Philosophical Studies 141 (1):63 - 78 (2008)

Amie Thomasson
Dartmouth College
I argue that thinking of existence questions as deep questions to be resolved by a distinctively philosophical discipline of ontology is misguided. I begin by examining how to understand the truth-conditions of existence claims, by way of understanding the rules of use for ‘exists’ and for general noun terms. This yields a straightforward method for resolving existence questions by a combination of conceptual analysis and empirical enquiry. It also provides a blueprint for arguing against most common proposals for uniform substantive ‘criteria of existence’, whether they involve mind-independence, possession of causal powers, observability, etc., and thus for showing that many arguments for denying entities (numbers, ordinary objects, fictional characters, propositions…) on grounds of their failure to meet one or more of these proposed existence criteria are mistaken.
Keywords Existence  Ontology  Reference  Mind-independence  Causal relevance
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DOI 10.1007/s11098-008-9263-8
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References found in this work BETA

Objects and Persons.Trenton Merricks - 2001 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Material Beings.Peter Van Inwagen - 1990 - Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Meaning.Paul Horwich - 1998 - Oxford University Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

Quantification in the Ontology Room.Bradley Rettler - 2019 - Dialectica 73 (4):563-585.
Ontological Commitment.Phillip Bricker - 2014 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
The Easy Approach to Ontology.Amie L. Thomasson - 2009 - Axiomathes 19 (1):1-15.

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