green numbers give full details.     |    back to list of philosophers     |     unexpand these ideas

Ideas of David Wiggins, by Text

[British, b.1933, Professor at London University.]

1971 Identity and Spatio-Temporal Continuity
p.75 p.63 'Ultimate sortals' cannot explain ontological categories
     Full Idea: 'Ultimate sortals' are said to be non-subordinated, disjoint from one another, and uniquely paired with each object. Because of this, the ultimate sortal cannot be a satisfactory explication of the notion of an ontological category.
     From: comment on David Wiggins (Identity and Spatio-Temporal Continuity [1971], p.75) by Jan Westerhoff - Ontological Categories §26
     A reaction: My strong intuitions are that Wiggins is plain wrong, and Westerhoff gives the most promising reasons for my intuition. The simplest point is that objects can obviously belong to more than one category.
1980 Sameness and Substance
Pre 1 p.1 Individuation needs accounts of identity, of change, and of singling out
     Full Idea: A theory of individuation must comprise at least three things: an elucidation of the primitive concept of identity or sameness; what it is to be a substance that persists through change; and what it is for a thinker to single out the same substance.
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance [1980], Pre 1)
     A reaction: [compressed] Metaphysics seems to need a theory of identity, but I am not yet convinced that it also needs a theory of 'individuation'. Never mind, press on and create one, and see how it looks. Aristotle wanted to explain predication too.
Pre 1 p.2 Individuation can only be understood by the relation between things and thinkers
     Full Idea: Understanding the concepts involved in individuation can only be characterised by reference to observable commerce between things singled out and thinkers who think or find their way around the world precisely by singling them out.
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance [1980], Pre 1)
     A reaction: I take individuation to be relatively uninteresting, because I understand identity independently of how we single things out, but Wiggins's reliance on sortals implies that the very identity of things in the world is knee deep in mental activity.
Pre 2 p.4 We want to explain sameness as coincidence of substance, not as anything qualitative
     Full Idea: The notion of sameness or identity that we are to elucidate is not that of any degree of qualitative similarity but of coincidence as a substance - a notion as primitive as predication.
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance [1980], Pre 2)
     A reaction: This question invites an approach to identity through our descriptions of it, rather than to the thing itself. There is no problem in ontology of two substances being 'the same', because they are just one substance.
Pre 2 p.5 The only singling out is singling out 'as' something
     Full Idea: There could be no singling out tout court unless there could be singling out 'as'.
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance [1980], Pre 2)
     A reaction: I find this claim baffling. Do animals categorise everything they engage with? Are we unable to engage with something if we have not yet categorised it? Surely picking it out is prior to saying that sort of thing it is?
Pre 2 p.6 Singling out extends back and forward in time
     Full Idea: The singling out of a substance at a time reaches backwards and forwards to time before and after that time.
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance [1980], Pre 2)
     A reaction: Presumably this is an inferred history and persistence conditions. Sounds fine in a stable world. We assume (a priori?) that any object will have a space-time line for its duration.
1.1 p.18 Maybe the concept needed under which things coincide must also yield a principle of counting
     Full Idea: My thesis C says that to specify something or other under which a and b coincide is to specify a concept f which qualifies for this purpose only if it yields a principle of counting for fs. ...I submit that C is false, though a near miss.
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance [1980], 1.1)
1.2 p.21 Leibniz's Law (not transitivity, symmetry, reflexivity) marks what is peculiar to identity
     Full Idea: The principle of Leibniz's Law marks off what is peculiar to identity and differentiates it in a way in which transitivity, symmetry and reflexivity (all shared by 'exact similarity, 'equality in pay', etc.) do not.
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance [1980], 1.2)
1.2 n7 p.21 Identity cannot be defined, because definitions are identities
     Full Idea: Since any definition is an identity, identity itself cannot be defined.
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance [1980], 1.2 n7)
     A reaction: This sounds too good to be true! I can't think of an objection, so, okay, identity cannot possibly be defined. We can give synonyms for it, I suppose. [Wrong, says Rumfitt! Definitions can also be equivalences!]
1.5 p.29 A restored church is the same 'church', but not the same 'building' or 'brickwork'
     Full Idea: We can say of Hume's church that the present church is the same 'church' as the old parish church but not the same 'building' or the same 'stonework' as the old parish church.
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance [1980], 1.5)
     A reaction: Unconvinced. This seems to make a 'church' into an abstraction, which might even exist in the absence of any building. And it seems to identify a building with its stonework. Wiggins yearns for a neat solution, but it ain't here.
2.1 p.48 In Aristotle's sense, saying x falls under f is to say what x is
     Full Idea: To say that x falls under f - or that x is an f - is to say what x is (in the sense Aristotle isolated).
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance [1980], 2.1)
     A reaction: This is a key claim in Wiggins's main principle. I'm not convinced. He wants one main sortal to do all the work. I don't think Aristotle at all intended the 'nature' of an individual thing to be given by a single sortal under which it falls.
