Event (philosophy)
In philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

, events are objects in time
Time is a part of the measuring system used to sequence events, to compare the durations of events and the intervals between them, and to quantify rates of change such as the motions of objects....

 or instantiations of properties
Property (philosophy)
In modern philosophy, logic, and mathematics a property is an attribute of an object; a red object is said to have the property of redness. The property may be considered a form of object in its own right, able to possess other properties. A property however differs from individual objects in that...

 in objects. However, a definite definition has not been reached, as multiple theories exist concerning events.

Kim’s Property-Exemplification Account of Events

Jaegwon Kim
Jaegwon Kim
Jaegwon Kim is a Korean American philosopher currently working at Brown University. He is best known for his work on mental causation and the mind-body problem. Key themes in his work include: a rejection of Cartesian metaphysics, the limitations of strict psychophysical identity, supervenience,...

 theorized that events are structured.

They are composed of three things:
  1. Object(s) [x],
  2. a property [P] and
  3. time or a temporal interval
    Time standard
    A time standard is a specification for measuring time: either the rate at which time passes; or points in time; or both. In modern times, several time specifications have been officially recognized as standards, where formerly they were matters of custom and practice. An example of a kind of time...


Events are defined using the operation
Operational definition
An operational definition defines something in terms of the specific process or set of validation tests used to determine its presence and quantity. That is, one defines something in terms of the operations that count as measuring it. The term was coined by Percy Williams Bridgman and is a part of...

 [x, P, t].

A unique event is defined by two principles:
a) the existence condition and
b) the identity condition.

The existence condition states “[x, P, t] exists if and only if object x exemplifies the n-adic P at time t”. This means a unique event exists if the above is met. The identity condition states “[x, P, t] is [y, Q, t`] if and only if x=y, P=Q and t=t`].

Kim uses these to define events under five conditions:
  1. One, they are unrepeatable, unchangeable particular
    In philosophy, particulars are concrete entities existing in space and time as opposed to abstractions. There are, however, theories of abstract particulars or tropes. For example, Socrates is a particular...

    s that include changes and the states and conditions of that event.
  2. Two, they have a semi-temporal location.
  3. Three, only their constructive property creates distinct events.
  4. Four, holding a constructive property as a generic event creates a type-token relationship between events, and events are not limited to their three requirements (i.e. [x, P, t]). Critics of this theory such as Myles Brand
    Myles Brand
    Myles Neil Brand, Ph. D. was the 14th president of the University of Oregon, president of the United States' National Collegiate Athletic Association , and 16th president of Indiana University.-Personal life:...

     have suggested that the theory be modified so that an event had a spatiotemporal
    In physics, spacetime is any mathematical model that combines space and time into a single continuum. Spacetime is usually interpreted with space as being three-dimensional and time playing the role of a fourth dimension that is of a different sort from the spatial dimensions...

     region; consider the event of a flash of lightning. The idea is that an event must include both the span of time of the flash of lightning and the area in which it occurred.

Other problems exist within Kim’s theory, as he never specified what properties were (e.g. universals, tropes
Trope (philosophy)
The term "trope" is both a term which denotes figurative and metaphorical language and one which has been used in various technical senses. The term trope derives from the Greek τρόπος , "a turn, a change", related to the root of the verb τρέπειν , "to turn, to direct, to alter, to change"; this...

, natural classes, etc.). In addition, it is not specified if properties are few or abundant. The following is Kim’s response to the above.
There is also a major debate about the essentiality of a constitutive object. There are two major questions involved in this: If one event occurs, could it have occurred in the same manner if it were another person, and could it occur in the same manner if it would have occurred at a different time? Kim holds that neither are true and that different conditions (i.e. a different person or time) would lead to a separate event. However, some consider it natural to assume the opposite.

Davidson’s Theories of Events

Donald Davidson (philosopher)
Donald Herbert Davidson was an American philosopher born in Springfield, Massachusetts, who served as Slusser Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley from 1981 to 2003 after having also held teaching appointments at Stanford University, Rockefeller University, Princeton...

 and Lemmon proposed a theory of events that had two major conditions, respectively: a causal criterion and a spatiotemporal criterion.

