Quantification and Realism

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Abstract:

This paper argues for the thesis that, roughly put, it is impossible to talk about absolutely everything. To put the thesis more precisely, there is a particular sense in which, as a matter of semantics, quantifiers always range over domains that are in principle extensible, and so cannot count as really being 'absolutely everything'. The paper presents an argument for this thesis, and considers some important objections to the argument and to the formulation of the thesis. The paper also offers an assessment of just how implausible the thesis really is. It argues that the intuitions against the thesis come down to a few special cases, which can be given special treatment. Finally, the paper considers some metaphysical ideas that might surround the thesis. Particularly, it might be maintained that an important variety of realism is incompatible with the thesis. The paper argues that this is not the case.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2004

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