Workshop: Higher-Order Metaphysics



Higher-order logic, with its quantifiers binding variables in sentence position and predicate position, provides an attractive way of formalizing talk of propositions, properties and relations in metaphysics. In such a formalization, these entities are naturally taken to be extra-linguistic just like the referents of singular terms. The topic of the workshop is the metaphysics of propositions, properties and relations, understood in such an extra-linguistic way, whether formulated in higher-order or first-order terms.

In particular, the workshop will focus on how finely these entities are individuated, asking for informative necessary and/or sufficient conditions for propositions, properties or relations to be identical. For example, do any two truth-functionally equivalent sentences express the same proposition? This issue might by summed up as the following question: how fine-grained is reality? Other key questions include:

  • Should we formalize talk of propositions, properties and relations using first- or higher-order quantifiers?
  • How should one respond to the paradoxes of propositions and properties due to Russell, Myhill and Prior, as well as Frege's paradox of the concept horse?
  • How does the fineness of grain of propositions, properties and relations relate to other metaphysical vocabulary, such as "metaphysically necessary", "fundamental", "ground" and "real definition"?
  • What can philosophers learn about the metaphysics of propositions, properties and relations from work in logic and computer science, e.g., on algebraic models for non-classical logics?
  • What applications does the metaphysics of propositions, properties and relations have within metaphysics, in philosophy, and outside of philosophy, and how do these applications inform it?


  • Cian Dorr (New York University)
  • Timothy Williamson (University of Oxford)

Contributed Talks:

The following contributed talks were selected from anonymized submissions to an open call for papers:

  • Andrew Bacon & Jeffrey Sanford Russell (University of Southern California): The Logic of Opacity
  • Stephan Leuenberger (University of Glasgow): The Consistency of Non-reductive Supervenience Theses
  • Jon Erling Litland (University of Texas at Austin): Exact Necessitation
  • Robert Schwartzkopff (University of Hamburg): The Misconception of Number(word)s as Object(word)s
  • Alexander Skiles (Université de Neuchâtel): Grounding, Essence, and Identity (joint work with Fabrice Correia)
  • Dustin Tucker (Colorado State University): Hyperintensionality and the Paradox of the Knower

The event is open to the public and free; please register by emailing by 1 May 2016.

In connection with this workshop, a workshop on "Cardinality, Worlds and Paradox" will take place in Oslo on 7-8 June 2016.


Peter Fritz
Published June 9, 2016 12:59 PM - Last modified Sep. 21, 2016 12:57 PM