The ontological status of minimal entities

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Minimal entities are, roughly, those that fall under notions defined by only deflationary principles. In this paper I provide an accurate characterization of two types of minimal entities: minimal properties and minimal facts. This characterization is inspired by both Schiffer’s notion of a pleonastic entity and Horwich’s notion of minimal truth. I argue that we are committed to the existence of minimal properties and minimal facts according to a deflationary notion of existence, and that the appeal to the inferential role reading of the quantifiers does not dismiss this commitment. I also argue that deflationary existence is language-dependent existence—this clarifies why minimalists about properties and facts are not realists about these entities though their language may appear indistinguishable from the language of realists.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-114
Number of pages19
JournalPhilosophical Studies
Issue number1
Early online date12 Aug 2008
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2008


  • Minimalism
  • Minimal entities
  • Properties
  • Facts
  • Internal quantification
  • Deflationary existence
  • Horwich
  • Hofweber
  • Schiffer


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