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OCKHAM'S IMPLICIT PRIORITY OF ANALYSIS RULE? Some philosophers have doubted that Ockham intended his logical descent to singulars to be an analysis of quantified propositions . Matthews has argued that fully descended propositions do not entail undescended ones because certain scope problems arise for the quantifiers when O propositions are analyzed.1 Swiniarski has even provided us with a counterexample to descent as analysis.2 Essentially, he shows that if Ockham intended descent to be an analysis for quantified propositions and allows descent to begin with the predicate term, then his account yields an inconsistent analysis for O propositions. The reason for these various doubts is that these philosophers have assumed that since Ockham claims one can perform descent to a proposition with a disjunctive predicate, he must have allowed the process of descent to begin with the predicate term. Swiniarski says: Now, it is a simple fact that Ockham did not adopt or maintain any sort of priority of analysis rule. It appears that the wanted to develop his theory of personal supposition in such a way that the subjects and predicates of propositions could be analyzed independently. We might even say that Ockham implicitly adopted and maintained a non-priority of analysis rule.3 And Matthews informs us: Indeed, it is with a nominalist's enthusiasm that Ockham insists on treating predicate-term descent in full parallel to subject-term descent. If one could show by two descents that what a propo1 G. B. Matthews, "Supposition and Quantification in Ockham," Nous, VII (1973). 13-23· 2 John Swiniarski, "A New Presentation of Ockham's Theory of Supposition with an Evaluation of Some Contemporary Criticism," Franciscan Studies, 30 (1970), 181-217. 8 Ibid., p. 210. 214MICHAEL J. FITZGERALD sition like, 'Every man is an animal,' is really about is only individual men and individual animals, one would have struck a major blow for nominalism.4 It is important to note, however, that neither Swiniarski nor Matthews has provided any textual support from Ockham's writings to show that he would allow the process of descent to begin with the predicate term prior to the subject term. Now it seems to me that there are two distinct issues which are being blurred in their discussion of descent. The first issue is whether or not Ockham intended his descent to singulars to be an analysis of quantified propositions, and the second is whether or not Ockham would allow the process of descent to begin with the predicate term. Only if the process of descent begins under the predicate term, prior to the subject term, do scope difficulties and possible counterexamples arise. Now, if it can be shown that Ockham would have rejected a case where descent begins with the predicate term, then the scope difficulties and counterexamples would not arise. If these scope difficulties do not arise, then one has no reason not to suppose that Ockham intended descent to be an analysis of quantified propositions. What I would like to argue is that Ockham did intend for descent to be an analysis of quantified propositions, but he did not intend to allow descent to begin with the predicate term. II Swiniarski sets up his counterexample in approximately the following way: Consider the obviously false O proposition 'Some man is not a man.' If one descends from the unexpanded O proposition into a fully expanded O proposition, using a two object universe of only 'Plato' and 'Socrates,' and begins descent with the subject term, the result is: I.i Some man is not a man. 1.2Socrates is not a man OR Plato is not a man. 1.3Socrates is not identical with (Socrates or Plato) OR Plato is not identical with (Socrates or Plato) 4 Matthews, op. cit., pp. 14-15. Ockham's Implicit Priority of Analysis Rule?215 I.4 [(Socrates is not identical with Socrates) and (Socrates is not identical with Plato)]. OR [(Plato is not identical with Socrates) and (Plato is not identical with Plato)]. If one uses the same universe of discourse, but begins descent with the predicate term, the result is: II. ? Some man is not a man. 11.2 Some man is not Socrates...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1945-9718
Print ISSN
0080-5459
Pages
pp. 213-219
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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