Article/Publication Details

Instantiation as Partial Identity

(Original title: Instantiation as Partial Identity)
Organon F, 2012, vol. 19, No 4, pp. 459-487.
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This work presents and discusses the conception of instantiation as ‘partial identity’. The theory has been previously proposed in two different guises by Baxter (2001) and Armstrong (2004a). Attention will be paid mostly to Baxter’s presentation, which seems the best developed, and where instantiation is understood as identity of ‘aspects’ of a universal and a particular. The theory seems to offer a solution to the vexed question of Bradley’s Regress, because instantiation is no longer conceived as a relation between numerically different entities. The proposed solution requires an ontology of ‘aspects’ in order to work. Aspects are presented in the form [ x insofar as j] where x is filled by the entity to which the aspect pertains and j is filled by the respect in which the entity in question is considered. Aspects are numerically identical with the entity to which they pertain and with the other aspects of the same entity. Aspects, nonetheless, are not mere ways in which one can conceive an entity. Aspects are objective. Rejection of the principle of indiscernibility of identicals is crucial to this theory. The attributions of one aspect are not also attributions to the other aspects of the same entity. Hence, aspects offer ways to deal with seemingly incoherent attributions to the same entity. Baxter uses them to solve the problem of the multi-location of universals, temporary intrinsics and trans-world identity, besides the nature of instantiation. Several difficulties are presented, both to the general metaphysics of aspects, and to the conception of instantiation as identity of aspects. In general: (i) it is not clear how to distinguish objective aspects from the mere forms in which we conceive an entity; (ii) it is not clear what are the conditions of identity of an aspect; and (iii) although the necessity of identity is rejected in general, it reappears as necessity of ‘aspectual’ identity. The necessity of aspectual identity raises concerns about the stability of the view. In respect to the specific conception of instantiation as identity of aspects, it will be pointed out that the theory implies the complete identity of universals and particulars that instantiate them and, further, that it implies the identity of everything with everything.

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