existential quantification

In a paper I recently read, the author talked about existential quantification.

He said,

I believe that there are possible worlds other than the one we happen to inhabit. If an argument is wanted, it is this. It is uncontroversially true that things might be otherwise than they are. I believe, and so do you, that things could have been different in countless ways. But what does this mean? Ordinary language permits the paraphrase: there are many ways which things could have been besides the way that they actually are. On the face of it, this sentence is an existential quantification. It says that there exist many entities of a certain description, to wit “ways things could have been”. I believe that things could have been different in countless ways; I believe permissible paraphrases of what I believe; taking the paraphrase at its face value, I therefore believe in the existence of entities that might be called “ways things could have been”. I prefer to call them “possible worlds”.

Now I think I get what he means by existential quantification. But to me it seems like a big fancy word which on it’s surface grants credibilty to his position. But if I think about it more, it just means that he thinks some things exist. And maybe he wants to know how many? Or wants to say how many? After this part of the article he starts doing some crazy looking logic. I’d be interested to see who here finds this sort of thing to be at least entertaining.

I’m interested in multiple worlds theories, as the notions seems to take us close to the heart of basic conceptions of mind and matter. Any interesting links? In relatively plain language?

sounds like a bit of moorcock… but multiverses are always fun…


I can send you the rest of this article if you want. It’s pretty short, and kind of straightforward. (as straightforward as can be given the subject).

It’s this guy, (my hero),


He lost me at ‘things.’ It almost seems like he dips into the bivalent logic bag (this I don’t mind, it’s the subject he chooses to carry this out that takes me to moonrock alley, as per Impenitent’s observation).

Just say what you just said another way so that I can understand what you mean better.

Oh, I think I said moonrock, instead of moorcock. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

What’s bad about this guy’s alley?

I think we are getting off topic here. I’m not really all that interested in his personal orifices.

No I mean how is relating modal realism to this guy a criticism?

To save time, you (okay, I) look at how someone employs language or, more specifically, words. What is he trying to articulate? Why? I don’t criticize his ideas and concepts. It’s the other things…

What other things?

it isn’t a criticism… moorcock is a science fiction writer…



So then what does that have to do with existential quantification?

elric et.al. (the eternal champion) move through alternate universes while maintaining their identity…


Sorry, too many hidden variables for my taste. Though, this guy could have made a good living working for some life insurance company as an actuary.

(I thought his death was rather ironic…who knows, if he got his transplant from someone else instead, he might still be alive)

Smears, I’m starting to see a pattern.

I think he’s saying more than this. He says “there exist many entities of a certain description” which seems to translate precisely into your interpretation, but then he goes on to say “to wit ‘ways things could have been’” which tells me that by “entities of a certain description” he means specifically “possible worlds”.

Maybe I’m revealing my ignorance, but doesn’t quantification in logic simply refer to the specifying of whether propositions apply to “all” or “at least one”? Then again, if this is all he means, then it seems a bit excessive to tack on “existential” (or maybe too limiting).

I certainly would.

What pattern? Do you think it’s really in the world outside of you? Or could it be something that’s a by-product of your perception? Or is there something else is might be that I haven’t considered here?