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On existentialism

Philosophical Studies 44 (1):1 - 20 (1983)

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  1. In Defense of the Possibilism–Actualism Distinction.Christopher Menzel - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (7):1971-1997.
    In Modal Logic as Metaphysics, Timothy Williamson claims that the possibilism-actualism (P-A) distinction is badly muddled. In its place, he introduces a necessitism-contingentism (N-C) distinction that he claims is free of the confusions that purportedly plague the P-A distinction. In this paper I argue first that the P-A distinction, properly understood, is historically well-grounded and entirely coherent. I then look at the two arguments Williamson levels at the P-A distinction and find them wanting and show, moreover, that, when the N-C (...)
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  • A Solution to Frege's Puzzle.George Bealer - 1993 - Philosophical Perspectives 7:17-60.
    This paper provides a new approach to a family of outstanding logical and semantical puzzles, the most famous being Frege's puzzle. The three main reductionist theories of propositions (the possible-worlds theory, the propositional-function theory, the propositional-complex theory) are shown to be vulnerable to Benacerraf-style problems, difficulties involving modality, and other problems. The nonreductionist algebraic theory avoids these problems and allows us to identify the elusive nondescriptive, non-metalinguistic, necessary propositions responsible for the indicated family of puzzles. The algebraic approach is also (...)
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  • Divine Knowledge and Qualitative Indiscernibility.Daniel S. Murphy - 2016 - Faith and Philosophy 33 (1):25-47.
    This paper is about the nature of God’s pre-creation knowledge of possible creatures. I distinguish three theories: non-qualitative singularism, qualitative singularism, and qualitative generalism, which differ in terms of whether the relevant knowledge is qualitative or non-qualitative, and whether God has singular or merely general knowledge of creatures. My main aim is to argue that qualitative singularism does not depend on a version of the Principle of Identity of Indiscernibles to the effect that, necessarily, qualitatively indiscernible individuals are identical. It (...)
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  • Presentism and Actualism.Harold Noonan - 2018 - Philosophia 47 (2):489-497.
    Presentism, some say, is either the analytic triviality that the only things that exist now are ones that exist now or the obviously false claim that the only things that have ever existed or will are ones that exist now. I argue that the correct understanding of presentism is the latter and so understood the claim is not obviously false. To appreciate this one has to see presentism as strictly analogous to anti-Lewisean actualism. What this modal analogue makes evident is (...)
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  • Logic, Essence, and Modality — Review of Bob Hale's Necessary Beings. [REVIEW]Christopher Menzel - 2015 - Philosophia Mathematica 23 (3):407-428.
    Bob Hale’s distinguished record of research places him among the most important and influential contemporary analytic metaphysicians. In his deep, wide ranging, yet highly readable book Necessary Beings, Hale draws upon, but substantially integrates and extends, a good deal his past research to produce a sustained and richly textured essay on — as promised in the subtitle — ontology, modality, and the relations between them. I’ve set myself two tasks in this review: first, to provide a reasonably thorough (if not (...)
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  • The Dependence Problem: Theism, Counterpossibles, and Necessity.Richard Brian Davis - 1998 - Dissertation, University of Toronto
    This dissertation explores various attempts to solve the Dependence Problem problem posed by the following question: How can necessary truths stand to God in a one-way relation of dependence, given that neither they nor God could have failed to exist?
     
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  • The Conventional and the Analytic.Manuel García-Carpintero & Manuel Pérez Otero - 2009 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 78 (2):239-274.
    Empiricist philosophers like Carnap invoked analyticity in order to explain a priori knowledge and necessary truth. Analyticity was “truth purely in virtue of meaning”. The view had a deflationary motivation: in Carnap’s proposal, linguistic conventions alone determine the truth of analytic sentences, and thus there is no mystery in our knowing their truth a priori, or in their necessary truth; for they are, as it were, truths of our own making. Let us call this “Carnapian conventionalism”, conventionalismC and cognates for (...)
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  • Reply to Fine.Timothy Williamson - 2016 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 46 (4-5):571-583.
