In this paper, I examine Kant's famous objection to the ontological argument: existence is not a determination. Previous commentators have not adequately explained what this claim means, how it undermines the ontological argument, or how Kant argues for it. I argue that the claim that existence is not a determination means that it is not possible for there to be non-existent objects; necessarily, there are only existent objects. I argue further that Kant's target is not merely ontological arguments (...) as such but the larger ‘ontotheist’ metaphysics they presuppose: the view that God necessarily exists in virtue of his essence being contained in, or logically entailed by, his essence. I show that the ontotheist explanation of divine necessity requires the assumption that existence is a determination, and I show that Descartes and Leibniz are implicitly committed to this in their published versions of the ontological argument. I consider the philosophical motivations for the claim that existence is a determination and then I examine Kant's arguments in the Critique of Pure Reason against it. (shrink)
Alessandro Torza argues that Ted Sider’s Lewisian argument against vague existence is insufficient to rule out the possibility of what he calls ‘super-vague existence’, that is the idea that existence is higher-order vague, for all orders. In this chapter it is argued that the possibility of super-vague existence is ineffective against the conclusion of Sider’s argument since super-vague existence cannot be consistently claimed to be a kind of linguistic vagueness. Torza’s idea of super-vague existence (...) seems to be better suited to model vague existence under the assumption that vague existence is instead a form of ontic indeterminacy, contra what Ted Sider and David Lewis assume. (shrink)
I have two main goals in this paper. The first is to argue for the thesis that Kant gave up on his highest good argument for the existence of God around 1800. The second is to revive a dialogue about this thesis that died out in the 1960s. The paper is divided into three sections. In the first, I reconstruct Kant’s highest good argument. In the second, I turn to the post-1800 convolutes of Kant’s Opus postumum to discuss his (...) repeated claim that there is only one way to argue for the existence of God, a way which resembles the highest good argument only in taking the moral law as its starting point. In the third, I explain why I do not find the counterarguments to my thesis introduced in the 1960s persuasive. (shrink)
We have argued that it is rational to have asymmetric attitudes toward prenatal and posthumous non-existence insofar as this asymmetry is a special case of a more general (and arguably rational) asymmetry in our attitudes toward past and future pleasures. Here we respond to an interesting critique of our view by Jens Johansson. We contend that his critique involves a crucial and illicit switch in temporal perspectives in the process of considering modal claims (sending us to other possible worlds).
According to the “deprivation approach,” a person’s death is bad for her to the extent that it deprives her of goods. This approach faces the Lucretian problem that prenatal non-existence deprives us of goods just as much as death does, but does not seem bad at all. The two most prominent responses to this challenge—one of which is provided by Frederik Kaufman (inspired by Thomas Nagel) and the other by Anthony Brueckner and John Martin Fischer—claim that prenatal non-existence (...) is relevantly different from death. This paper criticizes these responses. (shrink)
Ted Sider has famously argued that existence, in the unrestricted sense of ontology, cannot be vague, as long as vagueness is modeled by means of precisifications. The first section of Chapter 9 exposes some controversial assumptions underlying Sider’s alleged reductio of vague existence. The upshot of the discussion is that, although existence cannot be vague, it can be super-vague, i.e. higher-order vague, for all orders. The second section develops and defends a novel framework, dubbed negative supervaluationary semantics, (...) which makes room for the possibility of super-vague existence. (shrink)
I explain a tension between musical creationism and the view that there is no vague existence. I then suggest ways to reconcile these views. My central conclusion is that, although some versions of musical creationism imply vague existence, others do not. I discuss versions of musical creationism held by Jerrold Levinson, Simon Evnine, and Kit Fine. I also present two new versions. I close by considering whether the tension is merely an instance of a general problem raised by (...) artifacts, both abstract and concrete. I argue that on at least one defensible account of music the tension is especially problematic for abstracta. I focus on musical works, but much of the paper straightforwardly applies to other kinds of abstract artifacts. (shrink)
It is widely held that there is a problem of talking about or otherwise representing things that not exist. But what exactly is this problem? This paper presents a formulation of the problem in terms of the conflict between the fact that there are truths about non-existent things and the fact that truths must be answerable to reality, how things are. Given this, the problem of singular negative existential statements is no longer the central or most difficult aspect of the (...) problem of non-existence, despite what some philosophers say. (shrink)
If a potential person would have a good life if he were to come into existence, can we regard his coming into existence as better for him than his never coming into existence? And can we regard the situation in which he never comes into existence as worse for him? In this paper, we argue that both questions should be answered affirmatively.
