Kluwer Academic Publishers (2002)
AbstractThe heart of philosophy is metaphysics, and at the heart of the heart lie two questions about existence. What is it for any contingent thing to exist? Why does any contingent thing exist? Call these the nature question and the ground question, respectively. The first concerns the nature of the existence of the contingent existent; the second concerns the ground of the contingent existent. Both questions are ancient, and yet perennial in their appeal; both have presided over the burial of so many of their would-be undertakers that it is a good induction that they will continue to do so. For some time now, the preferred style in addressing such questions has been deflationary when it has not been eliminativist. Ask Willard Quine what existence is, and you will hear that "Existence is what existential quantification expresses. "! Ask Bertrand Russell what it is for an individual to exist, and he will tell you that an individual can no more exist than it can be numerous: there 2 just is no such thing as the existence of individuals. And of course Russell's eliminativist answer implies that one cannot even ask, on pain of succumbing to the fallacy of complex question, why any contingent individual exists: if no individual exists, there can be no question why any individual exists. Not to mention Russell's modal corollary: 'contingent' and 'necessary' can only be said de dicto (of propositions) and not de re (of things).
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