Chapter

Understanding Indeterminacy

Terence Parsons

in Indeterminate Identity

Published in print September 2000 | ISBN: 9780198250449
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191681301 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198250449.003.0007
Understanding Indeterminacy

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The terminology used in explaining indeterminate identity is meant to be ordinary; ‘identical’ is not intended in a special sense. ‘Indeterminate’ may be definable within certain world views, but is otherwise taken as a primitive. The biggest impediment to understanding views that invoke indeterminate identity is the tendency to reason bivalently. One can picture situations involving indeterminacy using Venn diagrams in which objects are represented by images with finite size. An object is pictured as being indeterminately P if its image lies partly inside of and partly outside of the region representing property P; objects are pictured as being indeterminately identical if their images properly overlap. Simple constraints on the picturing conventions entail that Leibniz's definition of identity in terms of coincidence of properties is built into the picturing. The picturings of the paradigm identity puzzles are also given here.

Keywords: indeterminacy; non-bivalent reasoning; indeterminate identity; resolution; puzzle paradigms; Venn diagrams; picturing

Chapter.  7140 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Metaphysics

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