2.1 p.49 Identity is primitive
     Full Idea: Identity is a primitive notion.
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance [1980], 2.1)
     A reaction: To be a true primitive it would have to be univocal, but it seems to me that 'identity' comes in degrees. The primitive concept is the minimal end of the degrees, but there are also more substantial notions of identity.
2.1 p.54 'What is it?' gives the kind, nature, persistence conditions and identity over time of a thing
     Full Idea: The question 'what is it?' refers to the persistence and lifespan of an entity, and so manifests the identity over time of an entity and its persistence, between persistence and existence, and between its existence and being the kind of thing it is.
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance [1980], 2.1)
     A reaction: The idea that establishing the kind of a thing can do all this work strikes me as false. The lifespan of a 'human' can be between five minutes and a hundred years. Humans have a clear death, but thunderstorms don't.
2.2 p.57 By the principle of Indiscernibility, a symmetrical object could only be half of itself!
     Full Idea: The full Identity of Indiscernibles excludes the existence in this world of a symmetrical object, which is reduced to half of itself by the principle. If symmetrical about all planes that bisect it, it is precluded altogether from existence.
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance [1980], 2.2)
     A reaction: A really nice objection. Do the parts even need to be symmetrical? My eyeballs can't be identical to one another, presumably. Electrons already gave the principle big trouble.
2.4 p.60 Every determinate thing falls under a sortal, which fixes its persistence
     Full Idea: We can expect that, for every completely determinate continuant, there will be at least one sortal concept that it falls under and that determines a principle of persistence for it.
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance [1980], 2.4)
     A reaction: I think he has the 'determines' relation the wrong way round! Being a tiger doesn't determine anything about persistence. It is having that nature and those persistence conditions which make it a tiger. And why does he optimistically 'expect' this?
2.8 p.73 The sortal needed for identities may not always be sufficient to support counting
     Full Idea: My principle C seems unnecessary ...since it is one thing to see how many fs there are...but another to have a perfectly general method. ...One could answer whether this f-compliant is the same as that one, but there are too many ways to articulate it.
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance [1980], 2.8)
     A reaction: His famous example is trying to count the Pope's crown, which is made of crowns. A clearer example might be a rectangular figure divided up into various overlapping rectangles. Individuation is easy, but counting is contextual.
3.1 p.77 Nominal essences don't fix membership, ignore evolution, and aren't contextual
     Full Idea: Nominal essences are unsatisfactory because they fail either of necessity or of sufficiency for membership of the intended kind, they leave unexplained how sortals can evolve, and there is no room for culture or context in our reference to kinds.
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance [1980], 3.1)
     A reaction: [a compression of a paragraph] I would have thought that Locke would just say it is tough luck if nominal essences can't do all these things, because that's just the way it is, folks.
3.1 p.77 Natural kinds are well suited to be the sortals which fix substances
     Full Idea: Among the best candidates to play the roles of sortal and substantial predicates are the natural kind words.
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance [1980], 3.1)
     A reaction: There is always a danger of circularity with this kind of approach. How do we distinguish the genuine natural kinds from the dubious ones?
3.1 p.79 A 'conception' of a horse is a full theory of what it is (and not just the 'concept')
     Full Idea: A 'conception' of horse is a theory of what a horse is, or what it is to be a horse. The conception is in no way the same as the concept. The conception is of the concept.
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance [1980], 3.1)
     A reaction: Wiggins sounds confident about a sharp distinction here, which I doubt, but some such distinction seems to required. I quite like Williams's 'fat' and 'thin' concepts.
3.1 n4 p.81 Semantic facts are preferable to transcendental philosophical fiction
     Full Idea: Semantical fact is almost always more interesting than transcendental philosophical fiction.
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance [1980], 3.1 n4)
     A reaction: An interesting expression of a more sophisticated recent allegiance to linguistic philosophy. There is still a strong allegiance to semantics as a major branch of philosophy, despite caution (e.g. from Nathan Salmon) about its scope.
3.3 p.90 Artefacts are individuated by some matter having a certain function
     Full Idea: Ordinary artefacts are individuated, rather indeterminately and arbitrarily, by reference to a parcel of matter so organised as to subserve a certain function.
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance [1980], 3.3)
3.3 p.91 A thing begins only once; for a clock, it is when its making is first completed
     Full Idea: A thing starts existing only once; and in the case of a clock its proper beginning was at about the time when its maker finished it.
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance [1980], 3.3)
     A reaction: I love the example that challenges this. Take the clock's parts and use them to make other clocks, then collect them up and reassemble the first clock. If the first clock has persisted through this, you have too many clocks. Wiggins spots some of this.
