Journal of Philosophical Logic

, Volume 47, Issue 1, pp 95–121 | Cite as

Modeling Unicorns and Dead Cats: Applying Bressan’s ML ν to the Necessary Properties of Non-existent Objects

  • Tyke NunezEmail author


Should objects count as necessarily having certain properties, despite their not having those properties when they do not exist? For example, should a cat that passes out of existence, and so no longer is a cat, nonetheless count as necessarily being a cat? In this essay I examine different ways of adapting Aldo Bressan’s ML ν so that it can accommodate an affirmative answer to these questions. Anil Gupta, in The Logic of Common Nouns, creates a number of languages that have a kinship with Bressan’s ML ν , three of which are also tailored to affirmatively answering these questions. After comparing their languages, I argue that metaphysicians and philosophers of language should prefer ML ν to Gupta’s languages in most applications because it can accommodate essential properties, like being a cat, while being more uniform and less cumbersome.


Intensional logic Non-existent objects Essential properties Sortals Logic of common nouns Aldo Bressan Anil Gupta MLv Richard Montague Absolute concept Sort Substance sort Principle of identity 



My research into Bressan’s and Gupta’s languages began with a semester of funding as the Allan Ross Anderson fellow in the spring of 2008. During this time the essay began to take shape under the patient guidance of Nuel Belnap, to whom I am very grateful. I should also note that during the revision process, an anonymous reviewer at JPL offered truly exceptional feedback that substantially improved the final version of the essay. In addition, Shawn Standefer and Anil Gupta gave me helpful comments through out the process.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Washington University in St. LouisSt. LouisUSA

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