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Ordinary Objects$
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Amie L. Thomasson

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195319910

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195319910.001.0001

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 Handling Existence Questions

 Handling Existence Questions

(p.110) Six. Handling Existence Questions
Ordinary Objects

Amie L. Thomasson (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter investigates what is involved in asking general ontological questions such as: “what exists?” and “how many things are there?” It is argued that well-formed existence and counting questions are “specific” existence questions that specify a certain category or sort of entity enquired about. Purely “generic” existence and counting questions (asking about “anything whatsoever”, where “thing” is not used sortally) are ill-formed unanswerable questions. This gives us reason to think that quantificational claims likewise presuppose certain categories of entity quantified over. It also suggests that many of the questions driving ontological debates are based on pseudo-questions, and does so without subscribing to anti-realism or quantifier variance. The chapter closes by considering whether we can revive a form of universal quantification by way of a “covering” use of “thing” that generalizes over a range of category-specific terms.

Keywords:   counting, sortal, quantification, anti-realism, quantifier variance, pseudo-questions, category

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