David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Philosophical Studies (2):1-16 (2013)
Terms such as ‘exist’, ‘actual’, etc., (hereafter, “ontic terms”) are recognized as having uses that are not ontologically committing, in addition to the usual commissive uses. (Consider, e.g., the Platonic and the neutral readings of ‘There is an even prime’.) In this paper, I identify five different noncommissive uses for ontic terms, and (by a kind of via negativa) attempt to define the commissive use, focusing on ‘actual’ as my example. The problem, however, is that the resulting definiens for the commissive ‘actual’ is itself equivocal between a commissive and a noncommissive reading. I thus 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 that we can understand an ontic term as univocally commissive, in certain conversational contexts. I close by illustrating the import of these observations for the Hirsch–Sider debate in metaontology.
|Keywords||Quine on ontology Existence Metaontology Theodore Sider Eli Hirsch David Lewis Jody Azzouni Regimentation Being qua being|
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References found in this work BETA
Theodore Sider (2011). Writing the Book of the World. Oxford University Press.
Jonathan Schaffer (2009). On What Grounds What. In David Manley, David J. Chalmers & Ryan Wasserman (eds.), Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology. Oxford University Press 347-383.
W. V. Quine (1976). The Ways of Paradox, and Other Essays. Harvard University Press.
Hartry Field (1980). Science Without Numbers. Princeton University Press.
J. L. Austin (1962). Sense and Sensibilia. Oxford University Press.
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