In an earlier post I asked whether some men are not men. Intuitively all men are men, and so ‘some men are not men’ is false. Yet if the term ‘man’, occurring in the subject position of a sentence, means something like ‘someone who is, was or will be a man’, and given that Caesar was once a man, but is no longer a man, i.e. not now a man, it seems to follow that some men (e.g. Caesar) are not men, i.e. were men but aren’t now. Thus, counterintuitively, some men are not men. From this we derived the even more puzzling ‘some present events are not present events’. Caesar’s crossing the Rubicon was once a present event. And if ‘present event’ means ‘event which is, or was once, or will be present’, and since Caesar’s crossing the Rubicon is not present, it apparently follows that at least one present event (crossing the Rubicon) is not a present event.
David Brightly, taking the approach of a contemporary logician, helpfully suggests that “we just stipulate in advance which men we propose to quantify over and this bounds what 'some man' may refer to. It could be men alive, dead or alive, living in Midsomer, ever been married, whatever is appropriate, as long as we make it explicit and make appropriate adjustments elsewhere.”
I object that it is a problem either way. If the English word ‘man’ in fact only means presently existing man, it immediately follows that we can’t quantify over men in the 13th century, for there are none to quantify over. Nor were there any. ‘Some man lived in the 13th century’ is false, unless there is a 700 year old man still alive. The question is what the word ‘man’ ranges over. If only presently existing entities, then there were no men alive 10 years except for those alive now, thus very few men who were alive 90 years ago. Census records are all false. There were not 7 million people living in London in the 1920s. More like a few thousand (namely all present Londoners who are old enough to have lived here 90 years ago).
If by contrast we accept that there were 7 million Londoners in the 1920s, we have to accept that most of these, namely the ones who have died, are no longer Londoners. Thus, some Londoners are not Londoners. You can’t escape the problem by specifying ‘domains of quantification’.