Philosophy Lexicon of Arguments

Author Item Excerpt Meta data
Montague, R.
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Non-Existence Hintikka I 103
Non-existence/not well-defined/HintikkaVsMontague: Montague's semantics does not allow the question of existence or non-existence to be meaningless because an individual is not well-defined in a world. ((s) Because in Montague the domain of individuals is assumed to be constant).
Individual domain/solution/Hintikka: we have to allow that the individual domain is not constant. But there is a problem:

Quantification/belief context/existence/truth/Hintikka: in the following example we must presuppose existence so that the proposition can be true:
(11) John is looking for a unicorn and Mary is looking for it, too. ((s) the same unicorn).
Range/quantifier/Hintikka: in the only natural reading of (11) one has to assume that the range of the implicit quantifier is such that "a unicorn" has a wider range than "looks for".
((s) That is, that both are looking for unicorns.) Problem: how can one know whether both subjects believe in the same individual?).
I 103
Existence/W-Question/Unicorn/Hintikka: nevertheless the example (11) shows that the way of reading should not oblige us to accept the existence of unicorns.
Non-existence/epistemic context/intensional/belief/Hintikka: it is obviously possible that two people can look for the same thing, even if it does not exist.
Solution: We allow that well-defined individuals do not exist in some worlds. For this, only a slight modification is necessary.
Problem: with more complex sentences, all problems come back:
I 104
John does not know whether unicorns exist, yet he is looking for a unicorn because Mary is looking for it.
Problem: here John must be able to recognize a special unicorn. (Otherwise the sentence that uses "it" would not be true), although he is considering the possible non-existence.
World line/Hintikka: in order to extent the Montague semantics, we must allow more or less unnatural world lines.

Hin I
Jaakko and Merrill B. Hintikka
The Logic of Epistemology and the Epistemology of Logic Dordrecht 1989

J. Hintikka/M. B. Hintikka
Untersuchungen zu Wittgenstein Frankfurt 1996

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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2017-04-24