Entity, identity and unity

Erkenntnis 48 (2-3):191-208 (1998)
I propose a fourfold categorisation of entities according to whether or not they possess determinate identity-conditions and whether or not they are determinately countable. Some entities – which I call ‘individual objects’ – have both determinate identity and determinate countability: for example, persons and animals. In the case of entities of a kind K belonging to this category, we are in principle always entitled to expect there to be determinate answers to such questions as ‘Is x the same K as y?’ and ’How many Ks are there satisfying condition C?’, even if we may sometimes be unable in practice to discover what these answers are. But other entities apparently lack either determinate identity, or determinate countability, or both. In these terms I try to explain certain important ontological differences between familiar macroscopic objects and various rather more esoteric entities, such as the ‘particles’ of quantum physics, quantities of material stuff, and tropes or property instances.
Keywords Philosophy   Philosophy   Epistemology   Ethics   Logic   Ontology
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DOI 10.1023/A:1005327718934
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