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Thursday, March 17, 2016

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Bill,

To me, the issue is clear. Here is the question under discussion.

"Is haecceitism the case, or is anti-haecceitism the case?"

You’ve articulated the issue in the manner of a good dialectician. You’ve lucidly presented haecceitism and anti-haecceitism. And you’ve provided a concise defense of anti-haecceitism:

“We can call this view I am espousing anti-haecceitist: the non-qualitative thisness of a concrete individual cannot antedate the individual's existence.”

“My claim, then, is that one cannot conceive of a putative individual that has not yet come into existence. For until an individual comes into existence it is not a genuine individual.”

The issue is set for further investigation.

And by the way, David's painting is a nice touch.

Elliot,

The painting is magnificent. I have a large reproduction of it on the wall of my study. Unbelievably rich and inspiring. But in our decadent age of cynicism and barbarism how many can respond to its inspiration?

What about my comment earlier that God could create all the matter in existence some of which would later be enformed by socrates and some of which would be enformed by his twin? I am not saying I agree with the this view but it is a valid objection.

You seem to be assuming that matter is the principium individuationis. (Not obvious) But matter in which sense? Prime matter? Signate matter (materia signata)?

You need to spell out what you mean in some detail.

If God creates all the prime matter in the universe and some of it later becomes the signate matter of Socrates and of his twin, how does that get us to the claim that before Socrates came to exist his individuality/haecceity was already in being?

Suppose we have 100 marble blocks which the sculptor makes different sculptures from. two of the statues are identical in form. If the sculptor knows in advance which two blocks make the identical statues, and can tell them apart, then he can individuate in advance.

By analogy, God could know all the atoms in the universe, and if he knows the future will known which atoms combine to make Soc 1 and which make Soc 2.

To your objection about Socrates haecceity already existing, I say straw man. Your question was whether the individuality could be known in advance.

Turning to your question: was this the man you prophesied? Our sculptor could predict, correctly, that this marble block will be a statue of a great philosopher. And we can ask later whether this statue standing here was the statue the man was talking about.

>>We can call this view I am espousing anti-haecceitist: the non-qualitative thisness of a concrete individual cannot antedate the individual's existence. Opposing this view is that of the haecceitist who holds that temporally prior to the coming into existence of a concrete individual such as Socrates, the non-qualitative thisness of the individual is already part of the furniture of the universe.


I'm not sure this characterization accurately distinguishes the anti-haecceitist from the haecceitist position(s).

I say that both parties would agree that priror to the existence of Socrates, there was no object x, such that x was the thisness of Socrates. Or to put it differently; prior to the existence of Socrates, there exists no object x such that x instantiates the property: *being-the-haecceity-of-Socrates*, *being-the-non-qualitative-thisness-of-Socrates*, *being-the-identity-property-of-Socrates*, *being-the-individuator-of-Socrates* or anything in the vicinity. There is no existing thing that meets this condition, or exemplifies the relevant property. More accurately, before the birth of Socrates, there is no existing thing that *presently* exemplifies the relevant property.

The difference is that in the context of temporal modalities, the anti-haecceitist takes this one step further. From the agreed upon truth of:

(1) Its not the case that there (now) exists some x, such that x (now) instantiates: being-the-thisness-of-Socrates

The anti-haecceitist then (mistakenly) reasons to:

(2) Is not the case that there (now) exists some x, such that x *will* instantiate: being-the-thisness-of-Socrates

The haecceitist believes that 1 is true, and 2 is false, though neither entailing the other, whereas the anti-haecceitist seems to believe that 1 entails 2 (conceeding for the purposes of argument that there are or could be such properties). But for that inference from 1 to 2 to go through some detailed argument is required.

I think we can illuminate the error of the anti-Haecceitist's logical leap from 1 to 2 with a parallel argument. Lets accept that Sophroniscus was the father of Socrates. So Sophroniscus and Socrates are the relata that instantiate the: *is-the-father-of* relation, whenever that property is instantiated in the actual world. In addition to this relational property, there's also the (quidditative) property:

(F) *being-the-father-of-Socrates*

and Sophroniscus instantiates it. Now prior to the birth of Socrates, both the haecceitist and anti-haecceitist would agree that the following proposition:

(1*) Its not the case that there (now) exists some x such that x (now) instantiates F

is true. Nothing exists that (presently) exemplifies property F. But from this fact, it would be dubious for the anti-haecceitist to thereby infer:

(2*) Its not the case that there (now) exists some x such that x *will* instantiate F

From the fact that prior to the birth of Socrates nothing exists that instantiates *being-the-father-of-Socrates*, it clearly doesn't follow that its not the case that Sophroniscus will come to instantiate that property. Or even worse, that Sophroniscus himself must therefore fail to exist because Socrates hasn't yet been born.

