically neutral or non-commissive uses, besides their standard commissive uses. (Consider, e.g., the two interpretations of ‘There is an even prime.’) In this paper, I identify six different non-commissive uses for ontic terms, and along the way I attempt to define (by a kind of via negativa) the commissive use of an ontic term, specifically, the commissive use of ‘actual’. The problem, however, is that the resulting definiens for the commissive ‘actual’ is itself equivocal between a commissive and a non-commissive reading, and thus I consider other proposals for defining the commissive use, including two proposals from David Lewis. However, each proposal is found to be equivocal in the same way--and eventually I argue that it is impossible to define an ontic term unequivocally. Even so, this is not meant to overshadow the fact that we can understand an ontic term as univocally commissive, in certain conversational contexts. I close by applying these observations to the Hirsch-Sider debate in metaontology.|
|Keywords||Jody Azzouni ontological commitment quantification David Lewis existence Willard Quine metaontology Eli Hirsch Ted Sider|
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