[hist-analytic] RBJ's Proposal and and Hume's Fork

Danny Frederick danny.frederick at tiscali.co.uk
Sun Mar 1 05:57:00 EST 2009


Hi Steve,

 

I cannot do Kripke exegesis at the moment, either. So I speak for myself,
but as someone who has been strongly influenced by Kripke.

 

I have no sympathy for David Lewis' realism about possible worlds. Apart
from the actual world, possible worlds are merely possible. Thus
quantification over possible worlds is to be thought of in 'as if' terms;
and if we want to speak literally we use 'necessarily' and 'possibly.'

 

Yet I am sympathetic to Plato, Frege, Popper and others who accept an
ontology of abstract objects. Thus while a possible world different to the
actual world does not exist, the concept of it exists as an abstract entity,
or in the way that abstract entities exist. Thus, while there are no
unicorns, there is a concept of a unicorn.

 

Thus what happens in 'stipulating' a possible world is that we stipulate
which possible world (or, rather which class of them) we are talking about
(in the sense of 'talking about' in which we can talk about unicorns). Such
stipulation involves a decision and thus mind; but it does not create a
possible world, it merely conveys our intentions about which possible world
we are talking about.

 

Similarly, in a stipulative definition, as I said before, I identify which
language I am using, out of all the possible languages I could use. Did the
language exist before my stipulation? If a language is an abstract entity,
then it did, at least in the way in which abstract entities exist. But if by
a language we mean some physical realisation of an abstract entity
(inscriptions, sounds, gestures or images), then I brought the language into
existence by my stipulation.

 

Although I am sympathetic to an ontology of abstract objects, someone with a
penchant for desert landscapes could use his usual devices to (attempt to)
convert what I have said into a form that he finds more agreeable.

 

Cheers.

 

Danny

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