And so it is with those peculiar x's that come to contingently instantiate properties such as *being-the-identity-property-of-a* or *being-the-haecceity-of-s*. Just because there doesn't exist any object that currently instantiates *being-the-thisness-of-Socrates*, it doesn't follow that therefore Socrateity (the necessarily existing object that *will* instantiate that property, though *presently* does not) doesn't exist.

Its only if such objects had these types of properties *essentially* that there would be a problem for the haecceitist. But the haecceitist holds that the only properties that instantiate *being-the-thisness-of-a* properties essentially, are those properties that have the property of being a thisness of some thing that is itself a necessary being.

So the failure of Socrates to exist would necessitate that Socrateity fails to be a thisness of anything (or fails to be the identity property of anything), but the failure of Socrateity to be a thisness of anything doesn't entail the non-existence of Socrateity, since being-a-thisness is not an essence of Socrateity.

Bringing these observations regarding tensed modalities and propositions to bear on your athenian prophet, I think the haecceitist can say that prior to the birth of Socrates, if your Athenian prophet was truly grasping Socrateity, as perhaps only God could, then he would see that that property would come to acquire some interesting properties in the future; properties such as *being-instantiated* and also *being-a-thisness-of-something*; properties it currently lacks, but properties it *will* eventually have. In grasping that Socrateity will come to have such properties, this will also entail that certain future tensed propositions turn out to be true, such as:

(3) It will be the case that there exists some x such that x instantiates Socrateity.

Proposition 3 should be relatively unproblematic as far as ontology goes, provided the haecceitist is a good anti-meinongian and resists any Barcan-formula style reasoning in contexts involving tensed modalities:

(4) If it will be the case that there exists some x such that x has S, then it is the case that there exists some x, such that x will have S.

Formulations such as 4 are ontologically problematic when contingent beings are assigned as values to individual variables.

Q: Is this the very man that the athenian prophet prophesyied?

A: This is the very man who now exempflies, as only he can, the individuating property our prophet was grasping all those years before. Of course, this property at that time didn't have the property of *being-an-individuating-property* of anything, but our prophet foresaw that it *will* have such a property, and now in fact it *does* have such a property... and we have only Socrates himself to thank for all this :)

John,

Before I respond to the above, you need to tell me whether you accepted my rebuttal of your view here: http://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/maverick_philosopher/2016/02/the-univocity-of-exists-obsessing-further.html?cid=6a010535ce1cf6970c01b8d1a35236970c#comment-6a010535ce1cf6970c01b8d1a35236970c

and if not why not.

I didn't have time to address your remarks in the earlier thread, so I'll do so now

>>A better model of Socrates' haecceity is his singleton. Socrates is not the same as {Socrates}. The former is concrete, the latter is (arguably) abstract. A man is not a set. But they are both contingent as we should expect: no Socrates without Socrateity, and no Socrateity without Socrates.


The ontological dependence of sets on their members, and the fact that they are fully individuated by them is one of the defining characteristics of sets, and one of the key things that distinguishes them from other sorts of abstract objects. But its the *lack* of this extensional individuating quality, and the resultant ontological dependence, that distinguishes properties from sets. So the haecceitist would run this argument in the other direction: given that individual essences are properties rather than sets, properties do not depend on their instances in the way that sets depend upon their members.

>>But this requires that the content of Socrateity be specifiable without reference to the actual Socrates. It requires, in other words, that Socrates himself is not a constituent of Socrateity.This is what I deny. I deny that the content of Socrateity can be specified without bring in Socrates himself. Why? Because Socrateity is a nonqualitative thisness: it is not compounded of multiply instantiable properties. This is why 'Socrateity' is introudced using phrases like 'identity-with-Socrates.'......
>>A similar absurdity is perpetrated by those who accept haecceity properties. They are saying in effect: there is a property whose very content involves necessary reference to an individual, and this property can have the content it has even in worlds in which the individual does not exist.

