SOPhiA 2021

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Existentialism about singular propositions and truth in truth at distinction
(Metaphysics and Ontology, )

A Existentialism is a view according to which singular propositions, i.e., propositions about particular individuals such as "Socrates is human" ontologically depend on individuals they describe. Thus, had Socrates cease to exist, there would be no singular propositions about Socrates. Anti-existentialism is a denial of existentialism. According to it, singular propositions, like all other propositions, exist necessarily. One of the strongest arguments against existentialism has been delivered by Alvin Plantinga (1983). According to it, existentialist has difficulties in explaining a possibility of non-existence of particular individuals. Suppose that Socrates could cease to exist, that is, that there are possible worlds at which there are no Socrates. At such worlds a proposition "Socrates does not exist" is true. However, since according to existentialism singular propositions ontologically depend on individuals they describe, if Socrates is absent from such worlds, then, had such worlds been actualized, there would be no singular propositions about Socrates, including a proposition "Socrates does not exist". Thus, it would not be true that Socrates does not exist, contrary to an initial assumption that Socrates might not have existed. A popular solution to this issue is to distinguish two ways a proposition can be true with respect to a possible world: a proposition can be true at or according to and true in a possible world (Adams 1981). While in order for a proposition p to be true in a possible world w, p has to exist in w, a proposition can be true at w without existing in w. It is sufficient that p exists in some other world w*, from perspective of which w is evaluated. Thus, a solution to Plantinga's puzzle is that while a proposition "Socrates does not exist" cannot be true in Socrates-free possible worlds, it can be true at such worlds. However, some (e.g., Plantinga) argue that a distinction between truth at / truth in not legitimate. In this presentation, by drawing on the work done by Iris Einheuser (2012) on truth at / truth in distinction, I show that such distinction is genuine.

Chair: Nikolai Shurakov
Time: 10:00-10:30, 10 September 2021 (Friday)
Location: SR 1.003

Karol Lenart 
(Jagiellonian University, Krakow, )



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