3.3 p.93 Priests prefer the working ship; antiquarians prefer the reconstruction
     Full Idea: Dispute might break out between priests who favoured the working ship and antiquarians who preferred the reconstruction.
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance [1980], 3.3)
     A reaction: This captures the contextual nature of the dispute very succinctly. Wiggins, of course, thinks that sortals will settle the matter. Fat chance.
3.5 p.101 We conceptualise objects, but they impinge on us
     Full Idea: The mind conceptualises objects, yet objects impinge upon the mind.
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance [1980], 3.5)
     A reaction: A very nice statement of the relationship, and the fact that we don't just make our concepts up.
4.3 p.110 A is necessarily A, so if B is A, then B is also necessarily A
     Full Idea: The famous proof of Barcan Marcus about necessity of identity comes down to simply this: Hesperus is necessarily Hesperus, so if Phosphorus is Hesperus, Phosphorus is necessarily Hesperus.
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance [1980], 4.3)
     A reaction: Since the identity of Hesperus and Phosphorus was an a posteriori discovery, this was taken to be the inception of the idea that there are a posteriori necessities. The conclusion seems obvious. One thing is necessarily one thing.
4.5 p.117 It is hard or impossible to think of Caesar as not human
     Full Idea: It is hard or impossible to conceive of Caesar's not being a man (human).
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance [1980], 4.5)
     A reaction: So is it 'hard' or is it 'impossible'? Older generations of philosophers simply didn't read enough science fiction. Any short story could feature Caesar's failure to be a man. His assassination was a disaster for the Martian invasion of 44 BCE.
5.2 p.133 Realist Conceptualists accept that our interests affect our concepts
     Full Idea: The realist conceptualist may cheerfully admit that the sortal concepts of which we are possessed are the creatures of our interests; …and also that there need be no one way in which we must articulate reality.
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance [1980], 5.2)
     A reaction: Wiggins calls himself a 'realist conceptualist'. In his terminology, I seem to be an 'anti-conceptualist realist'. The issue concerns aspects of reality that extend beyond our concepts. The 99th d.p. of the mass of the electron.
5.5 p.139 Conceptualism says we must use our individuating concepts to grasp reality
     Full Idea: What Conceptualism entails is that, although horses and stars are not inventions or artefacts, in order to single out these things we must deploy a conceptual scheme which has been formed in such a way as to make singling them out possible.
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance [1980], 5.5)
     A reaction: I don't quite see why the 'singling out' role of the concepts is the only one that generates them, or makes them fit for purpose. In general, of course, our conceptual scheme is necessarily a response to our experience of the world.
5.6 p.141 Our sortal concepts fix what we find in experience
     Full Idea: What sortal concepts we can bring to bear upon experience determines what we can find there.
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance [1980], 5.6)
     A reaction: Wiggins would wince at being classed among linguistic relativists of the Sapir-Whorf type, but that's where I'm putting this idea. Wiggins is a realist, who knows there are things out there our concepts miss. He compares it to a fishing net. He's wrong.
5.7 n18 p.144 Animal classifications: the Emperor's, fabulous, innumerable, like flies, stray dogs, embalmed….
     Full Idea: A Chinese encyclopedia classifies animals as belonging to the Emperor, embalmed, tame, sucking pigs, sirens, fabulous, stray dogs, included in this classification, frenzied, innumerable, drawn with a fine brush, etcetera, or look for afar like flies.
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance [1980], 5.7 n18)
     A reaction: [This glorious quotation comes from a story by Borges, first spotted by Foucault]
1995 Substance
192a30 p.31 Matter underlies things, composes things, and brings them to be
     Full Idea: Matter ex hypothesi is what ultimately underlies (to huperkeimenon) a thing; it is that from which something comes to be and which remains as a non-coincidental component in the thing's make-up.
     From: David Wiggins (Substance [1995], 192a30)
     A reaction: This is an interesting prelude to the much more comprehensive discussion of matter in Metaphysics, where he crucially adds the notion of 'form', and gives it priority over the underlying matter.
4.1 p.214 We refer to persisting substances, in perception and in thought, and they aid understanding
     Full Idea: A substance is a persisting and somehow basic object of reference that is there to be discovered in perception and thought, an object whose claim to be recognized as a real entity is a claim on our aspirations to understand the world.
     From: David Wiggins (Substance [1995], 4.1)
     A reaction: A lot of components are assigned by Wiggins to the concept, and the tricky job, inititiated by Aristotle, is to fit all the pieces together nicely. Personally I am wondering if the acceptance of 'essences' implies dropping 'substances'.
4.10.1 p.230 Sortal predications are answers to the question 'what is x?'
     Full Idea: Predications which answer the question 'what is x?' are often called 'sortal predications' in present-day philosophy.
     From: David Wiggins (Substance [1995], 4.10.1)
     A reaction: The word 'sortal' comes from Locke. Wiggins is the guru of 'sortal essentialism'. I just can't believe that in answer to the question 'what really is David Wiggins?' that he would be happy with a sequence of categorisations.
