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Sunday, May 16, 2010


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I don't have anything to say regarding argument one, except that it puzzles me that {Quine} is non-concrete, if a member and thus a part of {Quine} is the concrete Quine.
Regarding your response to Two, though: an atomic entity has no proper parts, but it does have a single improper part, which is identical with itself as a whole. So there is a disanalogy with the null set there. Your response to One suggests another worry. A set such as {Quine} seems somewhat plausible to regard as concrete because we can identify a plime for the set in question, and having a spatio-temporal location is paradigmatic of the concrete. But in the case of the null set, does it have a plime? If so, where and when is it? The best answer seems to be that it encompasses all non-existence, else there would be a multitude of these null sets. But then we arrive at the absurd point of saying that, whilst non-existence is causally inert and so non-concrete, the set which ranges over non-existence is on the contrary something concrete, fashioned out of nothingness.

Personally I would start with arguments for such things existing, before moving to a discussion of putative features or classifications of such things.

Not compelling, but interesting nevertheless. Neither argument is very clear and both contras address themselves to specific interpretations.

I find it hard to discern an argument in A1. A1 says that the difference between Quine and {Quine} is of a different nature to the difference between Quine and a fellow concretum, say, Carnap. This surely begs the question. CA1 puts some flesh on the argument. It suggests that Quine constitutes {Quine} the way a lump of clay constitutes a statue. Perhaps Quine is a material cause of {Quine}. But this is to see math sets as commonsense sets. It invites the question, What happens to {Quine} when Quine ceases to exist? Does it too cease to exist, or does it become the empty set, perhaps? This is like saying that if the number of apples in a bag is six then eating one causes the number six to become the number 5! Math sets, like numbers, are fixities through which change in changeable things can be expressed. This might form the basis of a better argument for abstractness: Concreta, being part of the causal nexus, are subject to change. Math sets are not.

A2 and CA2 appear to make an analogy between the part-of and member-of relations. Implicit in A2 is the premise that any concrete thing has a proper part. By analogy of member and part, the empty set has no parts at all and hence cannot be concrete. CA2 denies the premise, citing a possible atomic concrete entity as having no proper parts. Both arguments founder on a significant disanalogy between parts and members: although part-of is transitive, member-of is not: x∊y and y∊z does not imply x∊z.

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