Combining Philosophers

Ideas for Kenelm Digby, Willard Quine and Brian R. Martin

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4 ideas

10. Modality / E. Possible worlds / 1. Possible Worlds / e. Against possible worlds
Possible worlds are a way to dramatise essentialism, and yet they presuppose essentialism [Quine]
     Full Idea: Talk of possible worlds is a graphic way of waging the essentialist philosophy, but it is only that; it is not an explication. Essence is needed to identify an object from one possible world to another.
     From: Willard Quine (Intensions Revisited [1977], p.118)
     A reaction: He makes the proposal sound circular, but I take a commitment to essences to be prior to talk of possible worlds. Possible worlds are a tool for clarifying modalities, not for clarifying essential identities.
10. Modality / E. Possible worlds / 3. Transworld Objects / a. Transworld identity
Can an unactualized possible have self-identity, and be distinct from other possibles? [Quine]
     Full Idea: Is the concept of identity simply inapplicable to unactualized possibles? But what sense can be found in talking of entities which cannot meaningfully be said to be identical with themselve and distinct from one another.
     From: Willard Quine (On What There Is [1948], p.4)
     A reaction: Can he seriously mean that we are not allowed to talk about possible objects? If I design a house, it is presumably identical to the house I am designing, and distinct from houses I'm not designing.
We can't quantify in modal contexts, because the modality depends on descriptions, not objects [Quine, by Fine,K]
     Full Idea: 'Necessarily 9>7' may be true while the sentence 'necessarily the number of planets < 7' is false, even though it is obtained by substituting a coreferential term. So quantification in these contexts is unintelligible, without a clear object.
     From: report of Willard Quine (Reference and Modality [1953]) by Kit Fine - Intro to 'Modality and Tense' p. 4
     A reaction: This is Quine's second argument against modality. See Idea 9201 for his first. Fine attempts to refute it. The standard reply seems to be to insist that 9 must therefore be an object, which pushes materialist philosophers into reluctant platonism.
10. Modality / E. Possible worlds / 3. Transworld Objects / b. Rigid designation
A rigid designator (for all possible worlds) picks out an object by its essential traits [Quine]
     Full Idea: A rigid designator differs from others in that it picks out its object by essential traits. It designates the object in all possible worlds in which it exists.
     From: Willard Quine (Intensions Revisited [1977], p.118)
     A reaction: This states the point more clearly than Kripke ever does, and I presume it is right. Thus when we say that we wish 'our' Hubert Humphrey had won the election, we can allow that his victory elation would change him a bit. Kripke is right.