Talking about a Universalist World
Braddon-Mitchell (David) & Miller (Kristie)
Source: Philosophical Studies: Vol. 130, No. 3 (Sep., 2006), pp. 499-534
Paper - Abstract

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Authors’ Introduction

  1. The paper defends a combination of perdurantism1 with mereological universalism by developing semantics of temporary predications of the sort 'some P is / was / will be (a) Q'.
  2. We argue that, in addition to the usual application of causal and other restrictions on sortals2, the grammatical form of such statements allows for rather different regimentations along three separate dimensions, according to:
    1. whether 'P' and 'Q' are being used as phase3 or substance sortal4 terms,
    2. whether 'is', 'was', and 'will be' are the 'is', 'was', 'will be' of identity or of constitution5, and
    3. whether 'Q' is being used as a subject or predicate term.
  3. We conclude that this latitude is beneficial, as it conforms with linguistic reality (i.e., the multiple uses actually in place) and also enables one to turn what is ordinarily perceived as a problem for universalist perdurantism6 viz., a commitment to all sorts of weird and gerrymandered temporally extended entities, into an advantage, for the richness in questions allows us to make sense of the many different readings of sentences of the same grammatical form.

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