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Selected bibliography on the Concept of Existence in Philosophy

Studies in English

  1. Ajdukiewicz, Kazimierz. 1949-1950. "On the Notion of Existence." Studia Philosophica no. 4:7-22.

    Originally published in Polish.

    English translation in K. Ajdukiewicz, The Scientific World-Perspective and Other Essays 1931-1963, Edited and with an Introduction by Jerzy Giedymin, Dordrecht: Reidel 1978, pp. 209-221.

  2. Bacigalupo, Giuliano. 2016. "Whose Existence? A Deflationist Compromise to the Fregean/Neo-Meinongian Divide." Argumenta no. 2:5-24.

    Abstract: "The dispute between the Fregean and the Neo-Meinongian approach to existence has become entrenched: it seems that nothing but intuitions may be relied upon to decide the issue. And since contemporary analytic philosophers clearly are inclined

    towards the intuitions that support Frege’s approach, it looks as if Fregeanism has won the day. In this paper, however, I try to develop a compromise solution. This compromise consists in abandoning the assumption shared by both Fregeanism and Neo-Meinongianism, namely that the notion of existence adds something to the content of a statement. To the contrary, we should think of existence as a redundant notion. In other words, I will argue that we should be deflationist about existence. Moreover, the kind of deflationism I propose relies on what I call the existence equivalence schema, a schema which follows the blueprint of the well-known truth equivalence schema. From such a perspective, we can say that Fregean philosophers rightly deny the status of a discriminating property to existence; and, conversely, Neo-Meinongians, too, rightly reject the view that existence is captured by quantification or expresses a universal property of objects. Finally, the argument that we should take a deflationist approach to

    existence builds upon an analysis of natural language (general) existential statements and their intuitive entailment-relations."

  3. Baier, Kurt. 1961. "Existence." Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society no. 61:19-40.

  4. Berto, Francesco. 2008. "Modal Meinongianism for Fictional Objects." Metaphysica no. 9:205-218.

  5. ———. 2011. "Modal Meinongianism and Fiction: The Best of Three Worlds." Philosophical Studies no. 152:313-35.

  6. ———. 2012. "The Selection Problem." Revue Internationale de Philosophie no. 262:519-537.

  7. ———. 2012. Existence as a Real Property: The Ontology of Meinongianism. Dordrecht: Springer.

  8. Berto, Francesco, and Priest, Graham. 2014. "Modal Meinongianism and Characterization." Grazer Philosophische Studien no. 90 (1):183-200.

  9. Bottani, Andrea, and Davies, Richard, eds. 2006. Modes of Existence: Papers in Ontology and Philosophical Logic. Frankfurt: Ontos Verlag.

  10. Campbell, Richard. 1974. "Real Predicates and `Exists'." Mind:95-99.

  11. Castañeda, Hector Neri. 1980. "Some Reflections on Existence." Philosophic Exchange no. 3:21-40.

  12. Comorovski, Ileana, and Heusinger, Klaus von, eds. 2008. Existence: Semantics and Syntax. Dordrecht: Springer.

  13. Englebretsen, George. 1980. "A Note on Predication." Dialogue no. 19:627-628.

    Reply to: Nicholas Griffin, "Do We Need Predication?", Dialogue, 16, 1977, pp. 653-663.

  14. Fitch, Frederic. 1960. "Some Logical Aspects of Reference and Existence." Journal of Philosophy no. 57:640-647.

  15. Forbes, Graeme. 1994. "A New Riddle of Existence." Philosophical Perspectives no. 8:415-430.

  16. Forgie, William. 1977. "Existence and Properties." The New Scholasticism no. 51:102-116.

  17. Geach, Peter Thomas. 1968. "What Actually Exists." Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volume no. 42:7-16.

  18. Geach, Peter Thomas, Ayer, Alfred Julius, and Quine, Willard van Orman. 1951. "Symposium: On What There Is." Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society no. Supplement 25:125-160.

  19. Gibson, Quentin. 1998. The Existence Principle. Dordrecht: Kluwer.

  20. Goldschmidt, Tyron, ed. 2013. The Puzzle of Existence: Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing? New York: Routledge.

