Monday, December 04, 2006

Josh Parson's Wittgenstein Tractatus Prose Generator

Is here.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Follow the Bouncing Coloured Existential Ball.

"On Existentialism" from Plantinga (no introduction required, the title says it all...)

(N.B. if your wondering why certain words are in colour, it's because I find it very difficult to keep all the examples of propositions distinct from the objects. No the use of italics are not good enough! So the use of colour keeps them visually and mentally ungarbled.)

Existential Thesis:

Singular propositions (thisnesses) are ontologically dependent upon contingent objects (exemplifications)

Part of the argument against the Existential Thesis:

(3) Possibly Socrates does not exist

(4) If (3) then the proposition Socrates does not exist is possible

(5) If the proposition Socrates does not exist is possible, then it is possibly true

(6) Necessarily, if Socrates does not exist had been true, then Socrates does not exist would have existed

and

(7) Necessarily, if Socrates does not exist had been true, then Socrates would not have existed

from (3), (4) and (5):

(8) Socrates does not exist is possibly true (i.e. the proposition could have been true)

from (6) and (7):

(9) Necessarily, if Socrates does not exist had been true, then Socrates does not exist would have existed and Socrates would not have existed

from (8) and (9):

(10) It is possible that both Socrates does not exist and the proposition Socrates does not exist exists

Therefore, the existential thesis is contradicted.

My confusion is with the denial of (6), the Pollock or Pollockian Existentialism, or anti-serious existential actualism, or serious anti-actualism with existential flavour, or …, objection. I don’t know what to call it nor do I get what it is exactly. Plantinga tries to clarify the position by adding another slew of premises, but I think (12) is supposed to sum it up:

(12) Necessarily for any object x, possible world W, and property P, if x has P in W, then x exists in W.

I get (12) and I get (6), but it gets a little hazy when you use existence as the property in the support of (12) in order to deny (6). Which seems to be what is going on, at least I think?

Perhaps I shall back up a bit and plug-in Socrates into premise (12):

(12*) Necessarily for any object Socrates, possible world W, and property existing, if Socrates has existence in W, then Socrates exists in W.

This seems to sound okay. But I can’t understand how given (12*) there is a denial of (6) and (7),

(6) Necessarily, if Socrates does not exist had been true, then Socrates does not exist would have existed

and

(7) Necessarily, if Socrates does not exist had been true, then Socrates would not have existed

Is Pollock (or the anti-serious existential actualist) saying that if we take Socrates does not exist as true then it conflicts with Socrates having the property of existing at W? If so, then they aren’t upholding the existentialist mantra of singular propositions being dependent on contingent objects. It’s the other way round, at least I think? I thought that you couldn’t take the does not exist part to conflict with Socrates having the property of existing at W. That would mean that the contingent object (Socrates) is dependant on the singular proposition (does not exist). Exemplifications are not dependent on thisness. If your following the bouncing coloured ball, red is not dependent on green, but green is dependent on red. Or as Plantinga says from the get go on the existentialist’s behalf:

“… thisness are ontologically dependent upon their exemplifications. Take any thisness t and the object x of which t is the thisness; t could not have existed if x had not. … Every thisness has essentially the property of being exemplified by the object that does not exemplify it. More exactly, the thesis in question is that it is necessary that every thisness has that property; it is not as if there could have been thisness that could have lacked the property in question.” (159)

Yeah… well... the point is that I don’t understand how (6) and (7) conflict with (12). Perhaps if the whole thing was turned into a black and white movie with French subtitles then I’d get the anti-serious existential actualist’s point of view, but as it is explained here, I’m at a loss.

The Great Marriage

I will concern myself with one question:

A randomly selected person, may, when asked, say that he believes that marriage exists, but deny that fictional characters exist. If we say that abstract things such as marriage and promises exist, ought we to admit that fictional characters exist as well?

Response:
The answer to this question may lie in figuring out WHY a person would admit the existence of marriage and deny the existence of fictional characters. There are several possible components to this reasoning:

A)"I say marriage exists because I know people who ARE married."
Resp) this is not a good reason. It treats marriage as a property, e.g. "Blaine is married". In the same way we can say, "Blaine is tall": but most people do not believe that "Tall" (or "Tallness") exist. Existence of properties is unclear, and may require a Platonic ideal to understand.

B)"I say marriage exists because it is a concept that can be actualized".
Resp)This response treats marriage in the proper way. But this response leans towards Platonism. What grounds does a Platonist have for believing in the existence of abstractia without being a fictionalist?

C)"Because fictional characters resemble concrete objects that may or may not exist, I am scared to admit that fictional characters exist".
Resp)I believe this is a common reason why people deny the existence of fictional objects - I shall call fictional characters humanoids because they claim to have (disregard van Inwagen) properties that humans have. Most laypeople would fear being called a fool if they would say that Henry IV does not exist because he is dead, and then go on to say Falstaff does exist because Shakespear created him. In the same way, people may be scared to admit that fictional objects exist because of their similarity to mythical objects: try convincing a scientific community that Vulcan exists!

Of course, fear is not a good reason to decide the way things actually are. But no other reasons have been given to say why we should accept one and not the other. That is why I believe that all Platonists should be inclined to be fictionalists. Of course, if one is a Platonist, one should be sure that they hold their views because of (B) and not (A).

help!

In Plantinga's article "On Existentialism" I couldn't find a posative argument for serious actualism, but it looked like rather he was defending it from a couple objections. In any case, his argument against the inference from actualism to serious actualism confused the heck out me. Here's a brief look at some of the confusion.
"(12) Necessarily for any object x, possible world W, and property P, if x has P in W, then x exists in W"
Oh yeah, actualism too:
"(13) There are no nonexistent objects"
After a couple steps he gets
"(15) Whatever has P, exists" (where P is any property)
I get hazy about the point where he derives
"(18) whatever does not exist, exists".
I'm not sure where he gets 18 from. I'm not sure why he's objecting to the argument from actualism to serious actualism in the first place (it doesn't seem to suit is purposes). But playing along, where did 18 come from? And more importantly, why does he have a problem with it? I'm tempted to say that he plugs in the property of non-existence into (15), but this doesn't seem right. At worst it's a trivial statement. By (13) there are no nonexistent objects to fill the first clause of (18) anyway. You certainly can't prove that Zeus exists from (18) for instance. By (13) there is no such thing a Zeus (in the actual world), so it can't be an instance of something that does not exist.
Also, he states that Socrates is one of the things that are, but perhaps not in W. Is he using something other than common domain semantics? Or did I miss something? Priest allows something to BE at world W without existing at W, so I'm (perhaps mistakingly) taking that as standard.
So, given that I don't understand his objection to the inference from actualism to serious actualism, I find myself perplexed to the state of thinking that such an inference is valid. I'm sorry Plantinga!