I accept that only statements about something that exists can be true or false. Here is an argument against it:
- Only statements about something that exists can be true or false. (Assume for reductio)
- Bugaboos do not exist because Bugaboos, by postulation, are perfectly round, perfectly square creatures.
- "Bugaboos exist" is a statement about something that does not exist, namely Bugaboos.
- Therefore "Bugaboos exist" is neither true nor false. (By 1)
- But if Bugaboos do not exist, then "Bugaboos exist" is false.
- Therefore "Bugaboos exist" is false, in contradiction with 4.
- Therefore, by reductio ad absurdum, 1 is false.
Here is the argument against the above argument:
If the purpose of reasoning is to grasp reality, then "true" and "false" are evaluative concepts that apply only when related to facts. #2 has no relationship to reality. The fact that the "statement" consists of words that, if related to reality, have a contradictory meaning is irrelevant–the words are not related to reality at all. Since the words in #2 are not about facts, concepts such as "true", "false", "possible", or "probable" simply do not apply. The application of deduction at this point is not only unnecessary, but destructive. In short, reasoning must stop before #2.