Philosophy Lexicon of Arguments

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Non-existence, philosophy: non-existence is not simply expressible for the classical predicate logic which attributes properties through quantification in the form of (Ex)(Fx) "There is at least one x, with the property F" (in short "There is at least one F"), since existence is not a property. The form "There is at least one x that does not exist" is contradictory. See also existence predicate, "There is", existence, unicorn example, pegasus example, round square, proof of God's existence.

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
I 37
Non-existent objects/Unrealized Possibilities/HintikkaVsQuine/Hintikka: Thesis: there are non-existent objects in the actual world. (> Possibilia).
HintikkaVsQuine: the philosophers who reject them have thought too strongly in syntactic paths.
Hintikka. Thesis: one has to answer the question rather semantically (model-theoretically).
Fiction/Ryle: test: is the paraphrase valid?
Terence ParsonsVsRyle: Ryle's test fails in cases like e.g. "Mr. Pickwick is a fiction ".
HintikkaVsParsons: the relevance of the criterion is questionable at all.
I 38
Ontology/Language/Linguistically/HintikkaVsRyle: how should linguistic questions such as paraphrasability decide on ontological status?
Solution/Hintikka: for the question whether there are non-existent objects: model theory.
E.g. Puccini's Tosca: it's about whether the soldiers have bullets in their rifle barrels.
N.B.: even if they have some, they would be just fictional!
Model theory/Hintikka: the model theory provides a serious answer. ((s) "true in the model", means it is true in the story that the bullets are there).
HintikkaVsParsons: one should not argue too strongly syntactically, i.e. not merely ask what conclusions can be drawn and which cannot.
Acceptance/Acceptability/Inferences/Hintikka: ask for the acceptability of inferences and of language and intuitions are syntactic.
Singular terms/ontological obligation/existence/Parsons: Parsons argues that the use of singular terms obliges us to an existential generalization. And so on a referent. That is, it is a commitment to an inference.
I 39
Non-existent objects/substance/world/Tractatus/Hintikka: the reason why Wittgenstein postulated his "objects" as the substance of the world, ((s) which cannot be increased or diminished), is that their existence cannot be expressed.
I 103
Non-existence/not well-defined/HintikkaVsMontague: the Montague semantics does not allow the question of existence or non-existence to be meaningless because an individual is not well-defined in a world. ((s) Because in Montague the domain of individuals is assumed to be constant).
Individual domain/solution/Hintikka: we have to allow that the individual domain is not constant. But Problem:
Quantification/belief context/existence/truth/Hintikka: in the following example we must presuppose existence so that the proposition can be true:
(11) John is looking for a unicorn and Mary is looking for it too. ((a) the same unicorn).
((s) numbering sic, then continue with (8)
Range/Quantifier/Hintikka: in the only natural reading of (11) one has to assume that the range of the implicit quantifier is such that "a unicorn" has a wider range than "searches/looks for".
((s) that is, that both are looking for the same unicorn.) Problem: how can one know whether both subjects believe in the same individual?)

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.

Hin I
Jaakko Hintikka
Merrill B. Hintikka
The Logic of Epistemology and the Epistemology of Logic Dordrecht 1989

J. Hintikka/M. B. Hintikka
Untersuchungen zu Wittgenstein Frankfurt 1996

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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2018-06-25