Reading the Book of the World

Philosophical Studies 172 (4):1051-1077 (2015)
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In Writing the Book of the World, Ted Sider argues that David Lewis’s distinction between those predicates which are ‘perfectly natural’ and those which are not can be extended so that it applies to words of all semantic types. Just as there are perfectly natural predicates, there may be perfectly natural connectives, operators, singular terms and so on. According to Sider, one of our goals as metaphysicians should be to identify the perfectly natural words. Sider claims that there is a perfectly natural first-order quantifier. I argue that this claim is not justified. Quine has shown that we can dispense with first-order quantifiers, by using a family of ‘predicate functors’ instead. I argue that we have no reason to think that it is the first-order quantifiers, rather than Quine’s predicate functors, which are perfectly natural. The discussion of quantification is used to provide some motivation for a general scepticism about Sider’s project. Shamik Dasgupta’s ‘generalism’ and Jason Turner’s critique of ‘ontological nihilism’ are also discussed.
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