Horses exist

Today BV asks whether 'exists' could be a non-distributive predicate, as apparently advocated by Peter van Inwagen.   Horses exist might be analogous to Horses have an interesting evolutionary history.  But we think not. There seems to be nothing about existing that requires that it be done collectively:  A horse exists seems perfectly meaningful.

A minor point.  Bill introduces  are becoming extinct as a distributive predicate.  I'm not sure.  Does it make sense to say Some bald eagles are becoming extinct,  that is, becoming extinct is what some definite group of concrete bald eagles might do?  That's not quite the right sense of extinctBald eagle here I think refers to the species bald eagle.  As in The bald eagle is becoming extinct.  So becoming extinct may be a predicate that applies to concepts.  This would lend support to the Fregean idea that exists is a predicate that applies to concepts too.

What about Horses are four-legged? Bill says this is distributive.  Again, not so sure.  Horses here doesn't seem to refer to any specific group of horses that four-legged could distribute over.  Without an article or a quantifier or a demonstrative,  horse seems to refer to the species.  We should read this as The concept horse is subordinate to the concept four-legged.

We should distinguish between the intensional Horses are four-legged and the extensional (and contingent) All horses are four-legged.  The former says that the concept four-legged is part of the content of the concept horse, so that any horse, past, present, or future, must have four legs.  The latter, at least in its predicate logic rendering, says that every horse happens to be four-legged.  Perhaps the latter is, in fact, somewhat ambiguous, and could be given the intensional interpretation.  However, I'd say that All the horses are four-legged is definitely extensional, referring to every horse in some salient context implied by the the.

Bill's conclusion in this piece is, once again, aporetic.  Having ruled out the Fregean second-level understanding of exists he finds arguments against exists as a first-level distributive predicate and as a first-level non-distributive predicate.  This seems to leave just one possibility:  that the role of exists is not predicative at all.  But we await Bill's next post eagerly.

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