Serious Actualism and Higher-Order Predication

  • Bruno Jacinto


Serious actualism is the prima facie plausible thesis that things couldn’t have been related while being nothing. The thesis plays an important role in a number of arguments in metaphysics, e.g., in Plantinga’s argument (Plantinga Philosophical Studies, 44, 1–20 1983) for the claim that propositions do not ontologically depend on the things that they are about and in Williamson’s argument (Williamson 2002) for the claim that he, Williamson, is necessarily something. Salmon (Philosophical Perspectives, 1, 49–108 1987) has put forward that which is, arguably, the most pressing challenge to serious actualists. Salmon’s objection is based on a scenario intended to elicit the judgment that merely possible entities may nonetheless be actually referred to, and so may actually have properties. It is shown that predicativism, the thesis that names are true of their bearers, provides the resources for replying to Salmon’s objection. In addition, an argument for serious actualism based on Stephanou (Philosophical Review, 116(2), 219–250 2007) is offered. Finally, it is shown that once serious actualism is conjoined with some minimal assumptions, it implies property necessitism, the thesis that necessarily all properties are necessarily something, as well as a strong comprehension principle for higher-order modal logic according to which for every condition there necessarily is the property of being a thing satisfying that condition.


Serious actualism Higher-order modal logic Necessitism Contingentism Predicativism Modal metaphysics 


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Many thanks to Bianca Cepollaro, Aaron Cotnoir, José Mestre, Ricardo Miguel, Stephen Read, Robert Stalnaker, Ricardo Santos, Gabriel Uzquiano, the Journal’s editor and an anonymous referee for their helpful comments.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of St AndrewsScotlandUK
  2. 2.Centre of Philosophy of the University of LisbonFaculty of Letters of the University of LisbonLisbonPortugal

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