In the course of his philosophy, in various contexts, Kant comes to reject three theses about existence: (i) that the thoroughgoing determination of a thing implies its existence, (ii) that existence is a real predicate or determination of a thing, and (iii) that existence is the complement of inner possibility or essence. Kant’s target here is Baumgarten, who advocates these theses as the criterion, classification, and definition of existence. In this article I seek to clarify (...) Kant’s elusive theory of existence through its opposition to Baumgarten. I will show that Kant’s refutation of (i)–(iii) does not stand alone but is grounded on his own definition of existence as (absolute) positing. Thus contrary to common practice, Kant’s negative claims about what existence is not cannot be understood in isolation but must be taken as jointly dependent on Kant’s positive claim of what existence is. I will show that the theses (i)–(iii) fail because they presuppose that existence contributes to the intension or content of a concept, whereas according to Kant existence in fact posits a (non-empty) extension to the concept. (shrink)
The existence of God is once again the focus of vivid philosophical discussion. From the point of view of analytic theology, however, people often talk past each other when they debate about the putative existence or nonexistence of God. In the worst case, for instance, atheists deny the existence of a God, which no theists ever claimed to exist. In order to avoid confusions like this we need to be clear about the function of the term 'God' (...) in its different contexts of use. In what follows, I distinguish between the functions of 'God' in philosophical contexts on the one hand and in theological contexts on the other in order to provide a schema, which helps to avoid confusion in the debate on the existence or non-existence of God. (shrink)
We initially characterize what we’ll call existence problems as problems where there is evidence that a putative entity exists and this evidence is not easily dismissed; however, the evidence is not adequate to justify the claim that the entity exists, and in particular the entity hasn’t been detected. The putative entity is elusive. We then offer a strategy for determining whether an existence problem is philosophical or scientific. According to this strategy (1) existence problems are characterized in (...) terms of causal roles, and (2) these problems are categorized as scientific or philosophical on the basis of the epistemic context of putative realizers. We argue that the first step of the strategy is necessary to avoid begging the question with regard to categorization of existence problems, and the second step categorizes existence problems on the basis of a distinction between two ways in which an entity can be elusive. This distinction between kinds of elusiveness takes as background a standard account of inference to the best explanation. Applying this strategy, we argue that the existence of a multiverse is a scientific problem. (shrink)
Sider (Four-dimensionalism 2001; Philos Stud 114:135–146, 2003; Nous 43:557–567, 2009) has developed an influential argument against indeterminacy in existence. In what follows, I argue that the defender of metaphysical forms of indeterminate existence has a unique way of responding to Sider’s argument. The response I’ll offer is interesting not only for its applicability to Sider’s argument, but also for its broader implications; responding to Sider helps to show both how we should think about precisification in the context of (...) metaphysical indeterminacy and how we should understand commitment to metaphysically indeterminate existence. And if I’m right that metaphysical indeterminacy can allow for indeterminate existence in a way that semantic indeterminacy can’t, indeterminate existence might actually give us a reason to accept metaphysical indeterminacy (rather than a reason to reject it, as is commonly assumed). (shrink)
Paley’s ‘proof’ of the existence of God, or some supposed version of it, is well known. In this paper I offer the real thing and two objections to it. One objection is my own, and the other is provided by Darwin.
