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p. 242. How can we speak of what does not exist?locked

  • Michael Beaney


Statements that purportedly refer to something that does not exist, whether fictional or not, have been especially problematic in the history of philosophy. ‘How can we speak of what does not exist?’ suggests that in order to understand existential statements, we need to recall Frege’s claim that number statements are assertions about concepts. Existential statements are really just a type of number statement. When we make an existential claim, we are not attributing a first-level concept to an object, but a second-level concept to a first-level concept. The work of Bertrand Russell (1872–1970) is also discussed along with the Russell Paradox and his Theory of Descriptions.

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