Existence and Non-Existence

Graduate Program (& Advanced Certificate) Status

Course Level: 
Course Open to: 
Students on-site
Academic Year: 
US Credits: 
ECTS Credits: 
Course Description: 

This course will investigate aspects of the philosophy of existence and being which touch on its relationship with the philosophy of language and mind, as well as with metaphysics. We will look at some of the history of the idea of existence in philosophy, and how it relates to the idea of being. We will examine and criticise the dominant classical 20th century conception of existence which derives from Gottlob Frege, Bertrand Russell and WV Quine, which links existence with what is expressed by certain quantified sentences, or by formulae of formal logic which (in some sense) translate those sentences. The main theme of the course is to examine the relationship between existence and non-existence; it will examine ordinary and philosophical claims about non-existence and how we should understand them, and it will attempt locate the significant of this within a broader account of mind and language.

Learning Outcomes: 

By the end of this course students who have completed all the requirements will:
— have a good understanding of the key ideas of Frege, Meinong, Russell, Quine and Kripke on the question of existence;
— have a good understanding of the problem of nonexistence and its main proposed solutions.


Each student will be expected to submit one term paper of 2000 words, on a topic agreed with Professor Crane. A list of suggested questions will be provided before the end of term.


Students must have done a course in elementary logic