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Wednesday, August 06, 2014


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>>Unrestricted Satisfaction (US): Every definite description is such that some object satisfies it.
>>UCP: An object exemplifies each of the properties referenced in the definite description it satisfies.
>>From (US) we get the object, the existent golden mountain … But without (UCP) one cannot move to the claim that the existent golden mountain exists <<

To my mind this violates the no-ad-hoc principle. What is the definition of ‘satisfy’? Surely that

(def) Some object satisfies ‘F’ iff some object is F

That’s what we mean by ‘satisfy’. But now you are making an exception to this definition in order to get over the problem that if some object satisfies ‘existent gold mountain’, then some gold mountain is existent. You are saying that if some object satisfies ‘gold’, then some object is gold, but that if some object satisfies ‘existent’, it does not follow that some object is existent. Looks like ad hoc to me.

Your post is missing the picture of Meinong.

That was Pseudo-Meinong of Salacia. Impressionable minds read this site and I take my blogging responsibilities seriously.

You may be equivocating on 'satisfy.' Don't confuse the satisfaction of predicates with the satisfaction of definite descriptions.

D1. a satisfies 'F' =df a is F

D2. The F satisfies 'the F' =df some object is identical to the F.

>>D1. a satisfies 'F' =df a is F
D2. The F satisfies 'the F' =df some object is identical to the F.

I spotted this of course, but discounted it. If some object is identical to the F, then it is identical with some F, yes? But if it is identical with some F, then it is F, by indiscernability of identicals. But if it is an F, then it satisfies ‘F’.

Thus x satisfies ‘the F’ iff x satisfies ‘F’.

If you deny indiscernability, I cry ad hoc again.

As usual, fascinating stuff Bill. Some thoughts:

From the perspective of Russell, it would seem that the Meinongian can defeat his arguments or principles only by effectively changing the subject. That is, by using the shared terminology differently, or by restricting concepts and relations the Russellian understands as being fully general or universal (and understands them this way precisely because he doesn't recongnize an intelligible restriction).

From Russell's point of view, refuting the tenent that there are no non-existent objects is analogous to refuting the universal generalization:

All Dogs are Mammals

by insisting that some dogs (say, Rover and Sparky) are not in fact mammals but instead are (to borrow a page from Wittgenstein) *quammals*, where "quammals" are defined as being just like mammals except that instead of being warm blooded vertibrates, these are warm blooded *quertibrates* (where a "quertibrate" is just like a vertibrate except instead of having a spinal column, these dogs have a *quinal* column (where of course a "quinal" column is just like a spinal column except that....etc)))

In this example, our Russellian Zoologist will no doubt be left scratching his head at what, if any distinction or differentia has been specified at all.

Has a longstanding tenent of zoology been refuted here? Not easy to tell...

On the flipside, the russellian doesn't seem to be in any position to *demonstrate* that the meinongian's views are unintelligible or nonsensical either. To do that, he would have to reason or form arguments, that is, construct sets of propositions involving quantifier expressions, predications involving property ascriptions, invoking objects and so forth when its precisely the way these expressions and ascriptions are *used* that is the nexus of their disagreement.

At best the russellian can suggest some helpful rules for conducting forthright ontological discourse. But then, you can't really force someone to abide by rules if they are unwilling.

The dispute between Meinong and Russell (and everyone else since then who has taken up one side or the other) seems to highlight an important impasse we reach in philosophy when there is a dispute about the use of concepts so basic to human thought and discourse. There is simply no concepts more basic than quantification, property attribution, objecthood and the like that we can appeal to in order to clarify or adjudicate the dispute.

All that being said, while we might be outside the domain of demonstrative proof on this one, i think its clear Meinong and his acolytes are at a clear disadvantage with respect their theory of objects in terms of simplicity, perspicuity, and perhaps most importantly, intelligbility.


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