I tend to gravitate towards thinking that willing evil for its own sake "as such," is impossible for reasons of the nature of practical reasoning/intellection. I can accept that there is lying-for-the-sake-of-lying, then, but not lying-for-the-sake-of-lying-being-wrong, say. However, as I also find the encoding/exemplifying distinction to be helpful in working through my theory of predication, I wonder: is there enough of a difference between willing that a contingently abstract object would encode for evil-in-itself, and willing that a concrete object (even an action-as-an-object) would exemplify this, that this difference would mark out a difference in the possibility of willing evil-in-itself? As if, that is, there is something less diabolical (in a pseudo-Kantian sense at least) about encoding evil, compared to exemplifying it?

I haven't seen any clear applications of Zalta's metaphysics to metaethics, in the literature, nor even a cash-out of being-contingently-abstract that has to do with contingent decisions made "using free will," so I am unsure about finding material to cite in an answer to this question. If no technical application of Zalta's theory will be forthcoming on this score, I am willing to delete this question for being unanswerable besides by rabid speculation, but for the time being I will hold out hope that either some obscure reference is available that addresses part of this question, or that someone versed in Zalta's theory of abstract objects might know how to apply it, here.

  • 1
    But rabid speculation is so much fun! :-) I guess I lack any helpful knowledge for this. I don't have a problem attributing evil motive, but people rebuke me every time, so I must be missing something.
    – Scott Rowe
    Dec 2, 2023 at 23:11
  • 1
    @ScottRowe it's not the most pressing issue on my mind, although I decided to include the question in a Substack post of mine, so it would be nifty to have an answer here that I could cite as a follow-up. On my own end, I've tried looking through Zalta's notation but it's hard for me to process. Dec 2, 2023 at 23:13

1 Answer 1


Per Zalta's theory, it does not seem as if the contingency of nonconcreta, such as it is, has to do with contingent willings. The SEP article on logicism/neo-logicism in the philosophy of mathematics includes a section on Zalta's theory that reads at one point:

Particular encodings are necessary if possible.

So if an abstract action-object (modulo Zalta) encodes pure evil, it does so purely as an abstracta, and not based on some sort of concrete human will-to-evil interfacing with the world of abstract objects so as to "toggle" nonconcreta between nonconcrete and concrete states and "generate" an abstract encoding of evil-for-its-own-general-sake. I will note that I still don't understand what contingently nonconcrete objects are really supposed to be, then, but then I still don't grasp the fine details of Zalta's whole theory anyway.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .