Edited by Sam Cowling (Denison University)
About this topic
Summary Some possibilities (e.g., the possibility that some objects are furry) are qualitative, because they involve properties but not specific objects. Other possibilities (e.g., the possibility that Napoleon is shorter than Bush) are non-qualitative, because they involve specific objects. According to haecceitism, some maximal possibilities--total ways things could be--differ only with respect to the non-qualitative possibilities they include. In terms of possible worlds, haecceitism is the thesis that some possible worlds differ only with respect to the distribution of non-qualitative properties like haecceities (e.g, Socrateity) and "impure properties" (e.g, being five feet from Socrates). Consider, for example, a world qualitatively indiscernible from actuality where you fail to exist or a world where you swap qualitative roles with Obama. Such worlds differ only haecceitistically from actuality and therefore entail haecceitism.
Key works Haecceitism has consequences for a broad range of issues in the metaphysics of modality and for the nature of properties, propositions, and many other entities. For an overview, see Cowling 2015. Key contributions to the discussion of haecceitism in modal metaphysics include Adams 1979 and Lewis 1986. Lewis' views on haeceitism and its accommodation within the framework of modal realism have been a topic of considerable interest. See, for example, Skow 2008 and Fara 2009. On haecceitism's role within physical theories, see Melia 1999 and Pooley 2005.
Introductions Lewis 1986 (Section 4.4) Cowling 2015
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  1. Thisness and Time Travel.Robert Merrihew Adams - 1997 - Philosophia 25 (1-4):407-415.
  2. Actualism and Thisness.Robert Merrihew Adams - 1981 - Synthese 49 (1):3-41.
  3. Primitive Thisness and Primitive Identity.Robert Merrihew Adams - 1979 - Journal of Philosophy 76 (1):5-26.
  4. Plantinga on Actualism and Essences.David F. Austin - 1981 - Philosophical Studies 39 (1):35 - 42.
  5. Putting Uninstantiated Human Person Essences to Work: A Comment on Davis and Craig on The Grounding Objection.Erik Baldwin - 2013 - Philosophia Christi 15 (2):221-225.
    In “Ducking Friendly Fire: Davison on the Grounding Objection”, William Lane Craig responds to a statement of The Grounding Objection articulated by Scott Davison in “Craig on the Grounding Objection to Middle Knowledge”. According to Davison, unless we have an explanation of true counterfactuals that makes reference to actual human persons in specific situations we lack an adequate explanation of how counterfactuals of creaturely freedom could possibly be true. Drawing from and elaborating on Edward Wierenga’s response to The Grounding Objection (...)
  6. Modal Realism, Counterpart Theory, and Unactualized Possibilities.Joseph A. Baltimore - 2014 - Metaphysica 15 (1):209–217.
    It is a commonsense thesis that unactualized possibilities are not parts of actuality. To keep his modal realism in line with this thesis, David Lewis employed his indexical account of the term “actual.” I argue that the addition of counterpart theory to Lewis’s modal realism undermines his strategy for respecting the commonsense thesis. The case made here also reveals a problem for Lewis’s attempt to avoid haecceitism.
  7. On the Individual Essences of Moments of Time.Michelle Beer - 2007 - Philo 10 (1):69-71.
    In “Can the New Tenseless Theory of Time be Saved by Individual Essences?” Smith objects to the co-reporting theory on the groundsthat, since it grants that every time “now” is tokened it expresses a unique individual essence of that time which can be apprehended only at that time, the co-reporting theory is consistent with an A-theory of time that holds that each moment of time acquires its own particular property of presentness. I argue that Smith’s conclusion does not follow, since (...)
  8. The Haecceitic Euthyphro Problem.Jason Bowers & Meg Wallace - 2018 - Analysis 78 (1):13-22.
    Haecceitism is the thesis that, necessarily, in addition to its qualities, each thing has a haecceity or individual essence. The purpose of this paper is to expose a flaw in haecceitism: it entails that familiar cases of fission and fusion either admit of no explanation or else only admit of explanations too bizarre to warrant serious consideration. Because the explanatory problem we raise for haecceitism closely resembles the Euthyphro problem for divine command theory, we refer to our objection as the (...)
  9. Existentialism Entails Anti-Haecceitism.Kenneth Boyce - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 168 (2):297-326.
    Existentialism concerning singular propositions is the thesis that singular propositions ontologically depend on the individuals they are directly about in such a way that necessarily, those propositions exist only if the individuals they are directly about exist. Haecceitism is the thesis that what non-qualitative facts there are fails to supervene on what purely qualitative facts there are. I argue that existentialism concerning singular propositions entails the denial of haecceitism and that this entailment has interesting implications for debates concerning the philosophy (...)
