Adams and Creation*
January 12, 2015 — 7:58

Author: Michael Almeida  Category: Uncategorized  Tags:   Comments: 48

Robert Adams defends a form of actualism according to which everything that exists is actual, nothing x can have a property P in a world w if x does not exist in w, and neither singular propositions about x nor haecceities (unique non-qualitative properties) of x exist in worlds where x does not exist.

An important implication of Adams’ view is that, for beings that do not actually exist, there are nothing more than qualitative possibilities: no individual essences and no thisnesses (e.g., the property of being identical to Socrates). Compare Plantinga who argues that there are individual essences (properties that belong uniquely to the individual who instantiates those properties) in every world (whether or not it is instantiated). What this means for Adams is that, when God is imagining what he wishes to create–which world he wants to actualize–the most he can do is imagine kinds of individuals, not particular individuals.

During creation, God can imagine creating a being that thinks philosophical thoughts, lives in a city that fits the description of Athens, drinks a liquid that fits the description of hemlock, and so on. But he cannot imagine creating Socrates (he cannot have before his mind the individual essence of Socrates and know that, were that essence instantiated then Socrates would exist). So, he might create a being with all of the qualitative properties we associate with Socrates, and fail to create Socrates. If God manages to create Socrates anyway, it is inexplicable how he does so. All of Socrates de re properties–including what is essential to him–come into being after he is created, not before. Effectively, God has no idea who is creating, only what he is creating. Here is Adams.

But did He also have before His mind an infinite array of merely possible individuals, or thisnesses of them, or singular propositions about them, or possibilities regarding them, in such a way that He could have chosen from a number of individuals, possibly indiscernible in every purely qualitative respect, one to be created rather than another? I think not. (‘Actualism and Thisness’, Synthese, ’81)

There is an ontological parsimony in Adams’ view that actualists and others find admirable. But what he describes here is, I submit, impossible. When God creates a being that is qualitatively exactly like our Socrates (or our Aristotle, or Zeno, or Adams or Plantinga or… or), it is indeterminate who has been created. When God finishes instantiating all of the qualitative properties, it is indeterminate whether God has created Socrates or some other being. He has in fact created something whose identity is indeterminate. But, on the other hand, the being S that God created is such that, determinately, S = S, so S’s identity is not indeterminate. So, the identity of the created being is both determinate and not. And that is not possible.

Adam’s suggestion that there are only qualitative possibilities for all non-actual objects makes it impossible that God create any particular individual. And yet someone is created. There exists some determinate being when God is finished. But who?

*All of these posts are part of a larger project and I want to take a second to thank everyone who has commented on them and helped me think more clearly about them. I wish you would email me at michael.almeida@utsa.edu so I can properly cite you for your help. Thanks.

Comments:
  • Remark

    Hi Dr Almeida,

    Nothing to do with your post, but I hope your larger project goes well.

    January 12, 2015 — 9:39
  • Michael Almeida

    Thanks R.

    January 12, 2015 — 9:51
  • There are lots of beings that have all of the properties that Socrates (and all of the rest) enjoys in our world, but are not identical to Socrates.

    Maybe I’m missing something, but surely from Adams’ perspective there aren’t lots of beings that have all the properties of Socrates but are not identical to him: there aren;t any such beings because there are no haecceitties. You make it sound as though, by creating Socrates, God instantiated a possible haecceity, but without any way of determining which. But on Adams view, God didn’t instantiate a possible haecceity, because there are no such things.

    January 12, 2015 — 14:01
  • Michael Almeida

    You make it sound as though, by creating Socrates, God instantiated a possible haecceity, but without any way of determining which

    I don’t think I put it that way. Here’s what is true. In creating Socrates, there came into existence the property of being identical to Socrates. The haecceity (say, being identical to Socrates) came into existence at the moment Socrates did, and it’s existence is dependent on Socrates existing. But at the moment that God was deciding what kind of being to actualize, there were all sorts of beings who shared the qualitative properties that our Socrates actually exemplifies. So, when God created something with the qualitative properties that our Socrates actually displays, he did not determinately create Socrates.He did not determinately create anyone. That’s the problem.

