Friday, September 3, 2010

Haecceities and presentism

The following argument is valid:

  1. (Premise) If there are no haecceities, then there are no propositions de re about non-existent individuals.
  2. (Premise) If presentism is true, then Seabiscuit is a non-existent individual.
  3. (Premise) That Seabiscuit was essentially a horse is a proposition de re about Seabiscuit.
  4. Therefore, if presentism is true, there are haecceities.
If we add that there are no haecceities, we can conclude that presentism is false.

However, I think (1) is false, because I think contingent entities are wholly individuated by the histories of their origins, where their histories are described in wholly general terms (i.e., without de re reference to any individuals). Consequently, if H is such a history of Seabiscuit, the proposition in (3) can be expressed: "Necessarily, if H is instantiated, it is instantiated by a horse."


Heath White said...

If presentism is true, what is the semantics of "Seabiscuit was a horse" or "Seabiscuit is a non-existent individual"? How does 'Seabiscuit' refer?

Alexander R Pruss said...

Maybe "Seabiscuit" is a disguised definite description: "The entity that satisfies H." But if individuals are wholly individuated by the histories of origins, then "The entity that satisfies H" has to be Seabiscuit.

Heath White said...

OK, so if presentism is true, what is the problem with "The entity that satisfies H was essentially a horse"? (I.e. at all possible world-times, if an entity satisfied H, that entity was a horse.)

Alexander R Pruss said...

No problem at all.

I was just developing an argument and refuting it.