A problem for easy ontology

Disputatio 10 (16) (2021)

Authors
Sybren Heyndels
University College Dublin
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.
Keywords Ontology  Existence  Strawson  Carnap  Deflationism  Easy ontology
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