According to a wisecrack of Schopenhauer, the medievals employed only three examples: Socrates, Plato, and an ass. In keeping with this hoary if not 'asinine' tradition, I too in my capacity as humble footnoter to Plato shall employ Socrates as my example. To point out the obvious: he stands in for any concrete individual whatsoever, animate or inanimate.
I have been arguing (drawing on the work of the late Barry Miller with whom I was privileged to have enjoyed a lengthy correspondence) that before Socrates came to be there was no such property as identity-with-Socrates. The astute Franklin Mason objects:
If there is no such thing as Socrates' identity before he came to be, it would seem that there's no such thing as his identity after he ceases to be. If we need the man Socrates if we are to speak about him, then we can't do so either before or after he exists. But clearly we can now speak of Socrates though he is long since dead. Thus we don't need the man to speak of the man, and so whatever reason we had to deny the existence of haecceities that predate the things to which they attach collapses.
Socrates came to exist in 470 B.C. So we can say:
1. It is now the case that Socrates did exist.
From this it follows that
2. It was the case (e.g. in 470 B.C.) that Socrates does exist.
Mason seems to think that from (2) one can also validly infer
3. It was the case (e.g.. in 472 B.C.) that Socrates will exist.
But if I am right, the second inference fails. For if I am right, before Socrates came to exist, not only was there no Socrates, there was no singular or de re possibility of Socrates' existing. At most there was the general possibility that someone come to have the properties that Socrates subsequently had.
To appreciate that the inference from (2) is invalid, consider a parallel argument. Suppose I promise Tom that I will buy him a book for his birthday. On the morning of his birthday I spy a first-edition copy of On the Road in a book store and I buy it. Once the purchase has been made we can say:
1*. It is now the case that a copy of OTR was selected for Tom.
From this it follows that
2*. It was the case that a copy of OTR is selected for Tom.
But until I bought the book on the morning of Tom's birthday I had no idea what I would buy. So before I bought the book no one was entitled to say
3*. It was the case that a copy of OTR will be selected for Tom.
The most one would be entitled to say is
4. It was the case that a book will be selected for Tom.
Just as (3*) does not follow from (2*), (3) does not follow from (2).
Only present and past actual individuals are genuine individuals. Future 'individuals,' not having yet come into existence, are not genuine individuals.
REFERENCE: Barry Miller, "Future Individuals and Haecceitism," Review of Metaphysics 45 (September 1991), 3-28, esp. 10-11.