    January 12, 2015 — 14:11
  • Sorry if this is just going round in circles, but you say:

    But at the moment that God was deciding what kind of being to actualize, there were all sorts of beings who shared the qualitative properties that our Socrates actually exemplifies

    Isn’t that precisely what Adams is denying? Isn’t his position that there were qualitative properties that were unexemplified, rather than lots of beings exemplifying those properties?

    January 12, 2015 — 14:29
  • Michael Almeida

    No, these are good questions. I should rather speak of beings existing in world-stories (in other worlds), not of beings that actually exist, that share the qualitative properties of our Socrates. Adams is not denying, not that I can tell, that there are beings existing in other worlds: beings in world-stories that share the properties (in those worlds) that our Socrates actually exemplifies. He uses examples of such beings–ones that are indiscernible for instance–in at least one important argument.

    January 12, 2015 — 14:38
  • Michael Almeida

    But I take your point. God is not entertaining singular thoughts about other individuals in any world when he is deciding on creating. So, maybe the objection should be rephrased this way. There are worlds w0, w1, w2…wn. Each of these worlds has a purely qualitative description. So, it is indeterminate which world God actualizes in creating beings that satisfy the descriptions. Creating beings that satisfy the descriptions is insufficient to determining who is created.

    January 12, 2015 — 15:38
  • How about this:

    God can certainly create different instantiations of one world-story. Once created, there will be two qualitatively identical worlds, W1 and W2, containing two qualitatively identical individuals, i1 and i2, with different thisnesses, t1 and t2. We can then ask what determined that i1 has t1 and i2 has t2. It seems that W1 could have contained i2 and not i1, as it in fact does. But we cannot describe God as choosing to create i1 in W1 and not i2, since i2 was not there not not be chosen.

    On Adams’ theory, as worlds are created, new singular propositions come into existence, extending the possibilities of what can be said. So, we cannot ask the question “Why i1 in W1, and not i2?” until i2 exists. But, what makes this question unanswerable is that we are asking about something that happened at a time before i2 existed to be not-chosen-to-be-in-W1. So, this way of stating the question presupposes that God creates W1 first and then W2. It might help clarify things if we first consider what can be said about a temporal God creating different worlds at different times, and then consider what lessons might be drawn for the more difficult case of a timeless God.

    But the hypothesis that each world was created at different times might provide an answer to the question. i1 is not i2 precisely because i1 was created before i2. By choosing to create W1 at time1, God chose to instantiate the World Story with thisness1. By choosing to instantiate the world story at time2, God creates W2 with thisness2.

    This is supposing that God creates one thing then another, but what if God is timeless? Still, I would suggest, if God creates two different but qualitatively identical worlds, God must have some different relationship to each of those worlds that ensures they are different. Let us say that God creates one with something analogous to his left hand, and one with something analogous to his right hand. In that case, by choosing to create right-handedly, God is giving a thisness to the world as he instantiates the world story.

    January 12, 2015 — 19:27
    • Michael Almeida

      But the hypothesis that each world was created at different times might provide an answer to the question. i1 is not i2 precisely because i1 was created before i2

      But the question is different, I think. The question is why individual 1 results from instantiating the set of qualities Q at t1 and individual 2 results from instantiating the same set of qualities Q at t2. I think Adam’s says here that it’s a brute fact. My conclusion, rather, is that no one in particular comes into being when God instantiates Q. Otherwise, we have something like metaphysical magic: out of nothing there arises a particular individual.

      January 13, 2015 — 10:33
      • Otherwise, we have something like metaphysical magic: out of nothing there arises a particular individual.

        If I understand Adams correctly, that is exactly what the miracle of creatio ex nihilo involves.

        When God creates me, God brings it about that a set of qualities are instantiated in a particular individual. God didn’t have to select the individuality from anywhere – it just is the individuality that God brought into existence at that moment.

        January 13, 2015 — 12:10
        • Michael Almeida

          I think you’re right. But the fact is (I contend) that it is not creation ex nihilo, but rather non-creation or pseudo-creation. He did not create you or any other particular individual, not even magically. He instantiated a set of properties, and that does not entail that any individual at all exists. The only thing that exists is an indeterminate person.

          January 13, 2015 — 12:31
  • Why not just suppose the identity of indiscernibles? 🙂 You have to bite one bullet–deny something that seems possible–but then a *lot* of stuff becomes simpler.