4.10.1 p.231 An ancestral relation is either direct or transitively indirect
     Full Idea: x bears to y the 'ancestral' of the relation R just if either x bears R to y, or x bears R to some w that bears R to y, or x bears R to some w that bears R to some z that bears R to y, or.....
     From: David Wiggins (Substance [1995], 4.10.1)
     A reaction: A concept invented by Frege (1879).
4.11.2 p.235 A river may change constantly, but not in respect of being a river
     Full Idea: To say that the river is changing constantly in every respect is not to say that it is changing in respect of being a river.
     From: David Wiggins (Substance [1995], 4.11.2)
     A reaction: Can't a river become a lake, or a mere stream? Wiggins's proposal does not help with the problem of a river which sometimes dries up (as my local river sometimes does). At what point do we decide it is no longer a river?
4.13.1 p.242 Sortal classification becomes science, with cross reference clarifying individuals
     Full Idea: The sense of the sortal term under which we pick out an individual expands into the scientific account of things of that kind, where the account clarifies what is at issue in questions of sameness and difference of specimens of that kind.
     From: David Wiggins (Substance [1995], 4.13.1)
     A reaction: This is how the sortal approach is supposed to deal with individuals. So the placid tiger reveals much by falling under 'tiger', and a crucial extra bit by falling under 'placid'. See Idea 12053 for problems with this proposal.
4.13.2 p.244 The category of substance is more important for epistemology than for ontology
     Full Idea: For us the importance of the category of substance, if it has any importance, is not so much ontological as relative to our epistemological circumstances and the conditions under which we have to undertake inquiry.
     From: David Wiggins (Substance [1995], 4.13.2)
     A reaction: This seems to be a rather significant concession. Wiggins has revived the notion of substance in recent times, but he is not quite adding it to the furniture of the world. Personally I increasingly think we can dump it, in ontology and epistemology.
4.13.3 p.245 Seeing a group of soldiers as an army is irresistible, in ontology and explanation
     Full Idea: It seems mandatory to an observer of soldiers to give 'the final touch of unity' to their aggregate entity (the army). ...Similar claims arise with the ontological and explanatory claims of other corporate entities.
     From: David Wiggins (Substance [1995], 4.13.3)
     A reaction: Wiggins must say (following Leibniz Essays II.xxiv,1) that we add the unity, but I take the view that an army has powers, and hence offers explanations, which are lacking in a merely group of disparate soldiers. So an army has an essence and identity.
4.3.3 p.218 Naming the secondary substance provides a mass of general information
     Full Idea: Answering 'what is it?' with the secondary substance identifies an object with a class of continuants which survive certain changes, come into being in certain ways, are qualified in certain ways, behave in certain ways, and cease to be in certain ways.
     From: David Wiggins (Substance [1995], 4.3.3)
     A reaction: Thus the priority of this sort of answer is that a huge range of explanations immediately flow from it. I take the explanation to be prior, and the primary substance to be prior, since secondary substance is inductively derived from it.
4.4.1 p.219 Substances contain a source of change or principle of activity
     Full Idea: Substances are things that have a source of change or principle of activity within them.
     From: David Wiggins (Substance [1995], 4.4.1)
     A reaction: A vey significant concession. I think we can talk of 'essences' and 'powers', and drop talk of 'substances'. 'Powers' is a much better word, because it immediately pushes the active ingredient to the forefront.
4.5.1 p.220 If the kinds are divided realistically, they fall into substances
     Full Idea: Substance are what the world is articulated into when the segments of kinds corresponds to the real divisions in reality.
     From: David Wiggins (Substance [1995], 4.5.1)
     A reaction: This is very helpful in clarifying Wiggins's very obscurely expressed views. He appears to be saying that if we divide the sheep from the goats correctly, we reveal sheep-substance and goat-substance (one substance per species). Crazy!
4.5.1 p.221 We never single out just 'this', but always 'this something-or-other'
     Full Idea: What is singled out is never a bare this or that, but this or that something or other.
     From: David Wiggins (Substance [1995], 4.5.1)
     A reaction: I like, in ontological speculation, to contemplate the problem of the baffling archaeological find. 'This thing I have dug up - what the hell IS it?'. Wiggins is contemptuous of the term 'thisness', and the idea of bare particulars.
4.5.1 p.222 'Human being' is a better answer to 'what is it?' than 'poet', as the latter comes in degrees
     Full Idea: One person can be more or less of a poet than another, so 'poet' is not a conclusory answer to the question 'What is it that is singled out here?' 'Poet' rides on the back of the answer 'human being'.
     From: David Wiggins (Substance [1995], 4.5.1)
     A reaction: So apparently one must assign a natural kind, and not just a class. Wiggins lacks science fiction imagination. In the genetic salad of the far future, being a poet may be more definitive than being a human being. See Idea 12063.
