Pavel Tichý


Pavel Tichý on Individuals, Roles, and God

a three-year Science and Religion in Central and Eastern Europe project awarded by the Ian Ramsey Centre at the University of Oxford and funded by the John Templeton Foundation

Pavel Tichý was one of the philosophers and logicians who, coming from Czechoslovakia, succeeded in the international academic forum. His ambitious project was to analyse the whole conceptual scheme, as related to both natural and formal languages. Given this aim, he devised an impressively complex framework of Transparent Intensional Logic (TIL). The framework has been subsequently elaborated by what can be now called the community of TIL (philosophers, logicians, computer scientists, linguists). Despite this, TIL has exhausted neither its potential for analysis nor its potential for (academic and public) impact and outreach. We aim to extend both of these potentials.

The present project focuses on notions of individuals, individual roles, individual concepts, and their application in the analysis of fictional and religious discourse. TIL has its own peculiar conception of bare individuals (as opposed to, for instance, Lewisian counterpart theories or Meinongian object-based theories). Tichý provided his own analysis of an ontological proof of the existence of God, which employs the notion of roles (offices) and requisites (which are akin to essences). This notion is intriguing on its own right and has non-trivial applications in analytic aesthetics (role realism). 

One of the most pressing research questions related to the above interconnected topics is whether the extensional, intensional, or hyperintensional level of analysis is required. In TIL, individuals are analysed extensionally; roles and requisites are analysed intensionally. New findings, however, support the view that at least some roles and requisites require stepping one level up, and providing a hyperintensional analysis of roles, requisites, and essences: Miloš Kosterec argued for a hyperintensional analysis of essences in his 'On the Essence of Empty Properties' (Synthese). Daniela Glavaničová argued for a hyperintensional analysis of fictional names in her 'Rethinking Role Realism' (British Journal of Aesthetics). Marie Duží, Bjørn Jespersen and Daniela Glavaničová, in their 'Impossible Individuals as Necessarily Empty Individual Concepts', (In Logic in High Definition: Developing Fine-Grained Semantics, Studia Logica Series, Springer), argued for a hyperintensional analysis of impossible individuals and suggested a hyperintensional logic of requisites.

The above findings provide a starting point for the present project. One of our aims is to explore the connection between requisites and essences, and to develop a plausible account of essences within TIL. We also revisit Tichýʼs conception of the core notions: individuals, roles, and God, and explore how these can be informed by new results related to roles, requisites, and essences. The third issue we focus on is how Tichýʼs views fare and compare to contemporary discussions in analytic metaphysics. Notably, Tichý corresponded with one of the fathers of conemporary metaphysics, David Lewis, and Lewis' thousands of correspondences have been published 'in bulk'. Three members of the research team have worked on the philosophy of David Lewis and in the present project they investigate how these exchanges went. The fourth crucial aim is to explore the applications of Tichýʼs roles in analytic aesthetics.

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