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Sunday, August 22, 2010

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Bill (following on from my last comment on the previous post), how does Inwagen deal with the issue of ordinary language statements. There are at least two kinds of existential conservative: those who leave ordinary language intact but who deny metaphysical or philosophically technical existence claims. These persons typically analyse the ordinary language claims in a way that displays no commitment to extravagant or queer entities. Second, there are those who deny the ordinary language claims as well. It sounds like Inwagen belongs in the second camp.

In which case, how would he deal with the truth of post office claims about e.g. addresses? I deny the letter ever arrived, the post office says that they delivered it to the same house or the same address as usual. I also filled in a tax form recently claiming that I have lived at the same address for 19 years. There is a bit where you sign at the end saying that everything I have written is to the best of my knowledge true and factual. Is Inwagen challenging these ordinary and mundane statements? Could the Inland Revenue challenge this statement, arguing that the replastering of the basement 10 years ago, which involved the removal of significant amounts of old plaster and replacing it with new plaster, means that the house was no longer the same.

This is all very mundane, but a mundane identity statement is an identity statement for all that, and a commitment to the 'truth' of such a statement on a government form, while a mundane commitment to the truth, involves the same variety of truth as logicians and metaphysicians deal with.

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