  21. Grandy, Richard E. 1985/86. "On the Logics of Singular Terms " Grazer Philosophische Studien no. 25/26:285-296.

  22. Griffin, Nicholas. 1977. "Do We Need Predication?" Dialogue.Canadian Philosophical Review no. 16:653-663.

    "The paper is concerned with the standard distinction between the 'is' of identity and the 'is' of predication. It deals, in particular with attempts by Fred Sommers ("Journal of Philosophy", 1969) and Michael Lockwood ("Philosophical Review", 1975) to show that the distinction is ill-founded since identity statements are predications of singular terms. This proposal is criticized mainly on the grounds that the notion of a singular term depends upon identity and thus can't be used in a program to eliminate identity. An alternative means of removing the distinction between the 'is' of identity and the 'is' of predication, by eliminating predication in favour of relative identities using Geach's suggestion that "x" is "F" is equivalent to "x" is the same "F" as something, is briefly sketched."

  23. Haaparanta, Leila. 2001. "Existence and Propositional Attitudes: a Fregean Analysis." Logical Analysis and History of Philosophy no. 4:75-86.

  24. Hintikka, Jaakko. 1966. "Studies in the Logic of Existence and Necessity: I. Existence." The Monist no. 50:55-76.

  25. Hochberg, Herbert. 1985/86. "Existence, Non-Existence, and Predication." Grazer Philosophische Studien no. 25/26:235-267.

  26. Jones, Robert Murray. 1964. "Formal Results in the Logic of Existence." Philosophical Studies no. 15:7-10.

  27. Keating, B.F. 1979. "Lockwood and Mill on Connotation and Predication." Analysis no. 39:183-188.

  28. Kripke, Saul. 2013. Reference and Existence: The John Locke Lectures [1973]. New York: Oxford University Press.

  29. Lejewski, Czeslaw. 1954. "Logic and Existence." British Journal for the Philosophy of Science no. 5:104-119.

    "I have given my essay this title because it roughly indicates the boundaries of the topic to be discussed and at the same time hints at the method that will be adopted in my analysis. The problem of existence will interest me only to the extent to which it enters the province of logical enquiry and I shall try to disentangle it a little by departing from the generally accepted interpretation of the quantifiers and by bringing in other concepts related to that of existence." (p. 104)

    (...)

    "I wish to conclude with a brief summary of the results. The aim of the paper was to analyse rather than criticize. I started by examining two inferences which appeared to disprove the validity of the rules of universal instantiation and existential generalization in application to reasoning with empty noun-expressions. Then I distinguished two different interpretations of the quantifiers and argued that under what I called the unrestricted interpretation the two inferences were correct. Further arguments in favour of the unrestricted interpretation of the quantifiers were brought in, and in particular it was found that by adopting the unrestricted interpretation it was possible to separate the notion of existence from the idea of quantification. With the aid of the functor of inclusion two functors were defined of which one expressed the notion of existence as underlying the theory of restricted quantification while the other approximated the term exist(s) as used in ordinary language.

    It may be useful to supplement this summary by indicating some aspects of the problem of existence which have not been included in the discussion. I analyzed the theory of quantification so far as it was applied in connection with variables for which noun-expressions could be substituted and my enquiry into the meaning of exist (s) ' was limited to cases where this functor was used with noun-expressions designating concrete objects or with noun-expressions that were empty. It remains to explore, among other things, in what sense the quantifiers can be used to bind predicate variables and what we mean when we say that colours exist or that numbers exist. These are far more difficult problems, which may call for a separate paper or rather for a number of separate papers." (p. 119)

  30. Lesle, John, and Kuhn, Robert Lawrence, eds. 2013. The Mystery of Existence: Why Is There Anything At All? Malden: Wiley-Blackwell.

