Tim Mosteller writes,
On page 2 of A Paradigm Theory of Existence when you state the "gist" of PT [The Paradigm Theory] you say,
"(PT) Necessarily, for any contingent individual x, x exists if and only if (i) there is a necessary y such that y is the paradigm existent, and (ii) y, as the external unifier of x's ontological constituents, directly produces the unity/existence of x." (p. 2).
I can't seem to square this with something that you say in chapter 2,
“Socrates cannot instantiate any property unless he is an existent, self-identical individual … Socrates must antecedently exist to instantiate the property of existence” (p. 48)
My question is this:
Q: If x must antecedently exist in order x to instantiate the property of existence (the instantiation relation) (see p. 48), musn't x exist in order for x to stand in any sort of relation (unifier relation, production relation) to a paradigm existent? (see p. 2)
At any rate, I'm not sure I'm understanding how these passages fit together, and hence my question.
The question is reasonable and worthy of a response.
First of all, I deny that existence is a property. It is neither a first-level property nor a higher-level property, pace Frege, Russell, and their numerous acolytes and fellow-travellers. Properties are instantiable items on my definition of 'property,' and I argue that it makes no sense to hold that an individual exists in virtue of instantiating existence. But it is nonetheless a datum, a Moorean fact, that individuals exist. Socrates, then, exists, but he does not exist in virtue of instantiating a supposed property of existence. This motivates one of the tasks of the book: to explain how existence can belong to a concrete, contingent individual without being a property of it.
My answer, roughly, is that the existence of an individual is a kind of unity of its ontological constituents. This of course assumes that some entities have ontological constituents. It assumes 'constituent ontology.' The latter profits from the liabilities of 'non-constituent ontology,' or what Nicholas Wolterstorff unhelpfully calls 'relation ontology.' But I cheerfully grant that constituent ontology has its own liabilities.
The existence of Socrates, then, is the unity or togetherness of his ontological constituents, but not their compresence as on a bundle theory. My version of constituent ontology in PTE is factualist, with roots in Gustav Bergmann, David M. Armstrong, and Armstrong's teacher, John Anderson. So the unity I am speaking of is the unity of the constituents of a concrete fact or state of affairs. It is a kind of unity that makes of non-truth-making items a truth-maker.
In sum, individuals exist pace the 'Fressellians.' But they don't exist in virtue of instantiating any property. (For example, it would be absurd to say that S. exists in virtue of instantiating (the property of) humanity. Exercise for the reader: explain why.) So I propose that for an individual to exist is for its ontological 'parts' to be unified in the fact-constituting and truth-making way.
But what about this unity or togetherness of constituents? Is it a further constituent? No, on pain of (something like) Bradley's Regress. Is it just the individual itself such that there is no difference between the existing of x and x? No, for reasons an entire chapter lays out.
And then, by reasoning whose complexity does not allow for quick summarization, I argue that concrete individuals would be contradictory structures were it not for a Unifier 'responsible' for the unity/existence of each contingent concretum. That is, the truth-making unity of each set of fact-friendly and compossible constituents derives from the Paradigm Existent, the Unifier. This external unifier is the ultimate ground of the existence of each contingent concretum.
Now what is Professor Mosteller's objection? I think what he is saying is something like the following:
On your scheme there is the manifold of unities and the one Unifier that serves as the metaphysical cause of the unity of each unity of constituents. But then the Unifier or Paradigm Existent is related to each contingent existent. Now if x stands in relation R to y, then both x and y exist. So if the Paradigm Existence stands in the unifying relation to each existent, then each existent must 'already' (logically if not temporally) exist in order to stand in the relation the standing in whcih is supposed to confer existence in the first place!
You're moving in a circle of embarrassingly diameter. In fact, you a doing what you said could not be done when you said that existence cannot be a property of individuals. One of your arguments was that, if existence were a property, then an existing individual would have 'already' to exist in order to to stand in the instantiation relation to the property, and that this circularity shows that the explanation of existence in terms of instantiation is bogus.
My response is that the the Unifier is not related to what it unifies. Equivalently, metaphysical production/causation/unification is not a relation. The Unifier's unifying is sui generis, as sui generis as the Unifier itself. The category of relations is an extant category. Neither the Unifier nor its activity of unifying are members of any extant category. Categores are the categories of beings. The Unifier is not a being among beings, but Being itself. And its activity is not an activity among activities in the world, but the Activity that makes there be a world in the first place. This Making, clearly, is itself sui generis. The Paradigm Existent is the Maker of those entities that serve as the truth-makers of truth-bearers or truth-vehicles.
I think we are standing on familiar theological ground. Is God related to creatures? What could that mean? If creation is a relation, then both God and Socrates would both have to exist for the relation to hold. That is absurd in that God creates Socrates ex nihilo. Divine creating is not an acting upon something that already exists. The Absolute Reality cannot be a demiurge.
Similarly with the Unifier; it is the metaphysical cause of the existence of contingent concreta when 'before' (logically speaking) they did not exist. It therefore cannot be related to them.
Now what I say in PTE is problematic in various ways. But I see no inconsistency in what Tim quotes me as saying.