4.5.1 p.222 Secondary substances correctly divide primary substances by activity-principles and relations
     Full Idea: A system of secondary substances with a claim to separate reality into its genuine primary substances must arise from an understanding of a set of principles of activity on the basis of which identities can be glossed in terms of determinate relations.
     From: David Wiggins (Substance [1995], 4.5.1)
     A reaction: I translate this as saying that individual essences are categorised according to principles which explain behaviour and relations. I'm increasingly bewildered by the 'secondary substances' Wiggins got from 'Categories', and loves so much.
2001 Sameness and Substance Renewed
p.118 A sortal essence is a thing's principle of individuation
     Full Idea: Wiggins bases sortal essentialism on the notion that a thing's principle of individuation is essential to it.
     From: report of David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance Renewed [2001]) by Penelope Mackie - How Things Might Have Been 7.1
     A reaction: This idea has failed to make much impression on me. I seem to be the only person who doesn't understand the concept of 'individuation'. Please let me know exactly what it means. Type individuation is not individual individuation, I presume.
p.119 Wiggins's sortal essentialism rests on a thing's principle of individuation
     Full Idea: Wiggins bases sortal essentialism on the notion that a thing's principle of individuation is essential to it.
     From: report of David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance Renewed [2001]) by Penelope Mackie - How Things Might Have Been 7.1
     A reaction: My problem with this is that individuation is a human activity, not an intrinsic feature of the entities in the external world. Entities presumably have a 'unity', but I'm not sure about a 'principle' that does that job, though Aristotle is sympathetic.
p.149 We can accept criteria of distinctness and persistence, without making the counterfactual claims
     Full Idea: We might agree with Wiggins's theory of individuation, but reject his thesis that a thing's principle of individuation (of distinctness and persistence) must be preserved in all counterfactual situations.
     From: comment on David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance Renewed [2001]) by Penelope Mackie - How Things Might Have Been 8.7
     A reaction: I'm not even convinced that initial individuation consists of falling under a sortal, and I prefer to discuss the powers of the thing, rather than counterfactual facts about behaviour.
p.154 Objects can only coincide if they are of different kinds; trees can't coincide with other trees
     Full Idea: Wiggins says that coincidence is possible only between objects of different kinds. Trees and cats coincide with aggregates of matter, but never trees with trees or cats with cats.
     From: report of David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance Renewed [2001]) by Theodore Sider - Four Dimensionalism 5.3
     A reaction: At first glance this sounds quite plausible, but I think this commitment to the priority of kinds produces huge confusion, given that we only derive our notions of kinds from inductions derived from individuals. Language perpetuates old inductions.
p.156 What exists can't depend on our conceptual scheme, and using all conceptual schemes is too liberal
     Full Idea: It would be incredible if what there is, rather than what we select for attention, depends on human activity and our conceptual scheme. One might expand to possible sortal concepts, rather than our language, but that amounts to four-dimensionalism.
     From: comment on David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance Renewed [2001]) by Theodore Sider - Four Dimensionalism 5.3
     A reaction: [compression of a nice anti-Wiggins paragraph] He suggests that Wiggins is seeking an intermediate course (between narrow chauvinism about concepts, and excessive liberalism) in a discussion of natural kinds versus artifacts.
p.161 Identity is an atemporal relation, but composition is relative to times
     Full Idea: Wiggins points out that identity is an atemporal relation whereas composition, like parthood, holds only relative to times.
     From: report of David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance Renewed [2001]) by Theodore Sider - Four Dimensionalism 5.3
     A reaction: If David Cameron is identical to the Prime Minister, that doesn't seem to be atemporal. If x=7 in this problem, I can change x to something else in the next problem. x had better not be equal to 7 and to 9.
p.427 'Sortalism' says parts only compose a whole if it falls under a sort or kind
     Full Idea: 'Sortalism' endorses the view that some things have parts, but denies that every collection of things composes something. Whenever there is a particular, there must be a sort or kind to which it belongs.
     From: report of David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance Renewed [2001]) by Keith Hossack - Plurals and Complexes 7
     A reaction: What is the status of 'the first of its kind'? This seems to say that a token only has identity if it has type-identity. This sounds wildly wrong to me. I've made a 'thing' for you, but I haven't decided what it is yet.
p.603 Relative Identity is incompatible with the Indiscernibility of Identicals
     Full Idea: Wiggins argues that Geach's Relative Identity is incompatible with the formal properties of identity, which include, besides transitivity, symmetry and reflexivity, the complete community of properties defined by the Indiscernibility of Identicals.
