Philosophical Studies

, Volume 172, Issue 11, pp 3059–3080 | Cite as

Would this paper exist if I hadn’t written it?

  • Samuel LebensEmail author


This paper wants to know whether it would exist, or could exist, in worlds in which I didn't write it. Before we can answer this question, we first of all have to inquire as to what, exactly, this paper is. After exploring two forms of Platonism (pure and impure), and a theory that defines literary works in terms of events, I shall argue that the term ‘this paper’ is actually infected with ambiguity. Does this paper need me? It depends upon what you mean by ‘this paper’. I lay out the options for what you might mean, and answer the question for each of the options.


Ontology Art Literature 



Thanks to Carl Mosser, Phil Swenson, Evan Fales, Ross Inman, Natalja Deng, Dustin Crummett, Robin Dembroff, Jeff Speaks, Tzvi Novick, Curtis Franks, and Gaby Lebens for very helpful conversations about these topics, and to all of the other people I’ve harangued about the nature of literary works. Thanks also to the anonymous reviewers who have helped me to improve this paper immeasurably. Any remaining faults in this paper, are mine alone—More accurately, I take responsibility for the possible referents of ‘this paper’ that anybody actually authored!


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Philosophy of ReligionRutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA

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