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Thursday, June 10, 2021

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I am surprised that views, such as this one, do not get much traction among contemporary philosophers of religion. Jacquette's position eliminates the cosmological and fine-tuning arguments from a theist's hand. That being said, a theist armed with his own theory of existence may be in a better place to defend the existence of God that one without such a theory (one reason why I think presenting arguments without an underlying metaphysical system is often pointless).

As an aside, I have just discovered, while reading Colin McGinn's little book, "Logical Properties: Identity, Existence, Predication, Necessity, Truth," that he too believes that 'exists' is a predicate that expresses a property (like other predicates do), that can be correctly applied to individuals. A pleasant surprise!

Grigory

Here is another problem:

Definition of Existence:" For any object O, O exists, has being or is an entity, if and only if O has a maximally consistent property combination."
 
Definition of a Maximally Consistent Property Combination:" A property combination PC for any logically possible object O is maximally consistent if and only if, for any logically possible extraontological property F, either F is in PC or non-F (the complement of F) is in PC, but not both

If a property F exists and we try to define F's existence this way, by this we need to define it in terms of further properties, and then we have to define those properties in terms of yet further properties, and so on ad infinitum. Since the regress's higher-order properties must exist for the lower-order properties to exist and the definition to work, it appears to be vicious.

Cyrus,

Very plausible objection. Here is a way out for Jacquette: He might hold that properties are nonexistent objects in Meinong's sense: they are beyond being and non-being. They have no being at all. That is the famous doctrine of Aussersein. It is highly problmatic in my opinion, although not logically self-contradictory as van Inwagen mistakenly thinks.

If properties are nonexistent items, then Jacquette's definitions do not apply to them.

Richard Sylvan/Routley in his MEIONONG'S JUNGLE AND BEYOND also maintains that properties are nonexistent items.

Bill,

Suppose properties are Aussersein. According to Jacquette:

Definition of Existence: "For any object O, O exists, has being or is an entity, if and only if O has a maximally consistent property combination."

And:

Definition of a Maximally Consistent Property Combination: “A property combination PC for any logically possible object O is maximally consistent if and only if, for any logically possible extraontological property F, either F is in PC or non-F (the complement of F) is in PC, but not both"


The properties are either consistent in terms of higher-order property-Aussersein, or not. If they are, then by Jacquette's definition they exist. If they're not, then we're giving things existence in virtue of internally self-contradictory properties. (On this third arm, (i) I'm not sure what it means for a property combination of an object to be maximally consistent in virtue of internally self-contradictory properties, and (ii) I'm not sure what the properties would then, viz. what do we mean when we talk about a property that both is and isn't something.) Either the properties are consistent in terms of higher-order property-Aussersein, or not. Etc.

Cyrus,

I am afraid I don't understand what you are saying. to say that properties are ausserseiend is simply to say that they have no being whatsoever.

Bill,

How can something instantiate something with no being whatsoever? If it can, why can't things without being instantiate other things without being? Clearly I'm going to have to bone up on Meinong.

Isn't the claim that completeness entails existence equivalent to Plantinga's idea of maximal excellence entailing existence? If so, I'd argue that the being of those completing properties is unaccounted for. I hope I have my terminology correctly, but even if we ascribe something like else essentiea to the completed worlds, we only have them as distinguished from nothing, but not yet actual as a world possessing esse existentiae would. This is basically the idea that Jon McGinnis outlined in his book on Avicenna.

The way out I see is to deny the distinction and ascribe esse existentiae to all worlds. In that case together with the idea that existence is completeness, I'd leverage the objection I hinted at above, namely there would have to be something prior to being, which is absurd

I am late to this post, but Bill's comment in the 2nd to last paragraph provoked a good bit of musing.

I agree that existence is complete determinateness or completeness, but it is the completeness of the bare, abstract numerical 1. That is, it is complete in itself and distinct from everything else.

But the Jacquette completeness is not of the numerical 1, but the 'maximal consistency' of the properties of an object. For me, this confuses existence with actuality. You might very well define actuality as maximally consistent in this way, but then comes the question: what distinguishes actuality from a maximally consistent possibility?

The answer to that question, which I take Bill to be saying, is existence. If the maximally consistent entity is existent, then it is actual; if not, then it is only possible. In this, existence is like the watermark that authenticates a check as being non-fraudulent, or the King's Seal that establishes the authority of a Royal Decree. Neither the watermark nor the Seal are identical with the substantive value of the check or the meaning of the Decree, but neither of those would be actual without the watermark or the Seal.

But note also how it is the watermark & Seal that make this check & this Decree singularly different from all other checks and Decrees: they each have a distinct being in the world, even though each is well categorized under the universal predicates, "checks" and "Decrees."

Thus, existence makes actual a maximally consistent set of properties of an entity, but also does something more: it brings the completeness of the numerical 1. Any actual entity will have a singular identity in the world qua itself, and a corresponding difference and distinctiveness from anything else.

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