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.