To a first approximation, ontology is concerned with what exists, metaontology with what it means to say that something exists. So understood, metaontology has been dominated by three views: (i) existence as a substantive first-order property that some things have and some do not, (ii) existence as a formal first-order property that everything has, and (iii) existence as a second-order property of existents’ distinctive properties. Each of these faces well-documented difficulties. In this chapter, I want to expound (...) a fourth theoretical option, which unfortunately has remained ‘under the radar.’ This is Franz Brentano’s view, according to which to say that X exists is not to attribute a property at all (first- or second-order), but to say that the correct attitude to take toward X is that of accepting or believing in it. (shrink)
The Knowability Paradox purports to show that the controversial but not patently absurd hypothesis that all truths are knowable entails the implausible conclusion that all truths are known. The notoriety of this argument owes to the negative light it appears to cast on the view that there can be no verification-transcendent truths. We argue that it is overly simplistic to formalize the views of contemporary verificationists like Dummett, Prawitz or Martin-Löf using the sort of propositional modal operators which are employed (...) in the original derivation of the Paradox. Instead we propose that the central tenet of verificationism is most accurately formulated as follows: if φ is true, then there exists a proof of φ Building on the work of Artemov (Bull Symb Log 7(1): 1-36, 2001), a system of explicit modal logic with proof quantifiers is introduced to reason about such statements. When the original reasoning of the Paradox is developed in this setting, we reach not a contradiction, but rather the conclusion that there must exist non-constructed proofs. This outcome is evaluated relative to the controversy between Dummett and Prawitz about proof existence and bivalence. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
The notion of existence is a very puzzling one philosophically. Often philosophers have appealed to linguistic properties of sentences stating existence. However, the appeal to linguistic intuitions has generally not been systematic and without serious regard of relevant issues in linguistic semantics. This paper has two aims. On the one hand, it will look at statements of existence from a systematic linguistic point of view, in order to try to clarify what the actual semantics of such statements (...) in fact is. On the other hand, it will explore what sort of ontology such statements reflect. The first aim is one of linguistic semantics; the second aim is one of descriptive metaphysics. Philosophically, existence statements appear to reflect the distinction between endurance and perdurance as well as particular notions of abstract states and of kinds. Linguistically, statements of existence involve a particular way of drawing the distinction between eventive and stative verbs and between individual-level and stage-level predicates as well as a particular approach to the semantics of bare plurals and mass nouns. (shrink)
Next SectionAn attempt to resolve the controversy regarding the solution of the Sleeping Beauty Problem in the framework of the Many-Worlds Interpretation led to a new controversy regarding the Quantum Sleeping Beauty Problem. We apply the concept of a measure of existence of a world and reach the solution known as ‘thirder’ solution which differs from Peter Lewis’s ‘halfer’ assertion. We argue that this method provides a simple and powerful tool for analysing rational decision theory problems.
This paper explains a way of understanding Kant's proof of God's existence in the Critique of Practical Reason that has hitherto gone unnoticed and argues that this interpretation possesses several advantages over its rivals. By first looking at examples where Kant indicates the role that faith plays in moral life and then reconstructing the proof of the second Critique with this in view, I argue that, for Kant, we must adopt a certain conception of the highest good, and so (...) also must choose to believe in the kind of God that can make it possible, because this is essentially a way of actively striving for virtue. One advantage of this interpretation, I argue, is that it is able to make sense of the strong link Kant draws between morality and religion. (shrink)
A traditional conception of ontology takes existence to be its proprietary subject matter—ontology is the study of what exists (§ 1). Recently, Jonathan Schaffer has argued that ontology is better thought of rather as the study of what is basic or fundamental in reality (§ 2). My goal here is twofold. First, I want to argue that while Schaffer’s characterization is quite plausible for some ontological questions, for others it is not (§ 3). More importantly, I want to offer (...) a unified characterization of ontology that covers both existence and fundamentality questions (§§ 4-5). (shrink)
