An Ontology of Words
Words are indispensable linguistic tools for beings like us. However, there is not much philosophical work done about what words really are. In this paper, I develop a new ontology for words. I argue that (a) words are abstract artifacts that are created to fulfill various kinds of purposes, and (b) words are abstract in the sense that they are not located in space but they have a beginning and may have an end in time given that certain conditions are met. What follows from this two-fold argument is that words, from an ontological point of view, are more like musical works, fictional characters or computer programs, than numbers or sets.
I would like to thank an anonymous referee for their detailed comments. For their helpful feedback on earlier drafts, I am grateful to Amie Thomasson, Simon Evnine, Ned Markosian, Dan Korman, Linda Wetzel, Jennifer Wang, Carrie Jenkins, Irem Kurtsal Steen, Harry Platanakis, Ilhan Inan, and Kenneth Westphal. I would also like to thank Georgia Axiotou for her invaluable help and support.
Funding was provided by Bogazici University Research Fund (Grant No. 10321SUP).
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