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Ontological commitment

Philosophy Compass 2 (3):428–444 (2007)

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  1. On Specifying Truth-Conditions.A. Rayo - 2008 - Philosophical Review 117 (3):385-443.
    This essay is a study of ontological commitment, focused on the special case of arithmetical discourse. It tries to get clear about what would be involved in a defense of the claim that arithmetical assertions are ontologically innocent and about why ontological innocence matters. The essay proceeds by questioning traditional assumptions about the connection between the objects that are used to specify the truth-conditions of a sentence, on the one hand, and the objects whose existence is required in order for (...)
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  • Can Semantics Guide Ontology?Katherine Ritchie - 2016 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 94 (1):24-41.
    Since the linguistic turn, many have taken semantics to guide ontology. Here, I argue that semantics can, at best, serve as a partial guide to ontological commitment. If semantics were to be our guide, semantic data and semantic treatments would need to be taken seriously. Through an examination of plurals and their treatments, I argue that there can be multiple, equally semantically adequate, treatments of a natural language theory. Further, such treatments can attribute different ontological commitments to a theory. Given (...)
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  • Necessity and Triviality.Ross P. Cameron - 2010 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 88 (3):401-415.
    In this paper I argue that there are some sentences whose truth makes no demands on the world, being trivially true in that their truth-conditions are trivially met. I argue that this does not amount to their truth-conditions being met necessarily: we need a non-modal understanding of the notion of the demands the truth of a sentence makes, lest we be blinded to certain conceptual possibilities. I defend the claim that the truths of pure mathematics and set theory are trivially (...)
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  • The Ontological Parsimony of Mereology.Jeroen Smid - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (12):3253-3271.
    Lewis famously argued that mereology is ontologically innocent. Many who have considered this claim believe he was mistaken. Mereology is not innocent, because its acceptance entails the acceptance of sums, new objects that were not previously part of one’s ontology. This argument, the argument from ontological parsimony, has two versions: a qualitative and a quantitative one. I argue that the defender of mereology can neutralize both arguments by holding that, given mereology, a commitment to the parts of an object is (...)
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  • Quantification and Paradox.Edward Ferrier - 2018 - Dissertation, University of Massachusetts Amherst
    I argue that absolutism, the view that absolutely unrestricted quantification is possible, is to blame for both the paradoxes that arise in naive set theory and variants of these paradoxes that arise in plural logic and in semantics. The solution is restrictivism, the view that absolutely unrestricted quantification is not possible. -/- It is generally thought that absolutism is true and that restrictivism is not only false, but inexpressible. As a result, the paradoxes are blamed, not on illicit quantification, but (...)
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  • A Language for Ontological Nihilism.Catharine Diehl - 2018 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 5:971-996.
    According to ontological nihilism there are, fundamentally, no individuals. Both natural languages and standard predicate logic, however, appear to be committed to a picture of the world as containing individual objects. This leads to what I call the \emph{expressibility challenge} for ontological nihilism: what language can the ontological nihilist use to express her account of how matters fundamentally stand? One promising suggestion is for the nihilist to use a form of \emph{predicate functorese}, a language developed by Quine. This proposal faces (...)
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  • Why Philosophers Should Do Semantics : A Reply to Cappelen.Ryan M. Nefdt - 2019 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 10 (1):243-256.
    In this paper, I address a series of arguments recently put forward by Cappelen Review of Philosophy and Psychology 8: 743–762 to the effect that philosophers should not do formal semantics or be concerned with the “minutiae of natural language semantics”. He offers two paths for accessing his ideas. I argue that his arguments fail in favour of the first and cast some doubt on the second in so doing. I then proffer an alternative conception of why exactly philosophers should (...)
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  • Implicit Commitment in Theory Choice.Stephan Krämer - 2014 - Synthese 191 (10):2147-2165.
    The proper evaluation of a theory’s virtues seems to require taking into account what the theory is indirectly or implicitly committed to, in addition to what it explicitly says. Most extant proposals for criteria of theory choice in the literature spell out the relevant notion of implicit commitment via some notion of entailment. I show that such criteria behave implausibly in application to theories that differ over matters of entailment. A recent defence by Howard Peacock of such a criterion against (...)
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  • Ontology: Minimalism and Truth-Conditions.Juan José Lara Peñaranda - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 162 (3):683-696.