  31. Lockwood, Michael. 1975. "On Predicating Proper Names." The Philosophical Review no. 84:471-498.

    "Mill's System of Logic is not often turned to by contemporary philosophers as a source of insights regarding the philosophy of language. To be sure, the terms "connotation" and "denotation," which Mill coined, have passed into quite general circulation; and Mill's doctrine of proper names has recently regained a certain popularity-largely as a result of the writings of Kripke. But the notions of connotation and denotation seem generally to be understood in the context of a Fregean or Carnapian scheme of thought which is, to a large extent, alien to Mill's own way of conceiving language; and Mill's views on proper names are usually discussed entirely without reference to what, for Mill, constitutes their theoretical rationale.

    To some, it may come as a surprise to learn that Mill actually had anything amounting to a theory of language. In fact, however, there is to be gleaned from Mill's Logic a theory of quite considerable sophistication -- which I shall attempt, in part, to reconstruct and defend. What will emerge from our discussion is a conception of proper names which combines elements that might seem, at first blush, incompatible with one another. I shall argue that the Kripke-Donnelian conception of proper names as "rigid designators" or purely referential devices is anticipated by Mill to an even greater degree than is generally recognized; but that, curiously, this conception does not prevent Mill from allowing that proper names can function as genuine predicates. We shall find that, even for Mill, there is, after all, a sense in which proper names might be said to connote."

  32. ———. 1979. "A Question of Connotation: an Answer to Keating." Analysis no. 39:189-194.

  33. Mares, Edwin D. 1997. "Who's Afraid of Impossible Worlds?" Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic no. 38 (4):516-526.

  34. Masiello, Ralph J. 1971. "A Note on Essence and Existence." The New Scholasticism no. 45:491-494.

  35. McDaniel, Kris. 2013. "Existence and Number." Analytic Philosophy:209-228.

  36. McGinn, Colin. 2000. Logical Properties. Identity, Existence, Predication, Necessity, Truth. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  37. Miller, Barry. 1975. "In Defence of the Predicate 'Exists'." Mind no. 84:338-354.

  38. ———. 1979. "'Exists' and Other Predicates." The New Scholasticism no. 53:475-479.

  39. ———. 1981. "Strawson on Existence as a Predicate." Philosophical Papers no. 10:93-99.

  40. ———. 1982. "Existence and Natures." The New Scholasticism no. 56:371-375.

  41. ———. 1986. "'Exists' and Existence." The Review of Metaphysics no. 40:237-270.

  42. ———. 2002. The Fullness of Being: A New Paradigm for Existence. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press.

  43. Moltmann, Friederike. 2013. "The Semantics of Existence." Linguistics and Philosophy no. 36 (1):31-63.

  44. ———. 2019. "Existence Predicates." In Quo Vadis, Metaphysics? Essays in Honor of Peter van Inwagen, edited by Szatkowski, Miroslaw, 153-182. Berlin: de Gruyter.

  45. Morscher, Edgar. 1985/86. "Was Existence Ever a Predicate?" Grazer Philosophische Studien no. 25/26:269-284.

  46. Mulligan, Kevin. 2019. "Modes of Being and the Mind." In Quo Vadis,Metaphysics? Essays in Honor of Peter van Inwagen, edited by Szatkowski, Miroslaw, 183-202. Berlin: de Gruyter.

  47. Munitz, Milton K. 1974. Existence and Logic. New York: New York University Press.

  48. Nakhnikian, George, and Salmon, Wesley C. 1957. "'Exists' as a Predicate." Philosophical Review no. 66:535-542.

  49. Orenstein, Alex. 1973. "On Explicating Existence in Terms of Quantification." In Logic and Existence, edited by Munitz, Milton Karl, 59-84. New York: New York University Press.

  50. ———. 1978. Existence and the Particular Quantifier. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

  51. ———. 1995. "Existence Sentences." In The Heritage of Kazimierz Ajdukiewicz, edited by Sinisi, Vito and Wolenski, Jan, 227-236. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

    "Ajdukiewicz noted that singular existentials were regarded as meaningful in the Lesniewskian -- existentials as copula claims -- tradition but as meaningless within the Frege-Russell -- existentials as quantifier claims -- tradition. By utilizing identity ("=") in the Frege-Russell tradition and noting that it shares features with the Lesniewskian copula (both are sentence forming functors that take nouns as arguments), one can criticize the arguments for meaninglessness that were originally given. Nowadays it is quite common to use identity to express singular existentials. The paper's conclusion is that neither identity nor the copula provide the right basis for understanding existentials, but some feature they share in common."

