Singular Terms and Ontological Seriousness

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Linguistic ontologists and antilinguistic, ‘serious’ ontologists both accept the inference from ‘Fido is a dog’ to ‘Fido has the property of being a dog’ but disagree about its ontological consequences. In arguing that we are committed to properties on the basis of these transformations, linguistic ontologists employ a neo-Fregean meta-ontological principle, on which the function of singular terms is to refer. To reject this, serious ontologists must defend an alternative. This paper defends an alternative on which the function of singular terms is not generally to refer and on which they are generally ontologically noncommittal. This is the best way to reject linguistic, ‘easy’ arguments for the existence of properties. The account recommends neutralism about quantification (drawing on Barcan Marcus and Meinongianism), coherently bringing together two important yet uncombined meta-ontological movements. Moreover, it employs Ramseyan insights about the transformations to provide a nonreductionist, non-error-theoretic redundancy approach to explicit talk about properties.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)574-595
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of the American Philosophical Association
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • neutral quantification
  • nominalization
  • ontological seriousness
  • properties
  • singular terms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy


Dive into the research topics of 'Singular Terms and Ontological Seriousness'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this