The Problem of Nonexistence: Truthmaking or Semantics? Critical Notice of The Objects of Thought, by Tim Crane

Disputatio 7 (41):231-245 (2015)
Lee Walters
University of Southampton
Tim Crane's The Objects of Thought is, I think, a much needed corrective to standard ways that analytic philosophers think about nonexistence. It starts from our common sense thought and talk, and tries to carve out a position that can defend this starting point in the face of criticism. It is well-written, a pleasure to read, and largely clear. I would recommend it to anyone interested in the problems of nonexistence. In §1 I sketch Crane's central ideas about the nonexistent, before turning to themes that I would like to have heard more about. In §2, I distinguish two problems of nonexistence, showing that whilst Crane solves one, he does not address the other. Although Crane did not seek to address both problems, I think we should recognize that there is this residual problem of nonexistence remaining. Next (§3), I argue that whilst Crane is correct to think that a negative free logic has to be rejected if we construe it as making a claim about grammatical subject-predicate sentences, we might be able to salvage it if we recognise a class of logical predicates. But whether this is possible or not, depends on the solution to the unaddressed problem of nonexistence. In the final two sections I briefly raise a concern about Crane's view of quantification, before making a suggestion about his view might be employed in addressing Geach's problem of intentional identity.
Keywords Tim Crane  Truthmaking  Nonexistence
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DOI 10.2478/disp-2015-0012
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