SORITES, ISSN 1135-1349

Issue #10. May 1999. Pp. 3-5.

Abstracts of the Papers

Copyright © by SORITES and the authors

Abstracts of the Papers

A logical analysis of singular terms

Jean-Yves Béziau

We analyse the behaviour of definite descriptions and proper names terms in mathematical logic. We show that in formal arithmetic, wether some axioms are fixed or not, proper names cannot be considered rigid designators and have the same behaviour as definite descriptions. In set theory, sometimes two names for the same object are introduced. It seems that this can be explained by the notion of meaning. The meaning of such proper names can be considered as fuzzy sets of equivalent co-designative definite descriptions and their references as sets of all equivalent co-designative definite descriptions.

Broadening and Deepening Yoes: The Theory of Conditional Elements

Joseph S. Fulda

We put forth a theory of conditional elements which can be used to dismiss apparent challenges to the truth-functionality of the conditional without apparent circularity. In the process, we refine the ideas of Yoes, published in an earlier paper in this journal, broadening and deepening them.

Critical Comments on Laudan's Theory of Scientific Aims

Armando Cíntora

Laudan's proposed constraints on cognitive aims are criticized. It is argued that: (i) Laudan does not distinguish impossible goals from impossible but approachable goals; and owing to that imprecision Laudan recommends conservatism and mediocrity. (ii) Impossible but approachable goals can be rational objectives, if we understand means/ends rationality as the attitude of someone who tries to reach the warranted optimum means to the attainment of or approximation to his desired aims. (iii) Ideals cannot be dispensed with, because in advance there is no satisfactory way of specifying how close to the ideal, or how far from it, is good enough. (iv) Laudan's recommendation is too restrictive and counter-intuitive because it characterizes idealist conduct (such as that of saints, heroes, and martyrs) as irrational. (v) A life's struggle for a utopian and a very valuable aim can cause lasting emotions of self-respect or self-esteem -- at least for certain temperaments, and in some social settings -- and those emotions are necessary for a good life; therefore, the search for impossible but approachable valuable goals, and their accompanying positive emotions, may be a rational goal. (vi) Laudan's banning of `semantically utopian' and `epistemically utopian' aims is also too restrictive, because we often pursue an end that is obscure for the conscious mind; in such cases, we still try to approach the obscure aim, by the via negativa, that is, by eliminating what it is not. (vii) Laudan needs to invoke some `pre-philosophical' cognitive canons of scientific success, and those `pre-philosophical' canons cannot be justified empirically as valuable without invoking some intuitions about genuine examples of successful science -- even though Laudan has told us that his meta-methodology does not require intuitions. (viii) Furthermore Laudan does not justify his priorization of his pragmatic canons of scientific success; Laudan's priorization has a dogmatic character.

Complementary Properties and Persisting Objects:
Ontological Constraints on the Semantics of Sentences of the Type `O is φ at t'

Montse Bordes

Even the most Parmenidean-minded of people recognize that quotidian objects somehow undergo change. This claim, nonetheless, is as clearly intuitive as it is apparently incompatible with one of our most widely believed logical principles, namely, Leibniz's Law. This paper focuses briefly on the metaphysical issue underlying this alleged incompatibility in order to provide elements for exploring its semantical counterpart: the analysis of the logical form of sentences attributing complementary temporal properties to current objects. Four analyses are presented, and the ability of each to account for the linguistic data is explained. The semantical issue is preceded by some introductory remarks on the role of temporal references in the evaluation of declarative sentences.

The Causal Attainment Theory of Temporal Passage

Brooke Alan Trisel

In recent years, efforts in the philosophy of time have focused on resolving the antinomy between the «becoming» and «becomingless» views. Although these views have frequently been thought of as being polarized, they both spatialize time. One reason that time has been spatialized is because the spatially-related meanings of `near' and `distant' have been substituted for the temporally-related meanings. Accordingly, an attempt is made to elucidate the meanings of these words through a phenomenological and linguistic analysis. It is postulated that the temporally-related locutions `near' and `distant' reflect the degree to which the necessary conditions for an event have been met. This postulate, which is the foundation of the proposed theory, appears to account for the impression that events «approach» the present without leading to the types of difficulties which have encumbered the becoming and becomingless views.

Hereafter, in a Later World than This?

Peter J. King

When making use of possible-worlds talk, even those who consider it to be no more than a heuristic device must be careful to treat possible worlds as if they were real; not to do so is to risk making use, not of possible worlds at all, but of some other, vague, and potentially misleading notion. I argue that transworld temporality is one danger area of this kind, and try to bring this out by examining John Bigelow's use of possible worlds to defend the reality of time against McTaggartian arguments. I conclude that Bigelow's defence fails because of his appeal to temporal relations between possible worlds.