    January 12, 2015 — 21:54
    • Michael Almeida

      Adams does not hold the identity of indiscernibles, and I think there is a good reason why. If every distinct individual is qualitatively different, then there are qualitative haecceities: there is for each individual some set of properties that they possess uniquely. It does solve a lot of Adams’ problems, but he does not hold such a view.

      January 13, 2015 — 10:26
  • Why not just suppose the identity of indiscernibles? 🙂 You have to bite one bullet–deny something that seems possible–but then a fair amount of stuff becomes easier.

    January 12, 2015 — 21:54
  • Mark Rogers

    “God can certainly create different instantiations of one world-story. Once created, there will be two qualitatively identical worlds, W1 and W2, containing two qualitatively identical individuals, i1 and i2, with different thisnesses, t1 and t2. We can then ask what determined that i1 has t1 and i2 has t2. It seems that W1 could have contained i2 and not i1, as it in fact does. But we cannot describe God as choosing to create i1 in W1 and not i2, since i2 was not there not not be chosen.”

    This sounds right to me. But neither, in my opinion on Adams’ view, can we describe God as choosing to create i1 with t1 in W1. The t1 of i1 does not exist before i1 is created. Therefore i1 with t1 does not exist before it’s creation. It is not a matter of God choosing i1 with t1 from an array of qualitatively indiscernible individuals. I1 with t1 simply can not be discerned, before actually existing, since i1 with t1 does not and has not ever existed. By choosing to create W1 at time1, God does not chose to instantiate the World Story with thisness 1 as there is no thisness 1 extant to be considered or selected before it actually exists.

    Thanks for all the great posts Dr. Almeida.

    January 13, 2015 — 12:31
    • I agree. I think it is the possibility of the existence of t1 and t2 that gives rise to the illusion (on Adams’ theory) that God chose to create t1 and not t2. When we realize he wasn’t choosing “t1 and not t2”, we realize that he wasn’t choosing t1.

      January 13, 2015 — 12:51
      • Michael Almeida

        I think it is the possibility of the existence of t1 and t2 that gives rise to the illusion …

        Well, t1 and t2 are not even possibilities for Adams, which makes the metaphysics very strange. They are not possible until they are actual, since t1 and t2 exist in no worlds at all prior to creation. So where do these impossible beings come from? I say they do not come from anything, since when God is done creating, there is still no t1 or t2 or t-anything; there is no determinate individual.

        January 13, 2015 — 12:57
        • It is true that, for Adams, they are not possible beings before they exist. But they are not impossible beings before they exist either. When something starts to exist, there is nothing from which it begins, not something that is possible, nor something that is impossible. That, I think, is very clearly Adams position. I think it can be said, in his defense, that it takes the idea of creatio ex nihilo very seriously, rather than creation from a realm of possibilia.

          That said, Adams should, I think, admit that my story about t1 etc was something that could have happened, a possible description. The trick would be to demonstrate that we can tell such a story without any de re possibilities concerning non-existing objects. Right now, I’m a bit too tired to give that the attention that it deserves.

          January 13, 2015 — 22:29
  • Michael Almeida

    This sounds right to me. But neither, in my opinion on Adams’ view, can we describe God as choosing to create i1 with t1 in W1

    No, I agree. My objection is, to put it simply, that God does not create anyone in instantiating the qualities Q of qualitative individuals in world-story W. What is created is an indeterminate individual. No individual is identical to the set of instantiated qualities Q, nor does any particular individual supervene on Q, nor does instantiating Q entail that any particular individual exists. Nothing concerning the existence of any particular individuals follows from the instantiation of Q.

    January 13, 2015 — 12:53
  • Mark Rogers

    “My objection is, to put is simply, that God does not create anyone in instantiating the qualities Q of qualitative individuals in world-story W. What is created is an indeterminate individual.”

    I do not think ‘indeterminate’ is the correct idea as when you were created you did receive your genetic material from your parents. I think Adams is trying to say that Gods knowledge of the future does not extend through everything that has never existed.

    January 13, 2015 — 14:13
  • Michael Almeida

    I do not think ‘indeterminate’ is the correct idea as when you were created you did receive your genetic material from your parents.