I'm not sure in what way Socrateity or its content "involves necessary reference to Socrates", particularly in worlds or at times when Socrates doesn't exist. Perhaps Socrateity *will* involve, or *could* involve "reference to Socrates", say, once it becomes a haecceity of something, but its not clear that it has to have that property in worlds or times when it exists yet Socrates does not.

I would agree that in any such world, or at any such time, we would not be referring to Socrateity by appealing to properties such as *being-the-thisness-of-Socrates*, since Socrateity would at that time lack such properties. Instead, we would refer to Socrateity via some other ascription, or by appealing to other properties it would actually have. *Possibly-being-the-thisness-of-something*, *possibly being instantiated*, *possibly-individuating-someone* or perhaps indexical properties *being-a-thisness-of-something-in-Alpha* (for some possible world Alpha). Consider also that:

(P) being-the-greatest-virtue-of-Socrates

Is a property instantiated in the actual world by the property Wisdom. Does Wisdom make "essential reference" to Socrates, or have Socrates as a "constituent"? If the question really makes sense, I would think Wisdom makes "reference" to Socrates or has Socrates as a "constituent" only in a derivative sense. Only by virtue of instantiating P does Wisdom make reference to Socrates. In worlds where Socrates doesn't exist, Wisdom fails to instantiate P, and hence fails to make reference to him. Does this pose a problem for Wisdom in such worlds? If not, why should it be a problem for Socrateity?

I'm not convinced that individual essences are more problematic than any other properties. On the other hand, I suspect that any problems you can point out with individual essences would also cause problems for other properties like P as well (to say nothing of singular propositions having contingent individuals as "constituents"). Also, your critical remarks regarding haecceities seem to leave the haecceities of necessary beings untouched, since those haecceities really do seem to meet your requirement that they make "essential reference" to the objects that instantiate them, although perhaps you touched on that and I missed it.

>>I'm not sure in what way Socrateity or its content "involves necessary reference to Socrates", particularly in worlds or at times when Socrates doesn't exist. Perhaps Socrateity *will* involve, or *could* involve "reference to Socrates", say, once it becomes a haecceity of something, but its not clear that it has to have that property in worlds or times when it exists yet Socrates does not. <<

This didn't make much sense to me. Partly because 'has reference to' suggests a word-world relation to me, yet a property is not a linguistic item.

John,

London has zeroed in on the *punctum saliens.*

What you have to understand is that Socrateity or identity-with-Socrates is nonqualitative.

Suppose all that exists are two indiscernible iron spheres ten meters distant from each other. They share all qualitative properties. Each is iron, each has such and such a volume, each is ten meters from an iron sphere. And so on.

Now take the conjunction of all these properties. This property is a conjunctive property each conjunct of which is a property of the spheres. Call this property C. Although there are no names in Max Black's impoverished world, we may introduce 'Castor' and 'Pollux' as names of the spheres. Clearly, C cannot be the ground of the numerical difference of Castor and Pollux. Why not? Because both spheres share C.

Now if you introduce identity-with-Castor and identity-with Pollux to distinguish the spheres, then these properties cannot be purely qualitative: they must involve in their very content the concrete individuals in question.

But this is impossible for more than one reason. Here is one: properties, we are both assuming, are necessary beings. Castor and Pollux, however, are contingent beings. Given what I said in the preceding paragraph, nonqualitative haecceity properties such as identity-with-Castor must be both necessary (because they are properties) and contingent (for the reason given). But then contradiction. Ergo, there are no nonqualitative haecceity properties. The very notion is absurd.

Since there are no such properties, the further distinctions you and Plantinga make lapse and are irrelevant.

Hi Bill,
I think there's one view, A, such that you've clearly laid it out and rejected it. I'm also inclined to reject it. At least based on an initial read, I'm not as certain about the view you affirm - I think we can distinguish two further views, B and C, and perhaps you don't mean to choose between them.

View A: Before an individual, S, exists, there are de re possibilities involving S.

Views B and C both deny this: Before S exists, there are no de re possibilities involving S.

View B adds: However, de re possibilities supervene on qualitative possibilities, in the following sense. When what you call a qualitative essence comes to be instantiated, and an individual, S, comes to exist as the exemplifier of that essence, it was *necessary* that this very individual came to exist and to exemplify that essence.