     From: report of David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance Renewed [2001]) by Peter F. Strawson - Review of 'Sameness and Substance' p.603
     A reaction: The tricky part is that Wiggins then goes on to say that identity depends on sortals, which sounds very close to the Geach view. I find disentangling them tricky. See Idea 14363 for a helpful comment from Strawson.
p.604 Identity a=b is only possible with some concept to give persistence and existence conditions
     Full Idea: Wiggins says an identity a=b stands no chance of being true unless there is some concept f under which a falls and under which b falls, which 'determines identity, persistence and existence conditions for members of its extension'.
     From: report of David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance Renewed [2001]) by Peter F. Strawson - Review of 'Sameness and Substance' p.604
     A reaction: This is the first clear statement I have met of Wiggins's central idea, upon which his sortal essentialism is built. Strawson's exposition adds that each thing necessarily falls under the 'highest' appropriate sortal ('dog', rather than 'terrier').
p.605 A thing is necessarily its highest sortal kind, which entails an essential constitution
     Full Idea: In Wiggins's theory, necessity carries over from the kind to constitution. If Toby is necessarily a dog and 'dog' is a natural kind term, then Toby necessarily has the constitution of a dog, the features of which make up the real essence of being a dog.
     From: report of David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance Renewed [2001]) by Peter F. Strawson - Review of 'Sameness and Substance' p.605
     A reaction: The essence will then presumably consist of all and only the characteristics which are shared by all dogs whatsoever. So how do you decide the borderline between wolf and dog? Why isn't a wolf a dog?
Pr.2 p.4 The formal properties of identity are reflexivity and Leibniz's Law
     Full Idea: The formal properties of identity are the reflexivity of identity, and Leibniz's Law (if x is the same as y, then whatever is true of one is true of the other).
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance Renewed [2001], Pr.2)
     A reaction: Presumably transitivity will also apply, and, indeed, symmetry. He seems to mean something like the 'axiomatic formal properties'.
Pr.3 p.5 We learn a concept's relations by using it, without reducing it to anything
     Full Idea: We can achieve a lot by elucidations that put a concept to use without attempting to reduce it but, in using the concept, exhibit its connexions with other concepts that are established.
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance Renewed [2001], Pr.3)
     A reaction: This seems to be the best line of defence for analytic philosophy, given the much-cited observation that no one has successful reduced any concept by pure analysis.
Pr.5 p.10 We can use 'concept' for the reference, and 'conception' for sense
     Full Idea: We can use the Fregean 'concept' on the level of reference and naming, and prefer the word 'conception' for the Kantian idea of the sense, or the information needed to understand the concept.
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance Renewed [2001], Pr.5)
     A reaction: This is a nice suggestion, and at first blush I think it should be adopted. Sometimes philosophers regret adopting a terminology several hundred years after it has been agreed.
1.1 p.22 Relativity of Identity makes identity entirely depend on a category
     Full Idea: The thesis of Relativity of Identity (which I steadfastly oppose) ..suggests that it makes all the difference to keeping track of continuants through space and time which concept one subsumes something under.
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance Renewed [2001], 1.1)
     A reaction: [Geach I take to be the villain of this idea] The point is that identity is entirely relative to the sortal concept, where Wiggins wants to make identity a combination of the object itself and our concept of it (I think).
1.2 p.27 Do both 'same f as' and '=' support Leibniz's Law?
     Full Idea: Is Leibniz's Law as true for 'is the same as' as it is for '='?
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance Renewed [2001], 1.2)
     A reaction: [By Leibniz's Law he means if they are the same, they support the same truths]
2.2 p.58 To identify two items, we must have a common sort for them
     Full Idea: As a necessary condition of the truth of an identity claim, some common sort f will have to be found to which they each belong. That is the point at which the primary question of identity can come into focus.
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance Renewed [2001], 2.2)
     A reaction: This is the plainest English expression I can find of Wiggins's main thesis. He maintains this thesis, while adamantly denying the idea that identity consists entirely of falling under a concept.
2.2 p.61 Asking 'what is it?' nicely points us to the persistence of a continuing entity
     Full Idea: The special effectiveness of the 'what is it?' question is that, in the case of continuants, it refers us back to our constantly exercised idea of the persistence and life-span of an entity.
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance Renewed [2001], 2.2)
     A reaction: Compare 'this is a human' with 'this is a member of a family noted for its longevity'. We can't simply answer 'what is it?' by tossing it into the nearest category. I say we need an individual essence for explanation, not just a sortal.
2.3 p.29 The evening star is the same planet but not the same star as the morning star, since it is not a star
     Full Idea: The evening star is the same planet but not the same star as the morning star. For Venus is not a star.
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance Renewed [2001], 2.3)
     A reaction: This is a nice objection to the idea that identity is entirely a matter of falling under the same sortal category.
2.3 p.32 Identity over a time and at a time aren't different concepts
     Full Idea: People often speak of identity over time and distinguish it from identity at a time. But identity is just identity.
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance Renewed [2001], 2.3)
     A reaction: I myself am guilty of such usage, but it doesn't imply a commitment to a multivocal concept. The epistemological issues (of explaining what it is now, and simply reidentifying it later) seem profoundly different. Hume only admits identity over time.