    I’m not sure I see how this matters. Make the supposition that God instantiates two qualitative indiscernible sets of properties Q1 and Q2. Name them Jones and Smith respectively. Once these are instantiated, according to Adams, Q1 has the non-qualitative property of being identical to Jones and Q2 has the non-qualitative property of being identical to Smith, and Smith is not identical to Jones. So far, we have Adams. I’m not assuming that Smith or Jones are so much as possible prior to the instantiation of Q1 and Q2. I’m not assuming that they exist as individuals in any world.

    Ok. I deny that God actually created two determinate individuals. I say that Q1 is not determinately Smith and not determinately Jones, and similarly for Q2. I say further that Q1 and Q2 are not determinately any particular individual.

    January 13, 2015 — 14:42
  • Michael Almeida

    It is true that, for Adams, they are not possible beings before they exist. But they are not impossible beings before they exist either.

    That’s not coherent. If they are not possible, then they are impossible. The fact that the impossible suddenly becomes actual, is part of the problem, but it is a major part. But as I’ve been emphasizing, God simply cannot manage to create one of these impossible beings. At most he can indeterminately create one.

    January 14, 2015 — 7:39
    • Well, the coherence of Adams’ position is precisely what is at stake here. But he certainly doesn’t want to say that before I existed I was an impossible being. I think his intuitions are as follows.

      Adams is saying that “It is possible for God to create a stone which he will call Cephas” does not mean that “There exists a hypothetical but non-actual stone called Cephas”. You are arguing that if the hypothetical stone Cephas is not possible, then it must be impossible. But he is denying that there is a hypothetical stone at all. So the move from “not a possible object” to “an impossible object” would only work if he had already admitted a hypothetical object, which is just what he denies.

      I should say, I think I’m clear about where your disagreement with Adams lies. What I’m finding it hard to see is how you have an argument against Adams in the form of a reductio, from premises that he accepts to a conclusion that, by his lights, he is bound to deny. The arguments seem to rest on the (deep-seated and highly intuitive) assumptions that he rejects.

      January 14, 2015 — 10:45
  • Mark Rogers

    “Make the supposition that God instantiates two qualitative indiscernible sets of properties Q1 and Q2. Name them Jones and Smith respectively. Once these are instantiated, according to Adams, Q1 has the non-qualitative property of being identical to Jones and Q2 has the non-qualitative property of being identical to Smith, and Smith is not identical to Jones. So far, we have Adams. I’m not assuming that Smith or Jones are so much as possible prior to the instantiation of Q1 and Q2. I’m not assuming that they exist as individuals in any world.”

    I am not sure you have it 100% correct yet Dr. Almeida. Once these, Q1 and Q2 are instantiated, according to Adams, there now exists a thisness (of?) Q1 and a thisness (of?) Q2. The now extant thisness, has the property of being identical with Jones. Jones is a constituent of a non-qualitative, non-communicable property Adams has called thisness which can not exist without Jones. So I think Adams would say that Q1 is not determinately Smith and not determinately Jones, and similarly for Q2. He would say further that Q1 and Q2 are not determinately any particular individual. Q1 and Q2 are sets of non-existent qualitative properties.

    January 14, 2015 — 8:14
  • Michael Almeida

    Yes, of course, but I’m talking about the instantiations of Q1 and Q2, which I think is evident in the example. I’m not claiming that Jones is identical to the set of qualities Q1. I’m claiming that Jones is identical to the instantiation of Q1. It is the instantiation of Q1 that has the property of being identical to Jones. It is the instantiation of Q2 that is Smith. We all agree, I think, that the uninstantiated properties are not identical to any individual. But this is all Adams, not me. I deny that the instantiation of Q1 is Jones. I say that it is at best indeterminately Jones.

    January 14, 2015 — 8:26
  • Michael Almeida

    Hi Ben,

    You are arguing that if the hypothetical stone Cephas is not possible, then it must be impossible. But he is denying that there is a hypothetical stone at all. So the move from “not a possible object” to “an impossible object” would only work if he had already admitted a hypothetical object, which is just what he denies.

    I agree that Adams holds that any individual stone that does not actually exist also does not exist in any world. Here there is no argument. But I’m not tracking you after this. If C is not among the possibilia–as Adams maintains–then C does not exist in any possible world at all. I think you agree with this, too. But if C does not exist in any possible world, then C is impossible. That’s just what it means to be impossible. This is part of what makes Adams view incredible, that we get this impossible object–this object that he agrees does not exist in any possible world–suddenly existing.

