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Sunday, April 05, 2020


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Hello Bill, and thanks once again for your critique. We do seem to think in rather different ways.

o Suppose I'm acquainted with Katie the caterpillar. Unbeknown to me Katie turns into a butterfly. I would say that my memories of Katie are memories of a caterpillar not memories of a butterfly---memories of a wingless, many-legged thing rather than a winged, six-legged thing. And this holds whatever subsequently happens to Katie.

o I baulk at actual and the other modal terms as concept words because I think they lead to contradiction. We touched on a counting argument for this once before, I think. Basically, there seem to be vastly more possible men than men. If possible were a concept word there would be fewer.

Much of what I say in the piece under discussion stems from a conviction that certain terms such as dead, past, actual, possible, fictional,... that function grammatically as adjectives do not predicate properties of concrete objects. Elucidating how they do operate is an ongoing project of mine. An early stab at this is here.

o Following Zalta I think that both ideas and concrete objects are complete in respect of the properties they exemplify, but an idea of an object is incomplete in respect of the properties it encodes---those properties the idea attributes to the object. But this is to reinterpret completeness in the light of a theory, of course.

o I completely agree that dead is a very tricky term which clouds the issues at stake here. I am oversimplifying by compressing to zero the period in which an organism can remain dead before ceasing to exist. A dead tree may stand for years. But I think our disagreement goes deeper.

I prefer to say that Tom Petty was a man, not a duck or a valve-lifter.

o You are right that I want to stay within tensed language. No one has taught me how to use untensed language. I'm happy to remain a tautological presentist, though I'm not sure how seriously to take the truthmaker objection. That past-tensed statements can have been made true in the past and then remain true merely reflects the fixity of the past on which we all agree.

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