SOPhiA 2017

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Essentialism, Haecceitism and Possibilities
(Metaphysics and Ontology, English)

The aim of this presentation is to show a connection between haecceitism and essentialism. In order to achieve this both theories would be analysed in the scope of their modal and ontological commitments. On the one hand, essentialism states that there are qualitative constraints imposed on the range of possibilities for individuals (Plantinga 1974, Lewis 1986, Cowlling 2012). These restrictions determine the ways in which individuals could have changed without losing their identity. On the other hand, haecceitism states that possibilities are constrained only nonqualitativelly (Adams 1979, Mackie 2006, Stalnaker 2012), which means that individuals could have changed in respect of all their qualitative properties but still preserve their identity. Its argued that both theories are in conflict (Adams 1979, Salmon 1996, Mackie 2006). In this presentation, I would like to argue that they are not. In order to accomplish that I would like to distinguish two kind of possibilities: essentialistic and haecceitic ones. Former kind of possibilities would describe the situations of change of properties possessed by identified individuals. In other words, essentialism would be understood as a theory explaining how given individual could have changed and weather it could have become different in some qualitative aspects. Later kind of possibilities would describe the logically possible scenarios in which individual objects could have been completely different entities than presently. In principle, both possibilities could be investigated independently of each other. However, I claim that essentialistic possibilities are grounded in haecceitic ones. It is the case due to the fact that in order to investigate whether given individual X could have become F one has to identify X as distinct from other entities and do it without any reference to qualiatative aspects of analyzed individual. Only haecceitism can provide such criteria of identification of individuals.

-- Adams, R. M. (1979). "Primitive thisness and primitive identity"e;. The Journal of Philosophy, 76(1), 5-26.
-- Cowling, S. (2012). "Haecceitism for modal realists". Erkenntnis, 77(3), 399-417.
-- Lewis, D. (1986). "On the plurality of worlds". Basil Blackwell.
-- Mackie, P. (2006). "How things might have been: Individuals, kinds, and essential properties". Oxford University Press.
-- Plantinga, A. (1974). "The nature of necessity." Oxford University Press on Demand.
-- Salmon, N. (1996). "Trans-world identification and stipulation." Philosophical Studies, 84(2), 203-223.
-- Stalnaker, R. (2012). "Mere possibilities: Metaphysical foundations of modal semantics." Princeton University Press.

Chair: Tomi Francis
Time: 10:35-11:05, 15 September 2017 (Friday)
Location: SR 1.003

Karol Lenart 
(Jagiellonian University, Poland)

I am a PhD student and teaching assistant in the Department of Philosophy at Jagiellonian University in Cracow. The main field of my interest is metaphysic, especially the problem of essentialism and possible worlds. Currently I work on a paper concerning the relation of grounding and essence. I am managing editor at Polish Journal of Philosophy.

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