A note on Dasgupta’s Generalism
Dasgupta (Philos Stud Int J Philos Anal Tradit 145(1):35–67, 2009) has argued that material individuals, such as particles and laptops, are metaphysically objectionable and must be eliminated from our fundamental theories of the world. He proposes to eliminate them by redescribing all the fundamental facts of the world in a variant of predicate functor logic. We study the status, on this theory, of a putative fact particularly recalcitrant to a formulation within predicate functor logic: his own claim that there are no fundamental or primitive material individuals. We consider three regimentations of the denial of primitive individuals and show that—under some plausible hypotheses about fundamental truths and the fundamentality operator—they cannot be consistently translated in predicate functor logic by Dasgupta’s usual strategy. We conclude by discussing two approaches to salvage Generalism, in the absence of such a translation.
KeywordsIndividuals Predicate functor logic Theoretical equivalence Ontological commitment
We are grateful to Dino Calosi, Fabrice Correia and the anonymous referee for many helpful and detailed comments on this paper.
- Anscombe, G. E. M. (1959). An introduction to Wittgenstein’s Tractatus. South Bend, IN: St. Augustine’s Press.Google Scholar
- Carnap, R. (1928). Der logische Aufbau der Welt. Leipzig: Felix Meiner Verlag.Google Scholar
- Diamond, C. (1991). Throwing away the ladder: How to read the Tractatus, in the realistic spirit. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Dasgupta, S. (2014). On the plurality of grounds. Philosophers’ Imprint, 14, 1–28.Google Scholar
- Floyd, J. (2007). Wittgenstein and the inexpressible. In Alice Crary (Ed.), Wittgenstein and the moral life: Essays in honor of Cora Diamond (Vol. 117). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Quine, W. V. O. (1960). Variables explained away. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 104(3), 343–347.Google Scholar
- Turner, J. (2017). Can we do without fundamental individuals? In Elizabeth Barnes (Ed.), Current contoversies in metaphysics (pp. 24–42). Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Wittgenstein, L. (1922). Tractatus logicus-philosophicus. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.Google Scholar