  10. Reducing Reductionism: On a Putative Proof for Extreme Haecceitism.Troy Thomas Catterson - 2008 - Philosophical Studies 140 (2):149-159.
    Nathan Salmon, in his paper Trans-World Identification and Stipulation (1996) purports to give a proof for the claim that facts concerning trans-world identity cannot be conceptually reduced to general facts. He calls this claim ‘Extreme Haecceitism.’ I argue that his proof is fallacious. However, I also contend that the analysis and ultimate rejection of his proof clarifies the fundamental issues that are at stake in the debate between the reductionist and haecceitist solutions to the problem of trans-world identity. These issues (...)
  11. Objects and Persons.Roderick M. Chisholm - 1979 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 7:317-388.
  12. Individual Essences and Possible Worlds.Robert C. Coburn - 1986 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 11 (1):165-183.
  13. Conceivability Arguments for Haecceitism.Sam Cowling - 2017 - Synthese 194 (10):4171-4190.
    According to haecceitism, some maximal possibilities differ even while they are qualitatively indiscernible. Since haecceitism is a modal thesis, it is typically defended by appeal to conceivability arguments. These arguments require us to conceive of qualitatively indiscernible possibilities that differ only with respect to the identity of the individuals involved. This paper examines a series of conceivability arguments for haecceitism and a variety of anti-haecceitist responses. It concludes that there is no irresistible conceivability argument for haecceitism even while anti-haecceitist responses (...)
  14. Haecceitism.Sam Cowling - 2015 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  15. Non-Qualitative Properties.Sam Cowling - 2015 - Erkenntnis 80 (2):275-301.
    The distinction between qualitative properties like mass and shape and non-qualitative properties like being Napoleon and being next to Obama is important, but remains largely unexamined. After discussing its theoretical significance and cataloguing various kinds of non-qualitative properties, I survey several views about the nature of this distinction and argue that all proposed reductive analyses of this distinction are unsatisfactory. I then defend primitivism, according to which the distinction resists reductive analysis.
  16. Haecceitism for Modal Realists.Sam Cowling - 2012 - Erkenntnis 77 (3):399-417.
    In this paper, I examine the putative incompatibility of three theses: (1) Haecceitism, according to which some maximal possibilities differ solely in terms of the non-qualitative or de re possibilities they include; (2) Modal correspondence, according to which each maximal possibility is identical with a unique possible world; (3) Counterpart theory, according to which de re modality is analyzed in terms of counterpart relations between individuals. After showing how the modal realism defended by David Lewis resolves this incompatibility by rejecting (...)
  17. Defending Existentialism?Marian David - 2009 - In M. Reicher (ed.), States of Affairs. Ontos Verlag. pp. 167--209.
    This paper is concerned with a popular view about the nature of propositions, commonly known as the Russellian view of propositions. Alvin Plantinga has dubbed it, or more precisely, a crucial consequence of it, Existentialism, and in his paper “On Existentialism” (1983) he has presented a forceful argument intended as a reductio of this view. In what follows, I describe the main relevant ingredients of the Russellian view of propositions and states of affairs. I present a relatively simple response Russellians (...)
  18. Aquinas on Individuals and Their Essences.Sandra Edwards - 1985 - Philosophical Topics 13 (2):155-163.
  19. Dear Haecceitism.Delia Graff Fara - 2009 - Erkenntnis 70 (3):285–297.
    If a counterpart theorist’s understanding of the counterpart relation precludes haecceitist differences between possible worlds, as David Lewis’s does, how can he admit haecceitist possibilities, as Lewis wants to? Lewis (Philosophical Review 3–32, 1983; On the Plurality of Worlds, 1986) devised what he called a ‘cheap substitute for haecceitism,’ which would allow for haecceitist possibilities while preserving the counterpart relation as a purely qualitative one. The solution involved lifting an earlier (Journal of Philosophy 65(5):113–126, 1968; 68(7):203–211, 1971) ban on there (...)
  20. Possible Worlds and Identity.B. J. Garrett - 1986 - Philosophical Books 27 (2):65-72.
  21. Individuals, Essence and Identity.P. Giaretta, Andrea Bottani & Massimiliano Carrara (eds.) - 2001 - Kluwer Academic Publishers.
  22. How Things Might Have Been: Individuals, Kinds, and Essential Properties - by Penelope Mackie.Michael Hymers - 2008 - Philosophical Books 49 (1):67-68.
