In this lecture series, Stalnaker uses both verbs 'instantiate' and 'exemplify'. Now, I gather those two verbs have the same meaning. But, I also think that if the two verbs were equivalent, Stalnaker would rather choose one of them and stick to that verb.

This leads me to think that perhaps there is a difference, although the difference may be due to grammar only. (NB: I'm not a native speaker.)

I'm hoping that somebody here is familiar with either 1) Stalnaker's choice of words, or 2) a normal distinction between these verbs, in particular in (modal) logic or modal metaphysics. (And I hope that nobody will ask me to provide a transcript of relevant parts of the talks.)

  • we can have a single instance but not a single exemplification – another_name May 16 at 19:21

The two mean the same thing. At 16 minutes (of the first video), he even says "instantiate or exemplify" -- so he clearly means the same thing. He's talking about the Ǝ operator (exemplification or existential instantiation, take your pick).

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    There he quotes (person) X, who claims to have the following theory of properties: they are just sets, no more no less. In such context, instantiate and exemplify have the same meaning. But Stalnaker goes on to say that this theory is suspect. [So, I have some doubts regarding the evidence that you brought in this answer.] – user3164 Dec 11 '13 at 8:53
  • Also according to Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, sub voce Properties, para.7.7 Instantiation : "If instantiation or exemplification [...]". – Mauro ALLEGRANZA Dec 11 '13 at 16:27

As I've understood the terms, instantiation is simply more general. Both mean to represent a quality, attribute, or relation, but whereas exemplifying an attribute is to represent something as an ideal example of a set, it's the first example of any object which instantiates, and each successive example thereafter, uniquely.

Or to state it differently- To instantiate is to represent as an instance of something; however, when one representation exemplifies a set of instances, it need not even be an actual instance in the same set, merely representative,

This is just rehashing the New Oxford Dictionary definitions of both words. It's entirely possible Stalnaker used both terms for his own nefarious ends.

  • Stalnaker nefarious? Do tell. – ChristopherE Dec 15 '13 at 6:09

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