The Threat of Thinking Things Into Existence

In Luis R. G. Oliveira and Kevin J. Corcoran (ed.), Commonsense Metaphysics: Essays in Honor of Lynne Rudder Baker. New York, NY, USA: pp. 113-136 (2021)
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According to Lynne Rudder Baker, our everyday world is populated, among other things, by what she calls “intention-dependent objects” (“ID objects”), i.e., objects which “could not exist in a world lacking beings with beliefs, desires, and intentions” (Baker (2007), p. 11). Baker’s claim that what exists, at least in part, depends on human activity opens her up to the concern, or so her critics have argued, that new objects and new kinds of objects can apparently be “conjured” into existence, given her framework, simply by adopting new ways of speaking or thinking about already existing things (Koslicki (2018), Chapter 8). When Baker responds to a version of this objection launched against her account in Zimmerman (2002), she proposes that we cannot simply speak or think things into existence for which “our conventions and practices do not have a place” (Baker (2007), p. 44). In order for this response to be effective, however, we need to know more about how our conventions and practices support the creation of some ID objects and the kinds to which they belong, while disallowing the attempted creation of others. In this paper, I examine the effectiveness of Baker’s response in addressing the challenges posed by the inclusion of ID objects, such as artifacts, in Baker’s practical realist ontology.
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