Let 'CCB' abbreviate 'concrete contingent being.' For present purposes, the 'How many?' question is this: How many CCBs are there? And for present purposes the 'Why any?' question is this: Why are there any CCBs? There might have been none, but there are some, so why are there some? (I take that to be equivalent to asking why there are any.)
What I want to get clear about is the connection between these two questions. In particular, I want to see if the senselessness of the first, if it is senseless, entails the senselessness of the second.
I think it is clear that 'CCB,' like 'thing,' 'entity,' 'existent,' object,' etc. is not a sortal expression. There are different ways of explaining what a sortal is, but for present purposes a sortal
- supplies a criterion for counting the items to which the term applies
- provides a criterion of identity and non-identity among the items to which the term applies
- gives a criterion for the continued existence of the items to which the term applies.
'Pen' and 'penguin' are examples of sortals. I can count the pens and penguins on my desk. There are five pens and zero penguins. (It's a tad warm for penguins here in the Sonoran desert.) The penguins in Antartica are countable as well, in principle if not in practice. (This use of 'countable' is not to be confused with its use in set theory. A countable (uncountable) set is an infinite set the members of which can be (cannot be) placed in one-to-one correspondence with the natural numbers.)
'CCB' is not a sortal because it does not provide a criterion for counting the items to which it applies, say, the things on my desk. Is a pen together with its cap one CCB or two? And what about the particular blackness of the cap? Presumably it too is a CCB. Are we now up to three CCBs? And so on.
Maitzen concludes that the 'How many?' question is a pseudo-question because ill-formed, and its is ill-formed because it features a dummy sortal, a term that functions grammatically like a sortal, but is not a sortal. As senseless, the question is to be rejected, not answered.
From this result Maitzen straightaway (without any intermediate steps) infers that the 'Why any?'' question is also senseless and for the same reason, namely, that it harbors a dummy sortal. It is not clear, however, why the fact that the second question features the dummy sortal 'CCB' should render the second question senseless. We need an argument to forge a link between the two questions. Perhaps the following will do the trick.
1. If it makes sense to claim that penguins exist, then it makes sense to claim that there is in reality some definite number of penguins. (It cannot be true both that there are penguins and that there is no definite number of penguins.) Therefore:
2. If it makes sense to claim that CCBs exist, then it makes sense to claim that there is in reality some definite number of CCBs. But:
3. It makes no sense to claim that there is in reality some definite number of CCBs. Therefore:
4. It makes no sense to claim that CCBs exist. (2, 3, Modus Tollens)
5. If it makes no sense to claim that CCBs exist, then it makes no sense to ask why CCBs exist. Therefore:
6. It makes no sense to ask why CCBs exist. (4, 5 Modus Ponens)
I suspect that some such argument as the foregoing is running behind the scenes of Maitzen's text. The crucial premise is (3). But has Maitzen established (3)? I agree that WE cannot count CCBs. We cannot count them because 'CCB' is not a sortal. And so FOR US the number of CCBs must remain indeterminate. But from a God's Eye point of view -- which does not presuppose the actual existence of God -- there could easily be a definite number (finite or transfinite) that is the number of CCBs.
On can conceive of an ideally rational spectator (IRS) who knows the true ontology and so knows what all the categories of entity are and knows the members of each category. What is to stop the IRS from computing the number of CCBs? We can't do the computation because we are at sea when it comes to the true ontology. All we have are a bunch of competing theories, and the English language is no help: 'CCB' does not supply us with a criterion for counting.
In short, we must distinguish the question whether the number of CCBs is indeterminate in reality or only indeterminate for us. If the latter, then we cannot move from the senselessness of the 'How many?' question to the senselessness of the 'Why any?' question. If the former, the move is valid, but as far as I can see, Maitzen has not given any reason to think that the former is the case.