    In this paper, I develop a criticism to a method for metaontology, namely, the idea that a discourse’s or theory’s ontological commitments can be read off its sentences’ truth- conditions. Firstly, I will put forward this idea’s basis and, secondly, I will present the way Quine subscribed to it. However, I distinguish between two readings of Quine’s famous ontological criterion, and I center the focus on the one currently dubbed “ontological minimalism”, a kind of modern Ockhamism applied to the mentioned (...)
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  • Paraphrase Strategies in Metaphysics.Tatjana Von Solodkoff - 2014 - Philosophy Compass 9 (8):570-582.
    Philosophers often aim to demonstrate that the things we ordinarily think and say can be reconciled with our considered beliefs about the world. To this end, many philosophers try to paraphrase ordinary language claims by finding equivalent sentences that are less misleading. For instance, though we know that there is no British family that is the average one, we want to say that the average British family has 1.8 children, and we might do that by paraphrasing this claim as: there (...)
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  • How to Have a Radically Minimal Ontology.Ross P. Cameron - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 151 (2):249 - 264.
    In this paper I further elucidate and defend a metaontological position that allows you to have a minimal ontology without embracing an error-theory of ordinary talk. On this view 'there are Fs' can be strictly and literally true without bringing an ontological commitment to Fs. Instead of a sentence S committing you to the things that must be amongst the values of the variables if it is true, I argue that S commits you to the things that must exist as (...)
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  • Can Mereological Sums Serve as the Semantic Values of Plurals?David Nicolas - manuscript
    Abstract: Friends of plural logic—like Oliver & Smiley (2001), Rayo (2002), Yi (2005), and McKay (2006)—have argued that a semantics of plurals based on mereological sums would be too weak, and they have adduced several examples in favor of their claim. However, they have not considered various possible counter-arguments. So how convincing are their own arguments? We show that several of them are easily answered, while some others are more problematic. Overall, the case against mereological singularism—the idea that mereological sums (...)
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  • Truthmaking, Second‐Order Quantification, and Ontological Commitment.Ross P. Cameron - 2019 - Analytic Philosophy 60 (4):336-360.
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  • Consolidating SNOMED CT's Ontological Commitment.Stefan Schulz, Ronald Cornet & Kent Spackman - 2011 - Applied Ontology 6 (1):1-11.
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  • Inscrutability and Ontological Commitment.Berit Brogaard - 2008 - Philosophical Studies 141 (1):21 - 42.
    There are two doctrines for which Quine is particularly well known: the doctrine of ontological commitment and the inscrutability thesis—the thesis that reference and quantification are inscrutable. At first glance, the two doctrines are squarely at odds. If there is no fact of the matter as to what our expressions refer to, then it would appear that no determinate commitments can be read off of our best theories. We argue here that the appearance of a clash between the two doctrines (...)
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  • Introduction (to the Special Issue on Ontological Commitment).Luca Moretti & Huw Price - 2008 - Philosophical Studies 141 (1):1-5.
  • Toward a Satisfactory Formulation of Quinean Ontological Commitment.Masahiro Takatori - 2014 - Journal of the Japan Association for Philosophy of Science 42 (1):19-37.
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  • Fundamental and Derivative Truths.J. R. G. Williams - 2010 - Mind 119 (473):103 - 141.
    This article investigates the claim that some truths are fundamentally or really true — and that other truths are not. Such a distinction can help us reconcile radically minimal metaphysical views with the verities of common sense. I develop an understanding of the distinction whereby Fundamentality is not itself a metaphysical distinction, but rather a device that must be presupposed to express metaphysical distinctions. Drawing on recent work by Rayo on anti-Quinean theories of ontological commitments, I formulate a rigourous theory (...)
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  • Ontological Commitment.Daniel Durante Pereira Alves - manuscript
    Disagreement over what exists is so fundamental that it tends to hinder or even to block dialogue among disputants. The various controversies between believers and atheists, or realists and nominalists, are only two kinds of examples. Interested in contributing to the intelligibility of the debate on ontology, in 1939 Willard van Orman Quine began a series of works which introduces the notion of ontological commitment and proposes an allegedly objective criterion to identify the exact conditions under which a theoretical discourse (...)
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  • Composition and Identities.Manuel Lechthaler - 2017 - Dissertation, University of Otago
    Composition as Identity is the view that an object is identical to its parts taken collectively. I elaborate and defend a theory based on this idea: composition is a kind of identity. Since this claim is best presented within a plural logic, I develop a formal system of plural logic. The principles of this system differ from the standard views on plural logic because one of my central claims is that identity is a relation which comes in a variety of (...)
