Ontological Pluralism and Notational Variance

Oxford Studies in Metaphysics 12:58-72 (2021)
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Ontological pluralism is the view that there are different ways to exist. It is a position with deep roots in the history of philosophy, and in which there has been a recent resurgence of interest. In contemporary presentations, it is stated in terms of fundamental languages: as the view that such languages contain more than one quantifier. For example, one ranging over abstract objects, and another over concrete ones. A natural worry, however, is that the languages proposed by the pluralist are mere notational variants of those proposed by the monist, in which case the debate between the two positions would not seem to be substantive. Jason Turner has given an ingenious response to this worry, in terms of a principle that he calls ‘logical realism’. This paper offers a counter-response on behalf of the ‘notationalist’. I argue that, properly applied, the principle of logical realism is no threat to the claim that the languages in question are notational variants. Indeed, there seems to be every reason to think that they are.



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Bruno Whittle
University of Wisconsin, Madison

Citations of this work

Ways of being have no way of being useful.Wouter Adriaan Cohen - 2021 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 10 (4):293-301.

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References found in this work

Writing the Book of the World.Theodore Sider - 2011 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
New work for a theory of universals.David K. Lewis - 1983 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 61 (4):343-377.
What are logical notions?Alfred Tarski - 1986 - History and Philosophy of Logic 7 (2):143-154.
Ontological Pluralism.Jason Turner - 2010 - Journal of Philosophy 107 (1):5-34.
Ways of being.Kris McDaniel - 2009 - In David Chalmers, David Manley & Ryan Wasserman (eds.), Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology. Oxford University Press.

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