Ontological Questions

  • Author / Creator
    Zhou, Lianghua
  • Ontology, literally, is the study of being (from the Greek, 'to on', which derives from the verb, 'einai', 'to be'). Meta-ontology is the discipline concerned with examining the subject-matter and method of ontology. This thesis focuses specifically on the meta-ontological question of what the subject-matter of ontology is. Within the Anglo-American analytic tradition, ontology is predominantly approached from the point of view defended by Quine and Carnap, as the study of existence. In contrast to this predominant view, it is argued in this thesis that ontologists can grant the trivial existence of all the things in question, while they substantively dispute over the nature of things. This argument in a nutshell is as follows: If we accept that there is an intelligible translation between the neutral particular quantifier, which quantifies over all things, and the classical existential quantifier, and if we hold that the kind of existence captured by the classical existential quantifier is the only kind of existence, then it is plausible to argue that all things trivially exist simpliciter. Consequently, there seems to be no substantive work for ontologists to do concerning questions of existence. Further, it is maintained that the fact that questions of existence seem trivial does not nevertheless result in a disappointing overall project of ontology. For, ontologists can substantively dispute over the nature of things, even though they hold that all things trivially exist simpliciter.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2015
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Linsky, Bernard (Philosophy)
    • Dumsday, Travis (Philosophy and Religious Studies)
    • Corkum, Phil (Philosophy)