Ideas of David Wiggins, by Theme

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

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1. Philosophy / F. Analytic Philosophy / 4. Conceptual Analysis
We learn a concept's relations by using it, without reducing it to anything
1. Philosophy / F. Analytic Philosophy / 5. Linguistic Analysis
Semantic facts are preferable to transcendental philosophical fiction
5. Theory of Logic / F. Referring in Logic / 3. Property (λ-) Abstraction
(λx)[Man x] means 'the property x has iff x is a man'.
6. Mathematics / A. Nature of Mathematics / 4. Using Numbers / d. Counting via concepts
Maybe the concept needed under which things coincide must also yield a principle of counting
The sortal needed for identities may not always be sufficient to support counting
7. Existence / A. Nature of Existence / 6. Criterion for Existence
What exists can't depend on our conceptual scheme, and using all conceptual schemes is too liberal [Sider]
7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 2. Realism
Realist Conceptualists accept that our interests affect our concepts
Conceptualism says we must use our individuating concepts to grasp reality
7. Existence / E. Categories / 3. Proposed Categories
Animal classifications: the Emperor's, fabulous, innumerable, like flies, stray dogs, embalmed….
8. Modes of Existence / A. Relations / 4. Formal Relations / c. Ancestral relation
An ancestral relation is either direct or transitively indirect
8. Modes of Existence / C. Powers and Dispositions / 4. Powers as Essence
Substances contain a source of change or principle of activity
9. Objects / A. Existence of Objects / 5. Individuation / a. Individuation
Individuation needs accounts of identity, of change, and of singling out
Individuation can only be understood by the relation between things and thinkers
We can accept criteria of distinctness and persistence, without making the counterfactual claims [Mackie,P]
Activity individuates natural things, functions do artefacts, and intentions do artworks
9. Objects / A. Existence of Objects / 5. Individuation / c. Individuation by location
Singling out extends back and forward in time
9. Objects / A. Existence of Objects / 5. Individuation / d. Individuation by haecceity
The idea of 'thisness' is better expressed with designation/predication and particular/universal
9. Objects / A. Existence of Objects / 5. Individuation / e. Individuation by kind
'Ultimate sortals' cannot explain ontological categories [Westerhoff]
The only singling out is singling out 'as' something
In Aristotle's sense, saying x falls under f is to say what x is
Every determinate thing falls under a sortal, which fixes its persistence
Sortal predications are answers to the question 'what is x?'
A river may change constantly, but not in respect of being a river
Sortal classification becomes science, with cross reference clarifying individuals
If the kinds are divided realistically, they fall into substances
'Human being' is a better answer to 'what is it?' than 'poet', as the latter comes in degrees
Secondary substances correctly divide primary substances by activity-principles and relations
We never single out just 'this', but always 'this something-or-other'
A sortal essence is a thing's principle of individuation [Mackie,P]
Wiggins's sortal essentialism rests on a thing's principle of individuation [Mackie,P]
The evening star is the same planet but not the same star as the morning star, since it is not a star
'Sortalism' says parts only compose a whole if it falls under a sort or kind [Hossack]
Identity a=b is only possible with some concept to give persistence and existence conditions [Strawson,P]
A thing is necessarily its highest sortal kind, which entails an essential constitution [Strawson,P]
Many predicates are purely generic, or pure determiners, rather than sortals
The possibility of a property needs an essential sortal concept to conceive it
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 2. Substance / d. Substance defined
We refer to persisting substances, in perception and in thought, and they aid understanding
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 3. Unity Problems / d. Coincident objects
Objects can only coincide if they are of different kinds; trees can't coincide with other trees [Sider]
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 3. Unity Problems / e. Vague objects
Is the Pope's crown one crown, if it is made of many crowns?
