A problem for easy ontology

Disputatio 10 (16) (2021)
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Abstract

Thomasson’s easy ontology approach (2015) aims at deflating existence questions through a revival of Carnap’s (1950) distinction between internal and external questions. Importantly, her account depends on an analysis of the ordinary meaning of ‘exist(s)’ as a second-order predicate. I do two things in this paper. First, I show that Thomasson’s analysis fails to do justice to the complexity of the English predicate ‘exist(s)’. Against Thomasson, I argue that there are cases in which ‘exist(s)’ functions as a first-order predicate. Because these cases were first noted by P.F. Strawson (1967), I will call them ‘Strawson-cases’. Secondly, I argue that these counterexamples give some support to (i) more substantive theories about existence as well as (ii) accounts that treat ‘exist(s)’ as varying in meaning.

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References found in this work

On Referring.Peter F. Strawson - 1950 - Mind 59 (235):320-344.
Empiricism, Semantics, and Ontology.Rudolf Carnap - 2011 - In Robert B. Talisse & Scott F. Aikin (eds.), The Pragmatism Reader: From Peirce Through the Present. Princeton University Press. pp. 249-264.
On What There Is.Willard Van Orman Quine - 1948 - Review of Metaphysics 2 (5):21-38.
Quantifier Variance and Realism.Eli Hirsch - 2002 - Philosophical Issues 12 (1):51-73.
Quantifier Variance and Realism.Eli Hirsch - 2002 - Noûs 36 (s1):51-73.

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