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DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-X013-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved April 18, 2024, from

Article Summary

Philosophical problems concerning existence fall under two main headings: ‘What is existence?’ and ‘What things exist?’. Although these questions cannot be entirely separated, this entry will concentrate on the first.

The question ‘What is existence?’ has produced a surprising variety of answers. Some hold that existence is a property that every individual has, others that it is a characteristic that some individuals have but other (for example, imaginary) individuals lack, while proponents of the thesis that ‘existence is not a predicate’ hold that existence is not a property or characteristic of individuals at all.

Other philosophical issues concerning existence include: disputes about whether there are abstract objects (for example, numbers, universals) as well as concrete ones, immaterial souls as well as bodies, possible objects as well as actual ones, and so on; and questions about which entities (if any) are the fundamental constituents of reality.

Citing this article:
Mackie, Penelope. Existence, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-X013-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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