Theodore Sider

in Writing the Book of the World

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199697908
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191732096 | DOI:

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The question of whether the pope is a bachelor is intuitively nonsubstantive, merely verbal. But it isn’t \emph|Babout} words or concepts, and its answer isn’t mind‐dependent in the obvious way. It is nonsubstantive because it has different answers relative to different candidates ‐ different things we could have meant by ’bachelor’ that carve at the joints equally well. Some nonsubstantive questions are conventional: our linguistic community has arbitrarily chosen one of the candidates to mean. Others are subjective: our linguistic community has chosen one of the candidates in a way that reflects our values. Nonsubstantivity undermines importance: it is constitutive of inquiry that it is better to think in terms that carve at the joints.

Keywords: substantivity; conventionality; subjectivity; objectivity; epistemic value

Chapter.  11278 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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