Thursday, June 01, 2006


Committment Issues

I have a general policy of not using this blog as a place to draw attention to papers I've written, but this post is going to be the first exception. The reason is that I'm feeling guilty because a couple of months ago Doug Ownings (UConn) posted an interesting question about ontological committment, and in particular about how to respond to 'easy' proofs of the existence of numbers, propositions and the like. In the comments I said I'd have something to say on this topic when I had more time, but although it's been in the back of my mind since then, I never delivered the goods.

So here finally is the next best thing, the text of a talk I gave last year in St Andrews, responding to Yablo's 2000 paper 'Apriority and Existence' which is on just this topic. As a paper it suffers from a slight lack of clarity in places, and if I didn't have more pressing committments I'd rewrite sections of it, but what it tries to do is to explain how a contemporary platonist can be discriminating about which a priori arguments for the existence of abstract objects he endorses; so one can hold that there is a sound and a priori argument for the existence of numbers without being committed to what Yablo calls 'over-easy' proofs of propositions or models.

(I've noticed Firefox doesn't like opening pdfs linked from UT pages. IE seems to work fine though.)


Strangely enough, my Firefox opened your pdf with no problems. But I know there are some cases, for instance JSTOR, where it doesn't like it.
Yup Andreas, I could open that file no problem too. But I've had trouble in the past, and I put up a paper on set theory on my homepage at the same time as the Yablo one, and I can't get that to open with Firefox. It's all very weird.
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