  52. Pappas, George. 2002. "Abstraction and Existence." History of Philosophy Quarterly no. 19:43-63.

    "The concept of existence has been of great importance in many different philosophical systems. One well-known discussion of existence comes in Kant’s attack on the ontological argument. Kant argued that existence is not a defining predicate or, as is more commonly said, a property. However, as he also noted, the ontological argument seems to depend for its cogency on the assumption that existence is a property of things. Kant does seem right about this, at least for some versions of the ontological argument. For instance, Anselm held that a really existing supreme being is greater than a supreme being that exists solely in the understanding. Existence thus seems to be a great-making property for Anselm, and thus it surely qualifies as a property. Kant is usually credited with being the first to notice that existence is not a property, and for seeing the connection that this point has to the ontological argument.

    Kant’s insights here, as elsewhere, seem to me to be of fundamental importance. However, I think as well that Berkeley had something like the same insight concerning existence as we find in Kant, though of course Berkeley made no further allusion to the ontological argument. That is, Berkeley sees well before Kant that existence is not a property, or what Berkeley would have called a quality. Indeed, in a sense to be explained below, it is this insight that lies behind Berkeley’s attempt to show that for all non-perceivers, to be is to be perceived.

    Berkeley says in the Commentaries that his great discovery, something he thinks is really new, is how to understand the notion of existence. He means, no doubt, how we are to understand existence itself. This new way of thinking of existence, in turn, leads him to his famous principle of esse is percipi (EIP). A natural reading, then, would be that what Berkeley holds regarding existence and what he takes as genuinely new is just the EIP principle itself. The great discovery about existence would be that it is intimately linked to perception.

    This way of thinking of the matter, I argue, is not correct. One aim of this paper is to show that the EIP principle is not Berkeley’s great discovery about existence. That principle, rather, is something that flows out of his discovery about existence. In fact, I think Berkeley has two fundamental discoveries about existence, each of which in its own way is more basic than the EIP principle. The first discovery is that Locke’s way of thinking of existence is deeply flawed, something that commits Locke to holding that there is an abstract idea of existence. Further, this Lockean conception of existence is closely related to a certain way of understanding the EIP principle. A second equally important discovery about existence, is that we do not have any idea of existence, and this is because there is nothing to have an idea of. Berkeley sees clearly, well ahead of both Hume and Kant, that existence is not a property or quality of things; this is his own most profound discovery about existence. This fact leads to a way of understanding the EIP principle, though one that is quite different from that associated with the Lockean conception of existence.

    A second aim of the paper will turn out to be directly linked to these two ways of thinking of existence. This aim is that of explaining a certain vacillation in Berkeley’s texts when he is commenting on the status of the EIP principle. In some passages he says that the EIP principle is a necessary truth, one whose denial is a “manifest repugnancy” or a contradiction. Elsewhere, Berkeley says that the denial of the EIP principle is meaningless, a contention that would result in the EIP principle being at best a contingent truth. In yet other passages Berkeley states his point disjunctively: either the denial of the EIP principle is a contradiction, or it is meaningless. My claim is that this vacillation is not indicative of a certain hesitancy on Berkeley’s part, or anything that shows that he was unsure of what to say about the EIP principle. On the contrary, Berkeley knows exactly what is at issue. The denial of the EIP principle is contradictory, I argue, when we think of existence along Lockean lines. Thus, a mistaken conception of existence yields that the EIP principle is a necessary truth. On the other hand, the denial of the EIP principle is meaningless, when existence is understood along Berkeleyan lines. That is, on the correct account of what existence is, the EIP principle is a contingent truth. Berkeley’s two great discoveries about existence produce two distinct versions of the EIP principle.