    January 14, 2015 — 10:54
  • Surely, for Adams, whereas “It is impossible that I be a stone” can be cashed out as “I exist, and in no world in which I exist can I be a stone”, a de re statement, a statement of the form “X cannot exist” cannot be a de re necessary statement. It would have to be analyzed as “X means an object that satisfies conditions a,b,c, and no object can satisfy a,b,c.” So “X” does not appear as a singular referring term.

    January 14, 2015 — 11:35
  • Michael Almeida

    Ben,

    Yes, of course, but that has nothing to do with Adams. There can be no object x such that x necessarily does not exist (if x is a name in your language). This is just a modal version of the problem of negative existentials, as far as I can tell. But consistent with Adams (there are only qualitative possibilities for non-existing objects) we would have to say something like ☐~(∃x)(x = the instantiation of Q1)

    January 14, 2015 — 11:46
  • For Adams, it was possible for me to exist before I existed. This means that before I existed there existed a consistent world story that included a qualitative description that fits me. However, there was not a hypothetical me that was part of this consistent world story – just a description that I now fit.

    So Adams can say that all actual objects possibly existed, spelled out in this way. That does not mean that they once were possible objects.

    If you can demonstrate of some object that exists that there was not a consistent world story that included a qualitative description that the object fits, then you could say that, by Adams’ standards, something actual was once impossible.

    But your argument seems to be that because, according to Adams, actual objects were not once possible objects, actual objects were impossible by his standards, which is not correct.

    If you mean that actual objects were possible by his standards, but were impossible by the correct standards, then that is simply pointing out that your standards for possibly existing and not possibly existing are not the same as his.

    January 14, 2015 — 13:56
  • Michael Almeida

    For Adams, it was possible for me to exist before I existed. This means that before I existed there existed a consistent world story that included a qualitative description that fits me. However, there was not a hypothetical me that was part of this consistent world story – just a description that I now fit.

    Prior to your actual existence, this world-story you mention is not a story about you. It is just a story. I think we agree about that. So, there is no sense in which you are a part of the world described by the world-story you mention. Now, this fact generalizes to every possible world, including the actual world, prior to your existence. Again, I think we agree.

    Where we disagree is here. I say that if there is not world in which you, prior to God creating you, exist, then you necessarily do not exist. This of course, as we’ve been over, cannot be a de re modal truth. I can’t understand why you disagree at this point, since it is as clear an example of an analytic truth as any that: if it is not possible that x exists, then it is impossible that x exists. I doubt that Adams is prepared to deny that. I guess I could just ask him.

    January 14, 2015 — 14:40
  • The contentious inference is from

    x does not exist in a possible world
    To
    it is not possible that x exists.

    I’m sure Adams would accept that if it is not possible that x exists, then it is impossible that x exists.

    What he is denying is that it being impossible for x to exist is equivalent to x not being a part of a possible world.

    January 14, 2015 — 14:57
  • Michael Almeida

    Your view seems to be that (1) is true.

    (1) Necessarily, x does not exist in a possible world only if it is not possible that x exists.

    But you deny (2),

    (2) Necessarily, it is impossible that x exists iff. x does not exist in a possible world.

    I find that baffling. (2) is also an analytic truth. All I can figure is that you’re attributing to Adams the view that some impossible things exist, but that is not the denial of (2). It is the affirmation of (3).

    (3) Some things exist, but do not exist in any world (or, are impossible)

    Lewis allows that things which are impossible–exist in no world–none the less exist. For instance, there are non-individuals, such as numbers, properties, propositions, events, and sets that are not parts of worlds; there are also transworld objects and modal continuants. But I’ve never seen anything in Adams that answers to this sort of view. It is not the view that objects existing in no world are not impossible. That can’t be true. It is the view that some impossible objects (objects existing in no possible worlds) exist (outside of logical space).

    January 14, 2015 — 16:49
  • You say that I seem to think that this is true:

    (1) Necessarily, x does not exist in a possible world only if it is not possible that x exists.

    I assume you take this from the statement that I suggest Adams would accept:

    (A) If it is not possible that x exists, then it is impossible that x exists.