According to hardcore actualism (HA), all modal truths are grounded in the concrete constituents of the actual world. In this paper, I discuss some problems faced by HA when it comes to accounting for certain alleged possibilities of non‐existence. I focus particular attention on Leech (2017)'s dilemma for HA, according to which HA must either sacrifice extensional correctness or admit mere possibilia. I propose a solution to Leech's dilemma, which relies on a distinction between weak and strong possibility. It (...) remains the case, however, that HA cannot capture certain iterated de re possibilities of non‐existence and that it is committed to a stock of necessary existents. But I still think that the virtues of the view outweigh these costs. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to clarify Spinoza’s views on some of the most fundamental issues of his metaphysics: the nature of God’s attributes, the nature of existence and eternity, and the relation between essence and existence in God. While there is an extensive literature on each of these topics, it seems that the following question was hardly raised so far: What is, for Spinoza, the relation between God’s existence and the divine attributes? Given Spinoza’s claims (...) that there are intimate connections between God’s essence and his existence – “God’s essence and his existence are one and the same”(E1p20) – and between God’s essence and the attributes – “By attribute I understand what the intellect perceives of substance, as constituting its essence” (E1d4), we would naturally expect that by transitivity, there is a significant relation between God’s existence and the attributes. Yet, as far as I know, there is little, if any, attempt in the existing literature to explicate such a relation, and it is one of my aims of this study to both raise the question and answer it. Eventually, I will argue that for Spinoza God is nothing but existence, and that the divine attributes are just fundamental kinds of existence, or, what is the same, as I will later argue, the intellect’s most fundamental and adequate conceptions of existence. In the first part of the paper I provide some background for Spinoza’s brief discussion in the TTP of God’s name and essence by studying the claims of Maimonides in the Guide of the Perplexed that God’s true essence is necessary existence, and that this essence is denoted by the ineffable Hebrew name of God, the Tetragrammaton (YHVH). In the second part of the paper I point out similar claims Spinoza presents in the TTP, and show how they respond to and echo Maimonides’ discussion in the Guide. In the third part, I examine Spinoza’s apparently conflicting claims in the Ethics about the relationship between God’s essence and existence. In some places Spinoza claims that God’s essence and existence are strictly identical (E1p10: “God’s essence his existence are one and the same”), but in other passages he makes the apparently much more modest claim that God’s essence involves existence (E1d1, E1p7d and E1p11d), which may lead one to believe that there is more to God’s essence than mere existence. I show that Spinoza’s understanding of the relation denoted by the Latin ‘involvit’ is consistent with the strict identification of essence and existence in God, and that Spinoza identifies God’s essence with self-necessitated existence, or eternity. Indeed, Spinoza’s understanding of eternity [aeternitas] as self-necessitated existence (E1d8) is one of the very few Spinozistic concepts that has no trace in Descartes. In this part I will also solve the long-standing problem of the sense in which the infinite modes can be called ‘eternal.’ In the fourth part I turn to the relation between the divine attributes and God’s existence and argue that, for Spinoza, the attributes are self-sufficient and adequate conceptions of existence. Finally, I will attempt to explain what brought Spinoza to deify existence. -/- Part I: “In that Day shall God be One, and his Name One”- Maimonides on God’s Name and Essence. -/- 1.1 Before we delve into the texts, let me suggest a few distinctions between various views on the issue of the relation between essence and existence in God. The view I suspect both Maimonides and Spinoza subscribe to can be termed the divine essence-existence Identity Thesis. -/- Identity Thesis (IT): God’s essence is existence and nothing but existence. We should distinguish the Identity Thesis from the much more common view according to which God’s essence contains existence, or (which I take to be roughly the same) that existence is one of the properties or perfections which constitute God’s essence. The latter view allows for the possibility (though it does not demand) that there is more to God’s essence than bare existence (e.g., God’s essence may include omniscience, omnipotence, etc.). I will term this view the divine essence-existence Containment Thesis. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that coming into existence can benefit (or harm) aperson. My argument incorporates the comparative claim that existence canbe better (or worse) for a person than never existing. Since these claimsare highly controversial, I consider and reject a number of objectionswhich threaten them. These objections raise various semantic, logical,metaphysical and value-theoretical issues. I then suggest that there is animportant sense in which it can harm (or benefit) a person not to comeinto existence. Again, (...) I consider and reject some objections. Finally, Ibriefly consider what the conclusions reached in this paper imply for ourmoral obligations to possible future people. (shrink)
The article compares Kierkegaard’s and Marcel’s comprehension of existence and communication of existence. With reference to the notion of existence, both authors (independently from each other) develop the idea of a second reflection that includes a theory of communication. But whereas Kierkegaard conceives communication strictly within a first person perspective, Marcel establishes a kind of second person perspective. For this reason and despite a strong common basis in their views, different aspects of communication of existence are (...) put forward by them. (shrink)
Natural languages generally distinguishes among different existence predicates for different types of entities, such as English 'exist', 'occur', and 'obtain'. The paper gives an in-depth discussion and analysis of a range of existence predicates in natural language within the general project of descriptive metaphysics, or more specifically ‘natural language ontology’.
