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Sunday, July 17, 2011

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I usually refrain from commenting as I feel I'm a little out of my depth, but in the case of love everyone's an expert!
You ask in this post whether we love a person, as something independent of their qualities, or just the collection of qualities possessed by that person. You state that if it is the collection of properties then that person would be interchangeable for someone else possessing the same properties. But I would contest that this situation is (if not actually, then very near) impossible, as the particular combination of intellectual, emotional, and physical properties is impossible to duplicate. It is based on the very specific upbringing and life experiences of that person. So, even if we agreed that it is the properties and not the person that we love, those properties exist in that exact combination within only one person.
In short I would argue that point 2. is incorrect.

Regards

Daevid.

Thanks for this post, which suggests a possible long-running confusion. I have been thinking in terms of identifying reference. You have been thinking in terms of ‘essential uniqueness’. Note that Scotus, who invented the term ‘haecceity’ (haeceitas) argues in the famous Distinction 3 of book II of his commentary on the Sentences that there can be no essential thisness. He argues that a substance cannot be a this from its very nature (or essence), otherwise we could not think of it as a nature, i.e. under the aspect of universality, for this would be to understand it “in a manner repugnant to its nature”. I.e. it is of the very nature of a nature to be able think of it under a universal aspect, as ‘predicable of more than one’. But ‘thisness’ by definition cannot be predicable of more than one. Thus there can be no ‘essential thisness’.

I thought there might be a confusion. I am concerned with the ontological questions primarily: What is existence? What is an individual and do individuals form an irreducible category of entity? What is the principle of individuation? I am only secondarily interested in the logical and linguistic questions, though the two sets of issues dovetail.

David,

Of course one cannot a love a person in abstraction from all her properties. The question is whether a person is reducible to an ensemble of properties. That is what I deny.

It is irrelevant whether it is likely that there be indiscernible twins. All I need is the possibility to make my point.

Edward,

Of course a primary subtance cannot be a *this* from its very nature. I never said that. My point is that a concrete particular such as Socrates or his walking stick is a genuine individual iff it is essentially unique. That does not entail that it is the nature of Socrates that is the ontological factor responsible for individuation/differentiation! In fact the individuating factor cannot possibly be the nature for the very Scotistic reason you give. Socrates and Plato have the same nature but they are numerically different individuals. Therefore, what makes them different cannot be their common nature.

The question is: how should we think of this differentiating factor? Now one c;ear result I have come to, and have successfuly defended against Mason, is that the thisness of a concrete particular vcannot be a Plantingan haecciety property.

So what is it? materia signata? spatiotemporal position? something else?

>>The question is: how should we think of this differentiating factor? Now one c;ear result I have come to, and have successfuly defended against Mason, is that the thisness of a concrete particular cannot be a Plantingan haecciety property. So what is it? materia signata? spatiotemporal position? something else?

None of these things, in fact nothing at all – in my view, of course, ‘this is a question more verbal than real’. By coincidence I am working on a translation of Scotus’ famous distinction, which you can find here http://www.logicmuseum.com/wiki/Authors/Duns_Scotus/Ordinatio/Ordinatio_II/Dist._3 . There are six questions, of which all the Latin is there, but I have only translated the first three. I have yet to translate question 4, which concerns your question about spatiotemporal position, also question 5 about whether matter is responsible.

I also have an earlier post here about subjective parts http://ocham.blogspot.com/2010/09/indivisibility-and-unrepeatability.html and another one about why haecceity is not repeatable http://ocham.blogspot.com/2010/09/why-haecceity-is-not-repeatable_24.html .

That is just a background to the scholastic question (which rests on the same mistake as the modern question). As both Scotus and Ockham agreed, the whole question about individuation only makes sense if we regard the common nature as “something with a unity less than numerical unity” (unitas realis minor unitate numerali). I.e. ‘man’, the species man is a ‘something’, which has unity in one sense (e.g. in the sense we say that ‘man’ is one species, ‘giraffe’ is another), but not in another – the species man is not one indivdual man, who is one “in number”. This is why Scotus spends a considerable part of question 1 (nn. 11-28) proving that such a unity exists.

If we accept that assumption, it automatically follows that to explain individuation, we must explain what extra ‘something’ we have to add to the less-than-numerical-unity (i.e. the common nature) in order for it to become individualised.

Hence Ockham (in the corresponding part of his commentary on the sentences) spends a considerable part of his attack on Scotus to these arguments for a less-than-numerical-unity. This is part of his overall concerted assault on the realist theory of universals, but by the same token it questions the need for any theory of individuation. For Ockham, individuals are all there are. And if individuals are all there are, we do not need a theory of individuation. Such a theory, as I have briefly argued above, is required by the assumption that the common nature, the repeatable ‘something’ has a unity of its own. Otherwise not.