    But (1) refers to possible worlds. (A) does not.

    Of course, we usually take it for granted that “Possibly P” implies “P is true in a possible world.” That would get you from (A) to (1) (based on a correct assumption that (A) is a necessary implication). For Adams however, (insofar as I understand him) “Possibly P” means “There is a possibly true World Story, and if that world story were true, P would be true.” So Adams can assent to (A) but not to (1).

    You refer to

    the view that some impossible objects (objects existing in no possible worlds) exist (outside of logical space).

    I certainly don’t think that that is Adams’ view. It is possible for God to create Cephas. (It is possible for God to create Cephas, but not because Cephas is part of a possible world, nor because Cephas exists somewhere outside logical space). Then God creates Cephas, and Cephas is real.

    Before God created Cephas, the quality of being a rock and being called Cephas both existed, and had the relationship of being co-predicable. Those are Adams’ truthmakers for the statement that it was possible for Cephas to exist.

    January 14, 2015 — 17:28
  • Michael Almeida

    “Possibly P” means “There is a possibly true World Story, and if that world story were true, P would be true.” So Adams can assent to (A) but not to (1)

    World stories are possible worlds, not something distinct from them. So there is not the difference you refer to. You construct a possible world from actual propositions, and that construction is a world-story.

    Looks to me like we’ve exhausted the usefulness of the thread. Thanks for your help.

    January 14, 2015 — 18:38
    • World stories are not worlds. They play a similar role in Adams’ system to the role played by possible worlds. However, an instantiation of a world story includes propositions that are not propositions that make up the uninstantiated world story. Also, objects are part of possible worlds but not part of world stories.

      January 14, 2015 — 19:44
    • Thanks for the discussion.

      January 14, 2015 — 20:06
  • Michael Almeida

    I’m not sure what to tell you.

    . . .More than one actualistic treatment of possible worlds is available, no doubt; but as a working hypothesis, let us assume that possible worlds are, or are constructed from, maximal consistent sets
    of actually existing propositions, Such sets may be called “worldstories.” They are consistent in the sense, not merely that there is no provable contradiction in them, but that all the propositions in each world-story could possibly be true together; ‘possibly’ is accepted as a primitive here. The intuitive idea behind calling the world-stories “maximal” is that for every proposition p, each world-story contains either p or the negation of p.
    ‘Actualism and Thisness’

    The fact that world-stories do not include all the propositions that would exist and be true if the corresponding worlds were actual and that some world-stories may not even contain enough to determine a world completely, is irrelevant to the view Adams expressly states that worlds are world-stories. So, for the purposes of what I claimed two or three posts up, this fact is irrelevant. We were talking about possible worlds before they were actualized.

    Again, this thread has pretty obviously run its course.

    January 14, 2015 — 20:08
  • Michael, thanks again for this discussion. I drove home from work thinking about these problems, trying to clarify my thoughts, which is why I couldn’t resist a final comment – my wife can confirm that I was very absorbed by the topic. But many good things come to an end, and I guess you’re right that this thread has run its course.

    January 15, 2015 — 7:02
  • Michael Almeida

    Great talking with you about this Ben. Illuminating and extremely helpful to my thinking on this issue.

    January 15, 2015 — 7:37
  • Allen Hazen

    Sorry, coming to this late! Haven’t read all the previous comments yet.

    Something that may be a tangent, may be relevant. It seems to me that Essences interact in a funny way with explanation: there is no explanation why an entity has a property that is essential to it (the question, “why does x have P?” so to speak presupposes that P is an accidental property of x).
    … If you ask me to defend this opinion, I’ll basically appeal to intuition. You could, in principle, ask sensibly why George VI had a daughter at all, but once you have identified Elizabeth (II R) to ask the question about, it makes no sense to ask WHY she has George VI (rather than someone else) as a father. (Certainly no contingent event could have PREVENTED her from being his daughter– some event could have prevented him from having daughters at all, but once you specify HER, it isn’t possible for any event to have prevented HER from being his daughter.)

