David Corfield
types in philosophical literature

Peter Van Inwagen in ‘Modes of Being and Quantification’ (2014b)

Since the notions of necessity and contingency assume sets of more or less similar events, their application is inherently sensitive to the descriptions we use in referring to events. To assess degree of necessity, we need to know whether the same type of event would have occurred given a certain change or intervention. Our assessment hinges, therefore, on modes of sorting and individuation, on what we consider a type, or the same type. “The war was necessary” means “a similar kind of war would have occurred in any event,”hence a judgment about the degree of necessity that should be ascribed to an event will depend on how broadly or narrowly we construe the type in question. Knowing early twentieth-century European history, we may believe a war would have started sooner or later. But if the historian uses finer distinctions – a war in 1914, a war triggered by an assassination, she might lower the level of necessity she ascribes to the war, attributing increased significance to the assassination in Sarajevo. (Ben-Menahem, Y., p 124)

It is important to keep in mind that an “activity” is not a single act, not even an actual concrete happening. Rather, it is a conceptualized thing, a type of action characterized by a description, not simply referred to by ostension. (Chang, H., Truth operational)

Tragedies, Aristotle’s main concern, deal with what types of persons probably or necessarily do or say, whereas histories deal with what particular persons actually have done or said. (van den Akker, Mink’s Riddle of Narrative Truth, pp. 346-7)

C. van den Akker / Journal of the Philosophy of History 7 (2013) 346–370 Aristotle, Poetics, 51b1–51b10

First, it treats causality as a relationship primarily between types of event and state of affairs rather than between individual events or states of affairs. Every singular causal statement is held to exemplify a law-like generalisation of the form: ‘Wherever an event or state of affairs of such-and-such a type occurs, then an event or state of affairs of so-and-so type occurs.’

Secondly, an event or state of affairs which is a cause must on this view always satisfy either a necessary condition or a sufficient condition or both for the occurrence of that event or state of affairs which is its effect. The notions of necessity and sufficiency are interdefinable. To say that the occurrence of an event or state of affairs of type A is a necessary condition for the occurrence of an event or state of affairs of type B is to say that if the former occurrence does not take place then the latter occurrence will not take place either; and to say that the occurrence of A (similarly understood) is a sufficient condition for the occurrence of B, is to say that if A does occur, B will also occur. It follows that if the occurrence of A is a necessary condition for the occurrence of B, then the non-occurrence of B is a sufficient condition for the non-occurrence of A; and that if the occurrence of A is a sufficient condition for the occurrence of B, then the non-occurrence of B is a necessary condition for the non-occurrence of A.

Thirdly, as is evident from the preceding points, causality on this view is taken to be essentially a dyadic relation, at one level between particular events or states of affairs, at another level between types of events or state of affairs. So much is this taken for granted that although the nature of the relation between the two terms has been as major a topic for discussion as any in philosophY, the question of whether causality is indeed a dyadic relationship has received almost no discussion at all. (MacIntyre, Causality and History, pp. 141-142)

Macintyre A. (1976) Causality and History. In: Manninen J., Tuomela R. (eds) Essays on Explanation and Understanding. Synthese Library (Monographs on Epistemology Logic, Methodology, Philosophy of Science, Sociology of Science and of Knowledge, and on the Mathematical Methods of Social and Behavioral Sciences), vol 72. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-010-1823-4_8

the hypotheses of prototypical historical science differ from those of classical experimental science insofar as they are concerned with event-tokens instead of regularities among event-types. (Cleland)

“Carnap’s distinction between internal and external, based as it is upon a distinction between category questions and subclass questions, is of little concern to us apart from the adoption of something like the theory of types. I am one of those who have tended for many years not to adopt the theory of types.” (Quine)

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