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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

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Hi Bill,
Thanks for the comments! So we are thinking of properties as necessarily existing abstracta, and let's say that an individual essence E of x is a property the having of which is (a) necessary and (b) sufficient for being x. I take an individual essence to be a haecceity property, as you define the latter. (My (a) covers (i) in your definition, and (b) covers (ii) and (iii).).

We agree there are no *non-qualitative* individual essences (e.g., "being [identical with] Socrates"), or indeed non-qualitative properties of any sort (e.g., "sitting next to Socrates"). If we allowed properties to exist contingently / temporarily, I myself would be happy to grant their existence, but the salient point is that they aren't around prior to creation to ground any divine knowledge or capacities vis-a-vis creation.

So God's pre-creation knowledge of possible objects of creation is purely qualitative in content (I called this component "A" in the post), and the issues arises whether such knowledge can individuate possible creatures or not. (Should we accept or reject component "B"?) I want to say yes ("qualitative individuation"), in which case it is indeed natural to think I'm committed to the Identity of Indiscernibles (though I revisit this below). If I understand you, you want to say no ("no qualitative individuation"), but I think there is a tension in your comments on this matter.

You said: "I don't understand how any possible creature could lack a qualitative haecceity. Only wholly determinate (complete) mere possibles are fit to become actual. This is because it is a law of (my) metaphysics that existence entails completeness, though not conversely. Completeness is thus a necessary condition of (real) existence. But if x is complete, then has a qualitative thisness which can be understood to be a conjunctive property the conjuncts of which are all of x's qualitative properties."

But you also say you have been assuming the falsity of the Identity of Indiscernibles. So consider Black's spheres. Neither has a qualitative individual essence, i.e., a qualitative haecceity property, since any qualitative property possibly had by one is possibly had by the other, in which case no qualitative property is such that having it is *sufficient* (and hence necessary and sufficient) for being a particular sphere. So if Black's world is possible, some possible creatures lack qualitative individual essences, i.e. qualitative haecceities. To be sure, Black's spheres could still have a "complete" qualitative property, C, where this is a conjunction of all possessed qualitative properties. C is "complete" in that it leaves no qualitative property out, and indeed, if a property is a necessary abstractum, leaves no *property* at all out. But nevertheless, C is not an individual essence, since both spheres have C. It is not "wholly determinate", at least in this sense: it does not distinguish Black's two spheres (even if it distinguishes each sphere from every other possible creature). An individual essence is a complete / wholly determinate property, but - if the Identity of Indiscernibles if false - the converse fails.

The reason I think some possible creatures lack qualitative haecceities (individual essences) is that I, like you (I surmise), reject the Identity of Indiscernibles. This is where things get really interesting. I want to say that purely qualitative pre-creation divine knowledge can individuate possible creatures, and this position has indeed typically been attached to accepting the Identity of Indiscernibles (a la Leibniz). So what I try to do is sever that attachment, that is, argue that qualitative knowledge can individuate even if the Identity of Indiscernibles is false - and hence, even if some possible creatures lack qualitative individual essences.

Let p be a wholly determinate qualitative fact or proposition about Black's world, that takes the form of an existentially quantificational fact. For example:

(p) ExEy(Fx & Fy & Rxy);

where 'F' captures the spheres' intrinsic character, 'R' their extrinsic character (e.g. spatial separation), and 'E' is the existential quantifier "there is" (I can't write it backwards). We can define up a qualitative property by knocking out one of the quantifiers in p. For example:

x has G just in case, by definition: Ey(Fx & Fy & Rxy).

That is, G is a qualitative property had by something just in case that thing is F and stands in R with something ("y") that is F. We can also define up a qualitative relation by knocking out both quantifiers in p. For example:

x and y stand in S just in case, by definition: Fx & Fy & Rxy.

Now clearly no qualitative *property* in Black's world constitutes an *individual* essence of either sphere, since they share all their qualitative properties. But I want to say that there can be a qualitative *relation* instantiated by Black's spheres that constitutes what we can call a *collective* essence of the spheres. Whereas an individual essence would be a property the having of which constitutes a single individual as the very individual it is, a collective essence would be a relation the instantiation of which constitutes a multiplicity of individuals as the very individuals they are.

A typical view of pre-creation divine knowledge is that God is acquainted with properties that "proxy" or "stand in" for the - at that point - non-existent creatures. I want to say we should broaden our view of what the proxies can be, so as to include relations and not just properties. Black's spheres show that there is an important distinction here. No property could ground individuating knowledge of either sphere, whereas I think a relation could. This view admittedly commits me to a kind of "holism", in the sense that the spheres' natures, and God's corresponding knowledge thereof, are inextricably connected. (Compare, say, the identities of the x-, y-, and z-axes in a coordinate system - we define them together, not one by one.)

So in a nutshell: I think the notion of a *collective* qualitative essence allows us to say that God's pre-creation knowledge is (a) purely qualitative but also (b) individuating, *even if* (c) the Identity of Indiscernibles is false and some possible creatures lack *individual* qualitative essences. I think I've covered the substance of my argument, but I'm sure it will be controversial and I don't claim to be able to adequately defend it in the space I've given it here.

Let me conclude this with a bit about models of creation. It seems one worry you have with the Plantingan approach is that it seems to involve God's creating out of a kind of matter, at least in some sense, violating at least the spirit of creation ex nihilo. Creation is not just bestowing a property on an essence. I certainly want to deny that abstracta are literally a material cause of creatures. But it seems to me that we can deny this in a way that is orthogonal to the choice between individuating versus non-individuating knowledge. Consider a sculptor, with an idea of what he wants to create. The created object is not at all *made of* the sculptor's idea, nor any associated mental state - regardless of how specific / determinate his idea is.

