[FOM] Simmons' denotation paradoxes
Hartley Slater
slaterbh at cyllene.uwa.edu.au
Sat Mar 1 22:22:59 EST 2003
Sandy Hodges (FOM Digest Vol 2 issue 28) is still asking me to say
what my position is, and specifically to say whether I agree with his
statements (8) through (20). I don't think I have a 'position' in
the sense Hodges is expecting. I have made the observation, in his
current case, that if (2) and (4) refer attributively, where this is
not a matter of choice, then (Ex)(Ey)(17+x=y & 62+y=x) - so those two
expressions do not both refer attribuively where this is not a matter
of choice. Beyond that, if I have a 'position' at all it is that
such a situation does not rule out the referring expressions having
references - because of my knowledge of what goes on in the epsilon
calculus, and my belief that that calculus reflects structures in
natural speech.
There is, of course, the further matter of what the above remarks
imply; but I am supposing that other people can work that out as well
as myself - they might, for instance, even be able to correct me
about what the above commits me to. Here is my judgement on this
matter, in connection with Hodges numbered statements:
(11) It is a matter of choice whether (4) refers attributively or not.
(12) It is a matter of choice whether (5) refers attributively or not.
(13) It is a matter of choice whether (7) refers attributively or not.
These do not follow: I said when I first analysed this case (FOM
Digest Vol 2, issue 22) that the above 'allows' (2) and (4) to refer
attributively by choice, but that does not mean that this is
required. I pointed out in my last posting (FOM Digest Vol2 issue
26), that the two might refer non-attrributively; but now it becomes
relevant to add that, while not both can refer attributively not
through choice, that leaves it possible that still one does. Hence
we have to say with respect to
(14) Those utterances of Peter Abelard, for which it is a matter of
choice whether they refer attributively or not, include (2).
(15) Those utterances of Peter Abelard, for which it is not a matter
of choice whether they refer attributively or not, do not include (2).
(16) Those utterances of Peter Abelard, for which it is not a matter
of choice whether they refer attributively or not, are (1) only.
(18) The sum of the numbers referred to attributively by Peter
Abelard, in his utterances about which there is no choice as to whether
they refer attributively or not, is 17.
that these do not follow. Hodges goes on to raise more general issues:
(19) It is reasonable to assert one's position on a matter of logic by
asserting "A = n", even when A is an utterance about which it is a
matter of choice as to whether it refers attributively or not.
(20) (18) is of the form "A = 17" where A is an utterance (of the same
formula as (7)) about which it is a matter of choice as to whether it
refers attributively or not.
But since (18) does not follow in this case, these do not seem to be
directly relevant. Off the list Hodges has added what he sees as
the problem with (20): 'So you have a system that can't describe a
situation (about which everything is known) except in terms that may
or may not refer attributively'. An additional question arises
because of this: we know what words Abelard and Heloise uttered, and
we know that (2) and (4) can't both be attributive where this is not
through choice. We also know, for instance, that if (2) and (4)
refer attributively through choice then they refer to 17 and 62
respectively. Does that mean the situation is one where 'everything
is known'? I think I've now said pretty much all that can be said
about the situation; it doesn't look to me like much more can be
known about it.
--
Barry Hartley Slater
Honorary Senior Research Fellow
Philosophy, School of Humanities
University of Western Australia
35 Stirling Highway
Crawley WA 6009, Australia
Ph: (08) 9380 1246 (W), 9386 4812 (H)
Fax: (08) 9380 1057
Url: http://www.arts.uwa.edu.au/PhilosWWW/Staff/slater.html
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