    I do not deny the fundamental role of the EIP principle in Berkeley’s positive metaphysics. Indeed, I follow Tipton in regarding the principle as the dominant, basic principle in the metaphysical scheme worked out in the Principles and the Three Dialogues.* My claim is, rather, that the EIP principle is not Berkeley’s basic discovery about existence, and in that sense it is not his fundamental insight. It is, instead, this fundamental insight from which the EIP principle derives." (pp. 43-45)

  53. Pears, David F. 1967. "Is Existence a Predicate?" In Philosophical Logic, edited by Strawson, Peter Frederick, 97-102. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  54. Pruss, Alexander R., and Rasmussen, Joushua L. 2018. Necessary Existence. Vol. Oxford University Press: Oxford.

  55. Quine, Willard van Orman. 1939. "Designation and Existence." Journal of Philosophy no. 36:701-709.

    Reprinted partially in W. V. Quine, From A Logical Point of View.

  56. ———. 1948. "On What There Is." The Review of Metaphysics:21-38.

    Reprinted in W. V. O. Quine, From a Logical Point of View: Logico-Philosophical Essays, New York: Harper & Row 1961, pp. 1-19.

  57. Rescher, Nicholas. 1978. "The Equivocality of Existence." American Philosophical Quarterly no. 12:57-66.

    "1. Is Existence a Univocal or an Equivocal Conception?

    There is no denying that many different sorts of things exist.

    And there is also no denying that they exist in many different sorts of ways. But is the existence at issue in these different contexts always the same? Is the same idea operative when we say different sorts of things 'exist' do they 'exist' in the same sense of this philosophically crucial terms?

    The issue comes down to this: Can one give a strictly uniform account in explicating wherein the existence of different sorts of things lies? Or does the meaning-analysis of the notion of existence lead to different destinations in different settings? Is existence a univocal conception or is it equivocal, so that the different uses of 'exists' are unified only by a 'family resemblance'? These questions define the problem-area of the present discussion." p. 57

    (...)

    "8. Consequences. Our analysis thus indicates the lack of any workable uniform conception to provide a covering umbrella for all these modes of existence. The philosophical study of existence -- ontology --emerges from these considerations as a complex and internally diversified issue. No simple synoptic formula-such as Quine's well-known thesis 'to be is to be the value of a variable' -- is adequate to this ramified and variegated issue.

    Despite this diversity, the logical analysis of the modes and modalities of existence is nevertheless a useful undertaking. For unless one becomes clear as to the composition of the concepts at issue, it is not possible to explore profitably their philosophical ramifications and interrelationships. Insofar as philosophy is a matter of the cost-benefit analysis of the pros and cons of various theoretical positions-as indeed it is, in large measure-the exploration of logico-conceptual distinctions of the sort we have dealt with here can play a useful role in the philosophical enterprise.

    Nominalism is a particularly straightforward case in point. For the nominalist (or at any rate the most prominent sort of nominalist), universals are no more than collection-principles for the assembling of suitably resembling actualia. Now the present deliberations have made it clear both what the commitments of this position are and what difficulties they encounter. For if universals are no more than points of resemblance among actually existing things, then it follows at once that the only properties that exist (really and genuinely exist -- in the solely here -- appropriate sense of the term) are those properties which are actually exemplified by reals. The consequences of the position abolish the line of distinction between property existence and property exemplification. An analysis of the consequences of the position make it easy to see what difficulties it encounters. Think again of such examples as Hume's missing shade of blue, the toothy smile of the Cheshire cat, or the unrealized values of parametrized properties (like height, weight, or temperature). All these now disappear as real (i.e., existing) properties. An analytical scrutiny of existence concepts shows that such a nominalism proposes on philosophico-ideological grounds (e.g.,'"economy' or 'simplicity,' etc.) to legislate a narrower range of alternatives than 'the logic of the case' strictly requires. The present considerations suggest that this doctrine enjoins upon us an ontological posture that is in fact smaller than life." p. 65-66).