Thank you for the rich and detailed response, Daniel.

>>But nevertheless, C is not an individual essence, since both spheres have C. It is not "wholly determinate", at least in this sense: it does not distinguish Black's two spheres (even if it distinguishes each sphere from every other possible creature). An individual essence is a complete / wholly determinate property, but - if the Identity of Indiscernibles if false - the converse fails.<<

Here we disagree. It seems to me that there is no difference between C and a qualitative individual essence. This commits me to saying that Black's two spheres share one and the same qualitative individual essence. What is wrong with saying this?

I would say that C is wholly determinate in the only way a property could be wholly determinate: by including every qualitative property of the thing of which C is the property. The whole point of Black's thought experiment was to show that there could be numerical-existential difference that cannot be accounted for in terms of a difference of property.

More later, perhaps tomorrow.

Thanks Bill.

>>This commits me to saying that Black's two spheres share one and the same qualitative individual essence. What is wrong with saying this?<<

A haecceity property of x, i.e. an individual essence of x, is a property the having of which is necessary and sufficient for being x. Or as you have put it: (i) H is essential to x; (ii) nothing distinct from x instantiates H in the actual world; (iii) nothing distinct from x instantiates H in any metaphysically possible world.

So consider Black's world, and consider a complete qualitative property, C, shared by the spheres, Castor and Pollux. C cannot be an individual essence of Castor, because your condition (iii) is not satisfied. Something distinct from Castor, namely Pollux, instantiates C in some metaphysically possible world (namely, the Black world itself, containing Castor and Pollux). Alternatively, if we consider the Black world as if it were actual, condition (ii) fails. It may be that having C is necessary for being Castor (Pollux) (clause (i) may hold), but having C is not sufficient for being Castor (Pollux).

>>I would say that C is wholly determinate in the only way a property could be wholly determinate: by including every qualitative property of the thing of which C is the property. The whole point of Black's thought experiment was to show that there could be numerical-existential difference that cannot be accounted for in terms of a difference of property.<<

I agree that the metaphysical possibility of Black's world shows this, and I also have no problem with calling C "wholly determinate". But it seems that, if we accept such a metaphysical possibility, we need to distinguish wholly determinate properties and individual essences: a property of the former kind is not necessarily one of the latter kind (as Castor and Pollux illustrate).

Your comment was again sent to the Spam Corral. I just now found it.

I appreciate your careful reasoning.

I think our difference may be merely terminological, due to my sloppiness.

There is a modal and a nonmodal conception of essence. Modal: if E is an essence of x, then x cannot exist without E. On the nonmodal conception, essence = whatness = quiddity = nature. (D M Armstrong, e.g.) When I spoke of a qualitative individual essence of x what I meant was a conjunctive property the conjuncts of which are all of the pure properties of x. Such a property is an essence in the nonmodal sense and it is individual in the sense that it individuates x in the actual world.

But you are of course right to point out that C of x is not an essence of x in the modal sense of 'essence.'

But now consider the following monstrosity: a disjunctive property each disjunct of which is a conjunctive property each conjunct of which is a pure property of x in world W. That is not a very elegant way of putting it, but perhaps you catch my drift. Take Socrates. For each world in which he exists, there is a conjunctive property of all the pure properties he has in that world. Now make a huge disjunctive property out of all those conjunctive properties.

This property, if it exists, deserves to be called the qualitative haecceity of Socrates, or the qualitative individual essence of Socrates.

Whether or not there is this qualitative haecceity of Socrates, my claim is that there is no nonqualitative haecceity of Socrates.

Sorry, no idea why it was sent to Spam Corral - presumably not because of length that time. I'm using my other browser with this post.

I grant a distinction between a modal and non-modal sense of essence, and between an "individuating" and "non-individuating" sense, though I suspect these distinctions cross cut each other.

(1) Modal + non-individuating: properties the having of which are necessary for being x. E.g., being human is essential to Socrates, but so is being such that if P then P, for any proposition P.

(2) Modal + individuating: properties the having of which are necessary and sufficient for being x.

(3) Non-modal + non-individuating: properties the having of which constitute "what x is". Anything essential in sense (3) is presumably essential in sense (1), but not vice versa. Being such that if P then P may be irrelevant to "what Socrates is", even if it is necessarily had by him.

(4) Non-modal + individuating: properties the having of which constitute "what x is" *and* that distinguish x from all other possible things, whether actual or merely possible.

It seems to me that as far as pre-creation divine knowledge is concerned, an interesting question is whether there are any essences of type (2) or (4). That is, are there individuating essences? If we focus on non-modal essences, supposing someone said that Socrates and Plato have "the same essence" (e.g., rational animal), that would suggest to me a denial of essences of type (4). Leibniz, I gather, would go further and think that anything has a robust non-modal essence in sense (4) not just (3) (by adding differentia to differentia, getting something so specific that could not be shared, either within or across possible worlds)

Black's spheres would lack any type-(4) *property* essences, since no qualitative properties are such that having them is *sufficient* for being a particular sphere. (As noted in my longer post, I try to defend the idea of a two-place *relation* essence that simultaneously constitutes the identity of *both* spheres.) And if every possible world, w, containing Socrates is such that there is a possible duplicate, w*, that contains a distinct individual Schmocrates instead of Socrates in Socrate's "role" or "place", then the disjunction of conjunctions you describe would also seem to fail to be an essence in either sense (2) or (4), though it could be in (1) and/or (3).

I would be interested in whether you agree with my post on haecceitism and future individuals. (Scroll up.)

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