In a few places, I’ve argued that Quine was wrong about ontological commitment. If you want to know what a sentence is ontologically committing to, look not to what the quantifier must range over, say I, but to what must exist to make it true.
Jonathan Schaffer replied in his ‘Truthmaker Commitments’. He argues that the motivations for my view are bad ones and goes on to offer some objections to it. He does argue that truthmakers play a role though: but it’s not in identifying the ontological commitments, but in identifying what is fundamental according to the theory.
I’ve just written my reply. I argue that the motivations are good ones, and I aim to counter the objections. I hope the view becomes a bit clearer in my responses to the objections – certainly, they forced me to say some things I hadn’t said in the paper Schaffer is criticising. I end, though, by suggesting that it’s not obvious there’s a genuine dispute between me and Schaffer – that we just mean something different by ‘ontological commitment’.
Comments, of course, would be welcome.
Update: the paper has been revised as of 18/10/08