Elisa Paganini


Linguistic Vague Existence


According to deflationist metaphysicians, the question “how many objects are there?” has an indeterminate answer because of different and equally available linguistic conventions, there not being a single convention better than others. My claim is that such philosophers are entitled to support vague existence for linguistic reasons.

My claim is challenged by a famous argument, first presented by Lewis, then revived by Sider and others, according to which, if the question assumes an unrestricted quantifier ranging over precise concepts, the answer has a definite answer corresponding to the wider domain the quantifier is allowed to range over and the quantifier is therefore not vague.

I argue instead that the extension of a quantifier is not its domain of quantification, but that the existential quantifier is a second-order function applied to first-order functions (using a Fregean assumption), and that any quantifier’s extension is therefore constituted by concepts. Under this assumption, I will claim that quantifiers’ vagueness depends on the equal availability of different concepts as extensions of the existential quantifier.

Date / Time / Place

June 22nd / 17:15 / Aula 0A