To me, the following three sentences seem identical
No mountains are golden
There are no golden mountains
Golden mountains do not exist
Brandon writes here:
> On what principles do you make the equivalence of the three the 'default' position?
I reply: on the principle that I don't understand what the other position might be. The default position is simply that I don’t understand the supposed difference between any of the sentences. There is a tendency to to assume that there is a clearly understood and definable difference between so-called 'existential' and 'quantifier' uses. I don’t understand it. Someone please explain it. (See my related posting on Alan Rhoda's attempt to explain it).
Indeed, it is difficult to have the argument unless we assume these formulations say the same thing. Brandon says 'There is a way of looking at the problem such that it's false to say that 'of course' there are no nonexistent objects'. I take him to be asserting the existence of a certain way of looking at the problem. He says 'There is a way …', and I deny the existence of such a way. I could not deny this without the default position that 'such a way does not exist' contradicts his assertion 'there is a way'.
He says that 'nothing about a quantifier requires that it import existence'. But this is itself a quantifier sentence denying the existence of anything about a quantifier that signifies existence. His point seems self-refuting, for to understand it at all is to understand it – a quantifier sentence - as denying existence.
In summary The default position is that the sentence 'there is a default position' asserts the existence of a default position. If you deny this, you have accepted the default position.