Metaphysics as the Study of Non-Restrictive Existential Statements



metaphysics, ontological argument, cosmological application, Charles Hartshorne, Franklin Gamwell


In this short article I initiate a defense of the Hartshornian claim that metaphysics is the study of non-restrictive existential statements.  Two metaphysical claims are defended: "Something exists" and "God exists."  The latter claim is defended via a modal version of the ontological argument.  I argue that metaphysical claims are those that apply necessarily or cosmically rather than contingently or locally.

That is, if they are affirmative, they at least implicitly deny something; further, if they are negative, they at least implicitly affirm something.  For example, if I say that the corkscrew is in the drawer, I am denying that the drawer is filled with things other than corkscrews. Or if I say that there is no corkscrew in the drawer, I am affirming that everything in the drawer is something other than a corkscrew.

The above statements are partially restrictive, in contrast to those that are either completely restrictive or completely non-restrictive.  A completely restrictive statement is one that denies that any existential possibility is realized.  An example would be saying that “absolutely nothing exists.”  A completely non-restrictive statement is exemplified in the claim that “something exists.”  This latter claim is the contradictory of the wholly restrictive statement that “absolutely nothing exists.”  I will argue that the claim that “absolutely nothing exists” expresses an impossibility rather than a conceivable but unrealized fact (as in the possibility that there could be a corkscrew in the drawer even if there is no corkscrew there at present).  A contradictory of an impossible statement is necessarily true, hence it will be no surprise to learn that I will also argue that the statement that “something exists” is necessarily true.

Author Biography

Daniel A. Dombrowski, Seattle University

Daniel Dombrowski is Professor of Philosophy at Seattle University in the United States.


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How to Cite

Dombrowski, D. A. (2023). Metaphysics as the Study of Non-Restrictive Existential Statements. Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, 19(1), 78–90. Retrieved from