Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Andrea Scarantino

Second Advisor

Eddy Nahmias

Third Advisor

Neil Van Leeuwen


According to Eli Hirsch many ontological disputes are verbal because, in these disputes, each side is most charitably interpreted as speaking the truth in its own language. In this thesis I argue that the ontological disputes Hirsch targets can’t be verbal. The problem with Hirsch’s proposal is that these ontological disputes are explicable in terms of ancillary disagreements about the explanatory value of intrinsic properties. If Hirsch believes that the ancillary disagreements are nonverbal, I argue, then he should interpret ontological disputes as being nonverbal as well. Alternatively, in order for Hirsch to interpret the ancillary disagreements as being verbal, he must reject an assumption implicit in ontologists’ existence assertions. In this case, he ought to interpret ontologists’ positive existence assertions as false. Either way, there is no plausible way to interpret the disputes Hirsch targets as being verbal.