Boundaries are not crucial to mountains, so they are determinate without a determinate extent
9. Objects / C. Structure of Objects / 3. Matter of an Object
Matter underlies things, composes things, and brings them to be
9. Objects / C. Structure of Objects / 5. Composition of an Object
Identity is an atemporal relation, but composition is relative to times [Sider]
9. Objects / C. Structure of Objects / 8. Parts of Objects / c. Wholes from parts
If I destroy an item, I do not destroy each part of it
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 3. Individual Essences
We can forget about individual or particularized essences
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 5. Essence as Kind
Natural kinds are well suited to be the sortals which fix substances
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 8. Essence as Explanatory
Essences are not explanations, but individuations
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 9. Essence and Properties
Essentialism is best represented as a predicate-modifier: □(a exists → a is F) [Mackie,P]
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 11. Essence of Artefacts
Artefacts are individuated by some matter having a certain function
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 13. Nominal Essence
Nominal essences don't fix membership, ignore evolution, and aren't contextual
The nominal essence is the idea behind a name used for sorting
9. Objects / E. Objects over Time / 1. Objects over Time
'What is it?' gives the kind, nature, persistence conditions and identity over time of a thing
9. Objects / E. Objects over Time / 4. Four-Dimensionalism
It is easier to go from horses to horse-stages than from horse-stages to horses
9. Objects / E. Objects over Time / 7. Intermittent Objects
A restored church is the same 'church', but not the same 'building' or 'brickwork'
A thing begins only once; for a clock, it is when its making is first completed
9. Objects / E. Objects over Time / 9. Ship of Theseus
Priests prefer the working ship; antiquarians prefer the reconstruction
The question is not what gets the title 'Theseus' Ship', but what is identical with the original
9. Objects / F. Identity among Objects / 1. Concept of Identity
Identity over a time and at a time aren't different concepts
Hesperus=Hesperus, and Phosphorus=Hesperus, so necessarily Phosphorus=Hesperus
9. Objects / F. Identity among Objects / 2. Defining Identity
Identity cannot be defined, because definitions are identities
Leibniz's Law (not transitivity, symmetry, reflexivity) marks what is peculiar to identity
Identity is primitive
The formal properties of identity are reflexivity and Leibniz's Law
9. Objects / F. Identity among Objects / 3. Relative Identity
Relative Identity is incompatible with the Indiscernibility of Identicals [Strawson,P]
Relativity of Identity makes identity entirely depend on a category
To identify two items, we must have a common sort for them
9. Objects / F. Identity among Objects / 6. Identity between Objects
A is necessarily A, so if B is A, then B is also necessarily A
9. Objects / F. Identity among Objects / 7. Indiscernible Objects
By the principle of Indiscernibility, a symmetrical object could only be half of itself!
9. Objects / F. Identity among Objects / 8. Leibniz's Law
Do both 'same f as' and '=' support Leibniz's Law?
Substitutivity, and hence most reasoning, needs Leibniz's Law
9. Objects / F. Identity among Objects / 9. Sameness
We want to explain sameness as coincidence of substance, not as anything qualitative
10. Modality / D. Knowledge of Modality / 4. Conceivable as Possible / a. Conceivable as possible
It is hard or impossible to think of Caesar as not human
10. Modality / E. Possible worlds / 1. Possible Worlds / d. Possible worlds actualism
Possible worlds rest on the objects about which we have suppositions
10. Modality / E. Possible worlds / 2. Nature of Possible Worlds / b. Worlds as fictions
Not every story corresponds to a possible world
13. Knowledge Criteria / E. Relativism / 5. Language Relativism
Our sortal concepts fix what we find in experience
14. Science / D. Explanation / 2. Types of Explanation / k. Explanations by essence
The category of substance is more important for epistemology than for ontology
Naming the secondary substance provides a mass of general information
Asking 'what is it?' nicely points us to the persistence of a continuing entity
15. Nature of Minds / C. Capacities of Minds / 4. Objectification
Seeing a group of soldiers as an army is irresistible, in ontology and explanation
18. Thought / D. Concepts / 2. Origin of Concepts / a. Origin of concepts
The mind conceptualizes objects; yet objects impinge upon the mind
18. Thought / D. Concepts / 2. Origin of Concepts / b. Empirical concepts
We conceptualise objects, but they impinge on us
18. Thought / D. Concepts / 3. Ontology of Concepts / c. Fregean concepts
We can use 'concept' for the reference, and 'conception' for sense
18. Thought / D. Concepts / 4. Structure of Concepts / f. Theory theory of concepts
A 'conception' of a horse is a full theory of what it is (and not just the 'concept')
26. Natural Theory / B. Natural Kinds / 3. Knowing Kinds
Lawlike propensities are enough to individuate natural kinds