  58. ———. 2013. On Explaining Existence. Frankfurt: Ontos Verlag.

  59. Rundle, Bede. 2004. Why is There Something Rather than Nothing? New York Oxford University Press.

  60. Salmon, Nathan. 1987. "Existence." In Philosophical Perspectives, 1: Metaphysics, edited by Tomberlin, James, 49-108. Atascadero: Ridgeview.

    Reprinted in N. Salmon, Metaphysics, Mathematics, and Meaning: Philosophical Papers I, Oxford: Clarendon Press 2005, pp.

  61. ———. 1987. "Existence." Philosophical Perspectives no. 1:49-108.

  62. Shaw, Jaysankar Lal. 2003. Some Logical Problems Concerning Existence. Calcutta: Punthi Pustak.

  63. Stegmüller, Wolfgang. 1977. "Language and Logic." In Collected Papers on Epistemology, Philosophy of Science and History of Philosophy. Vol. II, 203-240. Dordrecht: Reidel.

    English translation of: Sprache und Logik, Studium Generale, 9, 1956, pp. 57-77.

    "The subjects discussed in the following sections are to a certain extent scattered in text-books of modern logic. Some of the equivocations dealt with were already known to Aristotle and the Scholastics. Most of the inspiration for my observations comes from the logical and philosophical works of Prof. Willard van Orman Quine." (note 1 p. 239).

    See in particular the § 2. The Functions of 'Is' pp. 204-215.

  64. Stoothoff, Robert H. 1968. "What Actually Exists." Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volume no. 42:17-30.

  65. Strawson, Peter Frederick. 1967. "Is Existence Never a Predicate?" Crítica: Revista Hispanoamericana de Filosofía no. 1:5-19.

  66. Thomasson, Amie L. 2015. Ontology Made Easy. New York: Oxford University Press.

  67. Vallicella, William. 1983. "A Critique of the Quantificational Account of Existence." The Thomist no. 47:242-267.

  68. van Fraassen, Bas C. 1978. "Essence and Existence." American Philosophical Quarterly no. 12.

    "1. Nominalism and Necessity. The differences between medieval nominalists and realists, which foreshadowed current philosophical disagreements, concerned existence. But the issues were not simple: realists postulated essences or real natures in order to explain the regularities in the actual world. Thus the nominalists, abhorring the existence of such abstract entities, found themselves also in a dispute over necessities: whether some things must, and others could happen, and whether these modal facts do, or are needed to, explain what actually happens.

    The firm standpoint taken by the nominalists, as I understand them, was the one that became characteristic of the British empiricists later: the only necessities are those which derive from the connections among terms. As Nicholas of Autrecourt formulated it: there can be no inference from the existence or non-existence of one thing to that of another. In that case, realists held, there is no explanation to be had of the regularities in nature-they are one and all coincidences. This realist criticism was later sharply formulated by Peirce, especially in his remarks on Mill. (1)

    The appearances are certainly all against the nominalists. For we do say that some things must, and others could happen, and in this way explain what does happen. Scientists, far from having a Quinean canonical idiom, speak just that way. The nominalists' first and basic move in this game is to say that all natural necessities are elliptic for conditional verbal necessities. This sheet on which I write must burn if heated, because it is paper-yes. But the only necessity that is really there is that all paper must burn when heated. This is so, but means only that we would not call something 'paper' if it behaved differently. (This is a naive formulation, but I shall not here present the process of sophisticating it.) There are technical difficulties for logicians in making sense of this move; but when sufficiently refined, the position that all non-verbal necessities are ellipses for conditional necessities ex vi terminorum can be held. (2)

    There is however, a special problem, as Quine pointed out very early on, about necessities de re. In the above example, the nominalist really denied that this sheet must burn if heated. He replaced the necessity of the consequent by the necessity of the consequence, to use their inimitably concise jargon. What is true only, he asserted, is that this sheet is paper, a contingent fact, and that any paper must burn if heated, a necessary universal conditional which is not peculiarly about this sheet at all. So he denies the necessity de re asserted.