  23. How to Russell a Frege-Church.David Kaplan - 1975 - Journal of Philosophy 72 (19):716-729.
  24. Über die deskriptive Unerschöpflichkeit der Einzeldinge.Geert Keil - 2006 - In Geert Keil & Udo Tietz (eds.), Phänomenologie und Sprachanalyse. Mentis. pp. 83-125.
    Der Topos von der Unerschöpflichkeit des Gegenstands wird mit der Phänomenologie assoziiert. Den ihm verwandten Topos von der Unaussprechlichkeit des Individuellen haben Goethe und die deutschen Romantiker in die Welt getragen. Der Diktion der analytischen Philosophie sind die Ausdrücke „unerschöpflich“ und „unaussprechlich“ fremd. Dieser Umstand sollte analytische Philosophen nicht davon abhalten, sich den sprachphilosophischen und ontologischen Problemen zuzuwenden, die sich hinter den besagten Formeln verbergen. Husserls Wort für Unerschöpflichkeit ist „Fülle“. Die „Fülle des Gegenstandes“ erläutert Husserl als den „Inbegriff der (...)
  25. Duns Scotus on Singular Essences.Peter King - 2005 - Medioevo 30:111-137.
    Socrates, for example, has an essence that includes more than his human nature, which is his specific essence; he has an essence proper to himself alone, an essence that cannot be had by anyone else. Although Socrates does have singular (individualized) forms, his singular essence is not a form—there is no form Socrateity for the singular essence parallelling the form humanity for the specific essence. Instead, Socrates has his singular essence in consequence of being an individual, that is, in consequence (...)
  26. Haecceitism, Chance, and Counterfactuals.B. Kment - 2012 - Philosophical Review 121 (4):573-609.
    Antihaecceitists believe that all facts about specific individuals—such as the fact that Fred exists, or that Katie is tall—globally supervene on purely qualitative facts. Haecceitists deny that. The issue is not only of interest in itself, but receives additional importance from its intimate connection to the question of whether all fundamental facts are qualitative or whether they include facts about which specific individuals there are and how qualitative properties and relations are distributed over them. Those who think that all fundamental (...)
  27. Individual Essences in Individuation.Olli Koistinen - 1993 - In Risto Hilpinen, Olli Koistinen & Juha Räikkä (eds.), Good Reason: Essays Dedicated to Risto Hilpinen. Turun Yliopisto. pp. 200--139.
  28. Moderate Anti-Haecceitism.Gary Legenhausen - 1989 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 49 (4):625-642.
  29. Catnesses.Catherine Legg - 2008 - In Stephen D. Hales (ed.), What Philosophy Can Tell You about Your Dog. Carus.
    An introduction to cat metaphysics..........
  30. Individuation by Acquaintance and by Stipulation.David Lewis - 1983 - Philosophical Review 92 (1):3-32.
  31. Individual Essences.Michael Losonsky - 1987 - American Philosophical Quarterly 24 (3):253 - 260.
  32. Identity-Statements and Essentialism.Michael J. Loux - 1970 - New Scholasticism 44 (3):431-439.
  33. Haecceity - an Ontological Essay - Rosenkrantz,Gs.E. J. Lowe - 1995 - Mind 104 (413):202--205.
  34. Review. Interpreting Bodies: Classical and Quantum Objects in Modern Physics. E Castellani [Ed]. [REVIEW]Ej Lowe - 2000 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 51 (2):353-355.
  35. Transworld Identity.Penelope Mackie - forthcoming - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  36. How Things Might Have Been: Individuals, Kinds, and Essential Properties.Penelope Mackie - 2006 - Published in the United States by Oxford University Press.
    Penelope Mackie's book is a novel treatment of an issue central to much current work in metaphysics: the distinction between the essential and accidental properties of individuals. Mackie challenges widely held views, and arrives at what she calls "minimalist essentialism," an unorthodox theory according to which ordinary individuals have relatively few interesting essential properties. Mackie's clear and accessible discussions of issues surrounding necessity and essentialism mean that the book will appeal as much to graduate students as it will to seasoned (...)
  37. Particles and the Perversely Philosophical Schoolchild: Rigid Designation, Haecceitism and Statistics.Anna Maidens - 1998 - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 17 (1):75-87.
    In this paper, I want to draw attention to a connection between rigid designation with its consequence that we are able to stipulate worlds and haecceitism, the doctrine that we have possible worlds alike in all qualitative features which nonetheless are metaphysically different, in that two individuals can have all their qualitative features swapped while remaining the same individuals. I shall argue that stipulation leads to haecceitism, which in turn depends upon commitment to haecceity ("primitive thisness"). Haecceitism is, I claim, (...)
