Emmon Bach uses in "The algebra of events" the term 'eventuality' to denote states, events, processes, etc. How can their actual existence be expressed logically? For example, when I say "John came" the eventuality e in ∃e.came(John) obtains whereas in "I want John to come" John's coming is an eventuality which doesn't obtain. Can a first-order predicate be used, something like Obtains(e)?

  • Perhaps various systems of modal logic are more suitable to express intentions, or things that "don't obtain" (are not actual) generally, than extensional logic. Mar 20 '15 at 0:33
  • You will typically get opaque context paradoxes with intentions. Say you don't know that Clark Kent is Superman: "I want Clark kent to come" can be true while "I want Superman to come" is false, which violates the principle of substitution of identicals of extensional logic. Mar 20 '15 at 0:37
  • @quen_tin But this is the point. If your two sentences would be eventualities e1 and e2, then Obtains(e1) needn't imply Obtains(e2) as the embedded VPs would also have different eventualities.
    – Atamiri
    Mar 20 '15 at 1:11

You can use an "obtain" predicate but it sounds very much like Meinong's distinction between being and existence, and it's not a very popular solution.

Predicates are used to denote properties but it is doubtful that existence (or "obtaining") is a property as such.

See this article for alternatives: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/nonexistent-objects/

  • Thanks. So I think that Obtains is an extranuclear predicate (and the existence of eventualities their extranuclear property). I at least know now what to look for.
    – Atamiri
    Mar 21 '15 at 11:26

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