FOM: Re: ``arbitrary objects"

charles silver silver_1 at
Thu Jan 31 13:30:15 EST 2002

 Arnon Avron writes:

 > I should say that I find the discussion about "arbitrary objects"
> (or "arbitrary numbers") rather embarrassing....

    This is not a surprising attitude.   As Kit Fine states on the first
page of his book, from Frege on, "arbitrary objects"  have been thought to
be absurd.   He says: "Where Frege led, others have been glad to follow."
Among those following Frege in opposing them, Fine cites Russell,
Lesniewski, Tarski, Church, Quine, Rescher, and Lewis.   Fine also adds,
which I think may explain your embarrassment, that "if more philosophers of
the present day have not added their voices of protest, it is probably
because they have not thought it worth their bother."   Thus, you are in
very good company.   To my mind, Fine's written a fascinating, intriguing,
provocative, often mysterious book defending them, and I thought in this
open forum to raise a couple of issues that arise from my reading of his
book.  (Incidentally, I by no means endorse arbitrary objects, as several
people seem to suppose.)


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