Philosophical Studies

, Volume 167, Issue 3, pp 497–517

Metalinguistic negation and metaphysical affirmation



In a series of articles, Fine (Monist 83:357–361, 2000; Mind 112:195–234, 2003; Mind 115:1059–1082, 2006) presents some highly compelling objections to monism, the doctrine that spatially coincident objects are identical. His objections rely on Leibniz’s Law and linguistic environments that appear to be immune to the standard charge of non-transparency and substitution failure. In this paper, I respond to Fine’s objections on behalf of the monist. Following Schnieder (Philosophical Quarterly 56:39–54, 2006), I observe that arguments from Leibniz’s Law are valid only if they involve descriptive, rather than metalinguistic, negation. Then I show that the monist is justified in treating the negation in Fine’s objections as metalinguistic in nature. Along the way I make a few methodological remarks about the interaction between the study of natural language and metaphysics. I also present evidence that some of the linguistic environments which Fine relies on are, contrary to appearances, non-transparent.


Metalinguistic negation Leibniz’s Law Monism Pluralism Identity Coincidence 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA

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