According to ontological pluralism there are several ways of being. This is so if there is an unrestricted quantifier (∃u) that ranges over everything there is, and there are several semantically primitive, restricted quantifiers (∃1, …, ∃n) with possible meanings such that (i) each restricted quantifier has a non-empty domain that is properly included in the domain of the unrestricted quantifier, (ii) the domains of the restricted quantifiers do not overlap, and (iii) the meaning of each restricted quantifier is at least as natural as the meaning of the unrestricted quantifier (in the Lewisian sense of “natural”, extended to cover quantifiers). My long-standing interest in the debate concerning pluralism about truth has shaped my choice of focus in this piece. According to truth pluralism there are several ways of being true. Different properties are relevant to the truth of propositions concerning different domains. The problem of mixed compounds challenges truth pluralists to provide a principled account of the truth of mixed compounds, i.e. compounds whose constituents are true in different ways. My aim here is to present and articulate a corresponding issue facing ontological pluralists: the problem of mixed beings. The problem of mixed beings challenges ontological pluralists to provide a principled account of the way in which mixed beings exist, i.e. beings whose constituents exist in different ways.
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McDaniel (2017: 34). On some versions of ontological pluralism the meanings of the restricted quantifiers are more natural than the meaning of the unrestricted quantifier. See McDaniel’s discussion of neo-Aristotelian ontological pluralism.
McDaniel (2017), Sect. 5.1.
McDaniel (2017), Sect. 5.4. A version of the second point likewise holds if the assumption concerning perfect naturalness is dropped, provided that it is still assumed that the meaning of the restricted quantifiers is more natural than the meaning of the unrestricted quantifier.
This line of reasoning mirrors McDaniel (2017: 140).
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I am inclined to think that the degree of being of mixed beings is determined in a way similar to the semantic value of conjunctions—i.e. by the minimum value of the constituents. However, various strategies are open to someone who wants to reject this approach. E.g., one might argue that mixed beings can instantiate perfectly natural properties and that only fully real beings can instantiate such properties. For a discussion of this kind of strategy in relation to persons, see McDaniel (2017, Sect. 6.5).
McDaniel (2017), Sect. 5.5.
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I’m grateful to Ben Caplan, Colin Caret, Sungil Han, Masashi Kasaki, and Adam Murray for discussion, and to Kris McDaniel for delivering a wonderful series of lectures on The Fragmentation of Being in Seoul during the spring of 2016.
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Pedersen, N.J.L.L. The problem of mixed beings. Philos Stud 179, 3113–3121 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11098-022-01797-3