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Multipliers resort to Leibniz's Law to establish that spatiotemporally coincident entities a and b are distinct, by pointing at a predicate F made true by a and false by b. Unifiers try to put multipliers in front of a dilemma: in attempting to introduce metaphysical differences on the basis of semantic distinctions, multipliers either a rest on a fallacy of verbalism, entailed by a trade-off between a de dicto and a de re reading of modal claims, or b beg the question against unifiers by having to assume the distinction between a and b beforehand.

I shall rise a tu quoque, showing that unifiers couldn't even distinguish material objects or events from the spatiotemporal regions they occupy unless they also resorted to linguistic distinctions. Their methodological aim to emancipate themselves from linguistic analysis in ontological businesses is therefore problematic.

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Modal Meinongianism and Characterization with Graham Priest. Grazer Philosophische Studien 86, 23—34 to the effect that Modal Meinongianism cannot do justice to Meinongian claims such as that the golden mountain is golden, and that it does not exist.

ontology - Why isn't existence a predicate? - Philosophy Stack Exchange

Nonexistent Objects. To exist and to count: A note on the minimalist view with Massimiliano Carrara. Sometimes mereologists have problems with counting. We often don't want to count the parts of maximally connected objects as full-fledged objects themselves, and we don't want to count discontinuous objects as parts of further, full-fledged objects. But whatever one takes "full-fledged object" to mean, the axioms and theorems of classical, extensional mereology commit us to the existence both of parts and of wholes — all on a par, included in the domain of quantification — and this makes mereolo… Read more Sometimes mereologists have problems with counting.

But whatever one takes "full-fledged object" to mean, the axioms and theorems of classical, extensional mereology commit us to the existence both of parts and of wholes — all on a par, included in the domain of quantification — and this makes mereology look counterintuitive to various philosophers. In recent years, a proposal has been advanced to solve the tension between mereology and familiar ways of counting objects, under the label of Minimalist View.

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The Minimalist View may be summarized in the slogan: "Count x as an object iff it does not overlap with any y you have already counted as an object". The motto seems prima facie very promising but, we shall argue, when one looks at it more closely, it is not. On the contrary, the Minimalist View involves an ambiguity that can be solved in quite different directions. We argue that one resolution of the ambiguity makes it incompatible with mereology.


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This way, the Minimalist View can lend no support to mereology at all. We suggest that the Minimalist View can become compatible with mereology once its ambiguity is solved by interpreting it in what we call an epistemic or conceptual fashion: whereas mereology has full metaphysical import, the Minimalist View may account for our ways of selecting "conceptually salient" entities.

But even once it is so disambiguated, it is doubtful that the Minimalist View can help to make mereology more palatable, for it cannot make it any more compatible with commonsensical ways of counting objects. Some well-known views interpret non-normal worlds as information states. If so, they can plausibly model our ability of conceiving or representing logical impossibilities. The phenomenon is explored by combining a formal setting with philosophical discussion. Some open questions are then raised on the best strategies to regiment R in order to express more vertebrate kinds of conceivability.

I want to model a finite, fallible cognitive agent who imagines that p in the sense of mentally representing a scenario—a configuration of objects and properties—correctly described by p. I propose to capture imagination, so understood, via variably strict world quantifiers, in a modal framework including both possible and so-called impossible worlds. The latter secure lack of classical logical closure for the relevant mental states, while the variability of strictness captures how the agent imp… Read more I want to model a finite, fallible cognitive agent who imagines that p in the sense of mentally representing a scenario—a configuration of objects and properties—correctly described by p.

The latter secure lack of classical logical closure for the relevant mental states, while the variability of strictness captures how the agent imports information from actuality in the imagined non-actual scenarios.

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Imagination turns out to be highly hyperintensional, but not logically anarchic. Section 1 sets the stage and impossible worlds are quickly introduced in Sect. Section 3 proposes to model imagination via variably strict world quantifiers. Section 4 introduces the formal semantics. Section 5 argues that imagination has a minimal mereological structure validating some logical inferences.

Section 6 deals with how imagination under-determines the represented contents. Section 7 proposes additional constraints on the semantics, validating further inferences. Section 8 describes some welcome invalidities. Section 9 examines the effects of importing false beliefs into the imagined scenarios. Finally, Sect. Typically, Meinongianism has been phrased as a kind of realism on nonexistent objects : these are mind-independent things, not mental simulacra, having the properties they have independently from the activity of any cognitive agent.

