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Friday, August 24, 2012


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"On the LHS, however, we find 'exists' which is not obviously a logical expression. Indeed, I claim that it is not a logical expression like 'some' or 'all' or 'not.' It is a 'content' expression"

I see this as begging the question on your part. "Exists" is not a logical expression only if we import some meaning into it. But what the deflationary account says is that the expressions are interchangeable. If we replaced "exists" with "has Predicate #1930 in the Universal Register of Predicates" then no such illicit importation would occur to us, yes?

"But now it should be clear that the definition gives us no deflationary account of existence. What it does is presuppose existence by presupposing that the domain of quantification is a domain of existents."

Here, however, I agree with you. The purported definition assumes that quantification is over existing things only. In a logic that does not carry such a restriction, the definition fails. Two strategies to save the deflationary account would seem to remain - showing that the relevant logic in this discussion is one where the domain is restricted to existing things, or attempting a deflationary account of something's being in the existing subset of the domain (which would suffice). The second seems much harder than the first on a first glance.

Thanks for the comment.

We don't need to import meaning into 'exists' -- part of my point is that it already has it, and that that meaning is extralogical. We have a pre-analytic understanding of existence as extralogical. But I understand why you think I am begging the question.

In a follow-up post I will examine van Inwagen's claim that the very meaning of 'exists' is given by 'something.' My sparring partner 'London Ed' says something similar. I have already given some reasons why I think that is wrong.

Note that the only logic I am concerned with in this series of posts is MPL. I am examining the Quinean version of the thin theory and this version (like the Frege-Russell version) is tied to MPL.

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