In order to make sense of Scotus’s claim that rationality is perfected only by the will, a Scotistic doctrine of truth is developed in a speculative way. It is claimed that synthetic a priori truths are truths of the will, which are existential truths. This insight holds profound theological implications and is used on the one hand to criticize Kant's conception of existence, and on the other hand, to offer another explanation of the sense according to which the (...) class='Hi'>existence of things is grasped. (shrink)
Existence monism is defended against priority monism. Schaffer's arguments for priority monism and against pluralism are reviewed, such as the argument from gunk. The whole does not require parts. Ontological vagueness is impossible. If ordinary objects are in the right ontology then they are vague. So ordinary objects are not included in the right ontology; and hence thought and talk about them cannot be accommodated via fully ontological vindication. Partially ontological vindication is not viable. Semantical theorizing outside the ontology (...) room and semantical theorizing in the doorway. Existence monism is theoretically preferable to priority monism. (shrink)
David Hilbert’s early foundational views, especially those corresponding to the 1890s, are analysed here. I consider strong evidence for the fact that Hilbert was a logicist at that time, following upon Dedekind’s footsteps in his understanding of pure mathematics. This insight makes it possible to throw new light on the evolution of Hilbert’s foundational ideas, including his early contributions to the foundations of geometry and the real number system. The context of Dedekind-style logicism makes it possible to offer a new (...) analysis of the emergence of Hilbert’s famous ideas on mathematical existence, now seen as a revision of basic principles of the “naive logic” of sets. At the same time, careful scrutiny of his published and unpublished work around the turn of the century uncovers deep differences between his ideas about consistency proofs before and after 1904. Along the way, we cover topics such as the role of sets and of the dichotomic conception of set theory in Hilbert’s early axiomatics, and offer detailed analyses of Hilbert’s paradox and of his completeness axiom (Vollständigkeitsaxiom). (shrink)
This book is both an introduction to and a research work on Meinongianism. “Meinongianism” is taken here, in accordance with the common philosophical jargon, as a general label for a set of theories of existence – probably the most basic notion of ontology. As an introduction, the book provides the first comprehensive survey and guide to Meinongianism and non-standard theories of existence in all their main forms. As a research work, the book exposes and develops the most up-to-date (...) Meinongian theory (called modal Meinongianism), applies it to specific fields, and discusses its open problems. Part I of the book provides a historical introduction to, and critical discussion of, the dominant philosophical view of existence: the “Kantian-Fregean-Quinean” perspective. Part II is the full-fledged introduction to the Meinongian theories of existence as a real property of individuals: after starting with the so-called naïve Meinongian conception and its problems, it provides a self-contained presentation of the main neo-Meinongian proposals, and a detailed discussion of their strengths and weaknesses. Part III develops a specific neo-Meinongian theory of existence employing a model-theoretic semantic framework. It discusses its application to the ontology and semantics of fictional objects, and its open problems. The methodology of the book follows the most recent trends in analytic ontology. In particular, the meta-ontological point of view is largely privileged. (shrink)
Many existence propositions in constructive analysis are implied by the lesser limited principle of omniscience LLPO; sometimes one can even show equivalence. It was discovered recently that some existence propositions are equivalent to Bouwer's fan theorem FAN if one additionally assumes that there exists at most one object with the desired property. We are providing a list of conditions being equivalent to FAN, such as a unique version of weak König's lemma. This illuminates the relation between FAN and (...) LLPO. Furthermore, we give a short and elementary proof of the fact that FAN is equivalent to each positive valued function with compact domain having positive infimum. (shrink)
