, Volume 73, Issue 2, pp 211–235

The Existential Quantifier, Composition and Contingency

Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s10670-010-9250-2

Cite this article as:
Miller, K. Erkenn (2010) 73: 211. doi:10.1007/s10670-010-9250-2


There is a good deal of disagreement about composition. There is first-order disagreement: there are radically different answers to the special composition question—the question of under what circumstances the xs compose a y. There is second-order disagreement: there are different answers to the question of whether first-order disagreement is real or merely semantic. Virtually all disputants with respect to both the first- and second-order issues agree that the answer or answers to the special composition question will take the form of a necessary truth or truths even though, as I will argue, such answers do not appear to be good candidates to be necessary truths. This paper provides an analysis of the concept of <exists> as it pertains to concrete objects, that fulfils two functions. First, it explicates the sense in which claims about composition are contingent and the sense in which they are necessary, and second, it provides a way of understanding when first-order disputes are substantial and when they are merely semantic.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Department of PhilosophyThe University of SydneySydneyAustralia