Fundamental and derivative truths (x-post)

After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing, I’ve decided to post a first draft of “Fundamental and derivative truths” on my work in progress page.

I’ve been thinking about this material a lot lately, but I’ve found it surprisingly different to formulate and explain. I can see how everything fits together: just not sure how best to go about explaining it to people. Different people react to it in such different ways!

The paper does a bunch of things:

  • offering an interpretation of Kit Fine‘s distinction between things that are really true, and things that are merely true. (So, e.g. tables might exist, but not really exist).
  • using Agustin Rayo‘s recent proposal for formulating a theory of requirements/ontological commitments in explication.
  • putting forward a general strategy for formulating nihilist-friendly theories of requirements (set theoretic nihilism and mereological nihilisms being the illustrative cases used in the paper).
  • using this to give an account of “postulating” things into existence (e.g. sets, weirdo fusions).
  • sketching a general answer to the question: in virtue of what do our sentences have the ontological commitments they do (i.e. what makes a theory of requirements *the correct one* for this or that language?)

This is exploratory stuff: there’s lots more to be said about each of these, and plenty more issues (e.g. how does this relate to fictionalist proposals?) But I’m at a stage where feedback and discussion are perhaps the most important things, so making it public seems a natural strategy…

I’m going to be talking in more detail about the case of mereological nihilism at the CMM structure in metaphysics workshop.

(X-posted from theories n’ things)


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