Richard Swinburne’s argument in The Existence of God discusses many probabilities, ultimately concluding that God probably exists. Swinburne gives exact values to almost none of these probabilities. I attempted to assign values to the probabilities that met that weak condition that they could be correct. In this paper, I first present a brief outline of Swinburne’s argument in The Existence of God. I then present the problems I encountered in Swinburne’s argument, specifically problems that interfered with my attempt (...) to arrive at values for the probabilities discussed by Swinburne. Finally, I suggest that Swinburne’s argument would be more persuasive if he assigned exact values to his probabilities. (shrink)
Recently, Terry Horgan and Matjaž Potrč have defended the thesis of ‘existence monism’, according to which the whole cosmos is the only concrete object. Their arguments appeal largely to considerations concerning vagueness. Crucially, they claim that ontological vagueness is impossible, and one key assumption in their defence of this claim is that vagueness always involves ‘sorites-susceptibility’. I aim to challenge both the claim and this assumption. As a consequence, I seek to undermine their defence of existence monism and (...) support a common-sense pluralist ontology of ‘ordinary objects’ as being fully consistent with a thoroughgoing metaphysical realism. (shrink)
This paper uses a paradox inherent in any solution to the Hard Problem of Consciousness to argue for God’s existence. The paper assumes we are “thought machines”, reading the state of a relevant physical medium and then outputting corresponding thoughts. However, the existence of such a thought machine is impossible, since it needs an infinite number of point-representing sensors to map the physical world to conscious thought. This paper shows that these sensors cannot exist, and thus thought cannot (...) come solely from our physical world. The only possible explanation is something outside, argued to be God. (shrink)
Sceptics about substantial disputes in ontology often argue that when two philosophers seem to disagree on a quantified claim, they are actually equivocating on the notion of existence that they are using. When temporal elements play a central role, as in the debate between presentists and eternalists, the hypothesis of an equivocation with respect to existence acquires more plausibility. However, the anti-sceptic can still argue that this hypothesis is unjustified.
The currently standard philosophical conception of existence makes a connection between three things: certain ways of talking about existence and being in natural language; certain natural language idioms of quantification; and the formal representation of these in logical languages. Thus a claim like ‘Prime numbers exist’ is treated as equivalent to ‘There is at least one prime number’ and this is in turn equivalent to ‘Some thing is a prime number’. The verb ‘exist’, the verb phrase ‘there is’ (...) and the quantifier ‘some’ are treated as all playing similar roles, and these roles are made explicit in the standard common formalization of all three sentences by a single formula of first-order logic: ‘(∃ x )[P( x ) & N( x )]’, where ‘P( x )’ abbreviates ‘ x is prime’ and ‘N( x )’ abbreviates ‘ x is a number’. The logical quantifier ‘∃’ accordingly symbolizes in context the role played by the English words ‘exists’, ‘some’ and ‘there is’. (shrink)
In this paper I aim to defend a first‐order non‐discriminating property view concerning existence. The version of this view that I prefer is based on negative (or a specific neutral) free logic that treats the existence predicate as first‐order logical predicate. I will provide reasons why such a view is more plausible than a second‐order discriminating property view concerning existence and I will also discuss four challenges for the proposed view and provide solutions to them.
In his Beweisgrund (1762), Kant presents a sketch of "the only possible basis" for a proof of God's existence. In this essay, I attempt to present that proof as a valid and sound argument for the existence of God.
It is shown that functional interpretation can be used to show the existence property of intuitionistic number theory. On the basis of truth variants a comparison is then made between realisability and functional interpretation showing a structural difference between the two.
