Baylor philosopher Alex Pruss argues that they do not: “There are no artefacts, at least not in any metaphysically serious way.” After reading his whole post, I remain puzzled.
Clearly, we can say that artefacts “exist,” or that “there are artefacts,” if we’re talking existence in the sense of the existential quantifier. I take it Pruss would not object to saying that there are chairs, if by that all one means is that something is a chair—or more formally: where ‘C’ stands for ‘…is a chair’, (x)Cx. In that case, we would have to admit chairs into our “ontology,” i.e. the universe of discourse over which we allow our logical quantifiers to range. The same would go, presumably, even for elusive and deceptive entities such as mirages. Is it not true, in the present sense, that there are mirages? But Pruss’ sense of ‘…exists’ is evidently weaker than that sense which would allow us to say that “mirages exist.” I’d like to hear more about that. I realize there’s a vast literature on this topic, as on virtually every other topic in philosophy, especially the more technical ones. But surely it would not take a lengthy perusal of the VL to get at what Pruss means. He can speak for himself, or perhaps a tiny selection from the VL would clarify what he’s getting at.
As is typical with me, I’m interested in this question because of the different implications that different answers would have in theology. For instance, I am endeavoring to give an account of transubstantiation according to which the sense of ‘substance’ in which bread and wine count as substances is to be specified partly by their being artefacts. If artefacts don’t exist, I can’t make that move.