  • Possible Worlds and the Objective World.Jeffrey Sanford Russell - 2015 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 90 (2):389-422.
    David Lewis holds that a single possible world can provide more than one way things could be. But what are possible worlds good for if they come apart from ways things could be? We can make sense of this if we go in for a metaphysical understanding of what the world is. The world does not include everything that is the case—only the genuine facts. Understood this way, Lewis's “cheap haecceitism” amounts to a kind of metaphysical anti-haecceitism: it says there (...)
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  • Anthropic Reasoning Does Not Conflict with Observation.Dien Ho & Bradley Monton - 2005 - Analysis 65 (1):42–45.
    We grant that anthropic reasoning yields the result that we should not expect to be in a small civilization. However, regardless of what civilization one finds oneself in, one can use anthropic reasoning to get the result that one should not expect to be in that sort of civilization. Hence, contra Ken Olum, anthropic reasoning does not conflict with observation.
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  • What is a Singular Proposition?Ephraim N. Glick - 2018 - Mind 127 (508):1027-1067.
    An account of the distinction between singular and general propositions should reflect the core ideas that have motivated the distinction. Those core ideas can be appreciated independently of many commitments regarding the metaphysics of propositions, but theorists with differing views on the latter have given quite different explanations of what it is for a proposition to be singular or general. Many of those explanations turn out not to reflect the core ideas adequately after all, either by misclassifying certain propositions or (...)
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  • Singular Thoughts and Singular Propositions.Joshua Armstrong & Jason Stanley - 2011 - Philosophical Studies 154 (2):205 - 222.
    A singular thought about an object o is one that is directly about o in a characteristic way—grasp of that thought requires having some special epistemic relation to the object o, and the thought is ontologically dependent on o. One account of the nature of singular thought exploits a Russellian Structured Account of Propositions, according to which contents are represented by means of structured n-tuples of objects, properties, and functions. A proposition is singular, according to this framework, if and only (...)
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  • Defining Global Supervenience.Alex Steinberg - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (2):367-380.
    What does it mean that certain properties globally supervene on others? The paper criticises the now standard way of spelling out the notion in terms of 1–1 correlations between world-domains and proposes a modification that escapes the difficulties. The new definition can secure the additional benefit of resisting an argument to the effect that global supervenience is theoretically dispensable.
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  • The Ontology of Thisness.Joseph Diekemper - 2015 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 90 (1):49-71.
    This paper seeks to give an account of what it is for an individual to instantiate thisness (i.e. primitive individual essence). Thisnesses are peculiar entities, and even those who endorse their existence and instantiation by objects/entities, have said very little about how an individual and its thisness are related. My approach will be to seek out a model for the instantiation of thisness by canvassing broadly Aristotelian accounts of the substance/attribute relation, and then by making appropriate modifications to the most (...)
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  • In Defense of the Simplest Quantified Modal Logic.Bernard Linsky & Edward N. Zalta - 1994 - Philosophical Perspectives 8:431-458.
    The simplest quantified modal logic combines classical quantification theory with the propositional modal logic K. The models of simple QML relativize predication to possible worlds and treat the quantifier as ranging over a single fixed domain of objects. But this simple QML has features that are objectionable to actualists. By contrast, Kripke-models, with their varying domains and restricted quantifiers, seem to eliminate these features. But in fact, Kripke-models also have features to which actualists object. Though these philosophers have introduced variations (...)
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  • Modal Science.Timothy Williamson - 2016 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 46 (4-5):453-492.
    This paper explains and defends the idea that metaphysical necessity is the strongest kind of objective necessity. Plausible closure conditions on the family of objective modalities are shown to entail that the logic of metaphysical necessity is S5. Evidence is provided that some objective modalities are studied in the natural sciences. In particular, the modal assumptions implicit in physical applications of dynamical systems theory are made explicit by using such systems to define models of a modal temporal logic. Those assumptions (...)
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  • Logicism, Possibilism, and the Logic of Kantian Actualism.Andrew Stephenson - 2017 - Critique.
