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Saturday, December 01, 2018


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'He is denying that the concept God is unexemplified.'

You mean:

He is denying that the concept God is exemplified.


He is claiming that the concept God is unexemplified.

Thank you for the correction.

Hi Bill

here is my reply

have a nice Sunday!

Dear Bill:

I agree with you that the issue is murky and we do not really have an ideal approach (or perhaps you think the ideal approach is the one you provided in your book, which I should read again. I read it many years ago).

Let us say that I am basically Fressellian for lack of a better alternative, but that does not mean I do not see the problems. Indeed I think there are more problems than you say.

Your say “The theory is easily extended to cover singular negative existentials if we think of proper names in a Russellian way as definite descriptions in disguise as opposed to thinking of them in a Kripkean way as rigid designators. Charitably understood, when an atheist denies the existence of God, he is not presupposing God's existence; he is denying that the divine attributes are jointly instantiated. He is denying that the concept God is unexemplified.”

But in fact the extension is not completely straightforward, because “the F does not exist” does not automatically translate as “F is not exemplified”. For “the F” means there is exactly an x such that x is F & ...x... So either the surface grammar is not taken at face value and we forget there is an “exist” predicate in the sentence, as Russell does, so that “the F does not exist” means: it is false that there is exactly an x such that x is F, or it is false that F is uniquely exemplified. Or we take “exist” to mean a universal property (such as being self-identical), and so we get: it is false that there is exactly an x such that x is F and x is self-identical. I prefer the latter alternative. In any case, either we must play with grammar in an hoc manner (which I don’t like) or we lose the univocity of “exist” (which means either instantiated or self-identical).

Moreover, as you correctly say, it is hard to make sense of “Max might have not existed”. As I told you in a previous message, I have a way out which presupposes descriptivism about proper names and amounts to take it as: there is exactly an x that is Max [or Maxizes, if you wish] such that there is an (Ersatz) possible W such that it is false there is a P such that W entails P(x). But I am not completely happy with this because it introduces one more (complex) way of understanding “exists”, after “instantiated” and “self-identical”.

Furthermore, how should the Fressellian understand this: there might have been individuals different from any existent individuals. It seems true to me, but it seems to me the Fressellian can hardly take it at face value.

These are the reasons why, as I told you, I am tempted to consider haecceities. I think your considerations indeed suggest that they must be taken to be absolutely primitive, in a way that makes them ungraspable by us. But perhaps it is a price we must pay. An idea I play with, and that I am now sharing with you, it this: that individual essences are (possibly uninstantiated) properties of the sort ‘being constituted by a certain aggregate of matter M at time t at place p’. where t and p are the time and place where the individual (if thre is ne) first comes to exist. A sort of essentiality of the origin. Of course you may say the time and place when one starts existing seems contingent. But perhaps it is not and it helps us to understand what an haecceity is. I am not sure of course.

Francesco Orilia

Da: William F Vallicella
Inviato: sabato 1 dicembre 2018 15:09
A: orilia@unimc.it
Oggetto: Existence

Ciao Francesco,

Page 9 of your draft got me thinking about existence again. Tell me what you agree with and disagree with in the following piece: https://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/maverick_philosopher/2018/12/existence.html#comments



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