Sunday, March 27, 2011

Nothing fails to exist

David Brightly asks whether my claim that "The meaning of the proper name is simply to tell us which individual is the subject of the proposition, and it can tell us this without there being any such individual. " comes perilously close to saying that there are non-existent individuals? Close, maybe, but not perilously close. When I say that there may be no such individual, I mean just that. The range of my quantifer 'no' covers absolutely everything. Not just everything that exists, for that would allow the Meinongian to drive a wedge between 'something' and 'some existing thing'. I mean: absolutely everything. So long as my quantifier ranges over absolutely everything without qualification, I am not committed to non-existing individuals. Hence I am fundamentally opposed to anything like this:
(*) Tolkien tells us which hobbit carried the ring to Mordor, but nothing (at least, nothing real or existing) is a hobbit,
where the bracketed qualification opens the door to something unreal or non-existing being a hobbit. This reminds me of something that Thomas Hofweber says, which I will discuss tomorrow.

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