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Topic: Nonexistance, Vagueness and Existence


You are to write a single, well-structured essay, responding to the following prompt:

What is a proposition? How are propositions different from sentences? Explain what the semantic value of an expression is. Give some examples of negative existentials. Why are these sentences thought to be problematic? Make clear how a Russellian would account for what is being asserted by a negative existential that employs a proper name. Do the same for a Fregean. Why cannot a Millian like Salmon make use of these accounts? What account does Salmon give of negative existentials involving names of past persons? What account does he give of such sentences employing names from fiction? Claims about what does not exist are one familiar phenomenon that raise perplexing questions about the relation between language and the world; vagueness is another. Explain the difference between linguistic vagueness and ontic vagueness. Illustrate linguistic vagueness in terms of semantic indecision. Explain what Hawley thinks is going on in cases of what she calls modest vague existence. What does she call immodest vague existence? Why might one be dubious about the latter even if one is willing to accept ontic vagueness?

Do not quote large sections of the text. I would prefer if you did not quote at all, but if you must, merely put the author and page number in parentheses, e.g. (Newton, pg 160).
Do not use any outside sources. There is no need to use outside sources on a paper of this kind. Use only, the text and your notes. Only the 2 readings provided can be used.
Do not assume that your reader is familiar with the course. Your paper should be self-contained and written as if you were presenting the material to someone outside the course—who has had no previous exposure to it.


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