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Re: [ontolog-forum] Ontology, Information Models and the 'Real World': C

To: Christopher Menzel <cmenzel@xxxxxxxx>
Cc: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Pat Hayes <phayes@xxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 7 Jun 2007 17:02:36 -0500
Message-id: <p0623090cc28e2f164e2b@[]>
>>I learned logic by reading Quine, and have 
>>always found his views and thinking to be the 
>>most convincing and clearly stated of almost 
>>any writer. I too find modal logics essentially 
>>meaningless, I don't believe in possibilia (how 
>>many possible men are standing in an empty 
>I see you've been influenced both by Quine's 
>good arguments and his bad ones, Pat! :-)  The 
>answer to your (and Quine's) question is utterly 
>obvious: None.  (You said it was empty, right?)    (01)

Well, I like that answer, but others have taken a 
different view, which Quine's rhetoric was 
supposed to be a response to. To my amazement, 
Barwise and Perry take this other view in their 
influential (and very post-Quine) 'situation 
semantics', where their universe is thickly 
populated with nonexistent possibilia, and the 
way one says that it is possible that a man is 
standing in the empty doorway is indeed to 
construct a "situation" in which the real doorway 
has an unreal possible-man in it (not a man, 
since that would be a real one). Really in it. At 
which point, Quine's question needs to be asked, 
in a very sarcastic tone.    (02)

>There is of course a perfectly coherent question 
>here:  How many men *could* be standing in that 
>doorway, which happens, as a matter of fact, to 
>be empty?    (03)

No, that is a different question. Supose its a 
small doorway and there's room only for one at a 
time. Still, the number of men who could possibly 
be that possible man in the doorway is very 
large, and may be infinite. It might be me, it 
might be you, it might be Ghengis Kahn, ...    (04)

>Everything else you say is right on the money. ;-)
>    (05)

Well, thanks.    (06)

Pat    (07)

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