This is a difficult and complex subject. I can’t really do it justice in such a short space.

I've gone back and read through your posts about individual identity. I'm largely if not wholly in agreement. Prior's named was mentioned. Your view seems Priorian. (Priorist? Priorsian? I'm not sure the proper term.) My intent was not to defend Plantinga. It was to push on your view a bit so that I might know how you would defend it.

I have two questions for you, one about identity, the other about time. Each needs introduction.


1. You believe that there is such a thing as Socrates' haecceity, and that it is numerically distinct form Socrates. You hold that it has both Socrates and the identity relation as parts, for it is, as you claim, identity-with-Socrates.

I wonder. Do we really need to posit such a thing as a haecceity? Yes, Socrates is self-identical. But should we take this to mean that Socrates exemplifies identity-with-Socrates? I counter that we should take it to mean that the ordered pair (Socrates, Socrates) exemplifies the relation of identity. If we do as I suggest, we need only posit Socrates and the identity relation. We need posit no such third thing as identity-with-Socrates. This seems a more parsimonious view, but one still able to do all the explanatory labor that your view does.

2. You say that there are no not-yet existent individuals. But it seems that you think that there are now-past existent individuals. (Am I right that you think you need them to explain how we can refer to past individuals such as Socrates?) This, I seem to recall, is Broad's view, and lots of folks reject it. Like me, and Prior too. We're the presentists - those who hold that of past, present and future, only the present is real. (That's not quite the right definition, but if pressed I could do better.) We'd reject the view that we need Socrates to refer to him now. I'm curious what you'd say to a presentist such as myself. Do you really mean to commit yourself to Broad's view? Is it really woven into your theory of identity in the way it seems to be?

Good comment, Edward.

>>For Ockham, individuals are all there are. And if individuals are all there are, we do not need a theory of individuation. Such a theory, as I have briefly argued above, is required by the assumption that the common nature, the repeatable ‘something’ has a unity of its own. Otherwise not.<<

Unfortunately, it is not clear how there could be a repeatable 'something' that did not have a nature of its own.

Must not a nominalist deny that there are repeatable entities? After all, that's just what a universal is. How does a nominalist account for the fact that a predicate, 'red' e.g., is true of a but not true of b? Must there not be something in a that grounds the application of 'red' to it?

Franklin,

Thanks for the challenging comments.

As for #1, that's not my view. I should in a separate post just state it as clearly as possible and then see what holes you can poke in it.

Your #2 gets on to something important. I had been getting the impression that you are a B-theorist, but now you say that you are a presentist. This requires a separate post too.

Franklin,

Your #1:

First, if you accept the traditional definition of set identity (i.e., sets are the same iff they have the same members; ordered sets iff they have the same members arranged in the same order), then your set (Socrates, Socrates) is identical to the set (Socrates).

Second, sets are to be distinguished from their members: i.e., the set (Socrates) is different from the individual Socrates (e.g., the former, but not the later, has a member). Hence, to say that Socrates is self-identical is not the same thing as saying that the set whose sole member is Socrates (i.e., your (Socrates)) is self-identical. Both are true, but they are different claims.

Third, you say: "If we do as I suggest, we need only posit Socrates and the identity relation. We need posit no such third thing as identity-with-Socrates."

But I do not see how this is more parsimonious than Bill's suggestion which requires to posit Socrates and the relation of self-identity. You propose that a set exemplifies the relation of self-identity, whereas Bill suggests that the individual person Socrates does. What is the difference in terms of parsimony?

Your #2: I myself think that presentism is indefensible. There are several problems. I shall mention two.

(i) The *Thickness* Problem: how thick is the present? One could maintain that for any magnitude defined as the *now*, there is a smaller magnitude. Hence, strictly speaking, the presentist must maintain that the present is the smallest magnitude. But there is no smallest magnitude, since for any magnitude of time, one could chop it up further. So the presentist must select a certain interval of time as *the present*. But any such choice is going to be arbitrary in light of the fact that there are infinitely many other alternative intervals.

(ii) I say: “Annie’s premature death deprived her of valuable experiences.” This statement is true. But of whom? According to the presentist Annie does not exist now and since the past does not exist, she as well as her death do not exist now. So who am I speaking of? Who is deprived of valuable experiences?

Ed says: "For Ockham, individuals are all there are. And if individuals are all there are, we do not need a theory of individuation."

I say: So much the worst for Ockham (and his ardent followers). Why? Suppose we grant that only individuals exist. How does it follow that "we do not need a theory of individuation"? How many individuals are there? When does one individual begin/end and another begin/end? Is the Eiffel tower and London one individual or two? How do we decide? And these are just a few of the questions an Ockhamist needs to address.

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