    So maybe it is relevant. Let God create Socrates. Socrates’s identity is determinate: “being identical to Socrates” is true of him. But it is also essential to him. So there is no EXPLANATION for why it is true of him (given that he exists). In particular, there is nothing that God had to do in order to make it be true of him. So: imagine God, before the creation of the world (I’m not sure this sort of temporal language is appropriate in speaking of God, but maybe it can be understood as a metaphor for something that IS meaningful!), considering what to make. He can’t consider whether to make Socrates, because (in the absence of haecceities) there is no way to make that sort of consideration the consideration of a determinate individual. But if He decides to create an individual with the characteristics of Socrates (so– imagining again that it makes sense to talk about the temporal sequence of God’s decisions and acts– deciding to bring about a qualitative state of affairs, not one involving a determinate individual), then, when he DOES create such an individual, He will, ipso facto, without doing anything additional, have created Socrates, a determinate individual.

    Essences are funny, and I think philosophical theologians have been tripped up in considering them before.

    January 20, 2015 — 18:38
  • Allen Hazen

    O.k., catching up on my reading!
    Given MY views about essences, I have a quick reply to Ben Murphy’s #100831: in the first paragraph (well, the first paragraph after the introductory “How about this?”) he asks WHY i1 has t1 rather than t2. And this, I claim, is a semantically defective question in something like the way “when did you stop beating your wife?” (asked of a bachelor) is defective.

    January 20, 2015 — 18:45
    • Hi Allen,

      The point I was trying to make is that, in Adams’ system, a question that is semantically legitimate at one time might not be legitimate at an earlier time. As new objects come into existence, new propositions become expressible. So, after i1 and i2 have been created, we can say that i1 has t1, because God created i1 with t1, and i2 has t2 because God created i2 with t2. But that doesn’t mean that, when God was creating i1, we could have asked “Why are you creating i1 with t1, why not t2?” If we want to ask now what the answer to that question was, we are indeed asking a pseudo-question, my suggestion was that it is the increase in semantic range that leads to the illusion that questions we have now can be backdated.

      January 21, 2015 — 10:42
    • Mark Rogers

      Hi Dr. Hazen!

      You say “He will, ipso facto, without doing anything additional, have created Socrates, a determinate individual.”
      So if I am thinking correctly, this determinate individual Socrates, never existed in any possible world before obtaining. So God, if He decides to bring about a qualitative state of affairs, necessarily, indeterminately creates determinate individuals and worlds?

      January 21, 2015 — 11:45
  • Michael Almeida

    But if He decides to create an individual with the characteristics of Socrates (so– imagining again that it makes sense to talk about the temporal sequence of God’s decisions and acts– deciding to bring about a qualitative state of affairs, not one involving a determinate individual), then, when he DOES create such an individual, He will, ipso facto, without doing anything additional, have created Socrates, a determinate individual

    Hi Allen,
    Thanks for these comments. I think your point here is tied up with the earlier point that explanations are unavailable for why something has this essence or that. But I think explanations are called for in Adams’ case, since he does not believe that something’s being qualitatively like Socrates entails that that thing is Socrates. Suppose, instead of creating Socrates circa 300 bc, God created two indiscernible socrati–or ten–in the year 700 AD. Why believe that any one of them created at 700 ad would have been identical to our Socrates? I can’t think of any reason to believe that any of the counterfactual creations would have been identical to our Socrates. Maybe I’m missing something.

    January 20, 2015 — 19:20
  • Allen Hazen

    (VERYshort and hasty replies… I hope I’ll get around to doing better!)
    Mark Rogers (#101231)– I don’t know what you mean by “indeterminately creates”: this is a technical term and ought to have a precise definition (and the meaning of the adverb isn’t automatically given by the use of the adjective indeterminate). So I don’t know if I’m committed to what you say or not!
    Michael Almeida (#101209)– Certainly I want to say that “being Socrates” isn’t ENTAILED by “having THOSE qualitative properties” (where the capitalized THOSE is understood as accompanied by a gesture to the heap of qualitative properties that Socrates in fact has). Your thought of God creating multiple individuals with the same qualitative properties suffices to show that! But once an individual is created, it is a particular individual with a definite identity. One individual with THOSE properties is Socrates: there may or may not be others, who are not Socrates but… Socrates’, Socrates” etc.

    January 26, 2015 — 3:16
    • Michael Almeida

      But once an individual is created, it is a particular individual with a definite identity. One individual with THOSE properties is Socrates: there may or may not be others, who are not Socrates but… Socrates’, Socrates” etc.

