Possible But Unactual Objects: On What There Isn't

Alvin Plantinga

in The Nature of Necessity

Published in print February 1978 | ISBN: 9780198244141
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598241 | DOI:

Series: Clarendon Library of Logic and Philosophy

 Possible But Unactual Objects: On What There Isn't

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Chapter 7 concluded with the claim that the Classical Argument for possible non‐existent objects depends on both the possibility of singular negative existentials and the Ontological Principle. The Ontological Principle is the principle that any world in which a singular proposition is true is one in which there is such a thing as its subject, or in which its subject has being if not existence. In this chapter, I show that the Ontological Principle is false and that whatever plausibility it enjoys is explained by the truth of a similar principle, namely, the Restricted Ontological Principle (which is the Ontological Principle applied only to predicative singular propositions). Thus, the Classical Argument fails. Moreover, I give an account of how fictional names function in order to show that statements about fictional subjects, for example, ‘Othello is a Moor’, do not express predicative singular propositions.

Keywords: actual; being; existence; fiction; possible object; predicative singular proposition; proposition; singular existential

Chapter.  5484 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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