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The bearable lightness of being

By B. Hale


How are philosophical questions about what kinds of things there are to be understood and how are they to be answered? This paper defends broadly Fregean answers to these questions. Ontological categories-such as object, property, and relation-are explained in terms of a prior logical categorization of expressions, as singular terms, predicates of varying degree and level, etc. Questions about what kinds of object, property, etc., there are are, on this approach, reduce to questions about truth and logical form: for example, the question whether there are numbers is the question whether there are true atomic statements in which expressions function as singular terms which, if they have reference at all, stand for numbers, and the question whether there are properties of a given type is a question about whether there are meaningful predicates of an appropriate degree and level. This approach is defended against the objection that it must be wrong because makes what there depend on us or our language. Some problems confronting the Fregean approach-including Frege's notorious paradox of the concept horse-are addressed. It is argued that the approach results in a modest and sober deflationary understanding of ontological commitments

Publisher: Springer
Year: 2010
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