Monday, April 30, 2007

2nd On-line Philosophy Conference (OPC2) approaching. Dates: May 14-May 27, 2007; venue: here.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Comesaña on Whether There Could Be Exactly Two Things

(X-posted at GAF.)

I just read Juan Comesaña’s ‘Could There Be Exactly Two Things?,’ forthcoming in Synthèse. As Comesaña reminds us, Universalism—the view that whenever there are some things, there is something which is a sum of them—is obviously at odds with the idea that there could be exactly two things (indeed, incompatible with that idea given minimal further assumptions).

Comesaña contends (i) that we intuit that there could be exactly two things; and (ii) that this tells against Universalism. I have some doubts about (ii), and I found the discussion of it at the last two paragraphs of the paper less than completely satisfying. But, more importantly, I have not found anything in support of the assertion of the claim in (i). Everybody would agree that there are scenarios such that, in most ordinary contexts, to describe them with ‘There are exactly two things’ would be true (or true enough). Universalists typically contend, however, that this is compatible there being strictly speaking more than two things there, and familiarly invoke contextual quantifier domain restriction, in a rule-governed, independently motivated manner, or so she argues. Maybe there is something defective in this move by Universalist, but Comesaña does not say. And in the absence of this, (i) seems to me to be ungrounded, and thus unsuitable for a case against Universalism.

What do people think?