The causal criterion defines an event as two events being the same if and only if they have the same cause and effect
Causality is the relationship between an event and a second event , where the second event is understood as a consequence of the first....


The spatiotemporal criterion defines an event as two events being the same if and only if they occur in the same space
Space is the boundless, three-dimensional extent in which objects and events occur and have relative position and direction. Physical space is often conceived in three linear dimensions, although modern physicists usually consider it, with time, to be part of a boundless four-dimensional continuum...

 at the same time
Time is a part of the measuring system used to sequence events, to compare the durations of events and the intervals between them, and to quantify rates of change such as the motions of objects....

. Davidson however provided this scenario; if a metal ball becomes warmer during a certain minute, and during the same minute rotates through 35 degrees, must we say that these are the same event? However, one can argue that the warming of the ball and the rotation are possibly temporally separated and are therefore separate events.

Lewis’ Theory of Events

David Lewis
David Kellogg Lewis
David Kellogg Lewis was an American philosopher. Lewis taught briefly at UCLA and then at Princeton from 1970 until his death. He is also closely associated with Australia, whose philosophical community he visited almost annually for more than thirty years...

 theorized that events are merely spatiotemporal regions and properties (i.e. membership of a class). It defines an event as “e is an event only if it is a class of spatiotemporal regions, both thisworldly (assuming it occurs in the actual world) and otherworldly.” The only problem with this definition is it only tells us what an event could be, but does not define a unique event. This theory entails modal realism
Modal realism
Modal realism is the view, notably propounded by David Kellogg Lewis, that all possible worlds are as real as the actual world. It is based on the following tenets: possible worlds exist; possible worlds are not different in kind from the actual world; possible worlds are irreducible entities; the...

, which assumes possible worlds
Possible Worlds
Possible Worlds may refer to:* Possible worlds, a concept in philosophy* Possible Worlds , by John Mighton** Possible Worlds , by Robert Lepage, based on the Mighton play* Possible Worlds , by Peter Porter...

 exist; worlds are defined as sets containing all objects that exist as a part of that set. However, this theory is controversial. Some philosophers have attempted to remove possible worlds, and reduce them to other entities
Possibility is the condition or fact of being possible. The Latin origins of the word hint at ability. Possibility also refers to something that "could happen", that is not precluded by the facts, but usually not probable...

. They hold that the world we exist in is the only world that actually exists, and that possible worlds are only possibilities.

Lewis’ theory is composed of four key points. Firstly, the non-duplication principle; it states that x and y are separate events if and only if there is one member of x that is not a member of y (or vice versa). Secondly, there exist regions that are subsets of possible worlds and thirdly, events are not structured by an essential time.

Badiou's Theory of Events

In Being and Event, Alain Badiou
Alain Badiou
Alain Badiou is a French philosopher, professor at European Graduate School, formerly chair of Philosophy at the École Normale Supérieure . Along with Giorgio Agamben and Slavoj Žižek, Badiou is a prominent figure in an anti-postmodern strand of continental philosophy...

 writes that the event is a multiple which basically does not make sense according to the rules of the "situation," in other words existence. Hence, the event "is not," and therefore, in order for there to be an event, there must be an "intervention" which changes the rules of the situation in order to allow that particular event to be ("to be" meaning to be a multiple which belongs to the multiple of the situation - these terms are drawn from or defined in reference to set theory
Set theory
Set theory is the branch of mathematics that studies sets, which are collections of objects. Although any type of object can be collected into a set, set theory is applied most often to objects that are relevant to mathematics...

). In his view, there is no "one," and everything that a "multiple." "One" happens when the situation "counts," or accounts for, acknowledges, or defines something: it "counts it as one." For the event to be counted as one by the situation, or counted in the one of the situation, an intervention needs to decide its belonging to the situation. This is because his definition of the event violates the prohibition against self-belonging (in other words, it is a set-theoretical definition which violates set theory's rules of consistency), thus does not count as extant on its own.

External links

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