Gaining Clarity on the That and What of Life

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Dennis Bielfeldt


There is a fundamental distinction between the essence of a thing and its existence, a metaphysical distance that grounds the irreducibility (or even incommensurability) of the latter to the former. In modern logic this is the distinction between specification of polyadic predicates and their instantiation. The irreducibility of existence to essence problematizes easy consequentialist arguments arguing to the existence or nonexistence of a baby/fetus on the basis of the likely effects that the existence of this being shall have on the overall utility of a group. I argue that arguments from the utility of a group to the existence of an individual while prima facie problematic, can proceed cautiously when structured as defeaters if and only certain conditions are met to the overall inferential isolation of existence from essence.


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How to Cite
Bielfeldt, Dennis. “Gaining Clarity on the That and What of Life”. Verba Vitae Journal 1, no. 1-2 (March 29, 2024): 39–52. Accessed June 24, 2024.
Philosophy and Philosophical Theology
Author Biography

Dennis Bielfeldt

Verba Vitae’s General Editor Dennis Bielfeldt is Founding President of the Institute of Theology, and Chancellor and Professor of Philosophical Theology at its Christ School of Theology. Having taught previously at Bethany College, Grand View University, and Iowa State University, Rev. Bielfeldt is currently Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at South Dakota State University, holding an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. He has published books and many articles in academic journals and encyclopedias.


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