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Speaker Series: Jack Spencer, MIT

Is Nonfundamental Existence Relative?

This paper explores and defends existential relativism, the thesis that some concrete objects exist only relatively. Existential relativism has some important virtues—it's conservative, Quinean, and deflationary, for example. But it remains a minority view, largely because of a prevailing antipathy toward mind-dependence. Existential relativism says that concrete objects, like tables and mountains, are mind-dependent—the relativity of their existence is owed to their mind-dependence—and the claim that tables and mountains are mind-dependent entities strikes many philosophers as a bridge too far in the Berkeleyan direction. But I think that the arguments for existential relativism are surprisingly strong and that the arguments against existential relativism are weaker than they're usually presumed to be.