The official definitions that appear at the beginning of four of the five parts of the "Ethics" do not include an account of "existence." However Spinoza does provide a definition of “existence” in the scholium to proposition 45 of Part 2. This is an odd place for such an important doctrine, and all the more so given that the account there differs from anything resembling commonsense. In this paper I show that, for Spinoza, to exist is to be (...) eternal. Existence in the strict sense is eternal existence. (shrink)
Fundamental to Quine’s philosophy of logic is the thesis that substitutional quantification does not express existence. This paper considers the content of this claim and the reasons for thinking it is true.
Despite its importance for early analytic philosophy, Gottlob Frege's account of existence statements, according to which they classify concepts, has been thought to succumb to a number of well-worn criticisms. This article does two things. First, it argues that, by remaining faithful to the letter of Frege's claim that concepts are functions, the Fregean account can be saved from many of the standard criticisms. Second, it examines the problem that Frege's account fails to generalize to cases which involve definite (...) descriptions and proper names. To deal with this the proffered analysis deviates from the letter of Frege's views, while remaining within its spirit. It proposes, in opposition to Frege, that expressions which grammatically look like singular terms should not always be read as referring to objects, but are sometimes best analysed as indicating functions. (shrink)
Nietzsche believed in the horror of existence—in a world filled with meaningless suffering. He also believed in eternal recurrence—that our lives will repeat infinitely and that in each life every detail will be exactly the same. Furthermore, it was not enough that eternal recurrence simply be accepted—Nietzsche demanded that it be loved. Thus the philosopher who introduces eternal recurrence is the very same philosopher who also believes in the horror of existence—a paradox that is completely overlooked by commentators (...) (who thus fail to adequately understand Nietzsche). All of this demands careful explanation. (shrink)
I argue that Kant's and Frege's refutations of the ontological argument are more similar than has generally been acknowledged. As I clarify, for both Kant and Frege, to say that something exists is to assert of a concept that it is instantiated. With such an assertion one expresses that there is a particular relation between the instantiating object and a rational subject - a particular mode of presentation for the object in question. By its very nature such a relation cannot (...) be the property of an object and thus cannot be included in the concept of that object. Thus the ontological argument, which takes existence to be a part of the concept of the supreme being, cannot, according to Kant and Frege, succeed. A secondary goal of the paper is to illuminate what I take to be an important affinity between Kant's and Frege's views more generally: that Frege's fundamental distinction between the sense and the referent of a proposition echoes, in an important way, Kant's distinction between concepts and the formal principles for their application to experience. (shrink)
Much debate in contemporary metaphysics of time has centred on whether or not tense is essential to the understanding of a temporal reality. The rival positions in this debate are associated with two very different pictures of the relationship between time and existence. Those who argue for the dispensability of tense see the phenomenon of tense as an epistemological accretion which infects our perception of the world but is in no way essential to a complete description of reality. With (...) respect to existence, things past and future are supposed to be on an equal footing with things present. Thus the Quinean ‘time slice’ ontology, which sees the world as a four-dimensional entity in space-time, repudiates any ontological significance to the differences between past, present and future. For the Quinean, what differences we see between past, present and future existents pertain to our limited mode of access to reality. In a perception which grasped the world as it really is tense differences would have no place. In this respect the Quinean position resembles Spinoza's claim in the Ethics that in so far as the mind conceives a thing under the dictates of reason it is affected equally, whether the idea be of a thing future, past or present. (shrink)
It is often said that the ontological argument fails because it wrongly treats existence as a first-level property or predicate. This has proved a controversial claim, and efforts to evaluate it are complicated by the fact that the words ‘existence is not a property/predicate’ have been used by philosophers to make at least three different negative claims: (a) one about a first-level phenomenon possessed by objects like horses, stones, you and me; (b) another about the logical form of (...) assertions of existence; and (c) still another about a second-level phenomenon possessed by concepts when they are instantiated. I argue that only the last of these claims, originally voiced by Kant, is both plausible and relevant to the ontological argument. And I try to show that the relevance of the Kantian version comes from its providing the underlying justification for a different, and far less controversial, criticism of the ontological argument. (shrink)
Analytic philosophy of existence in the 20th century and beyond has been dominated by two central claims. One is that existence is instantiation. The other is that there are no modes of existence. This article attempts to refute both claims.