(Theme music: Ballad of a Thin Man)
Phoenicians and Londoners agree that 'Some F is a G' and 'An FG exists' are logically equivalent. Thus, 'Some man is white' is logically equivalent to 'A white man exists.' But I take a further step: some man is white because a white man exists, where 'because' expresses the asymmetrical relation of metaphysical grounding. London Ed refuses to take this step and finds my position unintelligible. He objects:
Now I agree that if 'a white man exists' has a different meaning from 'some man is white', then the question of whether some F is a G because some FG exists, is an intelligible one. But it is not intelligible if they have the same meaning, as London 'thin' theorists claim. After all, the statement
(1) Some man is white because some man is white
is not intelligible. Nor is
(2) Some man is white because the sentence 'quidam homo est albus' is true
For the Latin sentence 'quidam homo est albus' means the same as 'some man is white'. The one sentence translates into the other. So there is no meaningful 'because' here. So why does Maverick think that
(3) Some man is white because some white man exists.
is intelligible? He says as much in his comment #6. So does he think that 'some man is white' has the same meaning as 'a white man exists'? Surely not, for the reasons stated here. But if the meaning is different, what is that difference?
I agree with Ed that if 'Some man is white' and 'A white man exists' have exactly the same meaning, then 'Some man is white because a white man exists' is unintelligible. That's entirely clear. So I have to show that the two sentences -- call them the some-sentence and the existence-sentence -- do not have the same meaning.
We agree that the two sentences have the same truth-conditions. But sameness of truth-conditions does not entail sameness of meaning. 'X is triangular' and 'x is trilateral' have the same truth-conditions but not the same meaning. So I hope that Ed is not inferring sameness of meaning from sameness of truth-conditions.
Or maybe Ed thinks that the thin theorist stipulatively defines 'exist(s)' in terms of the particular quantifier. If that is what the thin theorist is doing, then I grant that the existence-sentence and the some-sentence have the same meaning. For then they are arbitrarily stipulated to have the same meaning. But then the thin theory is wholly without interest. Substantive philosophical questions cannot be answered by framing stipulative definitions. The substantive question is: What is the nature of existence? If the thin theory is worth discussing it is the theory that "existence is what existential quantification expresses" (Quine), that existence is wholly understandable in terms of such purely logical notions as the particular quantifier and identity. Thus Quine explicates 'a exists' in terms of '(Ex)(x = a).' That existence is a purely logical notion is what I most strenuously deny.
What positive reason is there for thinking that the two sentences have different meanings? Well, 'A white man exists' says all that 'Some man is white' says, but it says more: it makes explicit that there are one or more existing items that are such that they are both human and white. The existence-sentence is richer in meaning than the some-sentence. It makes explicit that the item that is both human and white exists, is not nothing, is mind-independently real -- however you want to put it.
Or perhaps we could put it this way. The some-sentence abstracts from the existential aspect of the existence-sentence and so does not capture the whole of its meaning.
Do the gods love the pious because it is pious, or is the pious pious because the gods love it? That, Ed agrees, is an intelligible question. And so I take it he agrees that there is a relation we can call metaphysical grounding which is neither logical not causaI. I say it's the same with the existence problem. One can intelligibly ask whether some F is G because an FG exists, or vice versa.
My answer is that existence is metaphysically prior to somemess, and metaphysically grounds it.