Alex Kocurek (University of California, Berkeley)

April 20, 2018, 7:00am - 9:00am
Logic Group, The University of Melbourne

Arts West
Parkville 3010


National Taiwan University

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Alex Kockurek (Berkeley) will present "Counterlogicals" remotely at 11 in Arts West 211, West Wing. 

Abstract:  Much of the recent literature on counterfactuals has revolved around counterpossibles, i.e., counterfactuals with metaphysically impossible antecedents, and whether they generally express non-vacuous propositions.  In this talk, we focus on a special class of counterpossibles, viz., those whose antecedent is logically (or metalogically) impossible.  These are known as counterlogicals.  Examples include:  

(1)  If the Liar sentence were both true and not true, the one true logic would be paraconsistent.

(2)  If France were and were not a monarchy, it would be a monarchy. 

(3)  If Aristotle were not self-identical, his argument for the law of noncontradiction in Metaphysics Gamma would have failed. 

We defend a view according to which all counterlogicals are vacuously true.  The appearance of non-vacuous counterlogicals is really due to a kind of metalinguistic shift in the meanings of logical vocabulary.  This view is motivated by a broadly Quinean view about the nature of logical disagreement, in which logical disagreements are of a metalinguistic nature.  We will show how this account is independently motivated by observations surrounding metalinguistic negotiation more generally.  Then we show how our account does better than its rivals in two respects:  our view, but not its rivals, allows us to maintain that meaning is compositional and to keep a non-trivial logic of counterfactuals. This is joint work with Ethan Jerzak.

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