But how can one single out an object we have no causal acquaintance with, and which is devoid of spatiotemporal location, picking it out from a pre-determined, mind-independent set?


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In this paper, I set out a line of response by distinguishing different ways in which a thing may not exist. As for d , I propose a solution that forces Meinongianism to introduce a kind of ontological dependence of purely fictional nonexistents upon existents. First, we expand Lewis's possible worlds apparatus by adding non-normal or impossible worlds.

Second, we model truth in fiction as belief revision via ideas from dynamic epistemic logic. We explain the major objections raised against Lewis's original view and show that our theory overcomes them. Negation on the Australian Plan with Greg Restall. We present and defend the Australian Plan semantics for negation. This is a comprehensive account, suitable for a variety of different logics.


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It is based on two ideas. The first is that negation is an exclusion-expressing device: we utter negations to express incompatibilities. The second is that, because incompatibility is modal, negation is a modal operator as well. It can, then, be modelled as a quantifier over points in frames, restricted by accessibility relations representing compatibilit… Read more We present and defend the Australian Plan semantics for negation. It can, then, be modelled as a quantifier over points in frames, restricted by accessibility relations representing compatibilities and incompatibilities between such points.

We defuse a number of objections to this Plan, raised by supporters of the American Plan for negation, in which negation is handled via a many-valued semantics. We show that the Australian Plan has substantial advantages over the American Plan. Dialetheism with Graham Priest and Zach Weber. Assuming the fairly uncontroversial view that falsity just is the truth of negation, it can equally be claimed that a dialetheia is a sentence which is both true and false.

Second, we can imagine a situation in which the presence of the conditions required for the disposition to manifest removes the disposition somehow; in our current example, perhaps the presence of a source of ignition also causes the paper to be soaked by water, making it, while wet at least, no longer combustible. Third, we can find examples in which the effect of a disposition is mimicked when the triggering conditions occur, even though the disposition is not present. Difficulties with the Simple Conditional Analysis have led to refinements in this approach Prior ; Lewis ; Manley and Wasserman , although the Simple Conditional Analysis still has defenders who challenge the counterexamples of finks, masking and mimicking Choi However, the complexities of eliminating dispositional ascriptions by analysing them as conditionals have encouraged many contemporary philosophers to take another look at the plausibility of treating dispositional properties more realistically, either as entities which depend for their existence on categorical properties and other entities, or as an independent ontological category.

Armstrong takes a minimally realist attitude to dispositions: the dispositions which an individual has to act in this way or that are entirely determined by the categorical properties they instantiate and the laws of nature which govern them. Although such dispositions are real, they are a derived category of entities, not a fundamental one, since they are ontologically dependent upon categorical properties and laws.

For Armstrong , laws of nature are necessary connections holding between universals which, as was noted above, Armstrong considers to be the ontological basis of properties but these necessary connections can vary across different possible situations. Although in the actual world it is true that the instantiation of an F necessitates the instantiation of G, this necessary connection need not hold in counterfactual situations; in another possible situation, F may necessitate the instantiation of H instead of G.

Thus, what a property has the power to do can vary in different possible situations. See Contessa for a criticism of this view. Central to arguments about whether we should conceive of properties as categorical or dispositional are clashing intuitions about whether it is plausible for a property P with the causal power to do C 1 in the actual world to have the power to do C 2 in another possible world w.

If so, and if this indicates a genuine possibility, then property P does not have its causal power as a matter of necessity; if this is not possible, then properties do have their causal roles necessarily or because of their essential nature, if this is different and are thus dispositional.

The Ontology of Meinongianism

For instance, in the actual world, particulars with like charges—such as two electrons instantiating negative charge —repel each other. But, is it possible that like-charged particulars could attract each one other? The supporter of dispositional properties maintains that if there were a property which could make electrons attract, it would not be charge but a distinct property, schmarge say.

