The existence of numbers (or: What is the status of arithmetic?)

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Abstract
I begin with a personal confession. Philosophical discussions of existence have always bored me. When they occur, my eyes glaze over and my attention falters. Basically ontological questions often seem best decided by banging on the table--rocks exist, fairies do not. Argument can appear long-winded and miss the point. Sometimes a quick distinction resolves any apparent difficulty. Does a falling tree in an earless forest make noise, ie does the noise exist? Well, if noise means that an ear must be there to hear it, then the answer to the question is evidently "no." But if noise means that, if there were (counterfactually) someone there, then he would hear it, then just as obviously, the answer becomes "yes.".
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Archival date: 2021-09-30
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2009-01-28

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