2.4 p.66 Not every story corresponds to a possible world
     Full Idea: It is perfectly notorious that not every story corresponds to a possible world.
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance Renewed [2001], 2.4)
     A reaction: Thus a fantasy castle might be decorated with 'beautiful circular squares', or be threatened by a lump of enriched uranium twenty feet in diameter. Wiggins is replying to the claim that a possible world represents a 'story'.
2.6 p.38 If I destroy an item, I do not destroy each part of it
     Full Idea: If I repair or destroy an item, I do not repair or destroy each part of it (and since each part of a part is a part this would be difficult).
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance Renewed [2001], 2.6)
     A reaction: This seems like a nice refutation of any attempt to claim that a thing is no more than the sum of its parts, but one could analyse the notion of 'destroy', and find it just meant introducing gaps between parts.
2.6 p.69 Many predicates are purely generic, or pure determiners, rather than sortals
     Full Idea: There are countless predicates in English that have the appearance of sortal predicates but are purely generic (animal, machine, artefact), or are pure determinables for sortal determination (space-occupier, entity, substance).
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance Renewed [2001], 2.6)
     A reaction: This is preparing the ground for a specification of a sortal which defines something essential as being the hallmark of identity. It is never quite clear to me whether Wiggins's case rests on a nominal or a real essence.
2.7 p.46 Substitutivity, and hence most reasoning, needs Leibniz's Law
     Full Idea: Leibniz's Law underwrites the substitutivity of identity and this is a principle not long dispensable in any form of reasoning.
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance Renewed [2001], 2.7)
     A reaction: Thus the modern fashion of deriving our metaphysics from our logic. Presumably we can derive it from our epistemology too, or even from our intuitions, if we thought they were good enough as evidence.
2.7 p.75 Is the Pope's crown one crown, if it is made of many crowns?
     Full Idea: The Pope's crown is made of crowns. There is no definite answer, when the Pope is wearing his crown, to the question 'how many crowns does he have on his head?'
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance Renewed [2001], 2.7)
     A reaction: A very nice example, in which the identity of the item seems clear enough, until you try to apply a sortal to it. I can't get excited about it, though, because calling it one 'crown' creates uncertainty, but calling it the 'Pope's crown' doesn't.
3.4 p.98 The question is not what gets the title 'Theseus' Ship', but what is identical with the original
     Full Idea: Let us remember that the title in question is not the title to the sobriquet 'Theseus' Ship'; it is the title to identity with Theseus' ship, a particular ship originating from the eighth century B.C.
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance Renewed [2001], 3.4)
     A reaction: There is an assumption here that identity is defined by origin. What is the origin of the identity of those huge football clubs that began under the name of some village team in 1875? What is the origin of 'England' as a single entity?
3.6 p.105 The mind conceptualizes objects; yet objects impinge upon the mind
     Full Idea: The mind conceptualizes objects; yet objects impinge upon the mind.
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance Renewed [2001], 3.6)
     A reaction: I like this piece of simple common sense. I personally don't think you can reach first base in a sensible discussion if you don't face up to both sides of this idea (especially the second half, which many philosophers, especially of language, neglect).
4.1 p.107 Lawlike propensities are enough to individuate natural kinds
     Full Idea: For all the purposes of identity and individuation of things that belong to natural kinds..., it is enough to have regard for the lawlike propensities of members of the kind.
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance Renewed [2001], 4.1)
     A reaction: This may have got things in reverse, since it is hard to see how you could pick out any laws if you didn't assume the existence of natural kinds which were causing the regularities in the behaviour.
4.11 p.136 Possible worlds rest on the objects about which we have suppositions
     Full Idea: Worlds are the shadows of our suppositions and they take on their identity from these. Suppositions take on their identity from (inter alia) the objects they relate to. If they sever themselves from these objects, then they collapse.
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance Renewed [2001], 4.11)
     A reaction: Sounds good. My picture is of possibilities which are suggested by objecfs in the actual world, with extreme possibilities being at fifth-remove from actuality. Any worlds that go beyond natural possibility are just there for fun.
4.12 p.137 Activity individuates natural things, functions do artefacts, and intentions do artworks
     Full Idea: What a principle of activity does completely for a natural thing, and the function does imperfectly for an ordinary artefact, the artist's conception of his own making of the work must do for the painting.
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance Renewed [2001], 4.12)
     A reaction: This nicely sums up Wiggins on individuation, and he seems to effectively elide individuation with essence. I certainly feel uneasy that a work of art needs a quite separate account from other artefacts. Surely it is just that we are fussier about them?
4.2 p.109 We can forget about individual or particularized essences
     Full Idea: Let us be realistic, and forget about individual or particularized essences.