      I don’t deny that there is a definite individual there. I deny that Socrates is definitely there. In the counterfactual situation where God creates 10 qualitatively indiscernible socrates-like individuals, x1 – x10, what explanation is there for x1 being Socrates (our actual Socrates) rather than x2? There is no explanation at all, I think is the answer, there is simply no reason why x1 = Socrates and not x2 = Socrates. The reasonable position to take here is that, on some precisifications of ‘being Socrates’, x1 is Socrates and on other precisifications, x2 is Socrates. I do not deny that there is an individual there or that the individual is self-identical. I deny that Socrates–or any other particular individual–is definitely there.

      January 26, 2015 — 9:55
  • Allen Hazen

    Michael Almeida (#101392)–
    “What explanation is there for x1 being Socrates (our actual Socrates) rather than x2?”
    —NO explanation! This is the sort of essential fact (being identical to Socrates is an essential property of any (of the) individual that has it) for which I claim it is not appropriate to seek an explanation.
    The analogy with Precisification is interesting. But I think it’s not perfect: when we precisify a predicate (stipulate that “meter long” means having a length which is a certain integral multiple of the wavelength of the light emitted in a particular quantum phenomenon), we are sharpening up a language which was formerly vague, but it somehow doesn’t seem right to say that God, in bringing it about that Socrates exists, is sharpening up a human language.
    But even with precisification, there is definiteness. Consider a (sturdily enduring) object that is about a meter long. Perhaps before the precisification it would not have been DEFINITELY TRUE TO SAY that it was over one meter long (if the range of vagueness in the meaning of ‘meter’ included the actual length of the object), but now that the meter has been definitely specified, it seems to me that (assuming its length is over the now precisely specified one) that it is DEFINITELY over ammeter long, and that it HAS been definitely over a meter all along. (The fact that, before the bureau of standards adopted the precisification, it wasn’t definitely true to say it is irrelevant: I am now speaking the precisified language, and in my mouth now “It was over a meter long” is definitely true.)
    Put another way… Pretend we can specify distinct possible worlds, only one of which has been created, and that one (ours) contains x1 and some other contains (in whatever sense an uncreated world can be said to contain an uncreated individual) a Socrates-candidate x2. We live in the world with x1; our language was defined in x1, and in our language “Socrates” is the name of x1. So when we say “Socrates exists” we are referring to x1 and saying something definitely true… even though almost indistinguishable linguistic practices in another world would have defined a language in which “Socrates” referred to x2.

    January 26, 2015 — 19:34
    • Michael Almeida

      —NO explanation! This is the sort of essential fact (being identical to Socrates is an essential property of any (of the) individual that has it) for which I claim it is not appropriate to seek an explanation.

      I don’t think it can be a brute fact that x1 at date 700 AD in w is identical to our socrates. We need an explanation, and here’s why. Compare the equally exotic case of survival/identity where Socrates fissions in some world w at some time t, into x1 and x2. I have in mind Parfit-like cases. It is not a brute fact that x1 is identical to Socrates or that x2 is. What is true is that x1 is definitely a person and x2 is definitely a person and x1 ≠ x2. The explanation for the indeterminate identity of x1 and x2 is that neither is determinately psychologically continuous with Socrates. I’m not advancing any view about what matters in my continued existence, maybe it is psychological continuity, maybe it isn’t. What I am advancing is the thought that some explanation for why neither x1 nor x2 is identical to Socrates is offered on these accounts. It is not argued that, for instance, it’s a brute fact that x1 = Socrates or a brute fact that x2 = Socrates.

      It is all the more troubling in the case of creation. If God creates x1 and x2 in w at t, and both are qualitatively identical to our Socrates, then on any criterion of identity one might endorse (bodily or psychological or the combined spectrum or …) , it is not definitely true that Socrates = x1. This is because the same criterion would make x1 = x2, and we know that’s false. So, there is no determinate answer to the question of whether x1 = Socrates or x2 is socrates or neither is. Of course, Plantinga has a perfectly good explanation for why x1 = Socrates and x2 is not, even if they are qualitatively identical. x1 instantiates the haecceity ‘being a Socratizer’, and x2 doesn’t. There’s the explanation. The problem is that nothing like this is available to Adams.

      January 27, 2015 — 7:51
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