Existence, Verbal Disputes and Equivocation (Alessandro Rossi)

The Logic and Metaphysics Workshop will meet on September 23rd from 4:15-6:15 in room 7314 of the CUNY Graduate Center for a talk by Alessandro Rossi (St Andrews).

Title: Existence, Verbal Disputes and Equivocation

Abstract: Noneism is the theory according to which some things do not exist. Following an established convention, I will call allism the negation of noneism (every thing exists). Lewis [1990] and, more recently, Woodward [2013] argued that the allism/noneism dispute turns on an equivocation about the meaning of ‘exists’ and would thereby be merely verbal. These arguments have been attacked by Priest [2005, 2011, 2013], who took the dispute to be genuine. In this paper, I will present two new arguments for the genuineness of the allism/noneism dispute. The first appeals to a recent version of logical pluralism defended by Kouri Kissel [Forth]: the two parties could be seen as engaging in a metalinguistic negotiation, that is, a normative disagreement about which meaning of ‘exists’ is best suited for a certain domain of discourse. Secondly, Williamson [1987] indicated a proof-theoretic criterion the two sides should meet in order for their dispute to count as genuine: they must share enough rules of inference governing ‘exist’ to characterise it up to logical equivalence. This challenge, I argue, can be met.


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