    In this extended critical discussion of 'Kant's Modal Metaphysics' by Nicholas Stang (OUP 2016), I focus on one central issue from the first chapter of the book: Stang’s account of Kant’s doctrine that existence is not a real predicate. In §2 I outline some background. In §§3-4 I present and then elaborate on Stang’s interpretation of Kant’s view that existence is not a real predicate. For Stang, the question of whether existence is a real predicate amounts to the question: ‘could (...)
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  • Universals.Chad Carmichael - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 150 (3):373-389.
    In this paper, I argue that there are universals. I begin (Sect. 1) by proposing a sufficient condition for a thing’s being a universal. I then argue (Sect. 2) that some truths exist necessarily. Finally, I argue (Sects. 3 and 4) that these truths are structured entities having constituents that meet the proposed sufficient condition for being universals.
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  • Modal Objectivity.Clarke-Doane Justin - forthcoming - Noûs.
    It is widely agreed that the intelligibility of modal metaphysics has been vindicated. Quine's arguments to the contrary supposedly confused analyticity with metaphysical necessity, and rigid with non-rigid designators.2 But even if modal metaphysics is intelligible, it could be misconceived. It could be that metaphysical necessity is not absolute necessity – the strictest real notion of necessity – and that no proposition of traditional metaphysical interest is necessary in every real sense. If there were nothing otherwise “uniquely metaphysically significant” about (...)
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  • Propositions.George Bealer - 1998 - Mind 107 (425):1-32.
    Recent work in philosophy of language has raised significant problems for the traditional theory of propositions, engendering serious skepticism about its general workability. These problems are, I believe, tied to fundamental misconceptions about how the theory should be developed. The goal of this paper is to show how to develop the traditional theory in a way which solves the problems and puts this skepticism to rest. The problems fall into two groups. The first has to do with reductionism, specifically attempts (...)
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  • Is Everything Revisable?Peter Baumann - 2017 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 4:349-357.
    Over the decades, the claim that everything is revisable (defended by Quine and others) has played an important role in Epistemology and Philosophy of Science. Some time ago, Katz (1988) argued that this claim is paradoxical. This paper does not discuss this objection but rather argues that the claim of universal revisability allows for two different readings but in each case leads to a contradiction and is false.
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  • Williamson on Fine on Prior on the Reduction of Possibilist Discourse.Kit Fine - 2016 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 46 (4-5):548-570.
    I attempt to meet some criticisms that Williamson makes of my attempt to carry out Prior's project of reducing possibility discourse to actualist discourse.
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  • Contingently Existing Propositions?Patrick Toner - 2006 - Philosophical Studies 129 (3):421-434.
    It is fairly common, among those who think propositions exist, to think they exist necessarily. Here, I consider three arguments in support of that conclusion. What I hope to show is not that that claim is false, but, rather, that the arguments used in its defense tend to presuppose a certain kind of approach to modality: a roughly Plantingian view. What the arguments show, then, is that one cannot accept that approach to modality and accept contingently existing propositions. But there (...)
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  • A New Argument Against the Existence Requirement.Takashi Yagisawa - 2005 - Analysis 65 (1):39–42.
    It may appear that in order to be any way at all, a thing must exist. A possible – worlds version of this claim goes as follows: (E) For every x, for every possible world w, Fx at w only if x exists at w. Here and later in (R), the letter ‘F’ is used as a schematic letter to be replaced with a one – place predicate. There are two arguments against (E). The first is by analogy. Socrates is (...)
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  • Deep Platonism.Chad Carmichael - 2016 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 92 (2):307-328.
    According to the traditional bundle theory, particulars are bundles of compresent universals. I think we should reject the bundle theory for a variety of reasons. But I will argue for the thesis at the core of the bundle theory: that all the facts about particulars are grounded in facts about universals. I begin by showing how to meet the main objection to this thesis (which is also the main objection to the bundle theory): that it is inconsistent with the possibility (...)
