Internal and External Questions Revisited

Journal of Philosophy 113 (4):177-209 (2016)
Abstract
Rudolf Carnap famously distinguished between the external meanings that existence questions have when asked by philosophers and the internal meanings they have when asked by non-philosophers. Carnap’s overall position involved various controversial commitments, but relatively uncontroversial interpretative principles also lead to a Carnap-style distinction between internal and external questions. In section 1 of this paper I offer arguments for such a distinction in several particular cases; in section 2 I defend my arguments from numerous objections and motivate them by using points drawn from the general theory of interpretation; and in section 3 I discuss the meanings of external questions, ultimately arguing that they are best understood as involving primitive metaphysical notions, and that when so understood, it is natural to adopt a general error theory about philosophical ontology.
Keywords metaontology  error theory  Carnap  internal/external distinction
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DOI 10.5840/jphil2016113411
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