Philosophical Studies 170 (2):199-214 (2014)

T. Parent
Nazarbayev University
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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Reprint years 2014
DOI 10.1007/s11098-013-0207-6
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References found in this work BETA

On the Plurality of Worlds.David Lewis - 1986 - Wiley-Blackwell.
Writing the Book of the World.Theodore Sider - 2011 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Science Without Numbers: A Defence of Nominalism.Hartry H. Field - 1980 - Princeton, NJ, USA: Princeton University Press.
On What Grounds What.Jonathan Schaffer - 2009 - In David Manley, David J. Chalmers & Ryan Wasserman (eds.), Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology. Oxford University Press. pp. 347-383.
On the Plurality of Worlds.David K. Lewis - 1986 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 178 (3):388-390.

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Citations of this work BETA

Deflationary Nominalism and Puzzle Avoidance.David Mark Kovacs - 2019 - Philosophia Mathematica 27 (1):88-104.
Ontological Commitment and Quantifiers.T. Parent - forthcoming - In Ricki Bliss & James Miller (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Metametaphysics. New York: Routledge.

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