Philosophy Lexicon of Arguments

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Ontological Commitment: A theory is bound to the acceptance of objects if it were wrong without the existence of these objects. It may be, however, that parts of the theory do not have to contain the object, then the ontological commitment for the whole theory is omitted. (See H. Lauener Quine, 1982, p. 130).

Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments.

Author Item Summary Meta data
EMD II 379
"There is"/Interpretation/Ontology/"Ontological Commitment"/Kripke: can it even be a meaningful question whether someone who says "There are people" is "committed to a viewpoint" that such things as people exist? (KripkeVsBrandom).
It is simply the case that "There are people" is true when there are people. What other question is there? (KripkeVsQuineans, epigones of Quine; Quine himself, on the other hand, is about formulations like "there are 3 meters between...").
Kripke: one could perhaps claim that in some rare special cases "there are" is only superficially reminiscent of "There are rabbits" and then brings with it no "ontological commitment", and one could even try substitutional quantification to show this. But it would be something else to say that "there are rabbits" is not true iff there are rabbits.
This is analogous to denying that "John is tall" is true, iff John is tall.
"Ontological Commitment"/Kripke: was not developed for "There are rabbits".
Now someone might think it was developed for first level referential language, and the question is whether English should be translated into such a referential language or into a substitutional one. The latter does not make any ontological specifications.
KripkeVs: the question is nonsense: we haven't learned a formal language like our mother tongue. In some logic books the crazy notation "(Ex)" is explained either in such a way that one gives an example: "(Ex)Rabbit(x)" means. "There is an x that is a rabbit" or
EMD II 380
by a formal definition of fulfillment (as here, see above =
Def fulfillment/Kripke: "(Exi) Rabbit (xi)" iff there is an s' that deviates from s at the most i-th place that fulfills "Rabbit (xi)".
((s) Example "Cat3 is not on the mat" differs from "cat1-5 is on the mat" in the third place.)
Then the quantifiers are assumed to go over a non-empty area and the technical term "non-empty" is explained by saying that D is not empty iff there is an element of D.

Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.

S.A. Kripke
Name und Notwendigkeit Frankfurt 1981

S. A. Kripke
Outline of a Theory of Truth (1975)
Recent Essays on Truth and the Liar Paradox, R. L. Martin (Hg), Oxford/NY 1984

G. Evans/J. McDowell
Truth and Meaning Oxford 1977

Ev I
G. Evans
The Varieties of Reference (Clarendon Paperbacks) Oxford 1989

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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2018-06-22