  38. Moravcsik on Individuals and Their Essences.Gareth B. Matthews - 1976 - Journal of Philosophy 73 (17):598-599.
  39. Leibnizian Rejection of Standard Thought Experiments Against Identity of Indiscernibles.Ari Maunu - 2015 - Metaphysica 16 (2):189-193.
    It is argued that from a genuine Leibnizian point of view the well-known thought experiment, call it BTE, involving a possible world with only two exactly similar objects, cannot be used to refute Leibniz's Principle of the Identity of Indiscernibles (LIdI). If the claim that there are two objects in BTE is based on primitive thisnesses, the Leibnizian objection is that there are no such things; and even if there were, then, quite generally, something true of one object – that (...)
  40. Generalist Transworld Identitism (or, Identity Through Possible Worlds Without Nonqualitative Thisnesses).Ari Maunu - 2005 - Logique Et Analyse 48 (189-192):151-158.
    A certain argument has been given in the literature to the effect that generalism (the view that all facts about all possible worlds can (in principle) be given in general terms, that is, without resorting to nonqualitative thisnesses) excludes transworld identitism (the view that there are numerical identities through possible worlds). It follows from this argument, among other things, that transworld identitism entails Scotistic haecceitism (acceptance of nonqualitative thisnesses), and that generalists subscribing to de reism (the view that there are (...)
  41. Holes, Haecceitism and Two Conceptions of Determinism.J. Melia - 1999 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 50 (4):639--64.
    In this paper I claim that Earman and Norton 's hole argument against substantivalist interpretations of General Relativity assumes that the substantivalist must adopt a conception of determinism which I argue is unsatisfactory. Butterfield and others have responded to the hole argument by finding a conception of determinism open to the substantivalist that is not prone to the hole argument. But, unfortunately for the substantivalist, I argue this conception also turns out to be unsatisfactory. Accordingly, I search for a conception (...)
  42. Future Individuals and Haecceitism.Barry Miller - 1991 - Review of Metaphysics 45 (1):3 - 28.
  43. Haecceitism and Anti-Haecceitism in Leibniz's Philosophy.John O'Leary-Hawthorne & J. A. Cover - 1996 - Noûs 30 (1):1-30.
  44. Haecceitas and Individual Essence in Leibniz.Woosuk Park - 1998 - In S. Brown (ed.), Meeting of the Minds: The Relationship between Medieval and Modern Philosophy. Brespols.
  45. De Essentia.Alvin Plantinga - 1979 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 7:101-121.
    In this paper I propose an amendment to Chisholm's definition of individual essence. I then argue that a thing has more than one individual essence and that there is no reason to believe no one grasps anyone else's essence. The remainder of the paper is devoted to a refutation of existentialism, the view that the essence of an object X (along with propositions and states of affairs directly about x) is ontologically dependent upon x in the sense that it could (...)
  46. Points, Particles, and Structural Realism.Oliver Pooley - 2005 - In Dean Rickles, Steven French & Juha Saatsi (eds.), The Structural Foundations of Quantum Gravity. Oxford University Press. pp. 83--120.
    In his paper ``What is Structural Realism?'' James Ladyman drew a distinction between epistemological structural realism and metaphysical (or ontic) structural realism. He also drew a suggestive analogy between the perennial debate between substantivalist and relationalist interpretations of spacetime on the one hand, and the debate about whether quantum mechanics treats identical particles as individuals or as `non-individuals' on the other. In both cases, Ladyman's suggestion is that an ontic structural realist interpretation of the physics might be just what is (...)
  47. States of Affairs.M. Reicher (ed.) - 2009 - ontos verlag.
    States of affairs raise, among others, the following questions: What kind of entity are they (if there are any)?
  48. The Structural Foundations of Quantum Gravity.Dean Rickles, Steven French & Juha T. Saatsi (eds.) - 2006 - Oxford University Press.
  49. Essentialism and Reference to Kinds: Three Issues in Penelope Mackie'show Things Might Have Been: Individuals, Kinds, and Essential Properties.Teresa Robertson - 2009 - Philosophical Books 50 (3):125-141.
  50. Identities, Distinctnesses, Truthmakers, and Indiscernibility Principles.Denis Robinson - 2000 - Logique Et Analyse 43 (169-170):145-183.
    After sketching some aspects of truthmaker doctrines and "truthmaker projects", and canvassing some prima facie objections to the latter, I turn to an issue which might seem to involve confusion about the nature of character of truthmakers if such there be, viz for statements of identity and (specially) distinctness. The real issue here is versions of the Identity of Indiscernibles. I discuss ways of discriminating versions, which are almost certainly true but trivial, which almost certainly substantive but false, and explore (...)
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