Death and Other Difficulties
Williams (Christopher)
Source: Williams (Christopher) - Being, Identity, and Truth, Chapter 2
Paper - Abstract

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Analytical TOC1

  1. Predicating Existence of People: There are many examples of sentences which make sense and which seem to involve predicating existence of individuals.
  2. Existence in Fiction: Where 'exists' means 'exists in fact rather than in fiction', the proposition which contains it is about a word rather than about what the word names.
  3. Continued and Contingent Existence: The analysis of propositions of the form 'a might never have existed' or 'a still exists' does not reveal embedded propositions of the form 'a exists'.
  4. Differences Between the Counter-Examples: Unlike the counter-examples considered in (§ 2) the propositions ascribing contingent or continued existence do predicate something of the persons or things named by the names which occur in them.
  5. God and Creation: Some things that are said in the Bible involve the use of '— exist' as a first-level predicable. It is no more difficult to suppose that biblical authors were confused about the use of language than that they were mistaken about matters of scientific fact. The concept of creation can be analysed without recourse to a first-level concept of existence.
  6. Existence as Being the Same as Something: The suggestion that '— exists' as applied to individuals means '— is the same as something' will not help to deal with the problems arising from existence in fiction, from continued and contingent existence and from creation.
  7. Conclusion: None of the difficulties examined in this chapter force us to abandon the claim that whatever can be said with the use of 'exist' can be said with the use of 'some'. We need to examine the notion of existential generalization.


(To be) annotated hard copy filed in "Heyes (Cecilia M.) - Cognitive Gadgets: The Cultural Evolution of Thinking".

In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 1:

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