Since schmarge does not exist in the actual world it is an alien dispositional property, and rather than accept existence of alien properties, some dispositionalists prefer to deny the possibility of electrons attracting. However, the dispositionalist employs a converse epistemic argument which notes that the supporter of categorical properties also postulates entities which lie outside our epistemic grasp: if a property P can have different causal powers C 1 and C 2 in different possible situations, then the property itself must have a purely qualitative nature or quiddity which is only contingently associated with anything which P can do.

Moreover, one and the same causal power C 1 can be associated with distinct categorical properties P and Q, and so it is not clear how we determine that one property is being instantiated rather than another. It is plausible to think that we have experiential access to properties only via the effects which they have on us, but this makes the nature of quiddities as mysterious as natural necessity especially from an empiricist perspective. These arguments are taken to establish the position that at least some properties are dispositional rather than categorical.

This position, it is argued, has significant explanatory advantages for metaphysics considered more broadly. First, if properties essentially or necessarily involve having a specific causal role, then the causal relations between properties remain stable and the properties of an object bring about certain effects as a matter of necessity.

These fixed relations between properties permit an account of causal laws as derived entities, which hold in virtue of dispositional properties and which hold as a matter of necessity Mumford This, it is claimed, is respectively more coherent or more parsimonious than the accounts of laws available with an ontology of categorical properties which treat laws either as simply being contingent regularities holding in virtue of the distribution of properties in a world Lewis , or else require the postulation of second-order relations holding between properties or universals to act as laws of nature which govern what those properties do Armstrong Second, some supporters of a dispositional conception of properties argue that the essential, natural modality which such entities involve can be used to give a naturalistic account of possibility and necessity Jacobs ; Borghini and Williams ; Vetter The dispositional properties which an individual instantiates determine what that object could do, and also what it must do in certain circumstances, thereby providing truthmakers for modal statements about that individual.

This dispositionalist account of modality has, according to its supporters, the resources to provide an account of modality without recourse to abstract objects or to possible worlds. Furthermore, since some dispositionalists restrict what is possible to what is possible given the dispositional properties which exist, have existed and will exist in the actual world, this account of modality is an actualist one; it does not require ontological commitment to the existence of merely possible entities. Although the formulation of these dispositionalist accounts of modality is still in the early stages, they already face some significant challenges.

Graham Harman. Black Holes. 2014

The primary difficulty concerns whether an ontology of actually instantiated dispositional properties can provide a broad enough modal range to match our common-sense intuitions about what is possible. For instance, logical and mathematical truths appear to be necessarily true, but we do not readily think of them as being made true by actual dispositional properties or causal powers. The dispositionalist has given an account of logical and mathematical necessities in terms of dispositional properties to permit an alternative account of them.

See Vetter The dispositionalist can deal with the former type of example by allowing that possibilities are not only grounded by which dispositional properties are actually instantiated, but also by the dispositional properties which these actually instantiated properties could produce, and the ones which these latter, uninstantiated properties could produce, and so on.

Thus, it does not matter that no dinosaur actually had the power to invent digital technology, nor that nothing actually has the power to cure cancer, because the possibility rests on something existing or having existed which has the power to produce the power to do so.

Meinong 's Theory of Objects. A Selected Bibliography (First Part: A - L)

On the other hand, examples of counterlegal possibilities have proved a more intransigent problem for dispositionalist modality. If, as was noted above, the dispositionalist thinks of natural laws as being entirely determined by the dispositional properties or causal powers which the world instantiates, the actual dispositional properties instantiated in the world cannot also determine possibilities which run counter to those laws.

It makes no sense to imagine that the world could have been exactly like the actual one and yet the laws of nature be different. If the dispositionalist wants truthmakers for counterlegal possibilities, then she must be committed to the existence of alien causal powers, ones such as schmarge , which are uninstantiated in the actual world. However, if the dispositionalist makes this move, then her theory has lost the advantage that it claimed over other theories of modality, since it is now committed to the existence of possibilia or abstract objects in order to ground modality.

Given this, most dispositionalists restrict what is possible to what is possible given the causal powers which exist, have existed or will exist in the actual world, thus denying possibilities which could occur only if the actual laws of nature were false. Although see Borghini and Williams and Vetter , who suggest that actual powers or potentialities might be able determine possibilities which go beyond those permitted by the current laws of nature.

Not all dispositionalists concur with the use of their ontology to ground necessity and possibility in this way.