How to Speak of Existence

In S. Lapointe (ed.), Themes from Ontology, Mind, and Logic: Essays in Honor of Peter Simons. Brill. pp. 81-106 (2015)
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Abstract
To a first approximation, ontology is concerned with what exists, metaontology with what it means to say that something exists. So understood, metaontology has been dominated by three views: (i) existence as a substantive first-order property that some things have and some do not, (ii) existence as a formal first-order property that everything has, and (iii) existence as a second-order property of existents’ distinctive properties. Each of these faces well-documented difficulties. In this chapter, I want to expound a fourth theoretical option, which unfortunately has remained ‘under the radar.’ This is Franz Brentano’s view, according to which to say that X exists is not to attribute a property at all (first- or second-order), but to say that the correct attitude to take toward X is that of accepting or believing in it.
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First archival date: 2014-10-04
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