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance Renewed [2001], 4.2)
     A reaction: This is the rather weird position you reach if you follow Wiggins's 'modest' essentialism, deriving from a thing merely falling under a sortal, or into a category. What is a natural kind, if its members don't each have a shared essence?
4.2 p.113 (λx)[Man x] means 'the property x has iff x is a man'.
     Full Idea: The Lambda Abstraction Operator: We can write (λx)[Man x], which may be read as 'the property that any x has just if x is a man'.
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance Renewed [2001], 4.2)
     A reaction: This technical device seems to be a commonplace in modern metaphysical discussions. I'm assuming it can be used to discuss properties without venturing into second-order logic. Presumably we could call the property here 'humanity'.
4.3 p.116 Hesperus=Hesperus, and Phosphorus=Hesperus, so necessarily Phosphorus=Hesperus
     Full Idea: The simple proof (from Ruth Barcan Marcus) is: Hesperus is necessarily Hesperus, so if Phosphorus is Hesperus, then Phosphorus is necessarily Hesperus.
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance Renewed [2001], 4.3)
     A reaction: This is the famous idea which she noticed well before Kripke. The point is that the simple logic of the case bestows a necessity on the identity. We shouldn't be confused by the a posteriori and contingent nature of the discovery.
4.5 p.121 The possibility of a property needs an essential sortal concept to conceive it
     Full Idea: A thing could have a property only if its having the property could be conceived, and that requires some sortal concept which adequately answers the Aristotelian question what the thing is.
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance Renewed [2001], 4.5)
     A reaction: [Algebra omitted!] The core idea of Wiggins's theory. It seems at first glance to be a revival of Aristotelian essentialism, but his view of that seems to merely involve falling into a category. He treats sortal concepts as Aristotle's 'primary being'.
4.7 p.126 The idea of 'thisness' is better expressed with designation/predication and particular/universal
     Full Idea: It is hard to think of anything true and significant that could not be said using the idea of thisness not better said while respectiving the distinctions designation/predication and particular/universal.
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance Renewed [2001], 4.7)
     A reaction: Politis calls 'thisness' the 'ultimate subject of predication', so it is covered in logic by the name for an object. But we need to understand objects, and not just refer to them, and I'm not sure that 'universals' advance our understanding.
5.2 p.143 Essences are not explanations, but individuations
     Full Idea: Essences of natural things are not fancified vacuities parading themselves the ultimate explanation of everything that happens in the world. They are natures whose possession is a precondition of their owners being divided from the rest of reality.
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance Renewed [2001], 5.2)
     A reaction: Thus Wiggins rejects the explanation account of essence, with an assertion of his own (highly implausible) view that essence is about individuation rather than about behaviour. Individuation strikes me as an entirely human activity, and not 'real'.
6.5 p.166 Boundaries are not crucial to mountains, so they are determinate without a determinate extent
     Full Idea: It can be perfectly determinate which mountain x is without x's extent's being determinate. A mountain is not, after all, something essentially demarcated by its extent or boundary.
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance Renewed [2001], 6.5)
     A reaction: This endorses something I have always wanted to assert ('a vague boundary is still a boundary'), but with the interesting addition that one might think about vagueness in terms of what is essential to a thing. Hm....
6.9 p.178 It is easier to go from horses to horse-stages than from horse-stages to horses
     Full Idea: If horse-stages made sense at all, it would be easier to go from horses to horse-stages than to go from horse-stages to horses.
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance Renewed [2001], 6.9)
     A reaction: A nice remark, analogous to 'it is easier to break a vase than to mend it'. Going from horse-stages to horses is the classic difficulty for 'bundle theories' (of objects, or persons): what is it that unites the bundle?
Ch.4 p.4 Essentialism is best represented as a predicate-modifier: □(a exists → a is F)
     Full Idea: Wiggins's proposal of a predicate-modifier account is the best formal representation of essential statements. ...This simple version is perfectly adequate to represent the claim that a is essentially-F: □(a exists → a is F).
     From: report of David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance Renewed [2001], Ch.4) by Penelope Mackie - How Things Might Have Been 1.2
     A reaction: I suppose that is right. Having an essence is a feature of an entity, but it has to boil done to characteristics that define the entity, and which it must presumably always have. Could an entity ever lack its essence?
III.iii.15 p.417 The nominal essence is the idea behind a name used for sorting
     Full Idea: Things being ranked under Names into sorts only as they agree with certain abstract ideas, to which we have annexed the Names, the essence of each sort comes to nothing but that abstract idea which the sortal name stands for. This is the nominal Essence.
     From: David Wiggins (Sameness and Substance Renewed [2001], III.iii.15)
     A reaction: He contrasts 'nominal essence' with 'real essence'. A key passage for David Wiggins. One shouldn't put too much emphasis on nominal essence, since it means that someone referred to as 'that idiot over there' (you, perhaps) is necessarily an idiot.