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  • Actuality for Counterpart Theorists.Jeffrey Sanford Russell - 2013 - Mind 122 (485):85-134.
    The counterpart theorist has a problem: there is no obvious way to understand talk about actuality in terms of counterparts. Fara and Williamson have charged that this obstacle cannot be overcome. Here I defend the counterpart theorist by offering systematic interpretations of a quantified modal language that includes an actuality operator. Centrally, I disentangle the counterpart relation from a related notion, a ‘representation relation’. The relation of possible things to the actual things they represent is variable, and an adequate account (...)
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  • Propositional Contingentism.Peter Fritz - 2016 - Review of Symbolic Logic 9 (1):123-142.
    According to propositional contingentism, it is contingent what propositions there are. This paper presents two ways of modeling contingency in what propositions there are using two classes of possible worlds models. The two classes of models are shown to be equivalent as models of contingency in what propositions there are, although they differ as to which other aspects of reality they represent. These constructions are based on recent work by Robert Stalnaker; the aim of this paper is to explain, expand, (...)
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  • To Be F Is To Be G.Cian Dorr - 2016 - Philosophical Perspectives 30 (1):39-134.
    This paper is an investigation of the general logic of "identifications", claims such as 'To be a vixen is to be a female fox', 'To be human is to be a rational animal', and 'To be just is to help one's friends and harm one's enemies', many of which are of great importance to philosophers. I advocate understanding such claims as expressing higher-order identity, and discuss a variety of different general laws which they might be thought to obey. [New version: (...)
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  • Molinism, Creature-Types, and the Nature of Counterfactual Implication.Daniel Murphy - 2012 - European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 4 (1):65-86.
    Granting that there could be true subjunctive conditionals of libertarian freedom (SCLs), I argue (roughly) that there could be such conditionals only in connection with individual "possible creatures" (in contrast to types). This implies that Molinism depends on the view that, prior to creation, God grasps possible creatures in their individuality. In making my case, I explore the notions of counterfactual implication (that relationship between antecedent and consequent of an SCL which consists in its truth) and counterfactual relevance (that feature (...)
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  • Existence as a Real Property.Francesco Berto - 2012 - Synthèse Library, Springer.
    This book is both an introduction to and a research work on Meinongianism. “Meinongianism” is taken here, in accordance with the common philosophical jargon, as a general label for a set of theories of existence – probably the most basic notion of ontology. As an introduction, the book provides the first comprehensive survey and guide to Meinongianism and non-standard theories of existence in all their main forms. As a research work, the book exposes and develops the most up-to-date Meinongian theory (...)
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  • What is Presentism?Daniel Deasy - 2017 - Noûs 51 (2):378-397.
    Different versions of the A-theory of time are traditionally defined in terms of whether everything is present, or whether there are also past and future things. In this paper I argue that the traditional way of defining A-theories should be abandoned. I focus on the traditional definition of presentism, according to which always, everything is present. First, I argue that there are good reasons to reject all the most plausible interpretations of the predicate ‘is present’ as it appears in the (...)
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  • The Triviality Argument Against Presentism.Daniel Deasy - 2019 - Synthese 196 (8):3369-3388.
    Presentism is typically characterised as the thesis that everything is present, and therefore there are no dinosaurs or Martian presidential inaugurations. Putting aside the vexed question of exactly what it is to be present in this context, this thesis seems quite straightforward. However, a number of authors—such as Merricks, Lombard, Meyer, Tallant and Sakon —have argued that Presentism so characterised is either trivially true or false even by Presentist lights. This is the so-called Triviality Argument against Presentism. In this paper (...)
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  • How Does an Aristotelian Substance Have its Platonic Properties? Issues and Options.Paul Gould - 2013 - Axiomathes 23 (2):343-364.
    Attempts to explicate the substance-property nexus are legion in the philosophical literature both historical and contemporary. In this paper, I shall attempt to impose some structure into the discussion by exploring ways to combine two unlikely bedfellows—Platonic properties and Aristotelian substances. Special attention is paid to the logical structure of substances and the metaphysics of property exemplification. I shall argue that an Aristotelian-Platonic account of the substance-property nexus is possible and has been ably defended by contemporary philosophers.
