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Thursday, August 16, 2012


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Thank you kindly for the post! I'm quite flattered. Sorry for the delay in commentary: I've been chewing over the content.

I think, though I'm not quite sure, that you've captured my main point, which was that your original formulation of the argument gave rise to a contradiction (that at some possible world I both exist and do not exist), unless you equivocate on the modal operator "possibly".

You charge me with needing to affirm the existence of haecceities, on the grounds that "[i]f I am diverse from everything in w, but I don't exist in w, then something must represent me there," and that "something" can only be an haecceity. But I think there is another way out of the difficulty, inspired by Arthur Prior. One of your original premises, and one which was needed to give rise to my contradiction, was "Possibly, BV does not exist," which you claimed was self-evident. But I'm not so sure: certainly, it is not necessary that I exist, but can it be possible that I not exist? That would seem to require a world at which there are no facts about me (since, if I don't exist, there cannot be facts about me), and there is the fact that I do not exist, which is a contradiction. So, my preferred resolution is that it is not possible that I do not exist, and that in worlds at which it is not true that I exist propositions about me do not exist, or are unstateable (Prior makes this notion of stateability more precise).

So, in summary, I'd say that I don't need to posit a representative of me in worlds at which I am identical with nothing because at those worlds it is not true (or false) that I am identical with nothing; the proposition is unstateable. Since this involves denying the truth of "Possibly, BV exists", which was required for my criticism of your argument, I seem to sidestep the problem. Am I being clear?

As a final note, I don't consider myself a thin theorist: you and others have helped convince me that singular existence is a genuine predicate-cum-property not reducible to the truth of any general existential statement. My criticism concerned the argument, not its conclusion.

An edit: In my penultimate paragraph, I should have said, "Possibly, BV does not exist," not "Possibly, BV exists."


You grant that I exist, and you grant that it is not necessary that I exist. But you also seem to be saying that it is not possible that I not exist.

But this is very hard to swallow given the modal equivalence:

~(Nec p) iff Poss ~p.

Dr. Vallicella,

Yes, it is an admittedly counterintuitive consequence of this account that possibility and necessity are not interdefinable. So I deny the modal equivalence.

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