Much Ado about Nothing

Abstract

Let us start with non-existent objects. I will assume a certain view of these. I will not defend it here; this has been done elsewhere.2 The point in what follows will be to apply it. So let me simply summarise the core points. Some objects do not exist: fictional characters, such as Sherlock Holmes; failed objects of scientific postulation, such as the mooted planet Vulcan; God (any one that you don’t believe in). Yet we can think of them, fear them, admire them, just as we can existent objects. Indeed, we may not know whether an object to which we have an intentional relation of this kind exists or not. We may even be mistaken about its existential status. The domain of objects comprises, then, both existent and non-existent objects. There is a monadic existence predicate, E, whose extension is exactly the set of existent objects; and the extension of an intentional predicate, such as ‘admire’, is a set of ordered pairs, the first of which exists, and the second of which may or may not. We might debate how to understand existence. In the present context, I will assume that to exist is to have the potential to enter into causal interactions.

Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Priest2014MuchAA, title={Much Ado about Nothing}, author={Graham Priest}, year={2014} }