View C: Not only are there no de re possibilities involving S before S exists (as View B also thinks), but de re possibilities do not supervene on qualitative ones. When a qualitative essence comes to be instantiated, and an individual, S, comes to exist as the exemplifier of that essence, it was *possible* that a *distinct* individual, S*, come to exist and to exemplify that essence *instead*.

I don't see you committing yourself in this post to the possibility of Socrates' having a modal counterpart, Schmocrates, that could have instantiated his actual-world qualitative essence instead of him, but affirming such a possibility would place you in View C.

I think that the coherence of view B means that delicacy is required in thinking about what it is for a thought to be "singular" or "general", or to concern a "mere satisfier", or to "reach an individual in its individuality". One tempting interpretation of "singular" and "reaching an individual in its individuality" requires the thought to be directly about, or directly involve, S itself. There must be de re possibilities for S. But if View B were true, then a given thought (such as belonging to a powerful prophet who can grasp qualitative essences) could be intuitively "singular", or intuitively "reach an individual in its individuality", in *another* sense that is consistent with there being no de re possibilities for S. For if the existence of S would *necessarily* issue from the instantiation of the relevant qualitative essence, then there is a sense in which the thought "singles out" S. The thought would surely not conflate S with any distinct individual S*, and one might think that such conflation is necessary for the thought's being "general".

So I think that View A is clearly committed to the possibility of "singular" thoughts about as-yet non-existents, that View C is clearly committed to the impossibility of such, and that how we classify View B depends on how exactly we understand the "singular" / "general" distinction. On one way, it falls on the "singular" side, while on another, the "general" side.

Excellent comments, Daniel.

My view is what you call (C). We both reject (A). Your view is (B).

>>de re possibilities supervene on qualitative possibilities, in the following sense. When what you call a qualitative essence comes to be instantiated, and an individual, S, comes to exist as the exemplifier of that essence, it was *necessary* that this very individual came to exist and to exemplify that essence.<<

My question is: what is the ground of this necessity? What makes it necessary that the QE, when it becomes instantiated, be instantiated by S and nothing else? My question has an easy answer in the case of a NQE such as identity-with-S. The answer would be: it is necessary that the NQE be instantiated by S because S is 'built into' NQE, it is part and parcel of its very conceptual content.

But in the case of a QE I see nothing in QE to ground the necessity.

It may be that you are committed by (B) to the Identity of Indiscernibles. You could say that it is the IdIn that makes it necessary that when QE comens to be instantiated it comes to be instantiated by S and not other individual.

So one question for you would be whether you think your position entails/logically requires IdIn.

I would say that a truly singular thought about S would have to single out S not only in the actual world but across all possible worlds in which S exists. The singular thoughts going with your view (B) are really general thoughts.

Let me discuss IdIn first. I don't think view (B) requires this, however I do think it requires an analogue principle about worlds: there is no possible world that is qualitatively exactly like the actual world, but numerically distinct from it. This implies that playing Socrates's actual-world qualitative role is sufficient for being Socrates. If playing that role were not sufficient for being Socrates, There would be a possible world that duplicates the actual world, qualitatively, but in which someone other than Socrates (e.g. "Schmocrates") plays that role instead.

IdIn is a thesis about individuals within a single world, and I can reject it. Black's world is possible, with two qualitatively identical but numerically distinct individuals. But to bring in my analogue principle about worlds: any possible world with Black's world's qualitative character just is Black's world. So if Black's world contains Castor and Pollux, I want to deny that there is a possible world, just like this qualitatively, in which we have two different spheres, e.g. "Romulus and Remus".

I appreciate your question about what could ground the necessity I am committed to on view (B); I don't think I had thought about it like that. Suppose Socrates comes to exist as the exemplifier of a QE. What grounds the possibility, on view (C), that someone else could have come to exist instead? Is there a parallel problem here, or would you perhaps say that (C)'s modal position is the "default", without an explanatory burden?

I'm initially tempted to say that the explanation lies in the nature of Socrates, not in the nature of the QE. What it is to be Socrates is to have that QE. I'm not claiming this is obvious (it certainly can be disputed), but I take your question to be about a metaphysical rather than epistemic matter. It's not apparent, from conceptual/linguistic considerations (as with Socrates and "identity-with-Socrates"), that what it is to be water is to be H2O, but this is true.

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