    But we are very accustomed to assert necessities and possibilities de re, and are a bit suspicious of any philosophical position that accuses everyone of habitual and systematic logical error. Could we ever follow the nominalist on this issue and really feel comfortable-at home in the world of Antoine Roquentin, protagonist of La Nausée, who perceives every natural fact and connection as radically contingent?

    In the remainder of this essay I shall examine what I believe to be the main philosophical and logical puzzles in the history of this problem." pp. 1-2.

    (1) C. S. Peirce, "Uniformity" in his Essays in the Philosophy of Science, ed. by V. Thomas (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1957); see especially p. 157; compare also "The Reality of Thirdness" in the same collection, especially pp. 166-167.

    (2) See my "The Only Necessity is Verbal Necessity," The Journal of Philosophy, vol. 74 (1977), pp. 71-85.

  69. van Inwagen, Peter. 2008. "McGinn on Existence." Philosophical Quarterly no. 58:36 - 58.

  70. Vander Laan, David. 1997. "The Ontology of Impossible Worlds." Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic no. 38:597-620.

  71. Williams, Christopher John Fard. 1981. What is Existence? Oxford: Clarendon Press.

  72. Williams, Donald C. 1962. "Dispensing with Existence." The Journal of Philosophy no. 59:748-762.

  73. Wippel, John F., ed. 2011. The Ultimate Why Question. Why Is There Anything at All Rather than Nothing Whatsoever? Washington, D.C:: The Catholic University of America Press.

  74. Witherall, Arthur. 2016. The Problem of Existence. New York: Routledge.

    "In this book I shall investigate the question: 'Why is there something instead of nothing?' It is an extraordinary question, rarely asked and rarely answered. It does not easily arise in conversation, for it cannot be openly and cheerfully debated. Instead it appears as a kind of phantom, shrouded in mist and darkness. The question itself, even in the context of a philosophy classroom, has a strange and disquieting atmosphere. It seems to come from the void, and it depends upon the dreadful contrast between being and nothingness, raising the possibility of knowing both. In asking us to reflect upon this contrast, this question lies at the extreme end of philosophical inquiry, and it deserves to be recognized as such. Transcending all of the normal conceptual structures and standards, asking for an explanation beyond any explanatory framework, it seems both inescapable and incalculable.

    Yet I will provide an answer to it of a certain kind, through a gradual process involving an investigation of many possible responses. The final result of this process will be represented not as a simple proposition with a distinct information content, but as a general schema which may be instantiated by a variety of explanatory propositions. As such, my answer will not entirely form a closure of the inquiry that is opened up, but I believe that it forms a coherent and complete response, in at least the sense that the investigation has a distinct conclusion." Chapter 1)

  75. Yagisawa, Takashi. 2005. "A New Argument Against the Existence Requirement." Analysis no. 65 (1):39–42.

  76. Young, Michael J. 1979. "Existence, Predication, and the Real." The New Scholasticism no. 53:295-323.

    "Kant argues that existential judgments cannot be understood as attributing existence, as a predicate, to those things whose existence is asserted. (1) This seems correct, but it gives rise to a serious problem. For as I point out in section I, it seems to imply that existential judgments do not involve any predication whatsoever, and thus that they are not really judgments. One might hope to avoid this paradoxical conclusion by arguing that existential judgments are predicative in form but that they do not attribute existence, as a predicate, to anything; as I point out in Section II, various philosophers have maintained just this. I argue in section III that this view, though not without value, is finally untenable. In section IV, I then point out what I take to be the source of the difficulties that have been discussed and suggest how they are to be resolved. In section V, I point out the implications of this suggestion for the judgment that God exists, and indicate a possible line for further thought on this topic."

    (1) Cf. the Critique of Pure Reason, A592-602=B020-630.

Related pages

On the website "Theory and History of Ontology" (www.ontology.co)

Key Terms in Ontology: Existence

Selected bibliography on the history of the concept of Existence

The Problem of Nonexistent Objects

Bibliography on the Problem of Nonexistent Objects

Bibliography on the History of the Problem of Nonexistent Objects