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  • Bernard Bolzano. Theory of Science. Volumes I–IV. Paul Rusnock and Rolf George, Trans. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014. ISBN: 978-0-19-968438-0. Pp. 2044. [REVIEW]Jan Sebestik - 2015 - Philosophia Mathematica 23 (3):428-435.
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  • The Objective Conception of Context and its Logic.Christopher Menzel - 1999 - Minds and Machines 9 (1):29-56.
    In this paper, an objective conception of contexts based loosely upon situation theory is developed and formalized. Unlike subjective conceptions, which take contexts to be something like sets of beliefs, contexts on the objective conception are taken to be complex, structured pieces of the world that (in general) contain individuals, other contexts, and propositions about them. An extended first-order language for this account is developed. The language contains complex terms for propositions, and the standard predicate "ist" that expresses the relation (...)
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  • Chance and the Structure of Modal Space.Boris Kment - 2018 - Mind 127 (507):633-665.
    The sample space of the chance distribution at a given time is a class of possible worlds. Thanks to this connection between chance and modality, one’s views about modal space can have significant consequences in the theory of chance and can be evaluated in part by how plausible these implications are. I apply this methodology to evaluate certain forms of modal contingentism, the thesis that some facts about what is possible are contingent. Any modal contingentist view that meets certain conditions (...)
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  • Counting Incompossibles.Peter Fritz & Jeremy Goodman - 2017 - Mind 126 (504):1063–1108.
    We often speak as if there are merely possible people—for example, when we make such claims as that most possible people are never going to be born. Yet most metaphysicians deny that anything is both possibly a person and never born. Since our unreflective talk of merely possible people serves to draw non-trivial distinctions, these metaphysicians owe us some paraphrase by which we can draw those distinctions without committing ourselves to there being merely possible people. We show that such paraphrases (...)
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  • Existentialism, Aliens and Referentially Unrestricted Worlds.Michael Longenecker - 2019 - Synthese 196 (9):3723-3738.
    Existentialism claims that propositions that directly refer to individuals depend on those individuals for their existence. I argue for two points regarding Existentialism. First, I argue that recent accounts of Existentialism run into difficulties accommodating the possibility of there being a lonely alien electron. This problem is distinct from one of the better-known alien problems—concerning iterated modal properties of aliens—and can’t be solved using a standard response to the iterated case. Second, though the lonely alien electron problem might seem to (...)
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  • Fragmented Truth.Andy Demfree Yu - 2016 - Dissertation, University of Oxford
    This thesis comprises three main chapters—each comprising one relatively standalone paper. The unifying theme is fragmentalism about truth, which is the view that the predicate “true” either expresses distinct concepts or expresses distinct properties. -/- In Chapter 1, I provide a formal development of alethic pluralism. Pluralism is the view that there are distinct truth properties associated with distinct domains of subject matter, where a truth property satisfies certain truth-characterizing principles. On behalf of pluralists, I propose an account of logic (...)
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  • Russellians Can Solve the Problem of Empty Names with Nonsingular Propositions.Thomas Hodgson - 2018 - Synthese:1-23.
    Views that treat the contents of sentences as structured, Russellian propositions face a problem with empty names. It seems that those sorts of things cannot be the contents of sentences containing such names. I motivate and defend a solution to the problem according to which a sentence may have a singular proposition as its content at one time, and a nonsingular one at another. When the name is empty the content is a nonsingular Russellian structured proposition; when the name is (...)
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  • Yet Another New Cosmological Argument.Christopher Weaver - 2016 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 80 (1):11-31.
    I argue that the existence of a necessary concrete being can be derived from an exceedingly weak causal principle coupled with two contingent truths one of which falls out of very popular positions in contemporary analytic metaphysics. I then show that the argument resists a great many objections commonly lodged against natural theological arguments of the cosmological variety.
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  • On Possibly Nonexistent Propositions.Jeff Speaks - 2012 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 85 (3):528-562.
