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 metaontological question is: are ontological questions substantive? Ontological deflationists like Eli Hirsch say no; they are best construed as denying that quantifiers carve at the joints. Ontological realists say yes; they are best construed as affirming that quantifiers carve at the joints. Ontological deflationism should be rejected because given the conceptual centrality of quantifiers, one cannot give a complete description of the world without them. Ontological realism should be accepted because quantifiers are indispensible parts of the ideologies of our most successful theories. Ontological realism comes in many varieties, depending on whether the joint‐carving quantifiers are taken to include more, or different, quantifiers than those of first‐order logic. But the simplest variety is the best: the quantifiers of first‐order logic are all that we need in our most fundamental theories.

Keywords: metaontology; ontological deflationism; ontological realism; Hirsch; quantifier variance; quantifiers; analyticity; ontologese; ontological commitment; innocent quantification; plural quantification; higher‐order quantification

Chapter.  25011 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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