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  • From Plurals to Superplurals: In Defence of Higher-Level Plural Logic.Berta Grimau Roca - 2018 - Dissertation, University of Glasgow
    Plural Logic is an extension of First-Order Logic with plural terms and quantifiers. When its plural terms are interpreted as denoting more than one object at once, Plural Logic is usually taken to be ontologically innocent: plural quantifiers do not require a domain of their own, but range plurally over the first-order domain of quantification. Given that Plural Logic is equi-interpretable with Monadic Second-Order Logic, it gives us its expressive power at the low ontological cost of a first-order language. This (...)
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  • Realism Without Parochialism.Phillip Bricker - forthcoming - In Modal Matters: Essays in Metaphysics. Oxford University Press.
    I am a realist of a metaphysical stripe. I believe in an immense realm of "modal" and "abstract" entities, of entities that are neither part of, nor stand in any causal relation to, the actual, concrete world. For starters: I believe in possible worlds and individuals; in propositions, properties, and relations (both abundantly and sparsely conceived); in mathematical objects and structures; and in sets (or classes) of whatever I believe in. Call these sorts of entity, and the reality they comprise, (...)
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  • Ontological Nihilism.Jason Turner - 2011 - In Karen Bennett & Dean W. Zimmerman (eds.), Oxford Studies in Metaphysics. Oxford University Press. pp. 3-54.
  • An Argument for the Ontological Innocence of Mereology.Rohan French - 2016 - Erkenntnis 81 (4):683-704.
    In Parts of Classes David Lewis argued that mereology is ‘ontologically innocent’, mereological notions not incurring additional ontological commitments. Unfortunately, though, Lewis’s argument for this is not fully spelled out. Here we use some formal results concerning translations between formal languages to argue for the ontological innocence of mereology directly.
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  • Ontological Commitment and Quantifiers.T. Parent - forthcoming - In Ricki Bliss & James Miller (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Metametaphysics. New York: Routledge.
    This is a slightly opinionated review of three main factions in metaontology: Quineans, Carnapians, and Meinongians. Emphasis is given to the last camp, as the metaontological aspect of Meinongianism has been underappreciated. The final section then offers some general remarks about the legitimacy of ontology, touching on ideas I have developed in other publications.
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  • Ontology, Quantification, and Fundamentality.Jason Theodore Turner - unknown
    The structuralist conception of metaphysics holds that it aims to uncover the ultimate structure of reality and explain how the world's richness and variety are accounted for by that ultimate structure. On this conception, metaphysicians produce fundamental theories, the primitive, undefined expressions of which are supposed to 'carve reality at its joints', as it were. On this conception, ontological questions are understood as questions about what there is, where the existential quantifier 'there is' has a fundamental, joint-carving interpretation. Structuralist orthodoxy (...)
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  • Ontological Anti-Realism.David J. Chalmers - 2009 - In David John Chalmers, David Manley & Ryan Wasserman (eds.), Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology. Oxford University Press.
    The basic question of ontology is “What exists?”. The basic question of metaontology is: are there objective answers to the basic question of ontology? Here ontological realists say yes, and ontological anti-realists say no. (Compare: The basic question of ethics is “What is right?”. The basic question of metaethics is: are there objective answers to the basic question of ethics? Here moral realists say yes, and moral anti-realists say no.) For example, the ontologist may ask: Do numbers exist? The Platonist (...)
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  • Abstract Singular Terms and Thin Reference.George Duke - 2012 - Theoria 78 (4):276-292.
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  • A Deflationist Error Theory of Properties.Arvid Båve - 2015 - Dialectica 69 (1):23-59.
    I here defend a theory consisting of four claims about ‘property’ and properties, and argue that they form a coherent whole that can solve various serious problems. The claims are (1): ‘property’ is defined by the principles (PR): ‘F-ness/Being F/etc. is a property of x iff F’ and (PA): ‘F-ness/Being F/etc. is a property’; (2) the function of ‘property’ is to increase the expressive power of English, roughly by mimicking quantification into predicate position; (3) property talk should be understood at (...)
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  • Bob Hale Necessary Beings – An Essay on Ontology, Modality, and the Relations Between Them. Oxford University Press, 2013. X + 298 Pp. ISBN 978‐0‐19‐966957‐8. [REVIEW]Dominik Kauss - 2014 - Theoria 80 (3):277-282.
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