In rejecting Descartes's ontological proof for the existence of God, Gassendi maintained that existence is not a property and Kant said that it is not a "real predicate." It is commonly supposed that both are making the same claim. Some have even thought that they advance essentially the same argument for that same claim. I believe none of this is correct. Gassendi and Kant offer different arguments. And they are arguing for different conclusions. These differences stem from a more fundamental one: they mean different things by existence.
The paper is a detailed reconstruction of Bernard Bolzano's account of merely possible objects, which is a part of his ontology that has been widely ignored in the literature so far. According to Bolzano, there are some objects which are merely possible. While they are neither denizens of space and time nor members of the causal order, they could have been so. Thus, on Bolzano's view there are, for example, merely possible persons, i.e., objects which are neither actual nor persons but which could have been both. In course of the development of Bolzano's views, they are contrasted with the better known theory of his compatriot Alexius Meinong, and it is shown that they have a modern counterpart in the accounts of merely possible objects that were developed by Bernard Linsky and Ed Zalta, and by Timothy Williamson.
For many years, Charles Peirce maintained that all senses of the modal terms "possible" and "necessary" can be defined in terms of "states of information." But in 1896, he was motivated by his work in set theory to criticize that account of modality, and in 1905 he characterized that criticism as a return "to the Aristotelian doctrine of a real possibility ... the great step that was needed to render pragmaticism an intelligible doctrine." But since Peirce was a realist about modality before 1896, and since he continued defining "possibility" in terms of "states of information" after that date, it is not clear exactly what he changed his mind about. In this essay I explain what it was that Peirce changed his mind about and why, in retrospect, he viewed that change as a decisive step in the development of pragmaticism.
This paper considers Peirce's epistemology against the background of its Kantian legacy. While various interpreters like R. Rorty, K.-O. Apel and J. Habermas have claimed that Peirce remained a Kantian philosopher, the thesis defended here is that Peirce rejected several of Kant's epistemological dichotomies, such as the transcendental-empirical and the a priori-a posteriori dichotomy. In particular, the paper considers an epistemological project which has been largely neglected in the literature: Peirce's semiotic analysis of assertions. This analysis reconstructs various sign forms as elements of assertions and as pre-theoretic conditions for formal logic and for scientific inquiry. The paper shows how this analysis bears on modern philosophical research on indexicals, and also on pragmatically oriented philosophy of language more generally.
Many philosophers interpret Edmund Husserl as relying upon his phenomenological epoché to escape contextual powers so as to recover a contextually unconditioned "constituting" consciousness. I show, however, that in both Ideas I and Cartesian Meditations Husserl relies upon the epoché for something more modest, though important: studying the immanent "reaches" of experience—experience providing, among other things, intuitive disclosures that ultimately legitimate all "science." For this study, experience is to be taken as it exists, even if contextually conditioned. The epoché thus supports a study of experiential immanence—a study definitive of phenomenology—compatible with contextual conditioning.
Recently, a number of commentators on the early Wittgenstein have tried to make the Tractatus more palatable than it actually is; they have blurred the lines between exegesis and philosophical defense. As a corrective to this tendency, this paper attempts to retrieve the early Wittgenstein's true understanding of the ontology of possibility. Focusing upon the two kinds of metaphors he uses in the Tractatus, object-based and space ones, the first part of this paper emphasizes the philosophical problems that motivated his ontology of possibility, especially the "Parmenidean" question of how false propositions make contact with reality. The second part addresses two novel interpretations of the early Wittgenstein's views of ontology and possibility—the non-ontological reading of McGuinness, Ishiguro and the "New" Wittgensteinians, and Raymond Bradley's "third degree possibilist" reading—and shows why they are exegetically unsound.