    Alvin Plantinga gave a reductio of the conjunction of the following three theses: Existentialism (the view that, e.g., the proposition that Socrates exists can't exist unless Socrates does), Serious Actualism (the view that nothing can have a property at a world without existing at that world) and Contingency (the view that some objects, like Socrates, exist only contingently). I sketch a view of truth at a world which enables the Existentialist to resist Plantinga's argument without giving up either Serious Actualism (...)
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  • Serious Actualism.Yannis Stephanou - 2007 - Philosophical Review 116 (2):219-250.
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  • Two Axes of Actualism.Karen Bennett - 2005 - Philosophical Review 114 (3):297-326.
    Actualists routinely characterize their view by means of the slogan, “Everything is actual.” They say that there aren’t any things that exist but do not actually exist—there aren’t any “mere possibilia.” If there are any things that deserve the label ‘possible world’, they are just actually existing entities of some kind—maximally consistent sets of sentences, or maximal uninstantiated properties, or maximal possible states of affairs, or something along those lines. Possibilists, in contrast, do think that there are mere possibilia, that (...)
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  • Quantifying In From a Fregean Perspective.Seth Yalcin - 2015 - Philosophical Review 124 (2):207-253.
    As Quine observed, the following sentence has a reading which, if true, would be of special interest to the authorities: Ralph believes that someone is a spy. This is the reading where the quantifier is naturally understood as taking wide scope relative to the attitude verb and as binding a variable within the scope of the attitude verb. This essay is interested in addressing the question what the semantic analysis of this kind of reading should look like from a Fregean (...)
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  • An Argument For Necessitism.Jeremy Goodman - 2016 - Philosophical Perspectives 30 (1):160-182.
    This paper presents a new argument for necessitism, the claim that necessarily everything is necessarily something. The argument appeals to principles about the metaphysics of quantification and predication which are best seen as constraints on reality’s fineness of grain. I give this argument in section 4; the impatient reader may skip directly there. Sections 1-3 set the stage by surveying three other arguments for necessitism. I argue that none of them are persuasive, but I think it is illuminating to consider (...)
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  • Theism and the Scope of Contingency.Timothy O'Connor - 2008 - Oxford Studies in the Philosophy of Religion 1:134-149.
    According to classical theism, contingent beings find the ultimate explanation for their existence in a maximally perfect, necessary being who transcends the natural world and wills its acts in accordance with reasons. I contend that if this thesis is true, it is likely that contingent reality is vastly greater than what current scientific theory or even speculation fancies. After considering the implications of this contention for the extent of divine freedom, I go on to discuss its relevance to the problem (...)
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  • Names and Obstinate Rigidity.Brendan Murday - 2013 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 51 (2):224-242.
    Names are rigid designators, but what kind of rigidity do they exhibit? Both “obstinately” and “persistently” rigid designators pick out O at every world at which they pick out anything at all. They differ in that obstinately rigid designators also pick out O at worlds at which O fails to exist; persistently rigid designators have no extension whatsoever at worlds at which O fails to exist. The question whether names are obstinate or persistent arises in two contexts: in arguments against (...)
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  • Intrinsic Properties and Relations.Jan Plate - 2018 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 61 (8):783-853.
    This paper provides an analysis of the intrinsic/extrinsic distinction, as applied both to properties and to relations. In contrast to other accounts, the approach taken here locates the source of a property’s intrinsicality or extrinsicality in the manner in which that property is ‘logically constituted’, and thus – plausibly – in its nature or essence, rather than in e.g. its modal profile. Another respect in which the present proposal differs from many extant analyses lies in the fact that it does (...)
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  • On Williamson and Simplicity in Modal Logic.Theodore Sider - 2016 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 46 (4-5):683-698.
    According to Timothy Williamson, we should accept the simplest and most powerful second-order modal logic, and as a result accept an ontology of "bare possibilia". This general method for extracting ontology from logic is salutary, but its application in this case depends on a questionable assumption: that modality is a fundamental feature of the world.
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