According to Davidson, a sentence like Brutus stabbed Caesar can be represented as ∃e.stab(Brutus,Caesar), where e is a reified event. Is there a term for something that's not an event? I first thought of "entity" or "individual" but both terms are used in some ontologies for everything including events.

  • Can you add an example of a non-event as a sentance?
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Mar 13, 2015 at 21:12
  • No, there are no such sentences. "Non-events" are, in the example above, Brutus and Caesar.
    – Atamiri
    Commented Mar 13, 2015 at 21:17
  • Question, is "Brutus did not stab Caesar" an event? Is "Brutus shot Caesar" an event? By this logic everything that didn't happen is an event. It's hard to see what they mean. Is "user4894 solved the Riemann hypothesis" an event? It's false today but it has the (at least theoretical) potential to be true in the future. At all times it has a definite truth value. But it seems absurd to label something that didn't happen as an "event." And what about unknown fact? Is "Lee Harvey Oswald killed JFK" an event? Or is that subject to dispute depending on who you ask?
    – user4894
    Commented Mar 13, 2015 at 21:58
  • @user4894 It's irrelevant to what I asked but it's interesting. They are called eventualities or possible events or situations. "Possible event" probably answers your question. My question is, how to call an argument of an eventuality which is not an eventuality itself.
    – Atamiri
    Commented Mar 13, 2015 at 22:22
  • There are many types of entities which are not events: objects, processes, properties. But there is no more reason to group them as "non-events" than there would be to group, say, events and processes as "non-objects" I think. Commented Mar 13, 2015 at 23:27

1 Answer 1


Davidson used alternatively the terms substance or object for this basic kind of entities.

Many events are changes in a substance. If an event a is a change in some substance, then a = b only if b is also a change in the same substance . . . But it would be a mistake to suppose that even for events that are naturally described as changes in an object, we must describe them . . . by referring to the object. ("The Individuation of Events")

Another (non Davidsonian) terminological option is to speak about spatial particulars or individuals (=substances) vs. temporal particulars (=events).

Persons are regarded in many ontologies as just substances (e.g. in Aristotle) or objects (as in Davidson). But there are also exceptions. Kant stressed the difference between subject and object, although in his system the term subject is not ontological. Heidegger posited the person as a special kind of entity. His ontological term is Dasein i.e. being-there. Sartre posited a similar ontological category for persons, and adopted for it Hegel's term being-for-itself).

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